23 January 2009

The Lonely

One of the worst mornings of my life was the day I woke beside his lifeless body. It was like a bedroom out of a Wyeth painting- with old planked floors, exposed beams overhead, and a wood burning stove in the corner. He and I never got along, and for those reasons, he shouldn't have done what he did that morning.

Afterward, he waited at the bottom of the stairs in his work clothes- with that same old smirk across his face. I was still wearing my tears, and his sweat too, and would rather not have seen him off. We never loved each other. For heavens sake, we never even liked each other.

One night I shared with him that his swearing was too much. At that, he exclaimed "Jesus Christ! What's your problem?" It was that sort of love- one that had no understanding or care to understand.

One day we went to the Big Apple, and he made me cry in front of all those thousands of onlookers. I can see what they mean when they talk of New York City being a lonely one. He nearly left me there. But somehow we managed the drive home- me with my tears and he with his swearing mouth.

Once we even looked at diamonds. He had something nasty to say about every ring and every salesperson. I tried to pretend he was still a prince, and that I would still someday marry, but not to him- not ever. For how far he was from anything lovely or anything of beauty. I'd rather have lived in a cardboard box with the lonely in that Big Apple.

One day I decided to stop by his house- late at night. He was so angry. He always was. He showed himself to me and I was so innocent. It just wasn't how I wanted things to be- not then, not with him.

I haven't seen him now for years and think of him all too often. For some memories just take too long to fade. I wish there was something one could do to ease the mind of the past, and all its sadness too, but it seems that good things and good people are all that can be done to bring ones sanity back. Jesus Christ. It's amazing how those two words can be spoken.

13 January 2009

Act I, Scene I

For ten years I was in love with a boy who didn't love me. I said I'd marry him, and once, he even asked me to. We were young then, though, and you say stupid things when you're young. Once we went to the theatre, and the fire alarm went off in the middle of the first act. We all sat there for a while, until we finally realised that it was a real fire- not Act I, Scene III. And, single file, we pushed out of that old theatre and into the streets, and the cold November air slapped us in the face. I remember that day, and I remember not taking his hand. In the second act, he laid it gently on my lap, but I just stared at it. Eventually, he pulled back and I started breathing regularly once more.

Afterwards, he took me home. I remember lying on that old brown couch, my cheeks getting scratched with every move he made, wondering how long we'd carry on. At times, the hum of the vending machine drowned out his voice, and soon he was a whisper. He said a prayer for us and for the birds and foxes too. He was simple and dressed that way too. With his legs beneath me, he reminded me of my father- as if I were sitting on my fathers lap and not the lap of my lover.

The tile beneath our shoes was shiny and gray. And here and there, other sets of boys and girls would walk beside our laying bodies- giving no attention to our posture or our scratched and beat up cheeks. But I remember those khaki pants and his hands, like small trees, wrapped tight around my waist. And perched upon his mound of soil, I prayed, and asked, and waited- till the morning came and slapped across my face.

Days passed and as did the seasons and still I loved him so. I remember traipsing through the fields- milkweed at our knees, electric towers above, and his hand tight in mine. He stood just like those towers, with his great height and strong bones, and he walked just like the breeze- hips buckling and swaying like broken tree limbs. The mud beneath us pulled at our soles and the setting sun made silhouettes of us, a great spectacle to the stars. But we marched on, until the weeds had won, and our battered ankles had had enough.

The next morning I remember crying- weeping like an adolescent, confused in her small world. He had been doing his taxes, until my scratched face appeared at the other side of the door. He let me in and drew me tea and soothed me in those morning hours. And Jesus hung behind us, and all his disciples too, seated at that great long kitchen table- with chalices raised about. I remember liking the feeling of walking past that wall, every time I visited. Like feeling I was Catholic and like I was supposed to kneel or do some hail Mary's- there, on the cold linoleum floor, in the kitchen on the second floor.

But we never made it down the aisle- not anywhere even close. Last I saw him, he drove out to meet me on a motorcycle. For now he's an old man, with a family and a future. He drove up on his bike and parked it out front my house. I thought, even then, that I still loved him. But that was all the past- the trees, the towers, the birds and the foxes, like a story to read at night. And as he said goodbye, he touched me only once. And looking like my father- in his khakis and his curls, he was never meant to be my lover.

05 January 2009

The Way We Used To Be

An old boyfriend stopped by the inn today. "How do you take your coffee?" I asked. I had forgotten how he liked it. I didn't even want to offer him coffee, but he near insisted. I had just stepped out of the powder room on the first floor and noticed he had left a note, inviting me to join him upstairs. The evergreens on the rail poked my bare skin all the way up, and the smell of fresh pine reminded me it was Christmas. It was Thanksgiving a year ago that I left him. I got my life back and left him. It was my mother that saw me in my misery. My mother, God, and well, everyone else I suppose.

He had on that same old stained navy sweatshirt. Stained with tears and blood and all his sickness too. "Illinois," the sweatshirt read, stitched in bright red-orange and blue. He had stopped by to give the old thing back to me and some other things too. Things like old kitchen spoons and a painting I had forgotten about.Things I didn't even want anymore. Things that just made me think of him and how miserable we used to be.

I set the items on the deep ledge of the window sill and made my way back downstairs. He followed me past the powder room and into the kitchen, and that's when he asked for the coffee. I gave him what was left in the pot- a black sludge that had sat stale for over three hours. Wishing he would leave, but remembering his tendencies, I carried on with our meeting pretending he was just a customer. I warmed his scone and placed two golden butter pads on his plate. He spoke to me as if I was interested and lingered as if I cared, but those days I'd long forgotten.

He helped himself to more coffee, and to more of my time, and I thought of all the things I would rather be doing. But he still wanted more. He always did. I cleared his plate and empty coffee cup, and he turned to me as we left the kitchen. "Black," he said.

"Black?" I asked. Like the way we used to be? How easily I'd forgotten. For now he was just a customer.