Sunday, October 04, 2009


Her hands trembled. She held them close to her sides. The hall yawned before her. The grey and yellow carpet slithered towards the chestnut panels at the end. She looked down at her bare feet and watched them as they crept along the lines. Her heart beat fast. An iron fist was clamped about her head…and her throat. Her breath came short. She stumbled on towards the door. She looked at it as it came into view. It was just a door after all. Such an ordinary thing and yet behind it was something dark and terrible that had climbed into her very depths. She did not know what would happen were she to put lay her white hand against the wood. She closed her eyes and swallowed, then looked at her hand again, rising to the door. She forced it forward, against, it seemed, some gravitational pull, calling it back to her side. She felt her knuckles scratch against the wood that was once a tree. How she wished it was a tree at that moment…something to soothe the burning inside. One, two…knocks. She quickly took her hand away.
There were sounds of movement beyond this door that was once a tree. It was once a tree. Yes, it was once a green and swaying tree. The door opened. She felt the air from the window beyond, at the end of the room. And there it was, a simple form and yet so lovely. She looked over the curves, the color, the light as it fell across the lines. So much more than a form. So much more than a face. So much more than a man. “No. No.” His voice rang in her ears. She stuttered through the tears she found were falling fast.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Please John. The iPod, I need it back. My dad said I could come.” He had hardly looked at her. It was only that she had frozen the moment that had held his face, his eyes in hers. He turned quickly and disappeared into the room. She listened to his footsteps, loving them, and dreading them. They marked the separation once again of the wooden door that was once a tree. She sobbed and could not see. He returned and his face was one of anguish. He did not look at her. He put it into her hand, turned, and shut the door.
There she stood, rooted to the hard grey and yellow carpet. She felt its coarseness beneath her feet. And now all she wished was to stand in that place in the hall, forever in front of his door. He could live there. She could live here and only a door that was once a tree in between. It could be heaven. It could be beautiful. She turned. She looked down at her bare feet and watched them as they crept along the lines. Her heart beat fast. An iron fist was clamped about her head…and her throat. She choked down her tears. A terrible weight in her stomach took their place. And her head, always her head was held fast in that grip. She thought she felt her skull crushing against her brain. It’s just because you didn’t sleep well last night she told herself.
She thought of the endless day ahead of her filled with nothing but the loneliness. There would be no expression, no word belonging to herself. It would all be imitations of what she knew the others wanted, needed to see. It was a day where every moment must be an act. Even the glances she knew she’d drink in of him could not be true. She must place blinds before her windows…She must cover her sorrowing mouth…She must stop her trembling hands…She must tear herself from the urge to let go…to fall…to sleep…to rest…to ease the pain…to cry. O torment! Do you never grow weary? Do you never sleep? Even for the sake of lovers?
She found her room somehow. She gathered her things into her bags. She could never remember those moments afterwards. The only ones that shone clear were the ones in the sun, when she could catch glimpses of his face, trying to understand the disguise he had embraced, wondering how he could do it so well. She photographed his face and studied the lines in her mind. To others she seemed to be staring into nothing. No one could know she was looking at him. Where did the mask end and the truth begin? she asked as she lingered on his eyes, his mouth, the movement, the expression. There were people around but she remembered none of them. They were blurs on the outskirts of all space and time. She watched his hands strumming the guitar. Surely no one would notice her eyes on his hands. She could almost feel them underneath her fingertips. She was afraid to loose the moment, the moment of reality drowning in all the lies. It could not be stolen if she let it pass quickly. She moved her eyes to his feet. They tapped occasionally to the rhythm. She heard his voice, softer, richer, deeper, warmer than the sunlight that tickled her back. The light fell in torrents from the window. It seemed his voice fell with it, onto her…engulfing her fear, soothing her mind, warming her soul. She felt something leap within her. Yes, she knew…she knew she loved him.
She could not remember the words of the song he was singing. The melody lapped against her. It came like a messenger from the dim past, so remote, and now seemingly, so invisible and vague. Her lips, in recognition played with the words in her throat faintly. “Today is gonna be the day that they’re gonna give it back to you. And by now, you should have somehow realized what you gotta do. I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now.” The meaning was the meaninglessness in the words. Such a loss cannot be borne. But must be, she answered herself.
People started getting up. It was time to go. Figures rushed upstairs and down elevators. Bags piled high in the lobby. She looked at them all but did not see them. She walked carefully towards one corner. She saw his green shoes leaning against his bags. She saw his guitar case. She wished she could reach out and touch it. She clenched her hand to her side. Stay. I can express no more. She heard his footsteps and shivered as she quickly stepped away. She must always be away from him when all she wanted was to be close. She saw his mother and felt shame flaming in her cheeks. She wished she were dead. She looked now and then, hoping to receive some affirming look. Perhaps she did not blame her. She could not know. There was a mask tightly drawn just as the one gripping her own face.
She picked up her bags. They were as heavy as her heart. She tried to concentrate on fighting the hot tears that kept overwhelming her eyes. The icy wind stole them away quickly enough though as she pushed open the hotel doors. She was glad of it. It seemed to thaw and soothe the gaping wounds, the scorching tears within her. She stood in the snow and looked up at the shining blue above the pines where they had talked. Where the trees had whispered, where the snow had tickled her eyelashes, where he and she had met and felt safe, embraced by the trees, the mist, and the thick snow. She had felt that anything could have happened beneath those trees, whitened with snow. It had been a stronghold for her imagination. There, for a few short moments, she had been able to let go of every burden…and simply be. Be with him. She saw him hugging friends goodbye. She envied them. She saw the scarf around his neck and caught her breathe. There it was, his signal, his warning sign. He warned her not to loose heart. She must trust it. She must trust him. She remembered the hours her fingers had labored to draw the pieces of black and white and red yarn together. She remembered laughing as she looked down on it, finished, and sprayed her perfume into its warm folds and crevices. She remembered its softness in her hands. She saw the moment she had given it to him. She remembered the words she had uttered as she handed it proudly with both hands, folded around a CD of songs she had written for him. “Merry Christmas John. I made them both for you.” And there the scarf hugged his neck. The strands of yarn her hands had touched so many times were touching his neck now. Nothing but a faint whisper of hope entered into her darkened soul as her eyes followed that scarf. She remembered herself and climbed into the car.
Her face was wet and warm. She wished she could open the window to feel the snowflakes fall, frozen against her face. Instead she pressed her cheek to the window. She must do everything she could to stay alive. She feared she would stop feeling if she did not let the cold bite into her skin. Her cheek became numb against the glass as she watched first the trees and snow moving by, then the city and the people, all the people with their faces telling stories She tried not to look at them. They told her stories she did not want to hear. She did not want to think. It was six hours back home. She did not remember most of it…only that she often thought she felt his hands closing around hers. Then she would wake up to find it was a dream…and she would press her cheek closer to the window…to feel alive, to remember her what it was to feel…and then let the numbness surround her.


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