Sometimes when I’m alone, I think about you, flinging aside the reserve I let others think I have, dropping the pretense of hating you, gifting myself with the freedom to remember and to imagine a parallel universe.
Before you lay flat, you were tall, with limbs that hugged mine, joined to me from the place where our toes linked to where my hair plastered itself in the crease of your neck while you slept. I’d lie there for hours, letting my chest rise and fall in synchronicity with yours. Sometimes, I imagine that my heart never lost its rhythm, and that yours still beats in the same time as mine, like atomic clocks that are never reset.
I picture the shocking white of your teeth peeping through darkened lips, your smile widening into a laugh, the hacking of your chest as you lost yourself in humor, in spite of your resolve, responding to something inappropriate and hilarious that I’d said. We had our our own private jokes, not meant for anyone else. Just us.
Your hands, they smelled like the grease you used to lube up our old car, and the money we had so little of that we held it tightly when it came. And dirt, because no matter how we tried, there was always dirt. And you. There was a scent that was just you that I’ve never been able to forget or recreate. Believe me, I’ve tried.
You read me poetry at night. You cursed me in broken English in the morning. You kissed me softly and called me by the names I’d given myself. You gave me our last dollar then said you weren’t hungry anyway although you were.
You walked slowly when you walked away, those loose dark jeans falling down the mocking rhythm of your hips, your Yankee cap bobbing as you left. You didn’t turn to look back and I was glad you couldn’t witness the tears. That is, until afterwards when I craved just one more moment. I would have taken just one more stretch of time, even if it was of me crying and you watching me with interest instead of compassion.
I heard the car door click into place. I didn’t know it was the last time. I wouldn’t have cursed. I wouldn’t have yelled. I wouldn’t have let you go.
The woman with the notepad and the stinky polish on shoes that click just a little too loudly for the job she has, well she keeps telling me I should think about what I got from the relationship. Whether the experience was worth it. Whether I’m worth more. She’s asked me more times than I can count what I want to do about my situation. What do I want to do, she says, but I think implicit in her statement is a judgment that I’ve been in limbo too long. But I can’t move from here.
I just want to close my eyes and go back to that little space between heaven and earth where you still exist. Or the memory of you, anyhow. Where smiles only end in tears sometimes. Not always. Where love doesn’t require sacrifice but accepts it. Where hands stay linked in the sunshine even when they soak with sweat. Where dreams don’t hide because there is no shame in them. Where, when we sit on the sand devouring novels in silence, we are not looking for another world to live in apart, just visiting a museum that we can tell each other about afterwards. To a past where you still live, even if I have to give everything else I have to get there.
Original Fiction, Copyright 2016 by Karen Wright