artichokedreams.com <—- go there instead.
“I like morning glories,” she said. “I grew up with them and they remind me of home.”
Her feet fell into the water, falling slowly, as if time took a break to watch the water envelop her hot summer skin.
The lake was her place and she was sharing it with them, commanding their presence every minute they were there, just like she did in the city. She was the kind of woman it was hard to turn down, and you didn’t know why. She was young, and not exceptionally beautiful. She worked too hard and dressed simply, but her simple black made it all the more elusive to get near her. Though, everyone was near her, but few knew her.
Charlotte wished she were this kind of girl. There was a difference, a confidence she lacked, a quality she would never possess. Instead, she would always be watching Jamie. Watching her and relishing in the moments they got. Because Charlotte was invited places because she was smart and relatively attractive, but lacked everything Jamie had. If they had been one person, they would have been amazing. Instead they were two, two acquaintances, linked by friends of friends who kept them near enough each other to envy the other in a small way.
The summer weekend at the lake had been the kind of thing they wrote short stories about: silly, fun, full of moments that would touch them and the others for the rest of their lives, as one of them saw a morning glory or felt the tickle of humidity.
It was at the end of this weekend that Charlotte decided it was time to do something. She had to. She had to know. She had to ask. And as they got up to start packing, after dragging their limbs through the water and laying on the dock, it was that time.
“Uhm….Jamie?” She was walking slowly but quickly, with persistence.
“Sure, what’s up Charlotte?”
“Do you think I could get a ride?”
“Oh, yeah, well, it’ll be a bit until I get back to the city. I wanted to stop somewhere first. Is that OK with you?”
“Sure.” There was nothing buy yeses for Jamie. Always.
They called them enigmas. That was the word that Charlotte could not remember. People who drew you in for no reason. People you wanted to be around just because.
They stopped at a bar. They got drunk. Why they were here Charlotte could not tell. They lay in the grass outside, the waitress bringing them drinks even though they were not technically at the bar anymore. They were laying on each other, because they couldn’t find the blanket in Jamie’s car. Secrets lay about them, strewn like failed love letters in a teenage boy’s room.
“I never really knew if I liked girls. Or boys. It’s all been the same to me,” Charlotte found herself saying. “Maybe I just don’t know anything.”
“Are you bi?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you love girls?”
“I don’t even know that I can love one person. I’ve never loved one person.”
“Are you poly?”
“I don’t know. I don’t really know anything. I’m 27, with a good job, a decent life, and confused as all hell. I know less than I did at 14, somehow.”
They were close enough to threaten to kiss, but neither of them moved to do so. They just lay there, drinking, smoking cigarettes, and letting the last of the summer light die on their thighs.
“You know, Charlotte, I have no fucking clue either.”
Charlotte laughed at the idea.
“You should, though,” she said as she took another drink of an impossibly strong whisky and coke. “You have everything, you just don’t know it yet, Jamie.”
Jamie took a drag of the cigarette, and opened her thighs to the sun.
Charlotte looked at her, took the cigarette, and gave it back.
They both sighed.
They built a nest for themselves, safe from the rain and the heat and the sun.
Here, in the piles of pillows from childhood and blanket forts, they hid. The funny thing is they hid from each other as much as they hid from the rest of the world, waking to talk and laugh and chitter, falling asleep a few hours later, waking up from their nap to snack from what they found in the fridge.
Sometimes, they said nothing. Sometimes, they just curled up around each other and let their breath cloudy the air under the blankets with each other’s scent.
“Let’s run away and built a hut in New Mexico.”
They dreamt in their nest. They dreamt together and tried not to let their own fears and holdups keep them from each other. They dreamt of a life together that was easier, easier and constant, like it was in their nest. They read each other pieces of the internet. They laughed at Youtube movies. They shared those dreams, and a few of them, a few of them they kept to themselves.
The nest, the gathering of blankets and sheet and pillows, it was where they felt safe. It was where they could be themselves, instead of the people they presented the world every day. He was less of an ass. She was less of a pushover. They were, in a sense, perfect.
They tried to love in their nest. They did their best. They opened up and hoped they would find their way to each other across the expanse of their creation, across their own bodies, the walls of muscle, skin and bone that kept everything from everything.
It was a good place. It was the kind of place you close your eyes and think of when your boss is yelling at you or everything that day has gone wrong. It was a place, just for them.
It comes in the middle of the night
Maybe this is comfort
Maybe this is song
something is new
we can give in to to the warmth we give
without asking questions of each other
There is nothing to say.
and nothing is right. I’m going to write just to get it out of my system and hope that it’ll feel a little bit better after this, but it’s highly doubtful. There are clouds overhead, but all I see is the glare of florescent lights and the smell of my tea getting cold. I don’t know what wrong, but something is because it doesn’t feel right. I think I’m breaking again. I think the cracks are showing and I’m not sure how long this is sustainable.
Take a breath.
I’m trying to hear nothing but the music and the sighs in and out but to-do lists and goals and needs are creeping their way into my left ear, taking root near my left eye, between that and my temple. It’s raining outside, and it’s cold in here, but I’m not shivering, I could be sweating, I’m not sure anymore. A team of one is soon to be a team of insanity if I don’t get a break, but the pressure is on, and everyone was worried but me. Until now. Perhaps it was holding out until the last minute, a pitch hitter for insanity. Everything is rough, and I just tried to swallow but it was harder than usual, not more difficult but harder, rougher, louder. I don’t think there is any softness left within my body, just rope wrapped around itself. I’m going to have to stop typing because this is bringing it all to the surface and I can’t look like I’m working if I’m….
She didn’t like her spot. Lucy liked her toys piled up next to it, her giraffe that she slept with every night, and the pile of soft blankets that made up her spot. But she did not like her spot.
She could not help her size. Being a mutt, she did not know what her mother or father really were, but somewhere along the line they had been large. And she was large. Not quite as big as the Great Dane she saw once walking down the street with a prissy lady, but large.
Her spot was not large. The WInnebago was not large.
Charlie grunted in his sleep and she lifted her head from the giraffe and look at him. Was he OK? Yes, he was OK. She lay back down.
In the morning, she could hear him start to wake up, so she woke up. She paced in front of him. She lay her head down near his hand.
Pet me, please? I’m hungry, too.
Charlie got up after Lucy pestered for about 20 minutes.
“OK, girl. I got the message. Grub for you and for me.”
He rolled out of the tiny bed and and looked in the cupboards.
“OK, what have we got for me?”
As he looked around the WInnebago, he scratched his ass and picked bits of food from his bushy beard. The beard was scraggly, as if he had inadvertently grown it in the middle of the night.
But me, first, please. I’m hungry, Charlie…
Charlie poked his head out of the fridge and looked at her.
As he filled her bowl, he sighed.
“This stuff smells like shit and I wish i could give you better, but its what we got for now, OK Luce?”
Lucy was happy. She devoured her meal and nosed around her bowl, hoping it would refill even though she knew it would not. She looked at Charlie, hoping he would give her more, even though she knew that wasn’t going to happen either. After a minute of staring at each other, she complied and sat, watching him as he went back to rummaging for food.
Lucy sat outside, on the grass near the neighborhood with the pretty houses and yards. She had no yard. She had this patch of grass. She sat, looking.
A pretty girl ran by, running. From something? To something? Or just running? Lucy watched her, then stretched. Lucy remembered when she and Charlie used to go running, when they were both younger. Her tail started to wag at the memory. She had a yard, then, too. It was big and there was a squirrel in the tree near the kitchen who would chatter at her. She hated the squirrel. She loved the yard. She would sleep there until Charlie got home and then they would go running. It was nice. She liked it much better than the Winnebago. That had come after Charlie had been sad for a long time. She was not sure why, but he was sad and he stopped leaving during the day, and he stopped running. He just lay in bed and she lay with him, trying to love him out of his sadness. He did not comply. He kept getting sadder, then one day they went on a walk with all his bags. too many bags. And then came the Winnebago.
She looked inside.
Charlie was in a nicer shirt, and he came outside with her leash.
“We might get a job, today, girl.”
She waited outside the brick building. It had been awhile, but nice people had pet her and talked to her. She liked them. They were nice. The nice lady from inside had brought her water, too, which was nice because it was very hot outside. She lay down because the hot pavement hurt her paws.
She waited because Charlie was inside doing something and he had talked to he the whole way here and been very happy. She liked it when Charlie was happy. It made her happy. He had brushed his hair and he gave her a bit of bacon from his breakfast. It was tasty.
She hoped they would go soon. She wanted to go home and the pavement was no place for a nap. She had slept a little bit, but then a little girl pulled on her ear and woke her up. She was not very happy about it ,but the little girl pat her nose and called her a good doggie.
Charlie came outside.
“Lucy, I’m not sure how that went.”
He untied Lucy and they started walking home.
“I’m tired of that shithole and I want to get us to a nice place, Lucy, where there are squirrels for you to chase.
Her ears perked at the word squirrels.
“Yeah, squirrels! And that job might be our ticket to a life of squirrels and a real bed and an address. The guy asked me all sorts of questions and then kept chewing his pencil. It was pretty disgusting, but the job is good and it pays real well. Real well, Lucy.”
Charlie kept talking and she kept walking.
It was silent now, without the sound of the TV and the heater and phones buzzing and ringing. It was silent and there was nothing to do but sit and wait.
It would happen soon.
The world would end and everything would come crashing down.
It was not that he did not want the child, he was certain he’d love it. But this time, the time when it was just him and her and the silence, it would end. There would be noise, so much noise. And the mess. And there would be no more lazy Sundays laying in bed having sex over and over again for the mere fact that they were bored and already naked so why not.
He was determined to love it, no matter what. He should no longer call the baby an it. That was not fair. It was a he. It was going to be Cody and he was going to love it.
He cursed himself.
The baby would be named Cody, after his brother and he would love Cody. Cody would be wonderful and make him happy and he and Julie would coo and ooh and ahh at every little shit the thing made.
He doubly cursed himself.
He was not ready to give up the silence, was the problem. He stood, in the hospital, pacing in between two rows of chairs that looked like a plastics factory had an illicit affair with a carpet factory. He walked, pacing, wishing he had a cigarette. He was should be in the room with his screaming wife, but he had needed a break and it had been hours of her clenching his hand and then letting go and saying all the calming things his sister, mother and the lady who taught that class told him to say. It was tiring. Not as tiring as what Julie was doing, but tiring nonetheless. So he walked outside, claiming he needed a cigarette even though he could care less so he could stand here, fretting about their sex-filled Sundays and where they would go and wishing they were home and watching Glee instead of this, eating ice cream and cookies and laughing.
He wondered if anyone else had ever been ready. He wondered if his father had been ready. If only he could’ve asked him. If only he had someone to ask, “Am I supposed to be this freaked out? Shouldn’t I want to bring this child into my life and nurture and care for it? Shouldn’t I love it already?”
He wondered if he was selfish. When Julie had started casually bringing up having kids he was much more excited at the possibility of having even more regular sex than they already accomplished, in the name of having a baby that is. He had been excited at not having to deal with Julie’s anxiousness at whether she had taken her Pill that day or if she had forgotten or where they were. Maybe he should have told her this. But he loved her, and this would make her happy.
He saw the way she looked at her nieces and nephews, the way her eyes had strayed to the kids clothing in Target. He knew his time had ended and that the silence was over. He loved her enough to give that to her, the things he loved most for the woman he loved most.
But shit. He was not ready for this Dad shit. He was scared he would not do it right and he wanted his silence. He wanted it to be just the two of them, happy. It was selfish. He was a jerk, all in all. But maybe this is what all potential fathers said to themselves as they paced a lobby, avoiding their sweating pregnant screaming wives.
Maybe he did need that cigarette. He dug in his pockets and walked outside, staring at the automatic doors moving open and closed for the excited and sad people wandering in and out of them, walking slowly down the hall as if to his own death. It was cold outside, fresh from the rain earlier. The sky was clear and despite the Los Angeles smog he could see a star or two. Or maybe they were planets. He looked up and lit his cigarette, taking a long drag and then staring at the smoke mingling with the bright dots in the sky, like fog on the beach in the morning. He watches the smoke swirl and rise up and up toward the stars until it disappeared. The cigarette seemed to last much longer than it usually did, the red cherry keeping him company and the smoke killing his lungs and keeping them warm at the same time. He hated that he still smoked. His mother smoked when he was a kid and he hated it. Another thing he’d lose because of it. Smoking.
The quiet outside was broken by the wail of an ambulance. He stepped aside as people bustled in and others streamed out to see what was going on.He did not look to see who was brought in, but kept staring at the cherry on his cigarette, watching it glow. He did not hear the bustle. He did not notice the man wheeled in. He dropped the cigarette on the ground.
He did not notice the loss of the silence until he looked up and heard all of the noise finally.
He followed the gurney inside, and kept walking past the waiting room.
He had been away too long. He had to get back in there, back to where things were. On the way he counted all the things he was losing, and he hoped that it was going to be worth it.