Archives for category: Scenes

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.”

“OK.”

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.

He held her closer, his grip tightening. She moved to swing her legs from around him, but his hands locked tight against her waist.

“Let me go.”

It was the refrain of the night, but it wasn’t entirely accurate. It wasn’t letting her go, it was the choice to watch her walk away. She cursed her initial phrasing.

She had thought it was going to be better after that, that the sex would make her feel better. Let her accept. The quiet of the night just sank heavier now. They would make up, and the morning would bring…what would change? She curled up on the edge of the bed.

What would change.

The strongest soldiers became the weakest dolls outside of combat. The shell was shed and she had let him see the tender bits. And he pressed up against them, cutting off her circulation. Unconsciously or no, he would hurt her again and again. And she would take it. Why? She had no idea.

This was the point of her running away. The point of leaving for all the assignments she did not have to take, the more dangerous the better. Out there, in the daylight, she had armor. She was strong, bulletproof. She was a soldier of the microphone. Not an anchor, not a ditzy blonde, but the hardened type. The one they occasionally forgot was a woman.

But here, in the dark, on the edge of the bed, wanting to sleep on the couch, but wanting to be near him, she was the antithesis of herself. At times, she loved it. And she hated it. She was powerless to his touch, to the words he whispered in her ear. She didn’t even care what he said, but the feeling of his breath so close, it was intoxicating. So she let her guard down. And sooner or later, words and actions from him jarred her. They would remind her of boyfriends past, of the men she tried to forget who hurt her physically and mentally. The men who had made her walls so easy to build.

She sat straight up. This was not who she was and at the same time it was who she wanted to be. He brought out a side of her she missed, but had walled away so far that even she had forgotten it was there. But it should remain protected. The needy, desperate woman she was on these nights scared her. It scared her more than bombs, rebels and machetes against her throat.

He was asleep, of course. The comfort of sleep came easier to those who hadn’t seen what she had seen. Those who hadn’t known what she knew. A comfortable corporate job made for a comfortable corporate sleep. She slowly drew her pillow away and retreated to the couch.

Sleep came easier here. Out by herself. She fell asleep until a sound woke her up. He called for her. She stayed silent. He fell asleep again.

In the dawn, she grabbed her clothes, cell phone and backpack. Once she was out the door she called the office.

“What have we got today?”

Anywhere but here. Escape was the only way to save herself.

The fence said she couldn’t go farther, so she stopped for a minute, looked at the birds — geese and ducks? — hanging out in the wetlands. It was pretty here and she could think. She pulled the headphones out of her ears for a minute.

The man standing with his daughter pointed.

“There’s a squirrel there. Look.”

She squinted.

“He’s a little scrawny.”

He suddenly felt…stupid. Here in his audacious hat and backback, forcing his 13-year-old daughter to find nature in the middle of Los Angeles. While she stared at the squirrel, talking about how she never saw them anymore, he looked.

She was beautiful. She was younger than he, pretty in the way that women in their late 20s can be as they find themselves. He felt even more stupid. He had been alone for so long and it pained him to see a pretty woman. It made him miss his wife. It made him feel even more lonely. The only woman he knew anymore was Rita, and she clearly hated him for a reason he couldn’t quite understand. His sister said it was that age. He thought that somehow, she blamed him for the cancer.

“I grew up in Wisconsin, you know.”

“So you miss the squirrels, too?”

She wasn’t sure why she was talking to him. It had been a painful morning. He had given her her things back and tried hard to hold on to her, but it was too late. Her heart had broken and her expectations for love vanished. She came here to find the solace she’d always found in nature. Something pure.

He wasn’t attractive. But he was kind. He listened as they stared out, pointing out animals. The Canada geese. The ducks. The herons. Part of her yearned for kind.

She told him about her favorite hike, hidden in the canyons.

“We went somewhere near there, I thought. Right Rita?”

His daughter shrugged. She didn’t want to be here. She missed her mother. These walks. He thought this would bring them closer together, but the walks were pregnant with her mother’s absence. She was the one who never forgot water, and would make them all laugh. She would have gone past the fence that said the rest of the trail was closed. He tried so hard, but he could never be here.

The three of them stared in silence.

She realized she should keep going.

“I’m going to go that way. Have a nice day.”

The second she walked away a tinge of regret flickered. Maybe she should have introduced herself. As she walked away, she saw a heron on the bluff. It seemed to tell her to stand tall. This was only a moment, today was only a day. She would get past this.

She stopped, murmured to herself and partly to the heron.

“You’re beautiful. Thank you.”

He watched her walk away.

“She was pretty, wasn’t she?”

“I guess so.”

He was relieved that she was gone. The pain of loneliness left him. It was better this way, anyway.

“What do you want for lunch?”

The walked away and as they curved around the final bend of the trail, he hoped to see a flash of her. Maybe they could nod to each other.

She saw them walking a little in front of her and she slowed down. She let them get into their car and drive off. She looked at the water.

She climbed over the fence to the restricted area. It was beautiful here.

This thing on top of my neck hurts, from the lack of caffeine, but I’m going to try and write anyway. Let’s just do this freethought until my battery runs out.

You went away one person and never quite came back. I’m not sure who I am to begin with so who can fault you for that? But do you even know who you are now? You were by my side and then you were not. You who judges me for the choices I made. The words form but I can never say them out loud. I’m worried you who judges are toxic. I’m worried you who went away won’t come back to me. Changes happen here and here and the sun shines almost every day in Los Angeles. But never quite the same way. Nothing is constant, they say, so you better get used to whatever as not being what you thought it was. Sitting consciously in that weariness wearies me. We are never who we once were and when he whispers in her ear he changes both of them forever. What she says next – or doesn’t say – could be the beginning or the end.

I always write in circles. Beginnings and ends. It’s always about the path we take from one day to the next and what maybe, could have happened if you turned right instead of left. Re-evaluating the choices we make but never regretting them.

God knows what that all just meant. But it’s there. I did it.

We’re past the awkward moment where we look at each other and separately think, “What next?” We’re past talking about movies, Leslie Neilson, television, our jobs and what we like to eat.

What next?

This moment makes me laugh, and then I realize that he might think I’m laughing at him. So I tell him.

“This is that awkward moment where we look at each other and say, ‘What next?'”

Next.

A coffee shop. it’s like morocco in here, except neither of have been there. Or here, actually. We keep talking and it keeps getting better. I’m laughing and he’s smiling and I wonder if I should put my hand on the table in that place that indicates that I’d like him to touch it. So I try. It feels not right. I put it back where it was, wherever that was.

Hope springs eternal in our eyes as we separately think that this might work.

Then.

You leave Morocco and stand by your car and the moment where you both know that hope did spring eternal and you kiss, wondering if you should kiss again and risk looking kind of slutty or if you should leave it there and leave him wondering whether you wanted to kiss again, but you hold off because this is a first date after all and maybe this could work and goddamn you shouldn’t have left Morrocco it was easier there.

I laugh again.

Thanks for dinner.

I drive into the street of Los Angeles that I know so well and alternately do not know well at all. It’s the great wide open and the city at the same time. Morocco is kind of like that. Known and unknown.

Something I’ve always wanted to do is chronicle the people I see on the street or at coffee shops and tell m version of what their stories might be.

The Scene

Just outside the door of the coffee shop is an older couple. They are playing Scrabble. She has her pieces laid out on the little easel and has her hand on her chin, trying to form works with the scatter of tiles in front of her. She picks up a small dictionary as the man scratches his head. He is balding, with long, scraggly hair. they both wear glasses. He stares at the board, then at her, waiting.

The Story

“Phillip, let’s go do something,” Donna said as she folded the day’s laundry.

It was a warm day outside, warmer than it had ever been in April. She blamed and was grateful for global warming as she looked out the window.

“We just went out,” Phillip called from the couch. He was reading a well-loved copy of Ishmael.

“To the store. That is not out.”

Their home was a well lived small bungalow they had thankfully bought years before. It was worth five times what they paid for it, even though it desperately needed some repairs Phillip had been “getting to” for the past five years. There was no set style, only comfort. the children had beaten the life out of the furniture and they could not bear to part with the pieces of cloth, foam and wood after the kids had moved out and were having families of their own. They had memories stored in the cushions next to the dust and grime.

Donna had stopped folding and was giving Phillip a look of tender annoyance.

Phillip sighed. He did want a cup of coffee.

“Let’s go into San Luis and grab some coffee,” he said with a hint of resignation.

He pronounced it San Lewis, not San Lou-eese as it was supposed to be pronounced. He had lived in the area too long.

Donna smiled.

“We can play Scrabble, and maybe you’ll beat me this time.”

Phillip laughed.

So, should I keep doing this? Was it any good?