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A bummed cigarette is burning in the ashtray at a dining table where I sit. Also on the table: my open notebook, a cup of tea reflected twice, and a pen I've watched roll to the floor several times. An adorable baby blue eyed Persian kitty named Iggy jumps up there to sniff at the steam from the cup.
I stand, feeling too tall, cramped in the apartment. I don't want to touch the cigarette and this time, Iggy will learn on his own what hot tea is all about. I'm tired of fighting him, the tea, my pen and notebook. Everything out to get me.
I return to sit, the seat wood hard. A silver hair floating in my tea is evidence to why Iggy is missing, but I can't accept the tea. I systematically delete each material concern, the tea, the cat, this apartment, the sound of the pen rolling and dropping… even closing my notebook and leaving my arms on the table like tools from a workbelt and sigh. No problem, I think, and scan a panorama of worthlessness and accidentally leave myself in the picture.
I turn the heavy chair to face the window. I recognize the faint glow of another sunset, or what I can make of it; the windows dirty and framed, a horizon blocked by trees, parked cars and traffic, and people reminding me of earth.
I think if I were at Clearwater Beach, staying at my grandmother's, I would get into my car with my writing materials, a canopy, a jug of water, or ice tea maybe, and lodge on the sand with all the sunset and it wouldn't glow, it would shine and the colors; oranges, reds, and purples would blend with the light and stretch across the horizon and present all the ocean before me.
A boy and a girl down aways chasing each other, circling, and dashing at and away from each other headed my direction. They slow, and kick up the tide and they are laughing. Their laughter is younger than I. They are younger than I. Makes me sad. They hold hands. I see the first stars of this eve in their eyes, having lit like lanterns.
I stand impulsively feigning preoccupation with, maybe, a walk along the beach. My feet sinking in the cool dry sand, still, afraid to move, I watch their bare feet, small and tan, go by. They wear loose cotton pants rolled at the ankles, hardly anything for shirts and they smell clean, fragrant of roses, and then they pass and my eyes obey their stride and feel unbalanced.
The girl, she's sixteen and has long fair hair, almost white, her hand on the boys waist. She looks behind her shoulder at me and he glances too. They sustain the distance then by trekking off towards the water's edge. She calls my… Matt… He smiles. He's younger and has short brown hair, is probably fourteen, and is lean.
We walk side by side but comfortably apart.
"Let go," she says.
"I am not safe." I shake my head. "The world is rushing in at me from all sides. Can't you see it, feel it here with me? From all four corners the winds are pressing in at me. If I were to enter the water, the winds will pull the waters spiraling around my body. A whirlpool will swallow and drown me."
"No, no, no," says the boy. "What you feel are inner winds. They are right there and there alone." His finger finds my chest and over my heart draws a circle. "They are spiraling right now in your soul. Your nature, ocean or no ocean," he points to it, "will get swallowed up anyway." He smiles. "Walk out into the waters and this will be proved to you."
Then the boy, upset now, "You'll wake sick. Dizzy and ill, like hungover. Do what you will. But trust in the Lord. Enter the water. It is your resistance that proves the water, in your mind, is effective. So enter the water and be baptized."
I run to the water to meet my own death. I fling myself. There is a dolphin. As I arch into my jump a dolphin swims under me. His eyes are plain and simple. And a laugh jumps from me and I taste salt in my eyes under murky water. The cold hits, then an adrenaline rush, laughing, doing summersaults and spinning at play underneath. There is coral rock. I dive, then bring a chunk to the surface. It is raw and prickly and glistens in the hazy air.
"I saw a dolphin. He had black eyes. They were friendly like the night, like sleep. And look, coral." I wipe salt from my eye and grab a breath for the water I'm treading. "There's a whole bunch down there. Y ou have to be careful where you step. And the dolphin. He swam right beneath my dive. I almost touched him. I wonder what he was doing. I know he saw me. It's so cool." I reach the floor and reach the beach. "I know it's dark but it'll be fun. Get in. Or we could go into town along the beach where all the kids play volleyball and throw Frisbee and all the beach bums get drunk and build fires and talk like pirates. We can sleep. Sleep here. Who are you two. I want to be with you two forever. Oh I love you both."
The boy says, "You were so afraid of death and spirals and the waters before, but now you are overjoyed. Why aren't you dead like you said. Why didn't you get sucked down. What happened?" I pause, mellow.
"The dolphin. He was made for the water. When I dove down, I saw myself in the dolphin's eyes. At that split second, I turned into a dolphin and held my breath like a dolphin and then belonged to the water. And now I am up for breath. The winds are currents snaking through my legs." I slowly spin with arms levitating. "That scared boy up on shore is now a dolphin. Next time I'm afraid, I'll assume the animal best suited. Now, I'll be a human and belong on earth."
The sands open below my feet and I sink below the earth. I witness a wedding. The boy and girl wedded. They kiss. There are flaming torches and sparkling lights. They are in all white. They are bonded.
I am back along, walking along the shore. All I hear are waves, gulls. All I see is the beach, the ocean, this kind of yellowish green light along the edge of the horizon. All I smell is salt and fish. All I taste is my water, faintly salty. All I am is human.
There is a bubbling sound in the distance. It frightens me, alerting me to something. The apartment. My cold tea. I lie down my pen and, of course, it rolls off the table. I look at my writing, my frantic script covering pages. Too amazed to count them, too weary. I can't move but my soup is bubbling, alerting me. I look up and see myself – wet, salty, and windblown there on the couch, probably leaving a wet spot. Eye contact. A pause in time. It isn't me, though. Someone younger, sexier, definitely more intense. Iggy is doing circles around him.
(three pages missing)
He tells me, "You think too much. I am being. You disappoint me." He looks at the drapes over the front window, then at my notebook open before me. "I love you too much to let go. I suppose I always will."
"End your story," he says.
I look at my notebook, feel out the ending lines, feel out for the missing piece and finally see myself under the canopy on the beach, listening to the squealing of friendly dolphins, and noticing the reflection of the moon on the ocean pointed straight toward me, a white glow on the words there in my notebook. I set my pen down.
Because I love the feeling of water. I want to put in the middle of the bathroom a glass shower, four panels of clear glass with dual shower heads so my boo and I don't have to take turns who's in the water because we both like the feeling. Then to the side there will be a tub with scented candles and lulling sweet soaps.
All I've been drinking this week besides apple juice has been water. Lots and lots of water. I don't really know why. We have other things to drink, but Apple Juice and Water have just been amazing. Usually I drink cranberry juice or tea or pop but not JUST water and Apple juice ... there's a serious lack of diversity in my beverage choices.