A love song
You turn the radio up and you smile. Just vibin’ and the sunset is on fire, and the whole highway is open wide. Behind you, there are rest stops and regrets, and it all sits on top of the fence like a hungry egret, hoping something is about to wash down the culvert.
It’s one of those songs you hear, and it makes this deep, soft hurt in your chest. It’s like a lump of ice caught in your throat and it’s killing you. You try to swallow it down, and you hope it will melt, but it just sits there and you think, OK, this is it. I’m going to die now. Here, on this highway. Alone. But you don’t. The ice melts.
And maybe you still think about it when you get home. Maybe it sits with you all night like heartburn, and you pull out old photo albums. You watch a dumb movie you hated. Or maybe you write a song, tell a story. Bomb a country whose name you can’t spell. This is America, no one can tell you how to get your kicks.
Turn the song up. The bend in the road is coming.
It’s a whole lot of something, but you can’t put your finger on the pulse, so you just write it off. That’s not fair, and that’s not an OK thing to do, but you do it, and you don’t feel bad about it. Words are blunt instruments for you. I keep mine sharp like scalpels.
It’s easy to cast things aside when you won’t let them blossom. It makes for a succinct and brutal surgery. But here it is.
There is a small girl sitting on the end of a pier because that’s where she used to fish with her old man. He wrapped his F150 about a telephone pole driving drunk after a hard day of work. So, she sits on the pier, and sometimes, she talks, but mostly, she just sits there. Staring at the ripples on the water and the way it breaks up the sunlight. She hears the birds making bird noises.
That may be nothing to some folks. Don’t tell her, though.
Reserving this space for Mr. Mader comments.ReplyDelete
The tan lab waits for me, halfway up the hill with an open-mouthed smile and bright eyes, and we walk. One of his legs healed wrong—no doubt a misguided adventure, knowing his propensity for mischief—so his gait is a hair lopsided, but it doesn’t slow him down.
For months he’d kept his distance, watched me appear and disappear. Then he’d follow me, for a few houses, before scrambling away to his own. When it was time to extend the invitation properly, I offered a hand to sniff. He approached. His nose twitched. Then he flinched back, like he’d smelled fear. The last time I’d done this, a dog bit me, so I wondered if I smelled of something dogs found disagreeable or dangerous. But this guy gave me a second chance. I put out my hand, palm up. He darted away again. Did he want me to chase him? I’m past my dog-chasing years, but I laughed and called him a goofball.
He always came back, though. Sometimes I’d see his shadow closing in on mine, then he’d knock his forehead into my hand. When I turned, he’d run off again.
I wish I better understood the language of tan labs. I don't know whether he's trying to tell me something or if he just wants to play tag, but during these days when I'm isolated and walking through this normally sociable but now quiet neighborhood, it's a blessing to have company. And the mystery of the laughing, limping dog.
This is a beautiful moment skillfully told. I love the magic in these type of moments, these connections.Delete
The floor of the cave pushed upwards, fingers of rock entering my stomach, probing between the unseen loops of my bowels. I continued to bleed, fading slowly. I would have little time to discuss mortality with my rescuers when they came.ReplyDelete
Another age passed. The sun was gone now. There was only a lighter darkness where it had been, an irregular shape marking the limits of the hole. I was conscious but the pain had returned, spasms pushing against the stone that had become a part of me, my body immobile and numb. There were sounds in my head, noises like kaleidoscopes in motion. They shifted when I breathed then waited again, aligned to the gases seeping out from my lungs. I scented holidays and the corruption of death. If I’d had a watch, I would have broken it, smashed the glass covering its hands then probed blindly at its face. I was alone and out of time here alone. If only I’d have had company I might not be here now. There was little sense in recriminations; my fate had been my own. I would have forever to luxuriate in regret.
Light again. And then dark. I hear them coming, canvas-clad and bright-voiced, their movements hesitant and sure. I see the beam of a torch, bright against the sheen of the wall, the stone collecting its light and their noise. If I had a voice I’d shout out, raise a hullabaloo.
If I had breath, I’d still be alive.
This is absolutely one of my worst nightmares, and you told it so well. It was actually hard for me to read, and I'm not one who gets easily made uncomfortable. ;)Delete
I don't know what I was thinking. I could have, should have, kept on walking. Pretend I didn't see. But I knew that I couldn't to that. The ghost of regret would haunt me for as long as I lived.ReplyDelete
How was I to know I was only trading one ghost of regret for another?
This is really lovely and quite the universal experience. We go through life making trades, eh?Delete