In the blank moments between tracks, when the wind doesn’t blow past my ear in its loud whirr way, when the potholes can’t fill the space, I think of her, her and her; those that didn’t last, never struck it right, swamp rather than oil as my Dad would say. My brain’s attempt at connecting the ever-present mundane days, the word our worlds coined for the silent pain felt in one’s own company: loneliness. These roads I’ve driven, squares from her door, to her garage, to the empty dust lot where I parked my car for three months and then four more off-and-on. My life’s place markers the romantic pins and the new routes I’ve plotted to avoid: her high loft view of the street, seeing her, and then her new love get into the same passenger seat I’d spent hours listening to the XX in, shared stale smoke kisses, my bare feet blocking her side mirror view. And when I see her in my rear view mirror I turn three blocks too soon, refuse to check her passenger seat. When I see a tiny frame (both bike and body) I slow, move left, give-way to the cyclist like she’d want me to, and when it’s not her I smile and imagine she’s moved far from these streets we used to ride. All my fails are stacked inside, vertebra-tall and so strong, the repetitive one-way blocks I’ve made then and now remind me of the choices, the giving and all the taking I did, now that I can’t be kind to loving anyone, but me.
The most recent attempt…
A FORGOTTEN COLOUR
Surrounded by thousands of spines Barbra plods along, her white hair flat against her head revealing a dappled scalp. The gold chain around her neck which holds her glasses clinks against the metal clamp of her name badge:
As she leans forward to scan my library card her breasts press her glasses onto the countertop and make a grating noise she is oblivious of.
Have you read my husband’s book?
It’s shelved in Non-Fiction H-L.
I’ll look next time, tomorrow probably.
It’s about a golf ball who goes on a journey to find the right green.
The little ball just rolls along – searching, searching.
I settle at my usual table, towards the back, to the right with a view of the large brick high school across the street. They don’t use brick much anymore. Too…
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I’ve moved back to the States and have been lucky enough to remain a part of the STORGY community. Check out my latest short story; inspired by a trip I took to Brussels.
I can tell it’s you by your syntax. The properly placed commas like your hands on either side of my face. You cap my head like bookends, like tight ear muffs attached to the ends of a coiled piece of plastic – mimicking a headband, and me with all my rambly side-note phrases. See. Though I always preferred the en-dash, similar to the one your forearms made as you covered my eyes and surprised me with that painting. Your subject is always close to its object. No room for confusion; you are powerful and purposeful with your words. You liked to lay your head in my lap. You are my full stop to my less-than and greater-than knees. You reminded me of how bad I was at math as you smiled up at me. I was so bad with numbers you always had to leave the tip, write down the birthdays and anniversaries on our fresh desk calendars each year. On silly holidays that celebrate love: Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, well all of the holidays, you’d test me by giving me three separate bunches of flowers and ask me at random how many I’d gotten that day. You kissed me and smiled whether I got it wrong or right. I always got it wrong. I was never good on the spot. Or with commas. I put them where I stop when reading my sentences back to myself, aloud. And the spots on your back. I counted them once and one hardly qualified for a full numeral so we settled on 14 and a half freckles on your back. I notice your sentences and you notice my math, how lucky are we for that? I know you’ll forgive my similes, my lacking, drawn-out metaphors because you know I can’t write when I write about you.
Ever thought about the perks of being poor-ish (a student)? Here are some of my thoughts, be sure to leave yours. One Coiled Spring/ PG Scheming Techniques/ The Frugal Humble Student Life. While you’re there read Stick It To The Man.
He stands by the tube doors hanging from the overhead bar. His palms are red from the strained weight of his elderly body. Dangling like an earring from a loose old earlobe. Stretched but not meaning to be. He’s wearing a polyester suit. Has that slack look to it – with rubbed nodules of fabric in places constantly grated, the persistent passing of bicep to ribcage, thigh on thigh. His black Velcro shoes look new, clean at least. His blue and pink Hawaiian shirt lifts at his waist exposing a belly full of years of food, beer. I say beer because he has a wet mark that’s blossomed near his crotch. A puddle spread over the fabric like a pen exploding on paper right from the writer’s hand and without command to do so. He turns his back to me (a protest) concealing the spot but not the stench. His hand is over his mouth. He’s hiding from the smell with overt motions, those demonstrated by angry toddlers. Talking into his palm. What else is an old man to do but claim lunacy when he’s wet himself before getting to a toilet, before getting home. I hope he’s got a wife at home or a compassionate daughter who will pre-soak the pants in a tub of water and say “these things happen, dad” swish – swish “we’ll ring the doctor, dad” “ask about a pill to help, dad.” He exits the coach, walks with his hands at his waist, more in front than normal. Resembles a five-year-old holding for a wee. He’ll go home, get into bed leave the piss pants on the floor next to yesterday’s lapse.