Monday, December 24, 2012

In the Garden...

He sits languidly in the lawn chair, one arm slung behind his head, the other propped on his lap holding a styrofoam cup half-filled with coffee. His intense gaze fixed on the empty air in front of him, he absentmindedly rotates the cup of coffee in his hand.

She watches him, taking in every minute detail. How his forearm muscles flex as he turns the cup slowly between his fingers. How perfectly his dark blue jeans fit his legs. How his chest rises rhythmically with each inhalation and exhalation of his breath. How his eyelashes hover as he lets his eyelids close slightly. She closes her own eyes and takes a deep breath, trying to calm her racing heartbeat.

He doesn't see her. He can't see her. She is invisible. Her invisibility is a part of who she is. Normally she likes the comfort of anonymity this gives her, but not with him. She wants to show herself. But she doesn't belong in his world. Forcing herself there would only bring them both pain. Again.

He shifts slightly, breaking her reverie. She realizes her mistake immediately. It takes concentration to stay invisible and she has let her concentration go completely, wrapped up so entirely in looking at him, listening to him. She should go invisible and run. Get away.

But it is too late. He sees her. He's coming toward her.

"Bijou," he whispers, his eyes searching hers. Her name on his lips sends shivers through her. "Not here to do another one of your disappearing acts, are you?"

How does she explain that she shouldn't be there? That she needs to go? That she hadn't meant to stay watching him for so long?

Before these dreadful thoughts can fully form, his lips are on hers for the first time. The kiss is passionate and reassuring. In that moment she realizes that nothing else matters. Just the two of them. She is his and she will do anything and endure anything to keep it that way.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

All Over...

On the precipice of fortune's misfortune,
The powerful sit powerless
Individual islands with conflicting flags,
Battlements fortified against allies

The 'face of evil' is but a babe
The body, vestments of our discord,
An unclear enemy with unclear goals
Targeting our hearts and souls

Lessons learned, but forgotten
Unity pays, division costs
Lessons missed, no second chances
Collaboration, not compromise

The blame is ours to share
So, too, is the solution
Differences need not divide
Our mutual destruction is not a given.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

At the Intersection of Childhood and Innocence Lost...

She was sick. That was true, but why did he accept that as a good enough reason to leave her behind? She was always sick.

She stays hidden. Just as her mother told her to do. She doesn't let him see her. Not that it matters, he doesn't ask.

Jolie places her head against the wall, as close to the edge as she possibly can and strains to hear their conversation.

"She's sick again?" her father asks. He doesn't sound concerned, only angry. "Why is she always sick?"

"I don't know. She's just been coughing and wheezing. Her nose is really bad too." she hears her mother quickly explain.

"She can't even come with us to get ice cream?" he asks and Jolie perks up. "Yeah Mom," she thinks, "it's only ice cream, besides, it'll make my throat feel better."

"No, she's resting."

"Fine then, it'll be just us boys, right Roger?" her father says without hesitation. Jolie can hear her brother's squeals and laughter as her father scoops him up into his arms. "You can't keep her from me forever, you know that, right?"

"I'm not keeping her from you, you can go see her right now, she just can't go with you because she needs her rest."

At this, Jolie darts back into her grandma's bedroom and climbs back into her grandma's big bed and pulls the covers up to her chin. Anxiously waiting for her father to come in and check on her.

But he didn't.

Jolie should not have been surprised—even then, at five years old—that he didn't care to check.

She spent all her energy trying to make him like her. To pay attention to her.

But he didn't.

Then, much later, he did, and it was the most glorious time. He spent so much time with her. He took her rollerskating at the local roller rink and shopping at the mall. They visited museums and played in the park. He sang her songs from the operas that he loved.

She didn't realize he could hurt her even more than he already had, but, ever so slowly, ever so perniciously, he did.

And just as slowly, she learned to never trust him, just as her mother had. She had learned the hard way of course.

Yet, despite all of that, this little memory was the one that hurt the most. Jolie could still feel the cool hardwood floor beneath her feet. Still feel the painted cabinet that she traced the outline of with her little pudgy finger as she listened covertly to her parents those twenty years ago. Still smell the wallpapered wall  pressed up against her face, it smelled like her grandma's house. She could even feel the elastic waistband and shoulder ties of the little romper that she wore that day (she never did tell her mom how much she hated those).

At the time she was very confused, but not angry with him. She was angry with her mom for making her stay home, but she was not angry with him. She was hurt, very hurt, that he didn't come to make her feel better. She wanted to hear his voice...maybe even a sweet song from him.

She has come to understand that her mom was attempting to protect her from him. Protect her brother too. Her mother knew she couldn't keep both of them, but she felt that if only one of them went, then her father would be more likely to return her brother.

Besides, Jolie was always sick and her father never forced the issue.

Monday, December 3, 2012

At the Café...

Sitting outside the café with the sun on her face and the cracked pavement beneath her feet, she could feel the desolation and despair creeping in like an unwelcome intruder. She tried so hard to fight it back, but Heather’s willpower and her heart were at odds with each other. Deep down she knew nothing ever came from giving in to the painful memories, but her heart craved the comfort that came from giving in, because with it, came him.

It had been over a year since she last spoke to him. She kept hoping that one day she would check her email and discover an email from him, telling her why he disappeared and that he was coming back. She had imagined the reunion so many times. Yet, she knew it would never happen. Every time she felt she had come to terms with his absence, she would see something else that would drag her down. 

Today, it was a car that looked like his car. When Heather saw the car stopped at the stop sign two streets up from where she was stopped, her heart started racing. When her light turned green and she pulled passed the car, she saw that it was not his car. It didn’t even look like it when she got close and it was driven by a little gray-haired woman. Then the tears came. So strong that she had to stop and gather her thoughts.

But she didn’t gather her thoughts, she just stared at her drink she wouldn’t drink and told herself to stop thinking about him. That’s when the melancholy took over. It oozed up her body from the deepest recesses of her soul like an inky-black ocean and washed over her with icy despair.

Then the release came and she was transported back to the day they met. It was a day like any other day—nothing special to mark it as the day that her life would change. She had woken up, jogged a mile, showered, dressed, and drove the short distance into work, just as she did every morning. With her mind on her work and nothing more, she was unsure why she had looked up. Then she saw him. Suddenly, she knew she had looked up because he had been looking at her, even though he was deep in conversation with her supervisor. Who was this guy? Beautiful and charming, that she could gather from clear across the room. Then he smiled and her supervisor laughed. Her supervisor never laughed. Was he witty to boot? Now, she must meet him!

She got up on the pretense of going to the break room to refill her coffee mug. (Oh god…why was she using the stupid “No coffee, no workie” mug?) She walked straight passed him, trying not to look at him, but their eyes met and he flashed her a devastating smile. His brown eyes were mesmerizing. How she made it to the break room, she’s not sure, but her tactic worked. Just a few seconds after she had entered the break room, he sauntered in. Heather’s lips curled in a smile, just remembering that moment.

“Hi, my name’s Hendrix,” he said, holding out his hand. “I’ll be working the national news desk.”

“Um, Heather, weather,” she giggled. “Your name’s really Hendrix?”

“Yup, my parents were…well…fans, Heather Weather,” he chuckled.

That was the moment that they “clicked.” They had talked about how they never “clicked” with anyone. That’s why Heather was still single at her age. 

Their friendship grew quickly and soon they were spending just about every waking moment with each other. After a few months, they decided to move in with each other. Heather’s brow furrowed at this last thought.

Then, one day, a few weeks before she was set to move into his house with him, Hendrix called her and said they needed to talk right away. The tone of his voice made her nervous. He sounded almost angry, but maybe it was nervous. She had never heard his voice sound that way. He was always so laid back, so calm.

When he rang her doorbell, she let him in. Without any preamble whatsoever, he burst out, “I have to leave now.” He paced the floor like a caged animal. Something was clearly wrong with him.

Scared and dumbfounded, she said, “But you just got here.”

“No, not your home. Here, this town. This state. I have to leave.” She spent the next hour trying to understand what he meant, but he just kept telling her he couldn’t explain any further. She pleaded for him to stay, but he said he couldn’t. Then, abruptly, he stood up, grabbed his jacket, and headed for the door.

“Wait!” she screamed, by now she was trembling from head to toe, “what if I come with you?”

With that, his face softened and his resolve melted. “You can’t,” he said softly, with tears in his eyes. “I can’t explain, but just know that I don’t want to leave you. I will be back as soon as I can, if I can.”

“Okay, I guess. I’ll wait for you, will you be long?”

“I don’t know how long I will be. Don’t wait for me. Live your life.” With that, he kissed her forehead gently and quietly stole out of the front door, out of her life.