The night I asked Lena to drop out of high school and marry me, it was freezing. We were waiting out a fall hailstorm, hunkered together under the awning of Kennywood Amusement Park’s Haunted House which was Lena’s favorite ride, even though she rode it with her eyes closed. “Oh, Lennerd,” she said, “Yes. Yes!” Afterwards, we rode the neck-whipping wooden coaster, Thunderbolt, and she was a good sport about it.
‘Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things…’ Robert Frost
Daphne Robins decided to end her life immediately. Not in the conventional way with bullets or paracetamol or dangling from a beam. Far too dramatic. It was more of a replacement she was looking for. She’d been drifting. She knew it, and a change was needed. Not a small, measly, January-the-first-gym joining change, that wouldn’t do at all. She needed a profound, wow-your-so-brave-I-never-thought-you-would-could-facebook-status-update-to-all change. She placed her well-thumbed copy of the complete works of Robert Frost onto the speckled granite breakfast bar, but not before placing a soft kiss onto Robert’s sun-faded profile.
‘Thank you, Robert.’
I’ve been running long enough that everything in me wants to collapse and the grass is looking like an awfully good pillow. Every morsel of my body is getting back at me for those sports I never played and the exercise I never did. Just to rub it in, time slows to a caterpillar’s pace. You could solve a Rubik’s cube in the time it takes me to make one step. Slowly, I evacuate my body parts. It’s a skill I spend my gym periods perfecting. You try and imagine you don’t even have a body. I start with my legs. They still move but I just don’t feel them anymore, like an employee that keeps on coming to work even after you fired him. Then I release my kidneys, pancreas, ovaries, and all those other miscellaneous organs. Finally I reach the basketball court, light splattered liberally across it. I take a breather and check my phone, just in case she texted me back. She hasn’t.
Emilio is sitting across from me. I can barely understand his broken English as it mixes with his native Italian tongue. They sometimes overlap. He makes a new language of which I understand very little. He is going on about something, something about a child and a woman. He is talking fast and touching his face and tapping his mouth with his finger. I’m thinking that I am the woman that he is going on about and that he is trying to describe. The child, I do not know. Emilio is talking fast and I’m giving it my best effort.
Traegger Cable, too, took in that loveliness, the sheathed agreement of their first meeting, how yellow clung in curves, arches, turning darker where it was darker, tossing daylight about her, splashing it around, washing the lithe frame she carried with sunlight. Her hair, once again, shook loose, a forgotten attendant that sat lightly on the forehead, wind-worked as ever, playing a game, being innocent in the very breath that created motion. Cable someplace, somewhere, had seen this pose, this framed moment. He struggled to find who or where, at what point of travel such a sight had been captured that it now came back to him so richly.
Morning came bright and eager, and the barest chill bit the air, as Cable looked out over the small piece of Sunquit visible from Frank’s deck. From every quarter came evidence of the storm, debris scattered as if giant baskets had been emptied on the land. Trees had been ripped out of the ground and tossed singly or in piles, their limbs shorn of leaves, bark stripped in huge rents. Every point at the high water mark was littered with wood, huge planks torn from God knows where, boards of every description, two by fours and moldings and fashioned woodwork and now and then large sheets of plywood scaled to a hard resting place, partly buried in sand or debris piles. He could see boat parts of upper decks driven high up on the shore and thought of the agony associated with each piece, the drama which might have surfaced at their rending. Continue reading
In the dream, all I had to do was keep going until I got to the center of the city and then turn right to get to Grand Central Station. Before that I had been in L.A. where some cultists were convinced the world was going to end in another two days. They saw the signs in the street and were all standing around and pointing at a string of lights laid out in a certain way. My boss, Steve, thought they were crazy. He, or someone else, was telling us about a new service, a van set up as a portable office at the airport where you could sit for a while and do your business. Someone handed me a pile of photos which Steve wanted to see so I handed them to him and he found one of himself and his wife and there was a visible reaction that showed me they were very close. Before that I had been standing on my lawn and about a hundred noisy kids were living next door and someone had come by to replace my cell phone and he wanted to know if he should remove the loudspeaker. The further back I went the more complicated the dream got. In any case it must have been Steve who sent me to Grand Central. He liked to have us exercise, so there was someone else from the office out walking too, a woman, but she turned off where there was a fork in the road, following an arrow, while I continued straight through, catching green lights all the way.