Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Little Dance

There she always was in her giant coat, waiting for Anne on the corner. The corner with bags of trash, yellow cabs flying by. Tugging at her straightened black hair and smiling.

They entered the bar with kisses on the cheek.

"Summer! Anne!"

Bouncing along the coats that lined the wall, they settled down on the far end of the bar.

They stayed until the lights were lowered and the jukebox faint, the sound of tinkling glasses being arranged by the bar-back becoming the predominant murmur.

"Summer! Anne! Oh, Micky, you must meet these two girls."

Anne turned around to discover a face from her Saturday morning TV childhood. It was a sad remnant of the past in a black fedora. Aged pop star now fatherly. Gripping an Old Fashioned.

Ah, but not fatherly? He bent down and fixed the buckle on Anne's shoe and his fingers lingered on her ankle.

He asked Anne to dance. They swayed in the glow of the jukebox on that tiled floor where Anne had danced many times before.

She was unmoved.

Summer remained perched in amusement. Her back always unfathomably straight. Unfathomably straight in light of her cares. The weight that stood behind her eyes and the sadness that reached into the corners of her mouth disguised in her posture.

Then Summer and Anne pulled back on their giant coats and escaped into the winter night.

5am and only Micky remained, hunched over the bar. Sadly gripping an Old Fashioned.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


They said their farewells in a train station.

Her ticket flew out of the machine and he said, "Sweetheart, we should say goodbye here."

"No!" she barely audibly choked out.

The tears immediately began their merciless flow, and she clamored upwards for his mouth, desperately. She was a soggy, pathetic child, but he kissed her. He kissed her and then made some superfluous comment about the bags. Maybe out of a fear of sadness and the need to diffuse. Maybe out of the desire for a cigarette and a sandwich and the saga of her to be over.

They walked a little further to the gate of her platform. She silently shuddered with sobs and he repeated over and over again, "Sweetheart, sweetheart." "I am certain that we will meet again.
Probably sooner than you think." Lies to assuage his guilt.

She couldn't say anything. All her misery was caught in her throat. Along with the scream of, "I love you! Why do I have to leave? Why have you already left me? Why does life always hurl on and on and on and on? Without you. Without England."

One last fumble for his torso and then she silently and determinedly turned for the gate. She went through and then turned her face, screwed up in hideous agony, back towards him. He blew a kiss and called out, "You are platform 12, remember?"
What a silly, stupid child she must have looked til the last. Clueless and wandering is how he saw her. Incapable of crossing streets ("How will you do this without me?") and navigating the world.

"I know!" she nearly spat, nearly laughed.

He laughed, but his eyes looked sad.
She rounded the bend and came back in view of the gate. She half expected, in one last sliver of hope, for him to still be waiting there, lingering over her departure. Her heart saw the tall figure and mournful eyes. The gray t-shirt stained with her tears. The straw fedora set at the rakish angle atop his head. The rucksack filled with liters of wine and the rolling papers in his beautiful hands. But, no, he had vanished out of sight. With a quickness that was almost cruel. If he had left her, she would still be standing there watching for him. But he was gone gone gone. And she knew she was gone gone gone and over for him.

She took her seat on the train and continued to weep with bitter pain, resentment, love, and hate. The thread by which she was bound to him stretched tighter and threatened to snap in two as the train pulled out of the station.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Anne slept with his shirt between her cheek and the pillow. She was afraid she would sap it dry of his smell before they next met... that it would wear away... and she would have nothing left of him but soft, gray cotton.

On his shoulders were tawny freckles that matched the color of his eyes. She pressed her nose against his flecked skin and looked up at his face.

They stayed up all night talking. She folded her arms and rested her cheek on the island in his kitchen and he complained, "Now I will only think of your face when I look at this counter. The kitchen will be incomplete without it."

The first time he kissed her was on a climbing escalator.

She had trouble catching her breath.

The weight of their distance was unbearable in her chest. Her heart ached and gaped cavernous. She closed her eyes and trembled to remember his warmth. It was not hard to recall, and its absence clawed at her until she thought she could not stand under such duress.

She would bite his nose and kiss his eyes and touch his exceptional cheeks with the tips of her fingers.

She would stay awake and caress him into comfortable sleep. Absorb, like Mrs. Ramsay, his pains and his weak knees, making him whole again.

He reformed Anne to her original best self. Slowly, as she was enveloped in his love, the trappings of latest rebellion dropped like scales from her body. He remembered her back to life. And to a new life that dazzled and shimmered with nuance and hope. It stretched out long before her in the least laborious of ways, twisting and spinning into joyous action. His light reflected brilliantly in her undulating waves until they were almost painful to gaze upon.

"Come kiss me..." he sighed.

And she was coming.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


She thought his hands were the most beautiful she had ever seen.

They spent the day in a small gallery in the city. It was just the kind of museum she loved. Diminutive, intimate, quiet, unassuming, old old old, tall and narrow. They took a rest on a carved bench. He cradled her in his arms. They had paused in a particularly religious and Italian room. She made a passing comment about the painting in front of them--something about how humid John the Baptist's furry dress must have been--and he seemed suddenly in rapture for her quaint Christianity. His grip tightened around her as if to say, "What other little notions are in that head?" "Is John the Baptist someone you think of often?" "What a tiny novelty you and your religion are!"

Earlier she had stood transfixed by another painting in the corner.

"That one reminds me of your hands," she told him.

"Which character?" he asked with a half laugh.

"All of them... but particularly the Virgin Mary. Her hands most look like your beautiful hands."

He chuckled, embarrassed, as she took one exquisite hand between her (inferior) two and confirmed the likeness.

He stood before a Modigliani nude and proclaimed that it was his favorite in the gallery. She found herself unreasonably jealous of his admiration for the female flesh; as if this fictitious woman in the painting was better loved than she. But it was a tender and touching rendering. The woman was so tranquil and sad and vulnerable. However, all Anne and her need for perverse disagreement and displays of shallowness could muster was, "But her face is so pointed..."

They left for a coffee on the terrace, and she longed for his beautiful Virgin Mary hands to be touching her as he rolled another cigarette.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Anne didn't like breakfast. She didn't like being awake. It was all...unnecessary and tiresome.

Eric's breakfast spread was elaborate and beautifully laid out. There were a variety of juices in a variety of cups in a variety of colors. Fruit was mixed in a bowl. Muffins and breads of myriad flavors were sliced in halves and plated. Two forks. Two knives.

Anne slid the rice paper door to one side and surveyed the damage from a distance; Eric was still fumbling with the coffee in the kitchen. She waited for her stomach to turn at the sweetness of his gesture, but shockingly, all her organs remained intact and she didn't feel as ill as she often did when something nice was done for her.

"Sit down!" he urged as he perched cross-legged on a chair. He was smallish. He reminded her of someone else.

She curled her legginged legs underneath her on the futon opposite. The neck of her sweater gaped at her shoulder as she looked at the floor. Sunlight reflected off the roof of an East Harlem church and dappled her hair and her neck and that bare shoulder.

"You are unbelievably beautiful."

When could she pursue her escape?

She closed her eyes in profound sadness and let him move to her side. She let him hold her face in his hands and tell her again and again that she was beautiful.

"Any man who was lucky enough to get to run his fingers through your hair would return home the next day considering that the greatest conquest he has ever made."

Her insides grimaced and her eyes opened upon an unnecessary line.

Anne sighed at the incongruity and again packed up the suitcase of her particular mind, careful to click the lock securely back into place.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Anne sighed and pushed in the door of a Lower East Side venue. Name on list. Hand stamp. She made her way down some stairs (sticky with stale beer) into a cavernous underworld of music and mingling. She had little hope of seeing Aaron before the show and instead focused on obtaining a Blue Moon. Orange slice chucked. Fruity finger licked.

"Hey, Babe..."

His eyes scanned the crowd; she ordered him a PBR.

"Both these on the tab, man."

His shirt sleeves flapped, unbuttoned, and his hair was matted on one side.

"Alright, I gotta go," he grimaced.

Anne crooked his neck with her arm and kissed him squarely on the lips. It wasn't enough.

The room was filled with the usual creeps, the Holden Caulfield phonies. Scraggly, makeup-less girls with tats of the New World splayed across their backs. Insufferable, jaundiced boys wearing cords from the girl GAP.

Anne was wearing black sequins and a tight-lipped-scowl. She overheard some Bandaid Cow making fun of her dress. She cackled in response.

Aaron ducked into the strap of his guitar, and Anne tried to look at him in the old way. Tried to take pleasure in the near-caress of his mouth on the microphone. The soft denim color of his pants and the perfect line of his thigh to his ankle. The way his sweat darkened the hair above his ears and his bangs and dripped off the tip of his nose.

But his songs were memories, killing her softly, and she couldn't listen to the words without crying. She looked away from his eyes and mumbled his lyrics at her knees.

"Let's 'dance' into her!"

New World and Bandaid Cow jostled Anne's elbow, sloshing beer into her lap. Anne lunged for a bar napkin while the culprits, snickering behind their stubby fingernails, vanished back into the crowd.

You want him?? FINE, take him!!! I don't want him anymore!

She looked palely at her own reflection in the purple light of the bathroom. She knew the songs had been played out.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


He kept a damaged lamp on the floor by his bed. A light bulb encircled by broken, jagged glass. Anne was frightened of the lamp from the first moment she laid eyes on it. All she could see when she looked at it was her own white flesh, sliced and drowning in red blood. Why did he keep something so dangerous and broken?

They went to Camden and wandered through the stalls. She made her only purchase of the trip--a black velvet military jacket. The second the Indian vendor slid it onto her shoulders, she was sold. Byron bought a straw hat. With dexterity and tiny fingers, she un-wove the tag for him.

The violet hour began to creep and she suggested a pub by the river. She perched outside while he retrieved her chips and bottle of wine. He attentively showered her with packets of ketchup and mayonnaise and little salt and pepper sachets. Suddenly it began to rain, and they had to scramble for a leather couch inside.

They decided on another bottle of wine, and halfway through, she became almost inexplicably mad. The rain poured and poured outside, beating against the windows. She angrily got up for the bathroom and knocked over the empty bottle with her leg.

Embarrassed, hot, and red.

He was talking about love?

She returned to the table. He was evasive and full of lies and lines and meekness. Her heart turned to sickening stone. This was his rejection; the time had finally come. He was confused as to why she was suddenly crying, and he suggested they leave.

She jerked her body blindly from him and made a mad dash for the tube. He caught her arm and tried to understand. She urged useless words and victimized stories at him through her tears. He embraced her on the train as she shuddered with sobs.

"If you weren't so vulnerable... you could have me in the palm of your hand. I'm just so afraid of crushing you," he told her.

"I knew it. I never should have been myself. You don't see me, just like everyone else!"

Of course she was vulnerable. The whole trip had placed her on a jagged edge, teetering between reality and insanity. And there she was unmistakably and unbearably in love with someone who wasn't in love with her!

She seethed, brimmed with rage. Her breathing became rapid, and she flinched and pulled away at his touch.

Don't tell me what is wrong with me when I have just been being honest about who I am!

When they reached home, he prattled excuses about another girl. Insane, out of place delusions that best would have been revealed months and months ago.

Fool fool fool!

She thrust her anger and her rage into fixing their bed. She shoved him out of the way and drunkenly struggled to pull the corner of the sheet taught. As she lifted the mattress, her foot slipped. The sole grazed along the jagged edge of the broken lamp. A long, thin slice, like a paper cut that doesn't bleed. She didn't cry out or tell him. Of course she had been cut. Of course he had caused her pain and suffering and an injury like a stone in her shoe. The thing she had most feared had come to pass, and the supple white was flooded with crimson.

That night, she longed for his hand on her neck to crush her, strangle her, or snap her sternum in two.