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This Dead Relationship

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11/08/02

   

This Dead Relationship

 

I am this thing’s twin.

One of us is dead

And we don’t know which, we are so close

 

Katherine Pierpoint

 

 

 A blank white screen with a black blinking curser, stares back at the writer.  Small black letters appear on the screen before disappearing again with a clickety-clack of the backspace key.  Elsewhere in the house, The Late Show, blares from a television set.  He writes:

     There is wind, a clear November day, and she enters my mind like a falling leaf. 

From behind me comes a voice, “Good Morning, Mr. Joseph Martin.”

No one since mom passed away has called me Joseph, yet here under the red and orange leaves, on the south lawn of Highland Park, stands the Princess Lori with her long red flowing hair and that, I-knew-I’d-see-you-again smile. 

(Adjective over-load, wouldn’t you say?)  Clickety-clack, clickety-clack. The writer revises:

      Here is the Princess with her auburn hair pulled back loosely, with perfectly manicured fingernails and pink wool sweater.  Her gray BMW waits in a nearby parking lot. We sit together under the tree and chat while I picture grass stains on her designer jeans, and watch the un-tucked strands of hair that flutter around her pale cheeks like fire flies.  I hear the smooth, soft syllables of her words as they form and die in the wind. Those words, the slow lapping of water on the shore, or the far away cry of seagulls in a lonely coastal town. 

(Ok, throttle down the metaphor mobile, pal.)

“Joe, Joe are you listening to me?” 

“Sorry, lot on my mind, please go on.”

“Right, as I was saying, I was only fifteen when we started dating, and all I could think about was getting out of my mother’s house.  I adored my dad, but he had that drinking problem.”

“What sort of problem?”

“My mother.”

“I’m afraid I don’t follow…”

“Whenever, he was around my mother, he drank a lot.”

“And how did that make you feel?”

(Paging, Dr. Freud…)

“There were fights –pots and pans flying, screaming matches at four in the morning, stuff like that.”

“Sorry, I never knew.”

“You seem different now, Joseph.”

“Well, we’re both older. Guess I’m not that same young boy in love with you.”

The Princess sits quiet, stunned.  Emotion stirs like volcanic activity beneath her calm exterior.   Her face contorts against the stress, cracking, as a storm rages and spills from her pale blue eyes.

“I never meant to hurt you! Do you believe me Joe?”

Click, click, clack.

     I’m not answering, but watching the quivering of her lips, and remembering the first time I kissed them; that night in the theater.  The movie was Return of the Living Dead, and I’d saw it a day before our date, so I would know when the scary parts were coming.  So I would know when to pull her close.  That night in the dark of the theater, by the flickering lights of the screen, we kissed.  We kissed like people kiss when there is no past or future, until my lips were numb, and her make up was gone. 

(I would like to thank Harlequin for this prestigious nomination…)

“Well, like you said, I’m different now.  Twenty years is a long time.”

     The Princess pulls a Kleenex from her purse and slowly, deliberately dries her eyes and cheeks.  I remember that in the beginning it was always those tears that brought me back to her, but not now.  I’m older, smarter.  A single blue bird sings in the tree above.  I imagine how nice it would be to hold her one last time, to feel her against me and kiss the woman, as I did the girl.   I stand, bend over and kiss her forehead, before walking away into the cool November morning.

 

     It’s 3am. Elsewhere in the house static snow blares from the television set.  

Clickety-clack.

Outside is cold December; she enters my mind like the falling snow.

Clickety-clack.

There is a phone in my hand, and I hear my own voice from someplace far away,

Hello Princess,

it’s me.”

Clack.