Part 14: A Parting Shot
Sometimes the papers don’t tell the stories we need to hear. They tell us about robberies and murders and corrupt politicians but they don’t tell us about boys with light hair who try to steal your souls or about girls with nice smiles who lie to your faces. They don’t tell stories about us. So I tell them. Sit down and listen. Lend your ear to the one who might cut it off.
The sky is lilac for some reason tonight and strange spaces are opening up between the buildings. I can’t think of any good words to put down in this letter so I stop where I am, I stop with what I have, right in the middle of the sentence. She’ll get it. I fold it up and put it in an envelope and drop it in the rusted box at the corner. Then I jog across the street at the red light and continue down 18th. I’ve got ends to tie up before I go.
Past the park I used to cut through in nicer weather. Past the trees they planted in September. Past shops and cafes and everything that has been bought and sold, bought and sold, like you say. Find something that hasn’t been! And I can’t.
I can’t think of what I’m going to say to you because my mind is full of your earliest memory. You told me about it once, about sitting on the floor while your parents argued in an apartment off Lawrence. About yellow lights and floorboards and the smell of Chinese cooking. It sounds sort of nice to me. It sounds like being underwater while the world explodes up above: only muffled noises reach my ears and it all seems far away. The water holds me and flames can’t touch me. Nothing can touch me.
I stop in front of your apartment and look up, way up to the window that lets a pitiful amount of light into your living room. Even in daytime. Wait, is it your living room? Or maybe your bedroom? I have to think. I’m going over the layout in my mind, getting all tangled up in the rooms and the corners and the walls and the floors when I hear my name.
You’re standing in the open doorway looking like a storm is about to hit. You know why I’m here. I ask politely if I can please come up, and you step aside and let me pass: up the creaking stairs, three flights, cobwebs above, below, and on all sides. Your door is open when I get to the top so I walk in and set down what I’ve brought. I promised to return it weeks and weeks ago. It might have been months but here I am finally and you don’t look mad that I’ve kept it so long. You look like you’d rather never see it again, like if it would keep me from saying what I’m about to say you’d have it buried deep underground where no one would lay eyes on it until the end of time when the earth turns inside out and all things hidden come to the surface.
-How are you?
-Is it ok if I leave this here?
The dishes are dirty in the sink. There are clothes everywhere and a few cans of soda on the table near the couch. You’re staring at me while I look around the room in all its chaos. They say a system needs chaos. They say it wants to be in disorder, that it’s more stable that way, and I’d like to believe them.
Finally I look up at you and you take a step closer to me, challenging me to say it. Go on, I dare you. I part my lips to speak and you step forward again. I’m forgetting everything and I have no idea where I am or if it’s hot or cold or if I’m moving or standing still.
You put your hand on the back of my neck and lean forward so our foreheads are touching. Eyes closed, we hang on, for how long I cannot say.