he and she #9
the glossy wood floor saw the reflection of the table that held the telephone. the clock on the other side of the room ticked out four minutes slow before the ring of the phone bounced across the apartment. the long rings took turns with silence seven times before the answering machine clicked on. the purr of the outgoing message crawled on for a few moments before being halted by a beep. crackles of silence came through the two inch speaker. “hi- it’s me- i- well, call me- when you get- hello? are you there? call me when you get home- I thought we were, well- weren’t we supposed to- just call me.
he and she #10
she sat inside the t.v. looking out at him and seemed to say ‘you cannot have me now or never but how you want me so.’ he leaned back in the lay-z-boy and clunked it back into a recliner. he watched her wet lips through the tube and mouthed silently, ‘yes, yes, I do,’ his eyes magnetized to the tiny red, green, and blue phosphor dots. from upstairs, his wife’s voice whined his name. he was trapped in the television’s blue spray.
footsteps pounded down the stairs as a car horn sounded outside. “gary, they’re here. gary?” she rushed into the doorway of the den to see her husband’s balding head edging slightly over the faux-leather chair’s back. the woman on the television saw her and quickly hid behind a carpet commercial. the man practically jumped out of his chair. he brushed off his shirt and headed out to the driveway and their waiting ride. as he spoke with his wife, he would look at her nose, or maybe her forehead, but never directly in the eyes, as he usually did.
out of all the couples his wife made social plans with, wayne and jane were the most interesting. gary had always admired jane. he thought it was sickly ironic that her name rhymed so well with her husband’s, because they did not fit together at all. gary thought that he should be with jane because their names had the same amount of letters. they could both live in a house with four squares. but wayne’s house was one letter wider. gary felt that jane must feel uncomfortable with all that extra space.
after wayne was married to his first wife, ann, he moved into her three letter house. he felt totally suffocated. he could live so well with jane. the car moved on through the night amidst insignificant laughter. wayne’s tacky sports jacket was draped gently over the middle of the cars wide front seat. kelly green.
the light at the intersection turned yellow. wayne put down the gas pedal. gary became nervous. the yellow circle’s energy flew upward into the red circle’s- inches before the car entered the intersection. wayne slammed on the brakes and they schreeched halfway out into the crossstreet. he slammed the gearshift into ‘R’ and punched the engine. jane flew backwards in her passenger seat. her brown curly hair brushed gary who was seated directly behind her.
she must have done it on purpose. she must have. what a great excuse it was for her. she was perfectly allowed to do it. how coincidental it was that she touched him right after wayne had embarrassed her so- whatwith his reckless abandon. jane grabbed wayne’s hand. gary reasoned that she got nervous that wayne knew that she had purposefully brushed her hair across her best friend’s husband’s face. she grabbed his hand just in case he knew. gary didn’t mind. in fact, he thought it was cute. he piously laughed to himself in the back seat.
he and she #11
what was so special about kissing, and why didn’t he ever see sparks. did people actually see sparks? and if they did, shouldn’t he be seeing them now? they rolled around on the bed, kissing and kissing, and kissing. she slid his tongue in and out of her mouth so rhythmically that soon it seemed like sex to him, and he knew that she was thinking the same. they did a wonderful job of steering away from actual sex. they’d been together for several nights, and either of them under different circumstances would have done it on the first night, but this was somehow different. this made them feel good.
he and she #12
he was at work. she had 3 hours and 45 minutes left to relax. if she were lucky, she could fall asleep and steal peace while he was at home for a change. but kathy was over, trying to meddle again.
she had only heard the bad things about bruce. she never heard the good things. and there were so many- there truly were. he painted brilliant scenes onto the canvases strewn across the basement. he was very successful, owning a chain of art supply stores- and was a great lover to boot.
“he doesn’t beat me, he just hits me sometimes,” she said to kathy as she her fingertip lightly pressed a new bruise she had on her theigh. “he’s a passionate artist. it just goes along with the territory.” she looked down at the vacuum laying on the kitchen floor. suddenly, she had the strange feeling the whole house was inside the vacuum, and at any moment somebody could start it. the plates would rattle and shake, the crystal figures would hop off their shelves in the living room. the whole while, kathy had apparently been speaking. “hello?? are you okay? maybe you should see somebody about this.” “no, i’m okay. i’m just tired.” she edged around to peek at the living room shelves. “you know i wouldn’t give a shit if you didn’t call me crying at two in the morning-” “well that’s because you are my friend. you are my friend, aren’t you?”
“yes, you are, and that’s exactly why i can’t stand to watch you go through this!” kathy’s voiced elevated to mock her, “if he does this one more time, i’m leaving.” “yeah, i guess you’re right,” she sighed up and away from the table. it was clear that she stopped listening to kathy long ago. she opened up the refrigerator door and grabbed a beer. she paused for a moment before grabbing a second. she shut the door quickly- a rush of air ticked pages of a calendar on the other side of the room. looking out the bay window at the sea silently, she sat with her fingers peeling the tag from the cool wet bottle.
he and she #13
she served him coffee. she wore a nametag on her white blouse. “cute girl,” he thought, “but that’s all.” he spun the salt shaker gently as her voice caught his ear from the kitchen. her face was beautiful- a beautiful box… so well structured. beautiful in its architecture, he begged fate to pull her around the corner again, so he could see the masterpiece her parents painted not more than 20 years ago. her smile… her smile… and the way she holds her eyes. her snappy hello and pursed-lip smile for whomever. these things made her 19 years old. her face beamed naivety- perhaps that’s why he liked her so- the bundle of innocence inside her head- at least til now and holding. she would want him in the worst way- and wouldn’t understand the rigor. the lightheartedness, the pure safety distance he would offer. he felt ten years older than she was, but he was only two.
he was sure he wouldn’t visit the restaurant half as much if she weren’t there. the food was horrible. the prices, if reasonable, would still be outrageous with the food the way it was. he forced himself to imagine what would inevitably happen. they would plan a date- she would come to see him play, and she would leave with him. she would drop him off, and in that akward moment when he unhooked his seatbelt they would both break the silence at the same time with “well,” and then they would both laugh. he would give her that face and ask if he could see her again sometime. her mind would say “yes, yes” but her mouth would say ‘sure’.
he looked at her strong beautiful neck. long. he thought about leaning over and tapping it so gently with his lips- underneath her jaw bone halfway between her chin and her ear. it would be a soft kiss- yet slowly hard enough that he could feel her jaw bone just below his nose. he would move up to her quickly and back off slowly.
he snapped out of his mind and found himself edging slightly over- no she couldn’t have noticed. he said goodbye and slithered out the small crack of the door shortened by the car so closely parked next to her’s in the driveway. she would drive home singing with the radio and smiling at the rabbits in the fields she passed by.
he would lie in his bed and look out the window with tired, caffeine pumped wide eyes. his love life was a constant road trip down the same highway- back and forth- to hell and back, every single time. lust- confusion- breakup- more lust- pick her back up- he knew the highway by heart. he must’ve made the trip a thousand times- every passenger was slightly different at the beginning: a wonderfully tasty stew of looks, spirituality and intelligence- pure savvy no matter what. by the end of the trip they would all end up a little more similar: drowning in a pool of faults, shortcomings, and the slightest facial blemish, before he became so ill at the sight he had to dump her off right on the shoulder and speed away. he’d be back though.
he craved a cigarette badly as he eyed his cup of coffee. he laughed to himself as he imagined the next time she came to the table. “go away!!” he’d yell at her. she would be horrified- the restaurant would fall completely silent expect for the tinny radio in the ceiling- a woman laughing about the traffic she watched from a helicopter. “go- you don’t want me! you’ll only get hurt!” the manager would already be on the phone to the police. they had to get that loony out of there. they would love to kick his ass themselves, but they couldn’t possibly in front of the other customers. they had to hit him to stop his screaming as they shoved him into the plastic back of the police car.
the words echoed in her head as she stared at the television in her bedroom. the walls were flickerly flushed with greys and blues. she had always pegged him as a weirdo. he’d come in and write for hours at a time. just drink coffee and smoke like a banshee if he had cigarettes with him. she turned off the television and stood up from her bed. she walked to the bathroom to wash her face in the mirror. she stretched her eyes as far as they would open on their own. she squinted at her beautiful portrait. there was a small tickle just underneath her jaw bone. she slid her right hand up her side and onto her neck halfway between her chin and her ear. she sniffled as she squinted again. she reached over and flipped off the light.
he and she #14
the road crept on into the balmy night. she said to him “i want to take you away for awhile- you would bring your guitar. i would feed you and make you healthy. no beer, no drugs, no cigarettes. far away- near water. i want to take you away and just love you.
he and she #15
the clock above the mantle read eleven-oh-seven. geraldo rivera’s voice was coming from the living room to the right. he wanted badly to leave. he tapped his foot. she came down the stairs and sat on the third from the bottom and put on the tennis shoes she had in her hands. still eleven-oh-seven. ‘shit’ she whispered. she turned and ran up the stairs. eleven-oh seven. eleven-oh-eight. she ran down the stairs and straight to the door. she swung it open and looked back at him- “c’mon,” she said, as if she had been waiting for him the whole time. the road to the usual restaurant was under construction, so they went a different way tonight. the moon in the periwinkle sky was they same moon that watched over all the other cars on that side of the planet. watching the worriers and the confident- the frightened and the bold. they arrived at the restaurant five or ten minutes later than usual, but it was the same great diner all the same.
he and she #16
they sat in a cool night’s desert under a curving blanket of stars. that evening, they were the only two people in the world. they were alive alone apart from culture’s pull- fate’s generosity snapped them out of politic’s shackles- free to simply live, and interact with each other, each other’s other, and no-one else. the world was built for them.
they exchanged words rarely, as they had long been rendered unnecessary- like choosing soda over water. this seemed to be when he loved her- when they were alone. not alone in the house of his father which reeked of his subordination- not alone in the house of her mother which was never her home. but in the desert- miles and miles and miles away from any faint influence. they were alone. and they were loving.