9.26.2004

Rain light (The second section)

It was 3 o’clock in the morning and Sarah was sitting alone in her apartment drinking tea. The lights were turned down, so that only a faintly ruddy cast existed to vie with the dull purpling grey dappled through the rain-pearled windows. She sat her high-backed chair with dignity, positioned before the French doors that lead out to the balcony so that her profile blued in silhouette. The raindrops trickled with a steady rhythm, and she juxtaposed the sound with the flow of her blood.
About her the floor was clear for a good two meters, a great enough perimeter to allow for movement around her long-legged table and two mismatched chairs. The area beyond that, however, was populated by a great and inequitable collection of bottles, jars, boxes, bags, and any other conceivable container of estimable volume. They jutted and teetered, stacked in a haphazard fashion that set the colors and angles to battle against one another. Vertical or diagonal, translucent blue and green glinting upon solid brown, orange, red; the incompatibility of the objects reflected the disparity of their contents.
Sarah’s gaze focused on some point invisible beyond the water-sheen on the French doors, pointedly ignoring the looming pile on the other side of the room. Absent mindedly, she passed her hands over her mug, feeling the warmth of the steam seep into her numbing fingertips. A few fast-trickled droplets added a peculiar spice to her tea.
A faint purple shadow fluttered across her vision, a crackling profile upon the glass. Recognizing it, she staggered to her feet and forward, opening the door with a deliberate tug. Glaring, she stumbled out onto the rain-slicked balcony, slipping and catching herself on the hooked doorknob. She hung there for several moments, her arms throbbing and shaking weakly, before slithering slowly to the ground with a wet plop. She began to cry.
Her visitor stooped and picked her up, cradling her with a peculiar tenderness incongruous with his gruff appearance. Carrying her several feet, he deposited her upon a damp slatted deck chair, then positioning himself upon an adjacent seat. Sarah continued to sob hollowly into her hands, mingled bodily fluids flowing with the rain through her clenched fingers and down to her elbows. Her companion watched in silence for a time, shifting uncomfortably. Finally he spoke up, his voice catching in an attempt to veil his emotions.
“Why haven’t you spoken to me?” He studied her from beneath brows lowered in consternation. She sniffed heartily, pulling her hands slowly from her face and wiping them on the sodden white ruffles of her dress. The look she directed towards him from red-rimmed eyes spoke little of camaraderie.
“You left me.” Her voice was perfectly calm, despite her outward demeanor. He stared at her blankly for several seconds before processing what she had said.
“What?”
“You left me.” Her voice quivered now, the fa├žade breaking into rage and suppressed tears. “I worked and hurt and despaired, but you never came to me. You, you abandoned me to them.” She nearly spit the last, turning her head away and slumping in her chair, sorrow and blood loss weakening her. He reached forward to squeeze her shoulder but she batted him away ineffectually. He tried dredging up a convincing response.
“I…I thought you were strong enough. You’re more akin to them than most of ours…” His ending was lame. He realized his mistake. She was too young, too emotional and too inexperienced to bear up the job they had charged her with alone. But their resources were short, and cut ends had deposited her in a city she was barely old enough to live in solitary, much less with the burden she shouldered. A hand over his mouth stifled a coughing sigh. Wiping the rain from his brow, he stared limply at tangled fingers in his lap. His voice was almost inaudible.
“I’m sorry,” his breath juddered with regret. “I’m so, so sorry…” Green eyes watched her through ragged strings of hair, brimming with regret. She turned her head slowly, staring over one shoulder through partly shuttered eyes, her cheek resting against the chair back in exhaustion. After several minutes, she smiled wanly.
“You’re too late, aren’t you?” Barely a whisper, a tinny rasp. His hands separated and clenched into fists, but he could not draw his eyes from hers.
“No, not quite…”
“I know how it is for us,” She interrupted him. “I know nothing’s permanent. But I still have a choice, and that doesn’t have to be what you want either.” She looked down at her wrist, trying feebly to lift it and failed, still smiling. He breathed deeply, exhaling through flared nostrils, barely controlled.
“You don’t understand the situation, Sarah. You’re too young to comprehend absolute termination.” She shrugged.
“Maybe. But I’ve decided anyway, now haven’t I?” Her eyes trembled closed, and even as he reached to clasp her hand the breath ghosted faintly from her lips and lay still.
He stroked her tiny pale hand, massaging her unfeeling fingers, so cold. There was nothing else he could do. Simple as that, he had missed any available opportunity, and her death was as much his fault as her own and every failed dream and shallow soul she had ever encountered. And now she was determined to throw away not only her life but everything else she had inherited by merit of her existence and occupation. There was only one thing for it.
He stroked her cheek one last time and, standing, strode off of the balcony and into the night.

9.25.2004

"Bottles" (The first section)

“I’ve never broken a bone,” she said, leaning elbows upon the varnished yellow table. “Or lost something I was given.” Her eyes fixed studiously upon the watery soup in her bowl, which she stirred intermittently with a tarnished spoon. Long, dark hair cascaded to the table, pooling ringlets about her round pale arms and narrow face. He swallowed hard, knee bouncing in rhythm to his pulse.
“I guess the former isn’t so strange, but people are losing things all the time. Not just normal tings, like keys and pocket books. Intangible things too.” She paused to look up at him, dark brows over dark eyes. Though her gaze was piercing, his eyes still managed to trail down her features until they reached the thin crevice visible above the collar of her shirt. He coughed throatily, and began searching for the waitress.
“I collect them,” she whispered, seeming not to notice the digression of her companion’s line of sight. “In bags and bottles and cans. The ideas and memories of a thousand thoughtless people.” Her breath caught in her throat. “Have you ever lost something important to you?”
“Why do you keep them?” he cut in, partly to stall, partly to avoid the uncomfortably unanswerable. Pulling back, large eyes wide to fit her reaction, she sputtered to respond.
“But…why if I don’t, who will? Where will they go? Lie in the streets to twist and clutter and rot…”
“Why bottles, then?” was his quick interruption, to stem what he could see growing into a contentious torrent.
She paused, her expression softened to sorrow and a twisted hint of bitterness. Her voice adopted a level tone, however, so he missed entirely this subtle cue—having just finally located the waitress.
“Why, what else would I keep them in? Most of them are too large for envelopes,” she was falling into the patronizing rhythm with which the ignorant and disillusioned address those too obstinate to understand what they say. He had signaled the waitress over, and for sake of propriety turned back to his companion.
“Most of them are too large for bottles too, truthfully, but they’re so used to being metaphorically bottled up that you can usually convince them to be small enough to fit.”
“What can I do fer you, honey? Ready to leave?” the waitress leaned out over the table, and invasive presence engulfed in frills of lacy yellow and white. Platinum curls enveloping a form so perfectly pink and peaked as to make the girl shudder. She turned to her conversational partner, ripe to exhibit her disgust and thus remove this offensive puff of chloroform from her sight, but what she saw in him was a further distraction than she could hope to break him from. She turned inward with her revulsion and brooded.
“Um, yes…Mindy,” he read the name from a beige pin that hung at a loose angle from the woman’s barely masked breast. “If we could get our check…”
“Certainly, dear, certainly.” Her answer was practically a giggle, and a wink from one heavily caked eye. Straightening with a bounce, she capered off toward the front. He pried his eyes away and back to the other.
“So,” he cleared his throat, unaware that the girl across the table from him was fuming. She looked up at his word, expression blankly dispassionate. He continued to ravel, oblivious.
“What would you like to do now?” She made a noise, quiet and noncommittal. “Want to…go back to my place? Maybe watch a movie?” his knee was shaking again. She tried to ignore it, suddenly feeling very cold and tired. The waitress returned, bouncing along on her open-toed high heels with her pale, red-enameled digits crammed into view.
“Well?” He reached across the table and set his hand on her shoulder. She stared at it with a silent, nonchalant kind of horror. He tightened his grip in a way he must have thought comforting, and began stroking her collarbone with his thumb.
Abruptly she stood, and just so broke away from his touch. Without a modicum of shame, and not so much as a backward glance, she left him and the saffron soup to stew together. As she pushed past the heavy glass door, she could hear the waitress’s cheery tin voice addressing her former date.
“Left you with the tab, eh sweetie? Doncha worry…. Mindy can take better care of you ‘en that little bitch eva could.”
Her small blue shoes gritted readily along the sidewalk.

I can see it when I squint, a jagged blue line against the gathering clouds. Where an empty plane exists in the brightness of the sun, a storm rages behind a vast mountain. Lightning illumines its various crags and cliffs, thunder reverberates among its unusual spires and caverns.
A thin finger of sunlight parts the darkness, and it is gone.

9.24.2004

They disappeared and left their clothes behind

They disappeared and left their clothes behind,
leaving laughter upon the air.
They followed trails unseen to eyes,
and wrote in short breath what they'd seen there.

I never believed their brilliant prose,
the florid pronouncements seemed too gay.
But what then begged them abandon their clothes,
and stumble upon their hidden way?

Someday they'll find they've presumed too much,
dancing on back with scant little proof.
Their fancies too gifted their ideas too wild,
how can they expect us to credit the truth?