Monday, April 11, 2011
Wanderlust part 27 "Do it"
Good morning, good morning. Oh, who am I kidding. Is it time for my nap yet? ;) Today's ended up being a rather long bit. About twice the normal. It really is becoming hard for me to stave off the flow of this story. But for some reason I like only knowing a bit before you, dear reader, what's going to happen.
So, however you see it: good, bad or ugly. Here's part 27. Now, off I go for more coffee. I have a proofing date with some zombies today.
by Sommer Marsden
And this is where I was out of my element. Jackson would have simply begged forgiveness regardless of who was at fault. The ex who had come before would have left and stayed gone for days in a fit of childish anger. The other men—the dalliances, as my father called them—were disposable.
But watching Johnny go. Hearing his big boots out on the gravel drive, hearing the Chevy turn over and pull out without me. Fuck, hearing the deafening silence of the empty cabin, created a hole in my gut that was both painful and numb.
“That was brilliant,” I said to myself
I poured more coffee and studied what looked to be the beginnings of breakfast that he had pulled out and set on the counter. An hour ticked by and I busied myself but slowly and methodically—almost like some ritual to a god who could bring him back—put all those things away one by one. There was more bread, more cheese, a few eggs. I put them all back and held my breath waiting for the door to open.
The cabin stayed chilled and finally, when I felt as if I had punished myself enough, I guess, I went and pulled the golden colored curtain over it. It was a heavy lined curtain—a proper curtain, my mother would have felt—and it did a decent job of stifling the constant trickle of cold November air.
It was November already, when did that happen?
The cable was fuzzy but working and I busied myself by watching shows about ghost hunters, monster hunters and then the start of a really bad movie about worms made of ice from outer space.
“No Ohio today,” I said.
My head was pounding, my gut was sick. I ached all over. My breath was frozen in my lungs. He hadn’t returned. Was he coming back? Should I call someone? I could call my father, Jackson, my friend Bren…
“And here you are running to someone because you don’t have anyone. What the fuck is so scary about being alone, Really? Especially when you don’t like anyone for the most part.”
That made me laugh and the laughter made me cry and morning slipped into pre-afternoon.
He wasn’t coming back.
I sank into it. I embraced that stark fear and sprawled on the sofa with my head back and my heart pounding a thick dull beat. I studied the skylight from here. The loft seemed so far away and yet the skylight seemed so close. Gray light filtered in and I wondered if that was all this trip was going to be. Not an escape from the fucked up life of yesterday but putting my foot in my mouth, food, sleeping, fear and open road. Nothing more than a less repressed daily routine.
“And fucking. Don’t forget the fucking.”
On the TV music was playing but I was too heavy—inside and out—to focus my attention.
Children behave. That’s what they say when we’re together…
I hummed along for a second, my eye lids slamming shut only for me to pry them back open. I didn’t want to sleep. No matter what a good escape it would be from the stupid thing I had just done.
The wind blew and the movie started and my stomach rumbled but I didn’t feed it. I shut my eyes, counting minutes. He would come back. He would totally come back. He was a good man.
Something was trying to get in the cabin. Some thing that had claws and scraped them, scratching horror movie sounds that put my hackles up. I tried to open my eyes and then that dull ache in my gut reminded me that I was alone.
Maybe I didn’t want to open my eyes. I could lie here at its mercy. The thing with teeth and claws that was trying to get in.
A cracking sound and my body went tense. A grunt and my stomach sizzled with fear.
Jesus, Really. When did you become such a pussy?
Finally, I cracked one eye, my body tight with the urge to flee. What I saw was the broad back of one Johnny Rose as he set a new piece of glass in the pane and proceeded to seal the edges.
I snorted. “You’re sorry? I think you have that backwards.”
“Yep,” he said, still not looking at me. “You’re right. You really needed to be thrown around for calling me a good man. How dare you?”
He was taut. All of him. he looked carved of stone and angry. He looked hurt and vulnerable. He looked like a man who wanted to punch and kiss and explode into a thousand little points of light. He was turmoil in man form and my heart cramped because I felt I had done that.
He had taken me from my flat line existence and I had stomped on his heart.
“I should have thought.”
“You didn’t mean anything bad by it.”
He stooped to sweep bits of glass into a dust pan and then he dumped it in the big green garbage bag. I saw the bandage on his hand, dotted with dried blood—a brownish rust color that gave my guilt power. “How’s your hand?”
“Hurts but it’s fine. I was lucky. No glass stayed in the wounds. The only thing I really damaged was my pride.”
I smiled. “I know that feeling.”
He still wouldn’t look at me. It hurt. “Will you turn around?”
“No,” he said.
“Shut up,” he said, softly. And not unkindly. “I can only do this one way. Got it?”
I nodded, realized he couldn’t see me and said, “Yes.”
“I used to have anger issues.” He chuckled as he swept up some more glass.
“I think you usually keep your cool pretty we—“
“Really,” he sighed and I shut up.
“I had and…interesting…childhood. Not a lot of guidance growing up. All the excused anyone could throw around. But I met Angie and we fell in love and she sort of mellowed me out. She used to say I anchored her and she made me float.”
I wasn’t proud of it, but I felt a stab of jealousy for this woman I had not met. It was completely stupid and irrational, but there it was.
“So once upon a time, I loved her and she loved me and we had a baby.” He worked, trailing a rag along the window pane to clean the edges. The day had turned gray outside. It was easily early afternoon.
“David.” I said it without thinking.
He simply nodded and dropped the rag in the trash bag. “David. And David turned into a little boy. A three year old little boy with his mother’s dark blonde hair and my eyes. And he had the best laugh ever,” he said, his voice hitching a bit.
“So there we are, a little family. But Angie won’t marry me. She says I’m not ready. I still have stuff to work through. And what do we need a piece of paper for anyway.”
That dreaded piece of paper. I nodded, not saying a word.
“I asked her. On her birthday. I asked her again. We were going out to dinner and I asked her before we left the house.” He shook his head, back tracked. “We were going to that place Sirloin because it had these amazing stained glass windows and a popcorn machine and David fucking loved that place.”
I waited, dread making my gut and my limbs heavy. I wanted to leave—run from whatever it was he was about to reveal.
“She said no. Again. It was my own damn fault. I think some part of me thought if I put her on the spot before we left she’d say yes. As if that would satisfy me. But she said no.”
My throat was thick and tingly with emotion—unshed tears I was doing my damndest to hold in. I didn’t want him to see me cry and I didn’t want to piss him off by crying for him.
“And we were in traffic. And some asshole—“ He put his head down, took a breath. Then his head popped up and though I couldn’t see his face, he had the air of a man steeling himself for some truth. “Some asshole cut me off and then stops. He stops suddenly in heavy traffic to make a left and I was pissed. I was hurt. Christ, I was fucking broken hearted, Really. And I shot around him just as someone was turning out of another street and they T-boned us and I was going fast. They were going fast. It all happened so fucking fast.”
A rogue tears slipped free of my eye and I tried to blot it away. It embarrassed me that I could hurt so bad over this. This thing that wasn’t my life. But it did. It made my anger over Jackson and my poor little rich girl bullshit seem so very trite.
But there’s more to you than that. I shook the thought off, trying so hard to do damage control and failing. Because a steady stream of tears were now rushing out of me and my throat felt so tight I feared I wouldn’t be able to draw a breath.
“David was—it was fast, at least,” he said. His voice had dropped, his shoulders too. “He was in the worst part of the car. The impact was the greatest there. Angie was thrown partially free, but got tangled in the windshield. She lived two days.”
Ah, no need for jealousy, Aurelia the nasty little voice in my head said and I hated myself for that thought.
He turned to me, his face somehow feral. A slow simmer of anger so intense I could barely comprehend it boiled under his skin. Distorted his features. Made me fear him just a little bit.
“I got this,” he said and pointed to that scar that fascinated me so. The bark of laughter that burst out of him was both ugly and painful to hear. “This is what I got.”
Finally, I found my legs and I stood, moving toward him even as he put his hands up to warn me off. I didn’t listen, I pushed up against him, almost clawing at him. Now I was crying freely and thought it shamed me for some reason to do it, I did it anyway.
“But that could happen to any of us. At any time,” I blurted.
I put my hands to his face and he took his bigger ones, pushing me away. “Don’t make excuses for me, Really,” he growled.
“It’s Russian Roulette,” I said. “That could happen to anyone at any time. It’s just the way the world—“
He tried to put a distance between us. I could see how pissed he was. How locked in that memory. “Stop,” he said.
“I mean, it could happen to me tomorrow or to anybody. Any time.”
“Really.” There was warning in his voice.
I barreled on, wanting to soothe all that pain I had just witnessed. “But you’re still a good man, Johnny,” I said.
His face flushed, his eyes narrowed. I saw the flex of his fingers and the clench of his jaw and some small part of me warned me off. Told me to stop.
“Don’t.” He tried to turn away. But I was having none of it. I had not fixed a god damn thing for years, but I—Aurelia the great—was going to fix this now. All this hurt. All this anger. The self-loathing and the grief. Because apparently I was fucking magic.
“You are a good man,” I said, pushing my face toward him so he had to see me. Had to hear me.
He wrapped his hand around my throat. He pushed me back. He pinned me to the wall and cut off enough of my air that I could see little fairy lights in the periphery of my vision. He looked irate. He looked volatile. He looked dangerous.
He squeezed just a bit and said, “I said don’t.”
I saw it all there in that instant. That urge to fight, to punch, to rage at the unfairness of it all. I had felt every single thing I saw flicker across his face. I had felt the urge to express each insecurity, each sin, every indignity. I had felt what I saw on him and my heart broke for him.
“Good man,” I said, poking the bear. Stoking the fire. Instigating.
“Really.” His voice was menace and warning. A storm rolling in with the power to break and destroy.
His fingers curled against my throat again and I felt the dizziness set in, the floor seemed to tilt under my feet. I moved my hands blindly to find him. Fingers tangling in his tee shirt, sliding lower. I found him and felt him harden under my fingers. I found him warm. His body seemed to both leap to meet my touch and flinch from it.
He squeezed again and I let my hand linger on him. “Do it,” I managed to say. “Go on. Do it.”