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Not me, her

In 1987, I found myself trying to write about a high school girlfriend that had been molested by her father when she was a child. I was 19 years old, struggling to find my way through a screenwriting assignment about delivering character. The idea was to describe messy young love between two Sid and Nancy want-to-be's. But that failed, as I could not stomach oversimplifying her complicated past, events that shaped her life as a 16 year old with a mohawk, a smart mouth, a lingering stare. I understood that I had to start at the very beginning.

No one wanted to hear the story. When it was my turn to read in class, it even came to be that some of the other students asked to stand in the hallway before they heard another description of what happened in that lonely little house in the middle of nowhere. I was trying, and failing, and trying again to get things right, to explain how this happened, how it could happen to this girl, how this man found his way to acts of selfishness and d…

If you could read my mind love

I've got Johnny Cash playing on a Monday morning. The sun is banging into the quiet side streets. The scent of old lilacs is heavy in the breeze. There is a fly buzzing around on its back, dying on the windowsill behind dirty glass and fingerprints.

If you could read my mind love
What a tale my thoughts would tell
Just like an old time movie
'Bout a ghost from a wishing well
In a castle dark or a fortress strong
With chains upon my feet
You know that ghost is me.

I'm still working through the same dilemmas, gnawing the same bones. The summer sun has come and I don't feel it sometimes, still convinced it is winter and I'm just walking wounded. Pinch me, I think.

Just like a paperback novel
The kind that drugstores sell
When you reach the part where the heartache comes
The hero would be you
Heroes often fail.

We made a pineapple upside-down cake for your birthday, but four days late. You slicing butter into a giant bowl, mashing it with the sugar. Me cooking sour cherries, you stealing a few. Checking our masterpiece in the oven as it quickly grew brown, tall and puffy. The kitchen began to smell exotic, and we sat satisfied and quiet as the sun went down so incredibly slow - ten at night and it looks like five. And we watch old movies, curled up on the couch as the cat marches around fighting more of those flies. I feel like a human again, because of you. I can jump into the shower and surprise you. We can brush our teeth together, making faces in the mirror. You constantly forget things at my place, like your watch or a jacket or a book.

Late at night, birds sing outside the window. No chirping or tweeting, these are long slow sounds that jungle birds make. You turn in the covers, your chin on my shoulder. I lay awake, studying your face, the pucker of your lips, the measured pulse of your breathing, the shifting eyelashes. I brush your hair from your face, and hold your cheeks in my hands. This is how you save me.


Victoria said…
That warmed me up more than this cup of coffee I'm sipping on!
Annie said…
Ah, yes....last week was hard, and one of the hardest things was missing the installment of my favorite blog. "exotic" and with that word, I can smell and taste that cake.....

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