Tuesday, July 26, 2005

the Storm

i haven't written anything fictional - that i know of - in the last year or so. as i was packing-up my filing cabinet yesterday, i ran across this story. well, in its original form. feeling creative, but less-than-motivated to start anew, i dug up the past to see what new information/experience would shed on it. the following short story is that Frankenstein.


She left me in the storm. I saw her silhouette in my bedroom window, but I couldn’t see her face. I couldn’t see if she was smiling, if she was crying or even what it was that she saw. I remember it like the dream where I stand staring into the eyes of my life’s love and purpose, so engaged that I never see who she is.

In front of my house, my arms outstretched reaching for anything solid, I waited for her shadow to open the front door. I waited for her to beg to me come into bed with her. I wanted my arm to fall asleep around her naked body. I wanted to smell her feather-like blonde hair tickling my nose. I wanted to wake-up and feel her hand on my chest. I should have kissed her and told her I loved her before I left for work this morning, but I couldn’t. When I woke up this morning, she was gone.

Two weeks ago I made a promise that I thought I could keep. I did keep it. But it wasn’t a one-time promise; it was a life-long decision. I gave up on it yesterday – the promise, not the relationship.

For the last two years, her fears, and pain intensely pounded my conscience umbrella and rolled away behind me. I told her I would change. I’d find someone to help; someone I could talk to. I couldn’t promise to quit taking it all out on her, but I did say that she would know I wasn’t upset with her. I promised her I would find a way to make it better.

I went to see a shrink twice. During our first meeting, he told me I was clinically depressed. He said this depression is why I was always so tired even after sleeping twelve straight hours. He said this disorder also made me temperamental, isolated, and prone to addictive substances. I told him I read the same thing in the DSM-IV and his “insights” – you bet I fingered the quotes around his $200-an-hour insights - were as useful as a man with no hands and a wrench.

Yesterday, the last time, I went to his leather-padded office, sat down and waited for him to tell me something I could bring home to her, like a doctor’s note saying that it was okay for me to return to school. He asked when the last time my girlfriend and I sat down and played a board game. I told him we played NBA Live on Playstation; he said that didn’t count. I told him to fuck-off.

He doesn’t know me or my girlfriend. He doesn’t understand that we talk better when we don’t see each other. His degree can’t explain why we can’t tell each other secrets and dreams face-to-face. He doesn’t understand that every time I kiss her forehead or her nose I don’t have to say “I love you” for her to know.

I could tell her I love her every day for the rest of my life, but that doesn’t mean that I do. I’ve told every girlfriend, since of the age of six, “I loved you.” Words mean jack shit, I told him, why limit my feelings to the three most over-used words in the English language?

He told me that I shouldn’t say things that I don’t mean. I told him to go to hell. I meant that. Then, I left his office and told his secretary that I was cured.

When I told her, she looked me straight into me, like an infant after hitting her head on the coffee table looks at her mother. She looked at me with disbelief for a split-second before registering that I’d just hurt her.

In retrospect, there’s nothing I could’ve done. I couldn’t apologize because the words would have fell heavy into a bucket full of empty promises. I couldn’t say that I loved her and that everything would work out because we both knew it would happen again. After fucking up for the umpteenth time, I couldn’t have said anything different from what I’d said before.

I grabbed my cigarettes off of the desk and walked outside. I inhaled and listened to the rain as it pelted dimples into the pavement and the uneven porch roof above my head. I exhaled and watched the gray smoke linger like fog in the front yard. The lightning flickered in the neighborhood as if we’d never see daylight again. I got out of my chair and walked out into the storm.

The flashes of light from the sky cast eerie shadows under the car across the street…turned tree leaves into sharp daggers stabbing at the sky. Thunder rattled the rickety doors in my chest. The wind whipped through antique branches like they were blonde strands of hair.

“I know I fucked up again,” I said. “I don’t know what I can do anymore. I don’t know how else to say ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘I love you’ and mean it any more. I don’t know how I can make it up to you. All I know is that I’m standing here in the rain and I feel alone. I already miss you and you haven’t left yet. I know I love you and I know if you’ll give me a chance I’ll show you how much. All I can think about is the last time you said you loved me because I’m scared it’s going to be the last time I’ll ever hear it from you. And if that’s true, then those words will haunt me forever. I’ll always remember you said it before I disappointed you again. Don’t leave me. Give me one more chance. Take me back. I’m ready to start the rest of my life with you all over again.”

I saw her silhouette in the light. I saw her move across the window and out of the bedroom. I heard her lock the door and I watched as the light went out. The back door was still open if I wanted to get back in, but I wanted to think of nothing but the rain. I stood with the rain falling on my back and head and felt each drop roll down my cheeks.

I slept, curled and shivering in the backseat of my car. When I got up, her car was gone. I walked inside. I smelled the pillows. She’d made the bed before she left. There was a note on my pillow.

‘I heard every word of what you said. Who were you talking to – me, your neighbors, or the girl you haven’t met yet?’

I don’t touch the note. I leave it sleeping on my pillow and lay down on her side of the bed. I look at it as she would have looked at me had I been there. I wonder when she wrote it; was it before or after she made up the bed? The sun trickles into the room through the closed blinds. I fall asleep questioning why I didn’t come inside last night.

Monday, July 11, 2005

If we weren't ready for Harry Potter 6 before, we are now

On Saturday, July 17, a boy, scarred from innocence lost, will rise from the ashes and remind us all that heroes can still make the morning headlines. From British blood and global tears, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, like the terrorist threat before 7/7, turns speculation into reality. He will stand beside London police, medics, and emergency workers and mourn the inevitable truth: someone has to die.

We won't know the who, what, when, where, why, and how until the final chapter has been read. And, while most of us will read that final chapter in the final book, no one knows when this war on terror will ever end. When the series does finally end, who will be the next Harry Potter, and who will be the next Lord Voldemort?

In the Summer of 2000, Harry Potter faced the man responsible for killing his parents. Alone and armed only with a life he could not remember, Harry battled and subdued "He-who-must-not-be named" - subdued, not defeated. A year later, terrorists thrust America into a similar worst-case scenario with an enemy capable of changing its shape in accordance with its focus.

In 2003, the world, again, was in desperate need of a hero. The space shuttle Columbia explodes on re-entry. George W. Bush, Jr. announced victory, yet a message from Iraq, written in blood, declared everything but defeat. By July 4th, Harry Potter and his allies minus one, had temporarily calmed the unrest.

Unsubstantiated rumors. Anticipation, complacency...Harry Potter returns to battle evil July 17th. July 7th: the story isn't over. There will be a 7th book. There will be more bloodshed. On, 7/7, we all knew the story would not end in six.

A never-forgotten hero re-emerges on Saturday, 10 days after the terrorist attacks in London, to subdue, once again, an evil everyone believed to be dying or dead. In the hands of the boy that should've died, the globe returns to a fantasy land where love saves and evil is easily identified. On Saturday, a boy from England steps out of from under the shadows of two cardboard towers to say there will be a 7th and Final book.