Out of the Fire
Leaving is the word that hung most in the curtains. I'm leaving - he said it, he felt it. He was going off to occupy space someplace where I was not. Because I was not.
The couch groaned for no reason. I hadn't moved. Like a deer, if I froze maybe the world would freeze with me. Maybe for one second that frightening ripping sound reality makes when it's moving in - maybe the room will melt into a pocket of milk. Maybe.
His jean jacket had the heart pinned on the front from when he was helping my brother fix his truck. I had found it in the dirt and pinned it on him. It was tiny like an ant's brain.
He could take that shirt. It filled me with sadness and empathy for the next girl, lone¬some on the bus bench who lent him a quarter for a phone call. Now I just need to know your number, he'd cock his head, hair falling in his easy chair eyes.
That shirt stained his body. It was tattered like something a fireman rescued out of the fire only to realize in the light that it wasn't really worth it.
"I'm not taking anything," were his words.
What happened to the sleigh rides like on the backs of magazines and snowy nights and friends we could've met and lost together, communal defeat at opening up to other similarly wretched human beings, leaving parties alone, but together alone.
Ache, then, is the salad wilting on the wooden bowl, against the silent onion. Sighing, the dinner in fragments of finished, and me there mixed in with some flies and him in motion, leaving.
I erased him from where he stood in the doorway, or maybe he did that. My heart dripped to chalk dust all around my feet.
I sat at the table for years. My sister came to help clean up the mess. I hadn't seen the part where all the things I liked in him would go off packed in a denim jacket and one pair of jeans and the wallet with the picture of Wayne Newton on it. How could he carry so much of me in there, so much of me willingly went along with him.
My sister murmured and touched my shoulder and I smelled the dishsoap and saw the sparkly wooden bowls and silverware clean in her eyes.
What about that little orange kitten, and Christmas, and our voices in small town supermarkets, and the idiocy of it all, the void void that wasn't as deep as it is now, cracked leather and the hay we fed the horses, your smell when you passed me running and those two cowboys hitchhiking in the sunset and our babies with their gurgling promising spittle.
You said you weren't taking anything.