Through the Fog: Final Paper

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Through the Fog

 

I thought I saw a girl wonderingthrough the fog… not a girl a woman… a woman with milky white skin that couldbe brown or black as well. She could have been made of stars. I think her hairwas the milky way, her wrists Serenity and her mind and eyes the fabric of theuniverse… protons and energized electrons… and photons… so many photons…swirling against antimatter and matter and everything that is and ever will be.

 

The radio was blasting Bach’sthird cantata. I think there was a guitar player vibrating strings in thedistance. I was driving. My hair was blowing in the wind, long and full,shining red and scorching under the August Sun. This was my life, my little redcorvette.  He was there beside me. Istole a glance from time to time. He slid his thumb up my wrist. I slowed downand he sped up. He moved his hand up my arm. I was barefoot. I hit the pedal.He was kissing me. I wasn’t watching.

“Alex, stop,” I smiled andlaughed a wide playful laugh and he knew I didn’t mean it. He kissed me againand I glanced at the open road in front of me, but I wasn’t really looking.Laughter was in the air. The wind was musical and as he slid his hand down myshirt and grabbed me again nothing was more surprising than the silence. It wasinstant, after all.  

I had slid down the seat just abit. It was our vacation. We were taking a road trip all the way to Key West.We were almost there.  It was always sostrange to see more and more palm trees as we got closer to ourdestination.  He was rubbing the lowerpart of my neck… gently.  I can stillfeel him touching me there.

It seems like I was looking athim then, when the silence came. His ocean blue eyes were looking at me, butsuddenly it wasn’t ocean vacation warmth that they were radiating, but icy-cold-strickenterror.  I think the last thing Iremember seeing was their transformation. I left.

 

It was noon. The world was as itshould be.  I woke up in the warm downblanket that I had always slept on, my tiger cat yawning at my feet. I thinkI’d been dreaming, but of what I couldn’t remember. It must be Sunday. It feltlike Sunday. I shared this paint-spattered room with my sister when I visited. Ihad a mattress in the corner that was comfortable enough. I reached down to petTiger but he flipped up his tail and jumped down, only to find that the doorwas closed. I had no choice but to lift myself up and do something to end theexpectant feline’s glances toward the door.

It’s not like we had pancakes.It’s not like I got up to smell banana pancakes as the warm summer breeze blewin from the window and I heard my parents and sister laughing in the kitchendancing to whatever song might be on the radio or even their own if it suitedthem. It isn’t like I walked down the stairs to warm scents and the sweet clangof porcelain dishes colliding together and the sight of sunlight pouring inthrough the windows… but it might as well have been.  I tip-toed down the stairs and sat down in theliving room, my mom was working on her college degree program and my sister waswatching TV, but I might as well have sat down at the table for a lazy Sundaynoon-time breakfast.

Something lingered in me from thenight before.  It was almost as if I wasin mid-conversation and something had happened to disrupt my train of thought…and I forgot what I was going to say. The phantom idea had to have been that dream.Dreams are meant to be remembered lest they are just barely forgotten. 

I said good morning, but both mymom and my sister were too absorbed in what they were doing to acknowledge mypresence.  Tiger came and sat beside me,I stroked him and he began purring loudly. I felt like I was drifting back intosleep—I loved Sundays. There was nothing harsh about the silence of the day. Everythingwas right with a quiet Sunday. Sunday was the one day of the week that hadreason to be quiet.

I looked at my mom, absorbed inher work.  Her short blond hair was messyweekend hair. I looked at my sister, her  eyes were darting back and forth in thedirection of the screen. I could see the glare bouncing back from her eyes. Sheseemed to be enjoying the show. I looked down at my cat. He lived in a world ofSundays. I was both jealous of him. He always had the lazy pleasure, but hewould never know how special it really was and I feel sorry for him at the sametime. I wondered whether awareness wasn’t quite the gift that I was making itout to be.

Coffeetime. I foundmyself pouring the hot, steaming liquid into my favorite red mug and sprinklinga little cinnamon on top. I could feel the steam hit my face before I eventouched the glass to take a sip. It was so warm, so sensuous, and the taste sodeep and mature..

 

I felt my dream coming back tome. The Sunday Silence lost its meaning.

            I was in bed, I was screaming. Thiswas as close as two bodies could get. My legs wrapped around, toes pointed. Hemoved within me, around me.  

 

 

There was a high-pitched buzzingon the train, playing against the low ca-klinck of the tracks. These were thesounds of a horror movie. Any minute, a black-cloaked man would push aside myluggage, or the train would crash and the day I left home would be the end ofmy story. Any minute, the  background noisewould abruptly end, there’d be a scream, then silence. Moments passed and noill-fated terror became part of my story. Lookslike I’ll have to actually live with leaving. The day was gray—gloomy overthe few buildings and open fields that I could see through the small trainwindow to my right.

            “Feet off the seats please… off theseats please.”

            I looked up to see a tall, annoyedman looking down at me, pointing at my feet relaxed on the seat in front of me.I  jumped up and sat up right.

 

It was about 2:30 AM. I couldn’tbe sure of the exact time since my phone had died sometime during the course ofthe early evening.  I was surrounded byglossy-eyed people, some nearly asleep and some who might as well be.

“Where are you from?” a gorgeousyoung woman curled in the arms of a quiet, older-looking man inquired, withslightly slurred speech.

“Bryn Mawr, “ I answeredhesitantly but positive it wouldn’t hurt , since I obviously would be exitingat the Bryn Mawr station.

“That’s nice,” she answered,looking away as if our conversation had finished, as if we had come to somekind of point.

I looked down at my phone,forgetting that it was dead. I did this habitually, like an acquired tick.Looking around, I saw three others doing the same.

 

“I have heard themermaids singing, each to each.”

 

 

I could see the glow of the“hooka” sign on the sidewalk as I glanced over Becca’s shoulder. The “h” hadburnt out, but the sign still served its purpose. The rose aroma was light andthe place was packed, so packed that it was a little uncomfortable trying toignore the men at the table beside us. One of them nearly touched my elbowevery time I adjusted myself on the low, pillowed booth.

            “What flavor is best?” he asked justas I was summing up the situation in my mind. Becca and I both had a tendencyto be reserved. Our faces must have looked hilarious—he immediately startedlaughing.  “What’s wrong? Did I scareyou?”

            “Well, personally, I like the rose,”I piped in quickly, embarrassed, but deciding that something could come out ofthis situation if we made the most of it.

            “Sounds a little feminine.”

            “It’s the best, trust me.”

            The server, an annoyed lookingwoman, walked up to his table. My inquisitive fellow-hookah partaker glanced atme and said, “Rose, please.” The woman stormed off. She seemed upset, as if shewas hoping that all the customers would go away so she could enjoy her job inpeace.

What was awkwardness turned intolaughter and two separate tables became one. His friends joined us, loud andobviously intoxicated.

            “Come to our apartment”

            “It’s okay. It’s just a block awayand we’ll pick up pizza on our way.”

            After the proper hesitation I foundmyself following the three guys. Two of their girl friends seemed to haveappeared out of nowhere to SoHo pizza—apparently the best pizza in the city. At3AM the line at SoHo pizza—apparently the best in the city— extended down thestreet and a big, dark man, who appeared to be a bouncer stood in front of thedoor allowing people in line to move in when others moved out.

            Becca looked at me and whispered,“Best pizza in the city… better be the world.” We both laughed and the onegorgeous former hookah partaker glanced at me then the line moved again, and wefinally found ourselves inside.

 

“Acrossthe sea, a moonless night”.

What if there were merelystillness in the grey? The clock chimes, calling noon, and the windy, rainingday surrounds me looking  in through thewindows. If mermaid songs permeate the air and voices only wake us so that we maydrown, what could be the harm in looking down? A wish half-formed, and you sit aloneby the window sill, a force of reckoning, cold and bright. A kettle calls, Itrip over books lying to the right.

Shouldthe tide forget us all?

           

            If…

Forone moment, you and I lay lying, lying, on the bedroom floor, the shuttersclosed and the sheets a mess… could I stroke your chest, would you protest?

 

I should have been just a fewmiles from my house, but instead I was making a three hour drive on theinterstate. I’d never driven by myself on the interstate before. I wasterrified. Every few minutes I wondered if I should turn back. What am I doing?  Every minute I imagined that the car zoomingpast me might be the last thing I would see in this life. Madonna was singing So Sorry and I turned the radio up.  I was going to visit Darren at UT Knox, hence Madonna,something the two of us had in common. She saw us through our first visit toNew York and now she was the driving force in one of the craziest decisions I’dmade in my life. My parents thought I was just stopping over at his house forthe weekend. They didn’t know he was already in college. They would have diedif they knew I was doing this.

I looked at the speedometer tosee the dial on 90. Well if I’m going tocrash speeding isn’t going to help anything. I gently rested my foot on thebreak and took a deep breath. I was going to do this.

 For a minute I thought I saw a woman on one ofthe looming hillsides that guarded the flat, black road. I thought she wassmiling.

 

How lovingly she looks at me!

With her simple gaze and loving eyes,

How her beauty emphasizes love!

She must know love more than any-

she has dealt with loss and bore it well.

 

Ah! My loving wife,

How lovingly she looks at me!

Both mother and father gone,

she claims she is alone.

But I am here, loving her.

 

Her blonde hair shines like the sun,

and with that smile…

How lovingly she looks at me!

Our daughters share that trait.

That wise and loving smile.

 

Time gets the best of man,

and loss takes away a lot of love,

but she manages well.

How lovingly she looks at me!

My darling wife and mother of two.

 

Her hands fit so easily within mine,

but I fail to forget her strength.

That daring strength that surpasses brawn.

You’d think she could never love again, but

how lovingly she looks at me!

 

I thought that the melodies weregone. I took the pictures, hung the roses up to dry. I found a bunch of oldticket stubs in a cardboard box, all the while praying. Heart, keep beating,don’t cry.  Four o’clock in Ft.Lauderdale, my granny took her last breath. I still was still there, stung bythe jellyfish beach. My mother said Granny came to her in her sleep. My sistersaid she was gone. We scattered her ashes over the ocean.

 

His eyes were dark and glossedover. The file cabinet made a shrill start as he opened another drawer, tookout more files and began to pile them, under the familiar flurescent light thatgave meaning to the scribblings. He didn’t have a watch and didn’t need one. Heleft at the sound of a whistle or a beep. The day ended with the swipe of a punchcard. The fluorescent lights never rose or set. This was life. This is what helived for.

An image came of a white dressshirt falling off the Brooklyn Bridge, catching the wind and making a shrillscream before landing in the water to join the other many white dress shirtsbefore it. This wasn’t a new image, he’d had it before and he’d have it again.Each time they’d be closer to Technicolor.

 

I couldn’t stand the way theyrearranged the Starbucks. The chairs were too close, facing each other. I’mthere now, writing a paper about meaning and I can’t look down. There’s a manlooking at me and I’m afraid he’s writing a story about me, just like I am ofhim. He’s so disgruntled but so put-together. Hart Crane wrote about shrillshirts in the air off Brooklyn Bridge.

 

The last thing I saw was the monitorbeeping. I saw the crickets dancing, the shirts falling.

 

My sister told me I wrote likethe Secret Window. Johnny Depp might find a way to make my life mean something.

           

Thetomatoes were in the garden again. They were growing, tall, in the garden mymom

had planted herself.The deer would eat them again, but she would always say that’s why she plantedthem. The deer need food too.

 

ButI can’t help feeling like this is new. No one has felt like me or thought likeme. Never before have such feelings arose, in heart, liver, or whatevercontrols emotion now. But we are all alike, born of the same dust that we willall return to and not one penny will save us. We’re all of the dust that I kicknow with my feet. We’re not important, but animals that must one day die.

Iknow that now. I may have been aware of that then, but only subconsciously.Humans are too self-conscious, too headstrong to realize how insignificant theyreally are. We all want to believe we’re something, we’re special. We arehuman-kind and we have brains. What could be more special than that?  We have brains, but we don’t use them.  All sorts of animals have brains.

Mynew life began when I was young and thought the world was mine. I could doanything if I put my mind to it. In fact, I was probably more insignificantthan usual. My heart was in the right place though.

The world was passing me by.Time was passing me by. I was going though everything as if in a painful dream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

               

               

 

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