by j.h. anderson
I ran into my highschool English teacher a few weeks ago in a pizza joint.
She asked about my life. Abashedly, I told her of how I’d fallen from the optimism and promise of a collegiate scholar to the smudged, rough handed existence of a debt-laden laborer working back towards that life or one more suitable than this, at least. She reminded me during our short talk, that, even though most of my creative outlets have been shorted by sleeping days and working nights, I could always write.
So today, taking her advice, I carefully lifted the lid off of my skull and filled it with a magnificent stew of Ray Bradbury’s words and Earl Grey tea. After letting it seep, then stirring it, and then settling it once more, I leaned forward ever so carefully and let a conservative portion (for fear my brain would flop out like a suicidally depressed goldfish if I attempted to drain it all) dribble out over the brim of my furrowed brow, down my nose, and onto the carpet. It made a garish brown puddle there, growing ever darker as it soaked into the fibers below.
I looked into the light glinting within the wetness of my little Bradbury tea stain, and this is what I saw:
We sat in silence for a moment, listening to the hiss of the needle on the bare end of the record, the soft click of the stopping mechanism when it reached the center. Her head rested delicately on my shoulder. She lifted her face to look into mine the way wildflowers straighten themselves after heavy rain, green eyes shining. I gazed back, feeling tired and drugged off of the natural perfume of her skin. This was a woman that wouldn’t be mine for long. This was a dream that I would wake from in the near future and be painfully alone once again. And as dreams are such ethereal things, very few can be held onto, even in one’s memory. I knew this one was not of those few, and my stubborn, incessant mind refused to let me pretend otherwise, much to my dismay. I am a poor man. I have only time and affection to offer. Even if such a dream as her could be kept with so little, I would be giving her less than she deserved.
“That was beautiful,” She said as I got up and lifted the needle back into its cradle.
“I’m glad you liked it,” I said smiling weakly, wearily. I meant it. The piece was very dear to me.
I returned to her and she put her head in my lap, her face a serene green-eyed pond. The pond rippled as a thought came to her and she spoke.
“You know, it’s strange. It felt like such a memorable song and it had a gorgeous melody, but now that it’s over I can’t remember a single lyric.”
Now it was my face’s turn to ripple, but in a very un-pondlike manner. With deep grooves washed up on the northern shore that is my forehead, I stretched and curved my long spine all the way down to kiss her forehead.
“It was an instrumental.”
The stain dried. The light faded. I saw no more.