Saturday, July 8, 2006

Short story mood...

WE DREAM OF SCAPE, WE WAKE UP

February in a dying city, and nothing on the radio. You next to me saying I think I'm pregnant. You next to me, saying nothing. Telling me that the last time you saw your father, he lived in this neighborhood, and I can still smell you on my fingertips. I can still remember being in love with you.

And you say That one right there, and it's a crumbling four story apartment building in between a liquor store and a locksmith, and the door to the front hallway is gone, and the first floor windows all broken and boarded over. And you tell me to pull over, but I don't. The sun is low, directly in my eyes, cutting through the layers of grime on the windshield. It swallows your voice. It means nothing.

What I'm thinking about are your sister's hands. Her lips.

And do you ask me why I hate you? Probably. And I turn a corner, out of the sun, and the light at the next corner is red. I look over at you. You look out the window. I try to think of what to say. I turn the heater down. I can't remember how to get back to the bridge that will take us back over the river, out of this part of town. The light turns green.

Or this.

Your sister next to me in the same year, in the same city, on a different day. Smiles and asks So why don't you leave her? Takes off her seat belt, lays her head down on my lap. Undoes the button of my jeans, unzips them, says Keep your eyes on the road.

And I don't know what it was that you gave me, but my face feels flushed, my eyeballs sweaty. I can feel my heart pounding, can suddenly feel the words buzzing around in my brain, can feel them crawling in my mouth like ants caught in tar. I watch you at the edge of my vision, your hands as you feed a few pills to yourself, and I wonder briefly about the pregnancy. I try to ask you a question about it, but the words are busy somewhere else. My mouth is dry. I focus on the road.

We ride in silence for five minutes, maybe twenty, maybe an hour, and I open my mouth again, then close it. I turn on the radio and get nothing. I notice that we've left the claustrophobic sprawl of downtown behind, are passing vacant lots, abandoned factories, piles of garbage. The apartment buildings turn to trailers, the sidewalks to gravel and weeds and railroad tracks. I check the gas gauge. It says E.

I look over at you again, and you're looking back at me, all white-blond hair and deep brown eyes, and you smile, tight-lipped, trying to hide your crooked front tooth, and I never wanted to know you this well. Never wanted to know myself this well. And I look back at the road, and the sky is filled with clouds. I look at the gas gauge again, and what you finally say is I think I might be pregnant, and I know I'm not lost but think I'm getting closer.

by John Sweet

Wording Tuesday

scaf·fold·ing ˈskafəldiNG/ noun a temporary structure on the outside of a building, made usually of wooden planks and metal poles, used b...