Bent Words

Bent Words

August 08, 2009

Can't sleep. The clock marches on with irritating finesse. Think of calming things -- small hands steadily knitting (?), long minutes between motos, sunsets on the lake -- only to have my thoughts snapped back like rubber bands into the past. Fight to shake the reminiscence. Repeat, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter! Two hours pass and I realize it shouldn't matter, it shouldn't matter...

Sleep eventually overrules my thoughts but not my dreams. I see him there, half believing it can't be real, half not caring as long as he is. What should be a simple embrace, a curt welcome, a warm hello turns into an irresistible opportunity to touch the soft warmth of his skin. And I can breathe him in. I can see his eyes. I can hear his whisper and feel his life. Then the sound of thunder indelicately snatches him away like a store clerk reclaiming a stolen toy from a child. Lightening flashes against the darkness and harasses my eyes. I was dreaming? It's about I'm-not-ready-to-get-up-yet AM and I roll off the bed.

"Woke up to the sound of pouring rain, washed away a dream of you" in my head as I shower.

The thought of walking out the front door and into today sends my stomach reeling as though I've committed myself to a receding corner that I don't think I can make. I hardly hit the bathroom in time. Are you serious? What is going on? Can it be this bad? Brush teeth. Head out the door. Forget wallet. Turn back. Head out the door. Lock the door. Forget sunglasses.


Rain soaked streets. Decide to take the long route to avoid likely flooding. Long route brings me to the front of the store rather than the back and there it is -- through the skewed windshield full of water I can see the giant race trailer consuming the majority of the shop's parking lot. Heart drops, hands turn to ice. I park in the street and remind myself that I work here -- I have to be here. I must endure. Stand tall. Don't panic. Don't blush.

All notions of grandeur fail immediately.

Hands start shaking with such determination that I can barely lock the damned car. Forget helmet for Yates to sign. Intend to unlock car but unwittingly hit the lock button three times which engages the remote start. Unlock car with key, hit brake pedal to disengage remote start, lock car. Forget helmet. Again. Turn back. Retrieve helmet. Get soaked. FML.

Get to work early only to watch the monsoon for two hours. Chain smoke in back of building with the Test Dummies. Listen to my heart thump against my chest and wonder, from my position at the back of the shop, if I should dial my boss's cell phone and call in sick. Probably too late for that. Brush hair ten times, finally make an entrance into the showroom where I see his silhouette near the front door. Trip over the floor mat. A volunteer asks for a tape gun. I drop the tape gun twice, successfully announcing my own presence, and quickly retreat to the back room blushing.

And it's funny. I thought I wouldn't recognize him with the extreme brevity of that one glance. I thought I'd have to squint or hear his voice, do a double take or have a direct run in. I thought there would be a significant change or that time would have slowly stolen away all those queer little cues that alerted me to his presence. I hardly could have imagined that all those seemingly insignificant details would come rushing back as though they'd never defected in the first place. Perhaps it could be said that I would know his occupancy before beholding him with my eyes...

But I did see it.

The way his sunglasses sat on his head. The drawable lines of his jaw. The slight bend of the back and the breadth of his shoulders. The thumb ever tucked away into one pocket of his Levi's, his elbow out. The favor of one leg over the other in his stance. The slight cock of his head. The eyes that catch.

Sit at my desk, pretend to work, guzzle a bottle of water. Creating locations for parts and I hear his voice. Like a deer in the woods my ears perk up to the sound. I know that voice. I know that laugh. He would not have to speak, I would hear it, but there it is. Unimagined. Real. I curse the air compressor for making such noise, drowning out his even tones. I quickly pass the service window and there he stands, talking to MO. My heart fills full of warmth knowing two old friends are finding each other again. I sit and I listen. It's all I need. Good stuff.

But I get more.

Fifteen minutes later I carefully crawl out of my hole.

There his wife sits twenty feet from the door. He stands beside her but I see only her. I dare not look at him.

I can't run away. Or can I?

Don't panic. Don't Blush.

I nod, smile and wave. I ask my feet to change trajectory but she waves me over. Fuck. Now what? I can barely walk with what feels like five pounds of mud encased on each foot but I make it somehow.

She introduces herself. I shake hands. I say hi to him. I shake his hand, not knowing if I should have. Ask how he's doing, not knowing if I can. I mean to say this -- "It's good to see you" but I think I forgot. I look at him but there's barely time to see. The entire world directly in front of me swirls into a massive blur. My entire being begs me not to stare so I take it too far and see almost nothing. I must look like a poster child for ADD. She introduces me to her daughter and then to his daughter. His daughter. My God. My eyes bulge with significance and I wonder if they can see it in my face. I say her name with too much emphasis. She's a little woman! The little girl is no longer a little girl and I want to say things to her as though I know or knew her once but I didn't really, save for in my heart. Her little voice, her sweet smile, her picture on my wall. I didn't realize how much I had grown to care. I want scrutinize her features but I talk nervously instead, covering up what I suppose must covered. I talk because my face is flushed and my neck is drawing sweat and although my voice is shaking it's better than just running away like a complete idiot and so I say "it looks like the weather is going to break so we can run the dyno!" and "I'm so excited!" and then I throw in a little hop (my God I'm dork) and he laughs. Man, he laughs. Whether he is laughing that I'm acting the fool or because he finds it endearing matters little for he is laughing. Finally I am able to quickly walk away. I take the laugh with me.

Procure sufficient distance. Exhale. Fumble my Gatorade. Drop my sunglasses. My nerves are pushing at me from the inside, exciting jerky motions. Hide my shaking limbs with giddy movement. Curse my shirt for showcasing my heart so readily.

Retreat further. Opposite side of store. Try to recall what I said. I can't recall it nor the time it took to say whatever it was I did say. I let the thought fall into the quick flash I caught in his eyes. I'm quite certain it at least said "I don't hate you." It said, "I did not send those viscous messages." And perhaps it said more but that's for not for me to discern. Drop thought. Face opposite direction of their visages.

Rattle with customers old and new for two hours. Hit the back for a smoke. See him standing outside. Stop as though having direct run in with glass wall. Quickly retreat backward with melting knees. This is ridiculous, I say to the wall. How can it still be this way? I fight to compose myself. Fail miserably. Flick butt outside, wonder if he knows I'm there, watch him retreat to the parking lot, our footsteps mingle, stride quickly back into the building.

Weakened by lack of appetite for 18 hours, I steady myself against the parts counter. I try not to but I do. I watch him. I watch him from the corner of my eye, over the heads of smiling patrons, through passing handshakes and bodies moving from left to right.

I try not to care, to wonder, to be affected. I don't want to care, to wonder or be affected -- I just am. I am unfinished, though the ending has been written. The damned book has been put away. Yet I can't put it down. To be so affected seems so selfish. He is good and has his life, his world, his future. He is happy and I am so happy for him. I know there is nothing I can do and there is really nothing that I would want to do to change it. I don't want to interfere, steal or sidle in in. I just want to be unaffected.

I need a cutoff switch. An off button. Safety wire. Something.

It just happens. It's just me. It's just him.

Full f'ing throttle. WFO. All of a sudden, I'm a twelve-year-old schoolgirl and he's my high-school-aged crush. I'm as impulsive as a puppy and as equally untrained. Rhesus monkey. I think I just have to deal. It will never not be this way. He could be 80, covered with brown spots, sporting a nice pair of plaid pants and there I'll be -- 70 and swooning.

Stop that.

And, in case I forgot, it was really good seeing you....

Written at 9:03 p.m.