Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A piece of something

This is an anecdote that one character is telling another in a novel in progress. It's kind of off the top of my head, but I like the feeling of it. It'll change in the final version but I wanted to share it here and now.

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It was a warm summer evening after a long hot day and I had never felt so alone. Everyone I loved felt at once oppressively close and terribly, terribly distant. The liquor in my bloodstream blurred my vision and the oncoming headlights became a flight of bright angels diving at breakneck speed. I held my breath and brushed away tears with the heel of my hand, then let the air escape my lungs as I dangled my foot over the curb. For a moment I thought of pulling back, of what she would say when she came back to discover my decision. “Fuck it,” I said. The sole of my foot touched the still-warm tarmac and I took another step and then another. The blaring horns drowned out the rushing blood in my ears and all the thoughts of despair that had consumed me for months were blown away like cobwebs in a tornado.
“I love you,” I said, but no one heard me.
I waited for the impact but it never came. I turned to my right and saw the angry red taillights going away from me. The drivers had seen me too late to stop but they hadn’t hit me; they’d passed right through me. I moved from one lane to the other and every car passed through me. Nothing had any effect. I shouted at them as they swerved, trying to avoid me. The light at the beginning of the block changed and another dozen cars roared up to and through me. Nothing happened. I screamed a the sky, shook my fist at the stars.
“She loves you.”
I whipped around, looking for the woman who said that. She was standing in the grass covered median, a slim redhead with long hair wearing a flower-print summer dress. She smiled at me. “Get out of the street.”
“I don’t want to go back,” I said.
“You don’t have a choice,” the redhead said. “You’re more important than you think. You have things to do. Now come here.”
I walked across to the median and stood next to her. She was beautiful: green eyes, full lips, creamy white skin like china and curves exactly where they should be. “Who are you?”
“No one you’ll ever meet again,” she said and put her hand on my cheek. She leaned in and kissed me full on the lips. “But I’ll always be with you.”
“What —-?”
She shushed me with another kiss. I watched her pull away and felt warm inside, becalmed and at ease, sober. The redhead never said another word to me but I will always remember her smile. The light changed again and the four lanes on either side of me filled with cars charging in both directions. When I turned around again, the redhead was gone and I was alone in the median. 
There was a break in traffic and I jogged back to my side of the street. I walked up to my house and didn’t look back at the median.

Copyright 2011 by Jason Arnett. All Rights Reserved.

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