Saturday, January 3, 2009


It’s part fantasy, part dream.

I’m sitting on a bench. One of those wooden kind that sags in the middle and wobbles just a little when you first sit down. But it holds. It’s holding.

I’m on some kind of concrete pier that juts out into the ocean. I’m not sure which ocean. I’m not really sure where I am and I don’t really care. The air is cool, but the wind is warm. The sky is my favorite shade of blue. I am not happy, but I am content. The ocean is content as well. I can feel it. I can feel all kinds of things.

A sound causes me to turn my head and I see someone walking towards me. A woman. She is wearing a red dress. I don’t know how I know, but I know she is looking for me. She will sit down on the bench next to me and it will wobble and sag a little more. But it will hold.

She is in front of me now, blocking my view. She is wearing sunglasses that look too big for her face. She inquires if I am indeed who she thinks I am. I tell her yes. She introduces herself and I nod, but I already know who she is. I am amazed that she found me, way out here. She sits down next to me and comments on the frailty of the bench. There are other benches, but I assure her it will hold. And it does.

We make small talk. The ocean. The sky. The breeze. Yes, life can be beautiful when it is a dream or a fantasy or both. It’s so easy to be swept away. And then she clears her throat and I know the small talk is over. That chapter of our lives is finished and we will never look back on it again. The water seems choppier now, more waves, less content. I clear my throat as well.

She begins with an apology, a confession. She was looking through her husband’s things. Not snooping or prying, but trying to find something that was lost. And she found something else instead. She describes it to me. Confesses again that she shouldn’t have read it. The book. My book. That she shouldn’t have sat down, there on the floor, next to the bed, and read it cover to cover. But it was so beautiful. Like the ocean. Like the sky. She couldn’t help herself. She was swept away.

And I tell her that it’s alright. It was just a book, not a secret. It was just a book for anyone to read. And I want to add, “anyone, but you,” but I don’t. Because she already knows. Something about the way the sun is reflecting off the anxious water, and the way the wind is messing up my hair, and the way the bench continues to hold us despite its frailty tells me that she already knows.

I talk about my writing. I talk about the way I choose my words. I talk about how it’s the one thing I’ve always been good at. And how that gives me comfort when nothing else can.

She listens and she hears and I see her smile out of the corner of my eye and I change my mind. As the sun’s rays turn the ocean’s frantic waves into tiny little diamonds, I change my mind. She doesn’t know. She couldn’t know. My words mean different things to different people. She couldn’t know what I was thinking of when I wrote them. She couldn’t know who they were written for or about.

And then, like the water and the rays and the wind, she changes direction. She shifts on the bench and it wobbles and shakes and for a moment, I fear that it may not hold. I fear it may give way and then we would crash. Just as the sun crashes into the water. And the waves against the pier. And the wind into everything.

But it holds. The bench holds and I wonder if perhaps if I should be holding something was well. Like my breath. Or my tongue. Or my heart.

She turns toward me. Her eyes hidden behind those oversized mirrors. I can see the ocean in them and for a moment that gives me comfort. For a moment, I still believe she doesn’t know. For a moment.

“Do you love him?”

And then the moment is gone.

Part fantasy, part dream, part nightmare.

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