This is a character I have created, for romance: bold and bitter, snarky, droopy-eyed, fearless, sardonic. The kind of wit that keeps its witticisms to itself and stands instead with its hands in the pockets of its pilled gray bathrobe, nothing underneath, watching out the window while black ice congeals on the road in shiny pretty malevolent ponds--malevolent like I am malevolent, malevolent with the silent malevolence that will destroy you before you recognize it for what it is.
I called you to tell you what I really think of you. I told you what I’ve been thinking in my head all these years. I told you you’re a coward and a slut. Look at you, I said, you fucked two girls on the same day. Then you did it again, and one of the girls wasn’t even the same girl. You’re a pussy, I said. You pretend to have deep moral convictions but you rearrange them every time they inconvenience you. You’re a coward, I said again.
You hung up on me. I didn’t care. Deep within the winter of my deadness the slightest breeze moved the slightest sprout of the tiny plant of my memory of a time when your rejection would have destroyed me. I remembered the several widely dispersed moments of real tenderness that passed between us. I remembered one day when we were about to be parted when we lay on your bed with our lips in chaste contact, fully present, fully sad in the glow of the oncoming uncertainty. Then you told me I was not as drunk as I really was, and I got mad at you again for being the prickheaded dickhole you always eventually managed to be.
But after you hung up on me and I didn’t care I kicked at my shrivelled and consumptive sense of decency until it, muttering, pulled itself to its raisiny feet and accompanied me as I headed for your house, propelled by the ceremony of the past, to see if I could pull any gems of respect from the terminal wreckage of our mutual resentment.
I got distracted on the way. I wondered if I could find Adrian on facebook, maybe. Even if he’s married, I thought, he might still let me bone him. The last and only time we spoke we talked about St. Paul night life, or lack thereof. I wonder if he went downtown and thought of me. Instead of seeing you I went home and ate eggs in the bathtub, listening to a whimsical audiotape about the Minotaur (the one from the labyrinth, I mean) trying tentatively to find his way in the podunk south.
Next time I see Adrian, I thought, I will smile kindly, let him walk by, then grab him by the back of the shirt and pull him into the most convenient custodial closet, arms windmilling widely in an endearing but futile attempt to regain balance and dignity. I will take him right there on the floor. He will go home to his wife and say that he has something to tell her. He will try to keep a straight face as he says he was raped by a security guard and he is very upset about it, but then he will smile, and laugh, and say that he wants a divorce.
He will show up at my door at 3am, suitcase in hand, droplets of condensed respiration forming a question mark by his face. He will look at me like, well, what have we got to lose? and I’ll let him in. I will be wearing the jeans that make my ass look like Emma Watson’s. I will show him some of my little treasures--a miniature cow I got from Lilliput in a dream, a magic pizza I keep in my drawer that never goes bad, a crown I’ve been making for him from willow leaves and pure speculation.
He will realize that I’m not bad, just misunderstood. He will know instinctively all my ticklish spots. Then the real party starts. Together we will transcend our lifelong cultural confinements, and quite possibly the limits of time and space as well. We will cast aside the shackles of guilt and obligation, and eat mushrooms on the green green banks of a river made of frosting. We will laugh in the face of possibility, loud and raucous, and we will not care about the strings of saliva that run between our lips like cobweb threads.
We will find all of our old friends and laugh at them until our throats feel like sandpaper. We will laugh at them for the things they have done to their bodies because someone else told them to; we will laugh at them for the things they have allowed to have done to their souls. We will give them jello jigglers from molds shaped like business executives, and we will laugh at them for not getting the joke.
We will watch all the lights in all the world pinwheel like a thousand carnivals. We will find life outside of the world; we will find life outside of life. We will dance on a lake whose surface is unbroken glass, thin as a layer of skin but it doesn’t break. We will already know the steps. A blue night will endome us, the warm inside of an egg big enough to gestate galaxies (but we will never go that far). If we try, we can climb it and hang from the top like human chandeliers, and be illuminated, and fall back down and be perfectly safe.
Adrian doesn’t know about this yet.