“My grandmother said she could hear the bells of St. Mary’s
in her mattress at night.”
Janine, a part-time co-worker with a propensity for finding the right thing to exclaim whenever things got heated in the newsroom, was going to Cyprus in the spring. We were all so jealous.
It was another high-pressure day in the newsroom. Dog fights. Politicans arrested. Commissioners futilely fighting urban sprawl. We continued centerpiecing area art exhibits and benefits for needy children on the front, but this was also the county with the 3rd highest number of reported child molestation cases.
Sharon asked what I was going to be doing that night and I told her about the concert I was planning to possibly check out with my friend Lisa. I didn’t know who they were at all, I told her, and neither had Lisa, but she had won tickets and we both needed to get out.
“No hot date?”
No. Not for a while now. It’s been good actually except for those moments in the day when it wasn’t. I didn’t get into the subject with her since attractive ears were present. He was on the phone, but when he said goodbye his voice was low and sounded too much like Graham’s two months before, the last night on the rumpled duvet. Vermilion. His form shifted from a blur to a prismatic shape with eyes, and when he moved his hands over my thighs it felt like I was dissolving.
Sharon had just said something about hearing squirrels under one of the desks, and all of us had haulted our typing to give her a look. Janine’s response was appreciated, but it wasn’t Cyprus.
It would figure on such a night. Lisa and I shared a very nice bottle of sangria over a dinner of herb roasted potatoes and tofu and spinach sandwiches at a restaurant we loved, actually relaxing a bit and looking forward to the show. It was especially good to see Lisa smile. She was working through her stages of grief—-audible like the sound of an engine. Tangible like the peel of an orange.
We were both tipsy by the time we reached the venue. We missed the first band but waited for the next with the aid of two more drinks. We were nicely toasted but apparently not enough to block the ensuing sounds. Almost immediately their music pelted us with bits of dream and scape and such beautifuls we wanted to spit at just then. Any other time we would have rejoiced in the band’s incredible sound, but right there they were only haunting us, and Lisa and I were forced to give each other looks of defeat. Quick as water. Unplumbed, undone, and in cold wooden heels.
The echo of the singer’s voice managed to out-dizzy the wine in me. I continued to take it all in but halfway through the set Lisa had to say goodbye. She apologized for having to leave but said she couldn’t take the music any longer. Like a provocative soundtrack, every piece was the damn climax as Lisa’s ex-husband paints another picture of his new lover. As I find myself drowning in a dream. Each song was the scene where you hold your breath.
These boys-- these thiefs-- making us see beauty in the disaster. After Lisa left I felt silly standing there in my expensive clothes and fancy diamond earrings. But I was grinning. I was always seeking this sort of reminder, when something is so moving, so gorgeous, that you realize how stupid you look sometimes when you're trying to look pretty.
It's a good thing to remember there's no need.