Friday, December 7, 2012

The Hammock of Possiblity

I climbed into the hammock next to him, wriggling and rocking and trying not to spill my beer. We had been dancing around each other for a week, within a hair's breadth of each other, but the fiction of our friendship was intact, and neither of us would jeopardize that.

But I wanted to feel his skin. I settled back facing him, my feet wriggled under his low back, my bare thigh pressed against his hip.

The hammock swayed gently back and forth. It almost wasn't warm enough for cut-offs and beer. But we'd been skiing early that morning on the pass, and we'd earned our suds, and I was leaving that afternoon.

I was reluctant to leave without tasting the possibility of his gentle, shy person. I made him nervous, I knew that, and while my skin was thrumming with want of him to touch, just with a thumb, or graze with the palm of his hand, the rest of me was trying to be patient, hold space, let him relax. I didn't want him to run.

The night before he had sat so close, we'd read a picture book together, and every time he reached across my lap to turn the page, he had turned his head to me and inhaled, smelling my hair, which I'd washed in a thirty second shower. Saving water was his passion. My hair would not smell or look good to him if it was at the sacrifice of the cause he held dear. I was glad to be challenged in this new way. I was intrigued by the depth of his caring.

I wondered how that caring might translate to the exploration of each other, slow and exquisite, a whole afternoon's worth of activity.

My beer was warming and was dangerously close to empty. I struggled between nursing it to stretch the time I was allowed, by virtue of the swaddling hammock, to be pressed a full body length against him and look into his bottomless, but reluctant and shy eyes, and staying busy by drinking it, trying so hard not to talk, but just to be.

He relaxed, his leg rolled open against mine, all the skin on the left side of my body stood at attention. I closed my eyes and felt the current run between us, the moment of mutual touch. I drank it deeply, thirty seconds, a minute.

The breeze slowed. The sun shone on the side of my face, and on his chest, and we looked at each other, some understanding, some connection, so much better than mere touch running between us. I smiled at him, it bubbled up from inside, I couldn't help it. He smiled back. Suspended in time, held close by the excuse of the hammock, the world stopped.

The back door slammed, and his brother came out.

"What's up, guys?" he asked, clomping across the deck, he might as well have been throwing light bulbs at the side of the house to pass the time.

"Not much" said my beautiful, shy boy, and swung his leg over the hammock. The spell was broken. "She has to get going, so we are going to pack her up now." he said.

I swung for a moment alone as he walked barefoot back into the house. I swung and savored him, our moment, the possibility of what might have been, I caught each molecule as it was lifted off on the breeze and tasted it as it dissolved on my heart.

And then I went inside to pack.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Boy Who Could See

His big, round eyes were dark, even as a boy. They pulled into him, and he seldom ever showed them to anyone. When he did look at someone, more often than not, they were stunned and silenced by what they saw.

He thought they must have seen something monstrous and unfathomable, and so he hid them, kept them hooded. One of his seventeen sisters told him she could see the devil in his eyes. One told them she could see her grave. 

He could only see the pointlessness, and so he didn't look at them either. Under the shutters of his eyelids, his eyes, dark and hidden, hid their secret.

He liked to sneak out into the yard every Tuesday at three when all seventeen of his sisters were inside the salt box house in their lessons on feminine grace.  For twenty seven minutes, his world was almost completely silent, and the bent brown grass trampled down by twenty pairs of feet for thirteen years (four sets of them were twins) and the dirt between the blades were his.

He sat back on his heels at the edge of the reach if the old Willow tree, hugging his knees into his chest. His Oxford shoes poked out from under him. He looked up into the crisp Connecticut sky, through the skyscape of powerlines and into the chill grey.

His grey knickers were pulled up over his scratched and scaly knees. One black sock was sagging to his ankle where it had lost its elastic.

He breathed in. The air was damp. A bird circled high over head.

His lanky wrists escaped his tattered cuffs, his thick hands were dirty from ink and soil. He did not look at his hands, the map of dirt in the cracks being the thing which usually held his attention, helping to pull his mind away from the chaos of women and the constant fight against the willfull and never ending entropy of their household.

With the absence of all others, he looked easily away from his hands and in the greying light, his eye, un-shuttered, fell on the bird and tracked it.

The bird hesitated in the sky, as though shuddering, as though caught suddenly by a thread. The boy looked away, smoke from the factory by the river curling away into the grey sky.

The bird soared and circled. He turned his eyes skyward again, the last of the afternoon light catching the iris, showing its nature to the empty sky. The back door banged open, and the sound of thirty four pairs of hard soled shoes clomping down the steps onto the bare dirt of the back yard pushed at his solitude.

He tracked the bird across the sky as far as he could without turning his head, stretching his moment of alone as long and as still as he could, he watched with his eyeballs until he could see the pink of the inside of his own eye with one, and the bridge of his nose with the other eye.

He held his breath, waiting.