The Space You Left Behind


Does one ever think that when one approaches the front door to answer it, the casual ritual often prevents us from employing our critical thinking – measuring and inductive reasoning – which may have spared us a new experience and not have ever impacted our conscious subjectivity and embedded an apprehension, or a logic, or a system of your interpretation of that moment forward; and you wake up and decide things and going to be different. Remember, you have options; you have three doors to choose from and millions of pages to reference. You are what you know, that’s what page I am on this evening. I am writing them as quickly as you try to figure out why the hell you are trying to figure out what the hell I am talking about you; you turn to face the same brick wall you built of systems and neurons – you flip the page over and it is blank; so you write… you write as a ritual – and you will not be anxious about the knock at your front because you don’t want to answer it and your writing intensifies.

“Great to see you; you look spectacular.”

I didn’t tell her I had never jumped out of a plane before, or that I didn’t really think it was an activity that I had condemned long ago; in fact I had recently signed a petition to ban parachuting in our county, but I did look spectacular, so fatefully, I returned a smile and looked at her dizzy, unsuspecting gaze, her unawkwardness at my rigid side, she was breathing happily while the little propellor aircraft whipped us about

“What?” I knew she didn’t know that I had heard her.

I held my self perfectly still. I grimaced after a minute of this trying activity. The little plane shook and shivered. When she nodded at me I realized I could use this time to take the opportunity to stop this madness once and for all: My new life of urgent truth had to begin now! The little aircraft dipped frightfully through an air pocket and I began to get the heebie jeebies and slow quakes jolted my arteries. Meanwhile I realized I hadn’t many seconds to begin this new path in life, I had to plot my thesis after I jumped out of a plane, landed and recovered. My hand moved to my side pocket and I compulsively rechecked the presence of my ID and paperwork. The parachuting certificate I handed to the pilot was legitimate after all; the online class was quite expensive and I didn’t cheat. I just lied. Of course, last night at Trick’s Tavern, I realized that I would have told her anything. I needed someone to make me feel interesting, and I suppose that is why I tell so many stories to those I am sure I will never see again and I am beginning to think that is a dangerous self discovery.To make matters worse, I was starting to be concerned about this and other self issued discoveries, and this was a rather bad time to start a rapid decline of self doubt.

“I heard you say you were adopted.”

“True, but please don’t forget what you don’t know.”

“I wish you didn’t listen so much.” Our conversation was confusing. I just started to talk about nothing.

“The sun isn’t going down any quicker. My sundown is high…. Have you ever heard of thought disorder?” I looked up at the ceiling of the airplane and recited the definition from Wikipedia, ” ‘In psychiatry, thought disorder or formal thought disorder is a term used to describe a pattern of disordered language use that is presumed to reflect disordered thinking. It is usually considered a symptom of psychotic mental illness although occasionally appears in other conditions. It is also known as knight’s move thinking referring to the nonlinear way a knight moves in chess.'”

“What?”

The noise of the engine grew louder.

“I said the noise of the engine is getting loud.”

“Don’t worry, anyway.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“True.” She looked at me but I stared out the window at the gravity.

The pilot’s husky orders startled me but I stood up and waited.

The rollercoaster and the hash brownies experience was cupcake compared to what ever happened next. I have little but flashes of the freefall, I did everything wrong and the ride home was long and my whole heart ached in every part of my body.

When I woke up from my nap that evening, I called her and informed her that I couldn’t see her anymore and had to dedicate myself to a new religion – one that would make me a better self. Then I told her that she made me see that I was a liar and a thief and I thanked her and hung up the phone. Well, I actually didn’t totally hang it up on the cradle; it was crooked and I wonder if she heard me playing the blues on my harmonica for the next two hours. Nothing happened for awhile after that. I memorized the words to Ave Maria and took a shower with my cap on. I drank a beer and waltzed down the street to Mrs. Armstrong’s house, two blocks away.

My piano lesson was louder than ever before that Sunday morning; the expressive and impressive strokes brought my instructor’s maid to tears, I closed my eyes for minutes at a time, hoping to get the liquid to soothe my windburnt eyeballs, and I occasionally pause to flip my bangs off my eyelashes and as awkward as this was, I reminded myself to smile when my teacher would criticize my artistic profile and she would smile and nod at the keys as she told me to pick it up again; but I laid it down even more until my heartache broke and let the sunshine ease in, then I would totally stop and slam my fists down like a defeated classical pianist in a cartoon. Like Schroeder. I went to the window loudly when Ms. _________ had to pick up a long distance phone call, and her cat walked across the keys of the baby grand as traffic groaned down the slushy highway in front of her house. The cat was deaf, I thought while a tickle of a giggle hummed in my throat, and the damn thing had no talent. I wished that Ms. ______ would come back so that she was not speaking to her far-away friend about the crappy student playing crappy impromptu for no apparent reason. But the doorbell rang, the distorted volume of the cheap tone made me shove my hands in my pockets like a guilty thief, and the cat got away from the tune.

“Bobby, go home,” she cupped her hand and she spoke to the door at me, “Go home NOW.”

She reminded me of a dial tone.

I wonder who invented the dial tone. Did that same person name it? Was it named “Dial Tone”? I could probably Google it, but I knew myself too well. I did not care. All I cared about was the free association bullshit which prompted me to relate a tone to a human being.

Today was the day I decided to change my life. I also changed my phone number, got a PO Box, a puppy, and a laptop. I almost added a handgun to that list, but after dry-heaving in the alley next to Paul’s Pawn on 12th and Hell Street, I delayed that purchase for my next life change. I chucked my old cell phone in a dumpster, I admired the lack of contacts I didn’t have on my new one, and I slung my leather laptop case over my shoulder, gave a nice little blind kid two dollars, and strolled through the east side with my new dog in a cage on a Ryder I had bought from a teenager who seemed to be a legitimate salesperson.

Today was the day my life decided to change me.
 by Wendy Clark (Hudson)

All rights reserved.

 

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