Saturday, March 01, 2008

Dance Of December Days

In the dream she’s 12, which would have to make me barely 11. I can feel the grass tickling my ears; she has my arms pinned to the ground with her knees. At this point she’s got me by six inches and more than a few pounds, so it wasn’t a fair fight from the start, but I don’t care. I’m looking up at her, with the evening sun filtering through her disheveled hair, and it’s like looking at a goddess.

“I can’t believe you said something like that, “ she says, rolling off of me so we can brush the lawn clippings off our clothes. It’s been so long I can’t remember what I said, but it was good. Something about having centipedes in her snatch or something along those lines. The shiner I can feel already beginning to swell was well earned.

“You know I was just trying to get your attention,” I reply.

“No, I know that, I just forgot we were already talking like that.” She’s giggling as she tries to tie her hair back up. Stupid girl.

It’s the point in the dream where I climb the playground set, so I walk over and make my way to the top and lean over the railing to face the sunset. She follows behind, of course, throwing her arms around me. She’s got a white short-sleeved shirt on with goofy puffy shoulders. If I remember right that’s what I started making fun of her for in the first place. Now the cotton has grass stains. I can feel the silly little lace on her sleeves and her loose hair on my neck.

“It worked, you know.”


“It got my attention. All your stupid games. I hated you so much I couldn’t stop thinking about you. You’re the reason I got that C in French class.”

“I thought it was because you sucked at French.”

“Shut up,” she laughs, and gives me a little kick in the heel. She’s got me pinned the railing, so it’s not like I’m going anywhere. Not like I’d ever try.

“It’s so romantic up here. It even makes me horny.” She presses up on my back and wiggles.

“Cut it out,” I scowl. This is not that kind of dream.

When the sun goes down we’ll get down from the playground. I’ll walk her home and think about holding her hand. She’ll give me a playful peck and joke about how I taste like dirt. And then I’ll go home myself. We know how this plays out, that evening, the next day, the years to follow. It’s OK to remember only if you know where to stop.

“I would’ve married you, you know.”

“What?” This isn't the normal script. I turn around in her arms and see how serious she is.

“If you had asked me, back then, I would have married you. In a heartbeat. I wanted to spend my whole life with you.”

“And what would I have proposed with, a ring from a cereal box?”

“I would have taken it. Besides, we would have promised, and that would have been enough.”

“Bullshit. We were children. And besides-”

“I know, I know.” She’s shivering now and I’m forced to hold her to keep her warm. “I want to believe it, though. It’s so lonely here if I can’t believe it.” But little kids' promises wouldn’t have made a bit of a difference, and we both know it.

Her head’s on my shoulders and I can smell her hair. The scent of grass, but not the grass of the playground scuffle. It’s the scent of the grass we found her lying in, long afterwards, when she decided she’d had enough. I don’t want that smell in my nostrils, but I can’t pull away. I never could abandon her when she got like this.

Some days you thank God for the alarm clock.


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