Thursday, February 25, 2010

Yearning

Out the small square window, Baltimore glittered, a patchwork of lights trembling beside the velvet black of the harbor. Somewhere below the shimmering mantle was my tiny, impermanent home. My tiny life.

The plane thudded on the tarmac. I hurried past security and headed toward the escalators. At baggage claim, the carousels stood desolate. Worry fluttered against my ribs; I dreaded the city at night, especially my neighborhood. I tried to focus on positive thoughts - a warm sudsy bath, curling under my down duvet with my new Margaret Atwood and a bar of Scharffen Berger’s dark. Then sweet, uninterrupted sleep until tomorrow’s alarm woke me, always too early.

The escalator discharged a stream of passengers. A loud rumble erupted at the opposite end. I moved with the crowd towards the carousel, hoping my suitcase was whirling around merrily there instead. Someone grabbed me around my waist. I jabbed back with my elbow.

“Hey!” The hands twirled me around.

“Kevin! Jesus, you scared--”

“Glad to see my self-defense lessons worked. I missed you.” He rubbed his side where I’d poked him. “I think.”

His prickly chin pressed against my neck, smelling faintly medicinal. He pressed me close and I felt him, hard and angular. My knees jellied.

“You never pick me up at the airport,” I said.

“Babycakes, I’m here to rescue you from evil, expensive cabbies and dark, dangerous streets.” He dropped to one knee. “Your royal coach awaits. To the palace! There, I shall fete you with Red Velvet cake, a foot massage… and other, special caresses of an intimate nature and, therefore, unmentionable in proper Southern society.” He winked and extended his arm. My hand disappeared in his. He lifted it to his lips and kissed the diamond perched on my left ring finger. “Shall we?”

I looked down at his earnest slate eyes, wanting to make up for our last less-than-agreeable phone call. I thought of my solitary night, my bath, book and chocolate. My vast calm bed. Then I thought of my father, alone in his derangement, and remembered my longings.

#

The mattress jiggled when Kevin rolled off me. Stretched naked across white sheets, he looked like a sculpted bronze, a work of art produced from the intertwining of Irish and Dominican DNA. He turned on his side and faced me, a lopsided smile creasing his face. His fingers trailed down my inner forearm before circling my wrist.

“Ready for bed?”

He didn’t wait for my answer and clicked off the bedside light. Yellow urban haze filtered through the microblinds, casting the room in ashen dark. The wail of a fire truck exiting the station below overrode the clack and rattle of the light rail. The siren turned to an echo, along with the rest of the city noises, until only Kevin’s even breaths filled the dark.

When I awoke, the blanket had slipped off. My inner thighs were tacky from spilled semen. Trying not to let my teeth chatter, I reached for my nightgown and panties on the floor by the bed and crept into the bathroom. I squatted over the toilet, then peered into the bowl, just to make sure; ever since the miscarriage, I always looked before flushing.

I reached into the linen closet for my silk travel bag. The birth control pill snapped easily from the foil pack. I held the peach-colored disc, marveling at the compulsive pull of my body’s rhythms and desires, unseen and unrecordable, but mysteriously known. I paused – was I sure? – then dropped the pill into the toilet. It landed atop the small bed of tissue paper and dissolved.

I snuck under the covers and wondered why I was even trying to create another being - life’s loss was so much heavier than its possibility.

***

Excerpted from PURE, a novel semi half-way done. To read more about PHOEBE, the moral compass of my tale, click HERE.

Last week to read my essay The Week Before My Father Died, an entry in the EDITOR UNLEASHED "Why I Write" contest. Essays are open to popular voting through Sunday. You must be a registered member of the EDITOR UNLEASHED forums. Please take some time to read these often passionate pieces about the writing life.


Peace, Linda

30 comments:

  1. Scharffen Berger’s dark. The BEST!! Linda this is sooo very good, I love this book and your prose. more please. hurry and finish so i can get it on my Kindle and read it.

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  2. I had never heard of Scharffen Berger before, but you didn't need to tell me it was chocolate - it's like a homing beacon and I'm the receiver!

    Gorgeous stuff, especially the description of the view out the plane window.

    Yes, hurry up and finsih!

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  3. Not a word wasted. Lean, meaningful prose and Well chosen details illustrate with maximum impact.

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  4. Wow. I liked that moment of regret, when she was going to miss her solitary evening. The reader can really see her conflicts here without you spelling them out. Looking forward to more!

    CD

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  5. If this is a taster of your novel, it's going to be fantastic. Such emotional truth wrung from the emotional shortfalls of our language.

    Well done.

    marc nash

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  6. So, so good Linda. "Life's loss, so much heavier than it's possibility." And though the pain has subsided into talisman-actions (looking before flushing) and an accommodation with life, the ache that replaces this pain is sharply felt.

    I like your semi half-way done novel.
    Simon.

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  7. "life’s loss was so much heavier than its possibility." So painfully true. Brilliantly real writing.

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  8. You are such the master weaver of beautiful, emotional, vivid threads of words. The finished product is simply wonderfully satisfying story.

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  9. Well done and that last line was killer. Also I know this is part of a longer work but this stands very well on its own.

    Well done.

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  10. I also loved the way she was conflicted over having her plans changed, from the pleasures of a quiet night alone to a night spent otherwise.

    I hope she knows what she's doing. I also hope HE knows what she's doing.

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  11. Is it okay that I thought the first three paragraphs are just you, what you like like and how you observe? Especially after the Scharffen Berger’s dark, I figured - yep, Linda's novel is about a part of her.

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  12. More great stuff. Wait.. no cuddling? Just roll over and sleep?

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  13. This is so intimate, just raw human experiences. I think your book will be very good. Keep it comin'.

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  14. So, so good. I cannot wait to read all of this novel. The poignancy of always looking before flushing, the need to recreate what did not live before... This is beautiful, deep writing.

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  15. The title is so appropriate--it's the emotion created in the reader from this story.

    Linda, your talent is shining through. This is going to be one kick-ass novel.

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  17. Sorry I commented here thinking it was the pop out for another blog LOL
    this is very raw - fantastic writing!!

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  18. Loved it Linda - the last line.
    Looking forward to reading more of your beautiful words.

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  19. Another gorgeous installment, Linda. Your writing is riveting! The characters are so real.

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  20. Linda, another excellent installment. The last two paragraphs are exceptional.

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  21. I agree with the others. Raw, dark, conflicting tale. Beautiful writing.

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  22. My dear, you are very, very good at telling the truth...in lies. There's an award for you at my blog. :)

    http://windspirit-girl.livejournal.com/21170.html

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  23. I agree with the others on the parts that are wonderful, but I will also add the opening from the plane was one of those moments we read and can immediately identify with. Our tiny lives, so good. Signed fan #33.

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  24. Dark and beautiful all at once. The novel will be wonderful!

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  25. Such excellent descriptions make this a joy to read. Well done!

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  26. Thank you all so much for reading and commenting.

    Yes, John and all, I do love dark chocolate and I don't waste the calories on the 'cheap' stuff. And yes, there are elements of me in this installment, as in every tale or poem I weave -- aren't we all a part of our stories?

    Have a glorious week... Peace, Linda

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  27. OK. I'm ready to read the whole thing.

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  28. as always, true...

    you have been mentioned at my place ;-)

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  29. Oh, so very true "life’s loss was so much heavier than its possibility"
    Beautifully written Linda, I know you know that, but still :)

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  30. Oh, what a wicked web you are weaving! Wonderful! I'm feeling old though, because I would have chosen Atwood & chocolate :-)

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