Horizontal Lives

True Tales of the Infamous Courtesan: Persephone N. Hades and her Horizontal Life underground. How she got there, her mis-adventures and her struggle to re-surface.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Ode to Mick Monet

9 or 10 months later, I return from (oops) Germany.
I am 16.
Arrive home with three ‘suitcases’.
Two in my hands, one in my heart.

The first holds the clothes I left with. Now in desperate need of laundering.

The second is stuffed with Kinder chocolates, Ritter chocolates, bar coasters from every Tavern I frequented, Fa liquid soap with washing instructions in German on the label (how exotic!), and countless photos.

The third, the one I carry in my heart, cradles seeds:
There is more World out there to be apart of.
Money affords the Freedom to pursue Life as I choose it to be.
Twin Souls, Soul Mates: whether as Place or a Person, exist.
I am determined to see them sprout.

Buy a car with my Bat Mitzvah money.
A ‘Certified Per-Owned Vehicle.’
A 1969 Light Blue Chevy Impala.
Basically, a Tank.

Find a job.
Because my body looks older, my face more mature, my eyes more worldly, and my conversation decidedly not 16,
(that, or perhaps the fake I.D. and false Social Security number,)
I attain a position as a hostess and coat check girl at a sophisticated Restaurant not far from home.

The Restaurant is named "The Cork and Cleaver."
Which is of swiftly but lovingly re-dubbed: "Pork the Beaver."

It is a ‘dead’ night at the restaurant.
I am in the coat-room, making out the hostess schedules for the week when the heavy wooden front door yawns open.
With a big Mid-Western Smile, I turn around to greet the incoming customer.
I freeze mid-turn.
It is Him.

In body, as flesh, I have never met him before.
But I recognize him instantly.
He has been living inside me all my life.
He stops too.
For one infinite second, the World seems to be on pause.

White blonde hair styled in a hip 1970’s feathered-back cut.
Snow white eyebrows.
Fragile white eyelashes fanning out around
Blue eyes twinkling like melting ice.
Incongruent fiery red moustache that attempts to hide
Full lips spread into an infectious smile.
Elegant nose turned up slightly at the tip.
5’11" and 180lbs.
Round, almost circular, hard biceps.
V-shaped torso.
Pectorals outlined and visible under a thick white sweater.
Hands like fluttering wings, graceful, conscious, lined with bulging veins,
(from good circulation?)
And a tight rear-end.

I register these, his physical features
As the Universe holds its breath.
No. I have never met him before
And it is none of these features that I recognize.
It is his Spirit, his Energy I am held captive by.
I know him instantly as all that has been living inside me,
materializes into flesh and form as He.

Wordless, an unbreakable laser connecting eyes to eyes
We comprehend
We recall
We recollect.
The Planet exhales.

Instead of going to the bar, blue melting ice eyes never leaving mine, he sits on the sofa across from my hostess stand.
Requests a glass of Chablis.
I hand him the glass and a cocktail napkin.

I recall little of what we actually say.
The words are unimportant.
They are only the conduit.

His Spirit leaps and pirouettes, his conversation is lively, vivacious.
He reminds me of those silver sticks used on the Fourth of July.
The ones that look like incense, and when lit, shoot sparks everywhere.
Even as he is merely sitting, there is a ‘be-bop’ in his body.
He sings when he talks and shares his sentences with songs
when he can’t think of the right word to express what he’s feeling.

He doesn’t talk about cars or sports, getting high, getting laid.
I don’t have to listen to him with the lower part of my mind.

Behind his eyes are stories he has lived and suffered and read and thought and wished and hoped and been disappointed in.
Beyond all that emanates a life force that conquers all.
He seeks the Life in Life.
He revels in Life’s Stories.
And I realize, as I bask in the effortlessness of the darting, dancing, flirting, cascading, embracing of our energies, so do I.

I am a hopeless, helpless, optimistic, indulgent, unstoppable, sentimental, lost, Romantic.
He is all that and more.
He’s not a boy.
He is a man.
The first I am meeting. Romantically.

For hours, we talk and flirt and laugh; only interrupted a few times by incoming patrons whom I quickly show to a table.
And on my way back to the Hostess stand, I pray he hasn’t left.

He remains there the entirety of the evening.
The restaurant closes.
He offers me a ride home but I have my car.
We go to the parking lot and sit in his little Datson.
Cozy, blasting the heat against the icy Chicago winds, never breaking our conversation.
He slides a cassette in the player.
George Benson.

"What a difference/"

He sings, full, unabashedly, looking into my eyes, holding my eyes throughout the song.

/ that true love’s made in my life/"

His voice, rising and falling.

"/—I feeeeeeel! I feel so real"

Delighted, giggling, I watch him groove in his seat, arms up, shoulders twisting, hands gracefully snapping to the beat.

I divide into two selves—the Me that is there, mouth is open in joyful astonishment,
and the Other Me observing us both,
memorizing the night, memorizing him.
So playful, so quick to move into fantasy—he is able do in front of me what I can only do alone behind closed doors.
He is so free.

The smile widening my lips is palpable, peaceful, permanent.
I close my eyes and send a silent ‘thank you’ to the gods and my guardian angel for bringing this man here to me.
There is someone out there, a kindred spirit in a male body.
He exists.
Even if I never see him again, this one night confirms all.

But I will see him again.
I know. I feel it.
Our paths have finally crossed.
It will be,
through the mirror of his eyes,
I will finally meet not only myself, but the possibilities of me ‘becoming’.
I may continue to remain Unknown to my Parents. Unknown to my friends.
But I will no longer remain Unknown to Myself.
I will no longer be alone.
His name is Mick and he will change the course of my Spirit and my Life forever.

He sings through to the last note of the song.
Our eyes sparkle.
Our bodies hesitate.
He reaches into the ashtray removing the roach of a joint.
Lights it.
Fire blazes, then becomes smoke.
He takes a hit and offers it to me.
I take a hit even though I don’t smoke pot anymore.
(Makes me feel tired, stupid, paranoid and ravenous.)
With him I just felt safe and joyful.

In Germany, for the first time in my life, I felt I was exactly where I supposed to be.
This night is the second time I have that feeling.

Our faces move closer.
His kiss, full and tender and patient.
His lips drip liquid heat.
All the Enchantment dissolves as
His hand slips under my skirt, into my panties.
Panties that are wet.

I want him to stay Magical.
I want this to be about our spirits connecting.
I don’t want this fade into ‘just Sex’.

I let him slip his finger inside me, moving it in and out.
I moan but not out of real pleasure, but because I think I should.
My body is always sexually excited, but the feelings of what gives me directed pleasure,
are still unknown and unspecific.
I enjoy playing but I have never been ‘over the mountain into the honey pot’ with a man.
Just by myself.

I don’t want the night to be going this fast,
but I’m afraid if I don’t let him touch me,
he will either think I am too young and being coy,
he will be bored and never want to see me again.

Fingers stroking. In and out. In and out.
Spreading my juices onto my thighs.
Slips in a second finger. In and out. In and out.
Conscious of how I look.

What do I have to offer a man that he would be interested enough to stay with me for?
I am 16.
Boys my age seemed to care about looks and sex before all.
Men and boys pay attention to me because of my sexuality.
Like Jett or the waiters at "Pork the Beaver" who flirt with me.

He takes his fingers out from between my legs, placing them fully in his mouth.
I gasp. Then giggle.
Outrageous. I never saw a boy do that before.
Taste it?
Jett would have thought it was gross.
I never even tasted myself.

He takes my head in his hands and imprisons my eyes with his.
"You are so incredibly beautiful. You are a lovely lady—one of the loveliest I have ever kissed."
My mouth is open but no words come out.

Me? Lovely? The Loveliest?
Me? A ‘Lady’?
I am a girl.
A ‘chick’.

His hands are still on my cheeks.
"You are. Can I see you again?"
I nod up and down, speechless.

The Magic returns.
I am not in a car in a parking lot.
Together, alone, just he and I, we are in a bubble, floating away somewhere in the ether.

"Tomorrow night?"
I nod up and down again, mouth still open, head still in his hands.
"Should I pick you up?"

My parents would never allow this.
I could see he was at least twenty-five.
Some sneaking around would be required.
I could say I had to work, come here and drop my car and then meet him.
I shake my head side to side.
"You could pick me up here."
Another kiss. Long, slow, burning, melting.

He walks me over to my car, the only other car left in the lot, watches me get in, start the car.
I pull the lever to Drive.
He taps on the window.
I turn my head to see him placing his lips on the glass.
I place mine on his from my side of the glass.
We drive off in the same direction, his car behind mine.

The first traffic light about two minutes down the road.
The light turns red.
I stop. Look in the rear view mirror.
He’s climbing out of his car---in the middle of traffic---late at night---on the highway!
What is he doing?

Wearing no coat, he runs to my driver’s side.
Makes a turning motion with his arm.
I unroll my window.
Blast of icy air hits my face.
His glove-less hand pulls my chin upward.
He kisses me and I feel the heat.
"Lovely!" he sings to the moon. "Lovely, never, never change!"
He sings jogging back to his car just in time for the light to turn green.

Three red lights
Three more kisses.
Then, through the rearview mirror, I watch as he turns off heading in a different direction.

I don’t remember the rest of the drive home that night.
I don’t remember washing my face, or climbing into bed.
Something in the Universe, in my Universe, has shifted.
And I know my life is about to change, irrevocably.

The alarm sounds and with it the radio.
It is morning.
Eric Clapton sings:

Standing ‘neath the crossroads
Trying to read the signs
To tell me which way I should go
To find the answer
And all the time I know
It’s your loving
Let it grow

I think of Mick.
Is this a sign?

Let it grow
Let it grow
Let it blossom
Let it flower

My mother has left me a note by the phone in my room:
"Jett called. Wants you to call him back."
When it rains it pours.

In school, Jett finds me at my locker, sheepish, tail between his legs.
"Can I talk to you?"
I nod.
This is the first time since Germany, since the abortion, he’s come to me.

We walk outside to the Smoking Area.
He places two cigarettes in his mouth, cupping the flame with his hands against the wind, and passes me one.
His tall frame leans against the brick wall, his long legs cross at the ankles.
I stare at him remembering what it was like to run my fingers through his soft blonde hair.
He extends one long arm, and takes my hand in his.
His eyes are on his cigarette, afraid to look directly into mine.
"I miss ya, Toto."

'Toto'. His other nickname for me.
(‘Bo’ was on paper. ‘Toto’ was vocal.)
I don’t recall why.
He made it up.
It feels strange hearing it again.
I haven’t heard it since I told him I was pregnant.

"Do you miss me?" he asks, his eyes venturing a look up to mine.

I still love Jett.
I think.
Maybe I just want him to love me and be sorry for what he did.

‘You never heal completely until the one that hurt you, closes the wound for you.’

Or maybe it’s just the comfort of familiarity.
A desire for closeness I knew back the way we were before the abortion.
To take possession again of the dreams and hopes that I ‘d built around him.

"Yes." I don’t know what else to say. There is too much.
He pushes his body upright and embraces me.
Slowly I let my arms encircle his waist.
My head comes to the level of his lower chest.
I mold myself, pressing my body into his familiar shape, the familiar warmth, listening to his heart.
He holds me out at arms-length looking down at me intently,
"Wanna hang out tonight, after dinner?"
I am about to accept when I remember.
"I can’t"
"Oh." He looks confused. "What are you doing? Gotta work?"

I ponder the idea of lying but then I think better of it.
Lying wouldn’t be a good way to start this relationship up again.
If indeed we were going to get back together.

"I have a date."

He sucks a hard drag from his cigarette then snaps it to the ground, grinding it into the pavement with his boot. He breathes hot air into his palms, then shoves them deep into the pockets of his jeans. He stares out toward the parking lot at nothing in particular then turns and looks me.
"Okay, forget the whole thing then."
"Jett?" I reach to take his hand out of his pocket but he holds it there firm. "I accepted before I knew you were going to come back."

He kicks the butt around with his foot.

"I just met him. It’s probably nothing. Any way, it’s you I love, it’s you I’ve always loved."

I say that and I think I mean it.
But I also want him to love me again and feel bad for all that happened.
No matter how much I’ve healed from what happened, it feels like the wound won’t completely close until I hear how sorry he is.

"Then how can you go out with another guy?"
"Jett." I give him a look that encompasses all that we’ve purposely left unsaid. "You weren’t around anymore. But you’re here now. Okay?"
"Who is he? Someone from our class?"
He means our senior class in High School.
"No. Just a guy I met at "Pork the Beaver".

We laugh at the name.

"What about Friday? Wanna go to a movie?"
"Okay." I say.

The bell rings for our next class.
He nods and walks away backward watching me, kisses his forefinger, then pointing it at me.
"Love ya Toto."
My heart expands rupturing into a hot pink flower.

"Hold the line! Love isn’t always on time!"
One hand is on the wheel; his head is raised up, smiling he sings, eyes half shut.
He is all that is beautiful.
"Who is this? This group that does this song?"
I ask, mostly because I’m too shy to join in and sing.
"What did you say?"
"Toto—hold the line! Love isn’t always on time!"
I let the song finish.
He looks over at me and smiles.
"Why did you just call me that?"
"Why did you just call me ‘Toto’?"
"It’s the name of the group—"Toto". You asked."

I store it in the ‘meant-to-be column’ in my head.
But I wasn’t sure which column it belonged to:
Mick or Jett.

I have never dined in a restaurant before that didn’t have tables that were easy to wipe by a dashing waitress with a wet rag.
I have never dined in a restaurant before that had menus that weren’t plastic.
I have never dined in a restaurant before with white tablecloths and candles.

We are led to a comfy booth.
Instead of taking the seat facing me, he scoots in next to me.
He blankets the tablecloth over our thighs, slipping his hand underneath the cloth-hang, resting his palm on my thigh.
He orders two Chablis.
I hold my breath, burying my face in the menu and only exhale when the waiter leaves not ‘carding’ me.

My first real wine—nothing like Mogen David.
I feel so grown-up.
I feel ready to feel grown-up.

Under the tablecloth, my fingers blindly trace the lifted veins on his hands.
Candlelight melts ice blue eyes.
"Do you believe in Soul-Mates?" I ask.
"I do."
"Do you believe they are destined for each other? That the Universe brings them together?"
"Do you?"
"I hope so. I like to believe in Fate. In meant-to-be."
"I guess it makes Life more dramatic. Gives it meaning."
"I don’t. I don’t believe in Fate."
"You don’t?"
"I believe there are a lot of Twin Souls out there, and somehow, in the midst of the Chaos we call Life, some paths cross."
"I don’t like that version."
"You don’t think it’s romantic enough? I think it’s more romantic."
"Because it gives us the chance to show what we are made of. It’s out there. It’s our responsibility to recognize it when it happens and to fight like Hell to keep it dear. It teaches Gratefulness."
"Huh. And that’s another thing about you, you know? Like, you’re always saying ‘Thank you’ to everybody for anything."
"So it’s…weird. Like you’re always so grateful for everything."
"So you think I’m weird?"
He takes my face gently in his warm fingers and pulls my mouth to his.

When we separate I continue,
"No, you’re not weird. It’s weird."
"Kiss wasn’t enough to distract you eh?"
"Very distracting. But really. I mean, like, ‘cool’ people don’t say ‘thank you.’ At least not all the ‘cool’ people I know. And so it’s weird to me ‘cause you’re the ‘coolest’ person I know."
A wicked smile blooms on his face:
"Thank you." He says.
I punch his arm.
"See? See how you are?"
"Try it sometime Laena."
"Saying ‘Thank you.’
"Oh right. I’m so sure. Everyone will think I’m a Geek."
"How old are you?"
My eyes fall to the food on my plate.
With my fork, I push the vegetables into a pattern.
"How old are you?" he asks again.
"Why? How old are you?"
"Twenty-eight," he says.

Wow. He is a Man.

"How old do you think I am?"
"Twenty one?" he guesses.
"No silly, I’m eighteen."
He stops eating and stares at me, for the first time, without a smile on his face.
"Is that okay?" I ask, afraid to hear the answer, afraid of everything collapsing right here, right now just when we were floating away again in our bubble.
"Do you go to school?"
My heart thumps and I wonder if he can hear it.
I nod casually.
"I go to Schaumburg."
"What’s that?"
"The High School?" I speak it softy, heart pounding, eyebrows raised, poised for the verdict.

The waiter sets two more glasses of Chablis in front of us.
"Thank you." The words surprise me as the come out of my mouth.
I look at Mick, a bit astonished.

He crawls out of the booth.
He stands.
Then suddenly, unexpectedly, drops to his knees.
The effervescent smile returns to his face.
"Laen-ah! You got me on my knees, Lae-na!" he sings, ala Eric Clapton.
(There it is again. Serendipity?)
"Oh god help me if I fall in love with you."
"Do you believe in love at first sight?" I ask him.
"I do." He says once, then turns it into a Jazz scat, "I do, I do, I do-do-dee-do. I do."
"Me too." I say, and mean it.

That strange magic, that palpable connection, that ‘knowing’ I feel in my gut,
must be what happens in true love, in love at first site.
Jett’s image, like a balloon popping, explodes and becomes invisible as air.

"Laena. You are a Soul Mate. Our paths have crossed. Now it’s up to us."
He entwines my fingers within his.
"Laena, Lovely Laena, are you my Lady?"
"I hope so." Is all I can manage.

Loving Mick is effortless. There is no choice. It is meant-to-be.
Sneaking around to do it is becoming another matter.
I don’t think I was ever good at lying.
Lucky for me, my Parents are easy marks.
Their curiosity about me is a narrow box of questions—as long as my answers stay within the box, they don’t need, or want to know anything more.
This is one time their ‘not-wanting-to-know’ is a blessing.
So I just give safe answers.
"Where are you going?"
"To a barbecue party from one of the kids at school."
"To work."
"To a sweet-sixteen party."
A variety of choices.
I am my Mother’s social butterfly.

In his Datson, Mick smoking a joint, me an Eve extra long, skinny cigarette, we drive downtown to the Chicago Marathon, Mick’s always present Canon 35mm hanging from his neck.
"Why do you always have your camera?"
"I don’t know. Life only happens once. I like to be a part of what’s going on. Be able to look back at it."

We are spectators in the crowd,
The runners pass by in groups.
In a break, as the runners thin out for a moment, I see the crowd across the street.
My Parents.
My Parents are directly across the road from us.
I pinch Mick’s arm.
We dodge and scramble and duck through the crowd, pushing our way back to his car.
Safely inside, we exhale and giggle.
Mick starts the engine.
"Where are we going?"
"Some place gorgeous."
I snuggle into my seat and ask no more questions. I love surprises. I love when he amazes me.

He tucks into a parking place.
I read the sign.
"The Botanical Gardens?" I’m disappointed. This is the kind of place my Parents would go to.
How un-cool.
But I’m with Mick, and Mick is the ‘coolest’ so I wait to learn yet another new lesson.
Every day, every moment, every outing with him, I come home with a headache from all the newness he pours into my inexperienced life.

"These are Orchids."
"Duh Mick. I know. I can read the sign."
"Look at them."
"I see them."
"Look at them. See? What do you feel when you look at them?"
"What do I feel? They’re pretty? They look plastic? They look like a vagina?"
"Imagine you were an Orchid. Come on. Close your eyes and do it."
"Noooo. I can’t. It’s too embarrassing."
"I thought you said you wanted to be an actress."
"I do."
"Do you want to be an actress or do you just want to be Famous?"
"I want to be a great actress, someday."
"Great actresses like to act. They have potent imaginations. They want to act because they need to be emotionally naked. They need to express what they feel."

This feels too vulnerable.

"Close your eyes. Imagine you are an Orchid. Try."

I close my eyes. I feel hot, self-conscious.
Listen to my inhale. My exhale.
Then, it happens.
I don’t know how long I am there, imagination running like a film.
I feel his lips on mine and I open my eyes.

"What do you know about Orchids now?"
"They are loners. They are survivors. They know how they must look to attract bees for the survival of their species. They can flourish where other, more delicate flowers might perish."

He doesn’t reply, but places his camera to his eye and begins to click not the Orchids, but me.

"What are you doing?" I am blushing.
"No. Don’t look away. Say it again."
"What you just said about Orchids."
I am giggling. I am 16 and giggling.
"Just say it and I’ll tell you later."
"They are loners. They are survivors. They know how…"

He is aiming and clicking.
When I finish my last observation, he removes the camera from around his neck. His eyes are looking at me with that loving twinkle I adore seeing.

"You are amazing." He says. And I can feel he means it.
"So tell me. Why?"
"You’ll know when you see the pictures."
"No!" I push him onto his back. "Tell me."

He is silent. I curl up next to him. We lay together on the cold hard grass, fully in public but alone in our bubble, letting the afternoon sun warm our faces.
As the sun heads lower, moving toward the Horizon, we brush ourselves off and head silently, hand in hand to the car.

"You have the hands of an artist," he says, examining my fingers. "Your hands are like bird’s wings. They move like birds in flight."
"You do too."
"Your fingers are so long and gentle, like flowing seaweed. My Lovely Laena."
He kisses my hands one at a time, pressing his lips flat on my palms.
I am a teenager.
I read. I write.
But I am bereft of words to answer such a poetic compliment.
I stay silent.

"Because." He says, breaking the quiet between us.
"Because what?"
"Because when you imagined yourself an Orchid. When you spoke of what you understood, everything about you changed. You looked different. You’ll see when I get the pictures developed."
Again, I have no words to compete with his. All that comes to mind is ‘wow, that’s cool’.
"Yes. Why do I look different?"
"Your heart was living in empathy, your mind was busy processing what you felt, so your body let go of it’s self-conciousness."
I love him.
I love who I am when I am with him.
Through the Mirror of his perception of me,
I am all the unborn Possibilities buried deep inside that I could someday become.
In his company, I dare not know anything I think I know
or I am certain to miss what I truly need to learn.
He is my Master. My mentor. My Lover. My Savior. My greatest Fan. My conduit to Becoming.

"Would you ever change your name?" I ask, referring to the fact that I had changed mine.
(At that time, from Lane to Laena.)
"I might."
"If you did, what would you want it to be?"

"Maybe instead of Micki Daggett, I would be Mick Monet."
"Oh I like that. It sounds so French. I’ve decided I want to go to France. I love everything French. I didn’t make it there the first time, but soon I hope. I want to live in Europe somewhere. I know it is my real home."

His eyes drift far away, go somewhere else.
Occasionally, the smile would dissolve from his face and I’d see him go somewhere distant, to a thought that sobered him.

"I’ll call you that. Mick Monet. Mick Monet? I think you are really cool."

He doesn’t answer me.
We climb into the car. Blast the heat. For my benefit. Not his. He’s always warm.

"What were you thinking about just now?"
"Now, when you stopped smiling. Did I say something?"
He looks at me, ready to say something but hesitates, then the lit smile comes back and he says,
"Do you know that even your underarms," he traces his finger into the hollow ticklish part of my armpit, "are sexy and so elegant."
"You know, Mick? I think you could be a writer someday if you wanted to be."
He laughs an adult laugh, a knowing laugh, a laugh I don’t yet have inside me.

For our six-month anniversary, he gets me a membership to his gym:
The Chicago Health and Racket Club.
It becomes our home.
We meet there at the juice bar, work out together, eat there, have friends as a couple there.
At the club we’re free to be together.
Have a social life with other people.
I can’t share my own friends with him. They’re too young.

Mick’s two best friends happen to be members as well:
Michael who is married to someone named Patty.
And Rick, a younger Humphrey Bogart look-alike, Italian.
Suave in a Mafioso wanna-be kinda way.
Who knows? Maybe he is Mafia?

Mick and Michael work together in construction.
Best friends since childhood.

Most of the people we hang with there are his age.
The women whisper behind my back.
An undercurrent of something, something I can’t put my finger on,
something we are, Mick and I,
is disapproved of by these women.

Mick dresses as ‘Little Bo Peep’.
I’m relegated to be the sheep-or lamb- as it were. His costume is more flattering tha mine. Ugh.
We attend a party given by some our friends from the Health Club.
Michael and Rick are there as well as all the twenty-eight year old girls.
They are so pretty those girls, but Mick never flirts with them.
"Don’t you like any of the girls from the club?"
"Not my type." He answers simply.
"But they’re older, and more your age than I am."
"They’re old and cynical now. I hate that. When a woman gets cynical, it steals her beauty."
I don’t know what he means.

We spend a lot of time in cars and public places. Mick and I.
My house with my Parents is not an option.
And for some reason, we only go to his home once.

We tiptoe inside, our voices hushed.
His roommate is upstairs sleeping, Mick explains.
We lay together in the dark on his living room carpet.
Touching, kissing.
He brings out a tube of peppermint flavor oil.
Softly, he lifts up my blouse and bra, massaging the oil into my nipples.
His lips fall upon me and I lie there open-eyed, watching him suckle it off.
I am not feeling what I know I am supposed to be feeling but I pay attention thinking,
maybe he will be able to teach me things I don’t know about sex.
I pay attention.
We kiss quietly and made love on the floor.
He pulls out when he cums. Shooting his Love on my tummy.
He always pulls out so I never worry about getting pregnant.

It becomes obvious to my Parents, even in their Ostrich state-of-mind, something is going on.
My late nights with Mick get later and later.
I pull in the driveway at 1am. 2 am. 3 am. 4 am.
The Battles with my Parents become more devastating.

5 am.
Pull in the driveway.Carefully close my car door.
My waiting father flings open the front door.
"Get in here dammit."
He grabs me by my arm yanking me through the threshold, slamming the door behind me.

My Mother is at the top of the stairs, half on the floor, holding her body up by the railing.
She is crying hysterically. Her chest is red and her face swollen.
"You’re trying to kill me!" she cries. "Is that what you’re trying to do?"
"No Mom!"
"Get upstairs. Into the living room." My Dad orders. "Sit down."
He pushes me backward into a chair.

"You’re a selfish girl!" my Mother wails. "I can’t sleep! I can’t eat!"
Her words keep coming over my Father’s, over mine.
Her voice becomes the background hum during our argument.

"I’m telling you Lane. I won’t have it. As long as you’re living under my roof---you’ll live by my rules!" My Father’s face is red and distorted with anger.
"She wants to kill me. She doesn’t care. What did we do to deserve this? What did we do?!""Mom, nothing. I’m sorry I just didn’t know how late it was."
"You do this every night—now dammit I want to know what’s going on!"
"Nothing’s going on—"
"You’re selfish! You’re a selfish, selfish girl!"
"I am not! And fine! Then maybe I won’t live under your roof!"
I try to stand up but my dad pushes me back down.
"Don’t you move!" he hollers.

I can hear the door to my brother’s room open.
Glancing down the hall, I see their distressed faces, one on top of the other, peeking out from the crack of the slightly open door.

"What are we supposed to do Lane? Tell me that! Tell me!"
My Father is standing above me, demanding an answer.
There is a long silence. We stare defiantly at each other.
My mother is coughing like a cat with a hairball stuck in the back of its throat---very dramatic.
I don’t know whether to speak or keep silent.
My heart is racing.
I never meant for this to happen.
I just want to be in love with the man I love and have it be okay.
I just want to see him.
I just want to grow up.
I didn’t want this.

"I’m sorry."
"Sorry’s not good enough. I won’t have this happen again, do you understand me? Have I made myself clear?"

And as always, I can’t leave well enough alone.
I don’t want it to be like this.
I love my Parents.
I want a relationship with them. It’s all I’ve ever wanted with them.
I hate having to live my life one way with them and live an entirely different secret life away from them.

Persephone In Hades.

All my emotional badgering, as my Mother calls it, is born of my desire to make our relationship better, our communication stronger.
Yes, I’ve been breaking the rules and sneaking around and lying,
but they leave no space open for the truth.
They forbid, without knowledge, the very things my soul desperately needs.
They forbid me to be me.
Not just with Mick. Even before Mick.
It’s the reason I flew away. Overseas.
With them I feel like bird, wings clipped, locked in a cage.

There is no other choice. I have to take the risk.
"I’m listening."
Deep breath.
"I met someone. About a year ago. We’ve been dating. And I love him."
My Father’s chin drops hard to his chest.
I am shaking but I continue.
"He’s the best man I ever knew."
Ignoring that word, I go on:
"We stay out late because we have no place to go."
"Why haven’t we met him?""I didn’t think you’d let me date him. He’s older than me. He’s not from my school."
"How old is he?" My mother asks.
"He’s twenty-three." I lie.
"You’re right." My Father says. "I don’t want him to date you."

A tear. A stupid, humiliating tear drips out of my eye and rolls down my cheek.
I hate being vulnerable in front of my Parents.

"I’m sorry I lied. I didn’t know what else to do."
"Well Lane, I’m not unreasonable."

He’s right. He’s not.
He’s strict.
He sees only what he thinks he knows.
He’s stubborn,
But he’s not unreasonable once he has a chance not to be.

"I want you to bring him by. I want to meet him."
"You promise to be nice to him?
"What kind of question is that?"
"Just promise me."
"I won’t promise anything."
"God Dad, you’re so stubborn."
"How are we going to solve these late nights?" he asks.
"I don’t know. Maybe we could come here sometimes and hang out."
"I think that’s a good idea. It would make both your Mother and I more comfortable if we knew where you were."

"It’s May. It’s May. The lovely month of May…" we sing together to the Camelot tape.
"And my Prom is coming up…" I sing.
Mick stops. Presses the off button on the cassette player.
"And Graduation in June." I finish acapela, looking at my lap.
He puts the car in park and I see his eyes get distance, traveling to that far away place he goes to.

"My mother really wants me to attend all the parties and go to my Prom. It means so much to her."
"What do you want?"
"I could care less. My grades are shitty. I haven’t been into my school’s social thing since I met you. I don’t care."
"Ah ha."
"Mick. For my Mom, High School was the best days of her life. She went from high school to marriage so it was all she knew. All she values. So she wants that for me. She’s unable to imagine that the things that had meant so much to her when she was young mean nothing to me."
"Ah ha."
"I wanted to please her so I agreed to go to the parties at least. Would you want to go with me? I know it’s stupid and dumb and everyone there is just boring teenagers, but maybe we could just go to make her happy?"

He lights a joint.
I light a cigarette and wait. Decide the parties would be good enough.
How could I go to the actual Prom?
With Mick?
He is too old for that sort of thing.
I can’t even ask him.
For the moment, he makes no reply.
We walk holding hands into the movie theatre.

A Woody Allen Film Festival.
Woody Allen. Mick’s favorite.
We hold hands, caress arms, slide palms up thighs as we watch. Laugh.
"Bananas" "Sleeper" "Annie Hall"
During the break before the last picture: "Manhattan", (Allen’s latest and newly released)
we head outside some air.

He lights a roach. I, a cigarette.
He gives me the ‘I hate when you smoke those things’ look.
I give him the same look back indicating the pot.
We both smile and shrug.
Taking an inhale of smoke for courage, I tell Mick about the fight with my Parents.
Would he mind meeting them? Maybe hanging out at our house sometimes?
And then I mention again the upcoming Prom and Graduation events.
"Let’s talk about it after the movie." He says simply, but the ever-present smile is not on his face.

"Manhattan" begins. Surprisingly, it is in Black and White.
For a moment. I am there. In that City. That mysterious City called New York.
For a moment, I forget our conversation.
Although Chicago is the ‘coolest’ City I know, there is something about New York.
It feels like a place real dreams can actually become a Truth.
Not just within New York, but from New York to the entire World.
I wonder if I’ll ever see that City in person.

The story begins. Unfolds.
It is about an older man who falls in love with a teenage girl.
Mick watches the movie and I watch Mick.

He, Woody Allen, the older man, questions himself about how crazy it is to be dating her, this young girl, even though he has never felt the kind of joy he experiences with her with anyone else.
He breaks off the relationship and realizes almost too late that even though the age thing may be a problem for the rest of the world, it is not with him.
She is the one pure thing in his life.
He runs across Manhattan and gets to her apartment building, huffing and puffing, just as she is walking out with her bags to get in a cab for the airport.
He asks where she is going.
She says he has been accepted to a famous Acting School in London.
He tells her that he loves her. That he wants her to stay.
She says she can’t. It’s too late. She tells him that she loves him too and assures him they can be together when she gets home. In two years.
He is cynical. He says that he knows by then it’ll be too late, that she will be different.
She smiles and in her eyes you see that she loves him purely and she says simply,
"Have a little faith."

The movie ends.
Mick is uncharacteristically quiet.
We walk to the car not even holding hands.
Inside the car, we sit in silence.
"What’s wrong? Is it the movie? Did it remind you of us?"
"Michael thinks I should break up with you."

Blindsided. Hating Michael right now. Completely not what I expected to hear. Ever.

"He thinks our age is a problem I guess."
"Do you?"
"Are you going to?"
"Break up with me?"

My body begins to vibrate, to shake uncontrollably.
I can’t believe we’re actually giving voice to these words.

"I get scared sometimes."
"Oh Laena. You’re so young and you have all your dreams in front of you. You have to go to College--"
"But I can go around here. I don’t have to go away. I can stay here. I don’t want to leave you Mick. And when I become a great actress, I can act for a while in the theatres in Chicago. Maybe we could move there together and get an apartment in the city? Maybe when I go to school I can move out of my house and move in with you. You could tell your roommate to move out?"

We look straight ahead. No music plays. I hear him breathing. No words come.
Cars leave the parking lot.
My fingers open and close the clasp of my purse.

"I want to take you to your Prom."
"I want to take you to your Prom."
"You don’t have to. I don’t care that much about it, really."
"I want to. And I want to go with you to the Graduation parties."
"Really. I don’t care. Forget about it."
"I’ve been selfish. I’ve taken you away from your life—"
"No. You’ve given me the life I was meant for. I never cared about that stuff."
"When is your next Graduation party?"
"There’s one tomorrow afternoon. It’s just a barbecue. I wasn’t even going to go if you wanted to do something else?"
"I’ll go with you and after the party we can go to your house and I’ll meet your parents."

Mick said he would meet me there.
I hadn’t been around any of my peers in a social way in almost a year.
Not since the abortion. Germany. Mick.
The party suddenly seems silly to me. Kids drinking wine out of paper cups,
acting like they felt so grown-up to have the privilege to finally drink in front of their parents.
It seems like a lifetime ago that I felt that way,
a lifetime ago that I had my first Chablis with Mick at that restaurant.

Stand on the lawn. Scope out the Party. Lots of classmates I no longer know.
No Sue and no Mick yet.
The stereo is playing The Carpenter’s, "Only Yesterday."
Under my breath, I sing along as I pour myself a Styrofoam cup full to the top of cheap wine:

"Only yesterday when I was sad and I was lonely, you showed me the way to leave my past and all my tears behind me, tomorrow maybe will be brighter than today, since I threw my sadness away, only yesterday…"

A voice tickles my ear:
"Hey Toto. What’s ya been up to?"
I don’t have to look. All my unspoken feelings, every loose end begins waving at me.
"Hi Jett."
"So you still dating that old guy?"
"Um hm. How about you? You still dating a young girl?"
"Very funny. Nah. I’m kicking back as a bachelor."
"You make a good bachelor."
"Hey! What’s that mean?"
He wraps his hands around my throat and pretends to choke me.
I giggle and tease,
"Nothing. Just that you must be having fun."

I don’t miss him.
I have feelings for him, ambiguous and confused, but feelings none-the-less.

"You look good." He says, winking, playfully patting my rear.
"So do you. You always look handsome." I wink back.
His eyes leave mine and move up and behind me.
I follow his gaze, looking back over my shoulder.

"Mick!" I say; thrilled he’s finally arrived.

On his face there is a smile but it isn’t on fire the way it usually is.
My mind races for an answer. He must have heard me and misinterpreted.
I reach for his hand. He allows me to take it but there is no reciprocation in his grasp.

"Mick, This is Jett. Jett, Mick Monet."
A ‘guy’ handshake. Each holds his own territory.
"Can I talk to you a minute alone?" Mick asks.
"Nice to see you again." I say to Jett.
Jett nods.

Mick and I walk to the side of the house away from the crowd in the backyard.
"Who was that?"
I have never seen him jealous before; I gave him no reason to be.
Nor have I seen him angry before.
It’s terrifying and delicious at the same time.
"He was my boyfriend before I met you. Why? Are you jealous?" I wink, teasing him.
No expression. Hard eyes.
"I heard what you said to him."
"What? That he’s handsome? He is."
"This is beneath you Laena."
"What is?"
Hard eyes. Head shakes side-to-side in disapproval, disbelief, disappointment.

I don’t know how to respond.
I was acting out a skit I was used to acting out with men before Mick came along.
The: ‘I’ve-got-the-power-and-you’re-jealous game.’
But this was such an old familiar game boys and girls in high school played, that I couldn’t imagine what Mick’s problem was.
I never played games with Mick.
He treated me like a lady, like I was an ethereal irreplaceable spirit and I always rose to that.
I hadn’t been trying to play one just now with Jett.
In any case, even if I had been playing it, I thought our interchange harmless.
Mick could play too couldn’t he?

"Stop it. He was my boyfriend. I loved him. But now I’m with you and I have every right to tell him he looks handsome if I want and stop telling me how to act."
Our first argument.
My adrenaline is pumping. I’m scared. And I’m excited. I’m waiting. Poised for the battle.
None comes.
He doesn’t fight back or throw a macho fit like I expect, almost secretly looked forward too.
He shoots me a disappointed look, tosses his cup in the trash bin and walks away toward his car.
Stunned, my feet grow roots into the earth.
I look back to the party and catch Jett watching me from over his cup out of the corner of his eye.
I see Mick get in his car.
I look to Jett; see him sauntering slowly in my direction.
I hear Mick’s engine hum.
Then I see Sue walking into the backyard from the other side of the house looking around.
Looking for me.
"Suze!" I shout.
She finds me and waves.
Jett looks back at her.
"Wait for me! I’ll be right back!"
She gives me a thumbs up.

I sprint across the lawn to the street, wait for a passing car to go by and cross to Mick’s car, letting myself into the passenger side.
My side.
"I’m sorry." I plead. "Please don’t be mad at me. Mick. Please. I’m so sorry."
No answer. No eye contact.
He presses rewind on the tape player.
The tape screeches backward.
He presses play.
He fishes a roach out of his ashtray.
The flame burns and crackles,
Smokes is sucked in with a noisy inhale.
The song plays.
I know better than to speak during it. He wants to speak to me through the music.
Toto again.

"…the wise man has the power/to reason away/what a fool believes…."

"Mick you are not a fool." I say when the song finishes.
"Do you love me?" he says.
"I’ve never loved any one more."
"What about Jett?"
"I don’t know if I even loved him. We just had so many hard things happen. I don’t know what I feel about him."
"Who is he to you?"
"Promise me. Promise you won’t think bad of me?"

I am still ashamed about the abortion.
It is the 70’s. Roe v. Wade was just passed.
I am fearful Mick will hate me for it.

Everyone else did.

"Tell me."
And I do.

We spend the rest of the afternoon in the car.
I tell him about Jett and the abortion.
I tell him about Dave, the loss of my virginity and the tomato soup.
I tell him about feeling ugly, odd and always alone.
I tell him how I felt the first moment he walked in the door at The Cork and Cleaver.
I tell him about my dreams and my journals and my jaunt to Germany.
I tell him my little life story up to this moment sitting in the car.
I tell him everything except Wilhelm Oster.

"I think I was scared," I say, discovering my feelings as I speak them.
"I was scared because I love you so much and I’m afraid maybe God won’t let me keep you. Maybe I’m too happy. Maybe you’ll leave me. I think I just wanted to cover my bases, make sure Jett was still ‘gettable’ in case you ever left me. I’m so sorry Mick."

He doesn’t say anything through my entire monologue.

"Do you hate me now?"
"I don’t hate you Laena. You just don’t know who you are, what power you have."
I know this is a compliment.
But I don’t know exactly what he means.
Or what it means to the outcome of this situation.

"Laena, you are a very special lady. Look at me."
I do. Deep into his eyes.
"No matter what you’ve done or will do in your life, you have the purest heart I have ever known. You have so much love to give it almost drowns you if you don’t give it away. There may be many men in your life to come—"
"No Mick, I only want you. Don’t say that."
The trembling in my bones begins again.
"Listen to me. It’s important for you to hear. You may have many men in your life—"
"Are you breaking up with me?"
Tears flood my eyes.
At any moment, my bones are going explode out of my body.
I can’t bear to hear him talk this way.
"I’m not breaking up with you. I love you. But I’m older than you so I want you to listen to me."

I force myself to stay quiet, wiping the tears from my cheeks with the hem of my skirt.
"Now don’t do that," he says smiling again, "you’ll just distract me."
He takes my hem and puts it back over my thighs.
I look at him and go for my hem, teasing.
He puts his hand on top of mine and we engage in a ‘hem’ struggle until we’re both laughing and ourselves again.
"I want you to hear me."
"I am." I sit up straight behaving myself as I did when my Dad talked.

"You have the potential to be a great artist someday if you want to be. You have the most interesting imagination, your mind soars. I’m in love with this brain of yours. I think you will be a very, very good writer someday."
"I want to be an actress." I say, missing the point.
"You want the truth?"
"Yes. I think so."

I’m terrified at what he is going to say.
His words, his opinions mean more to me than anything in the World.

"I don’t know if you have the kind of discipline it takes to be an actress."
"I have discipline."
"It’s a different business. You have the discipline to act. To learn to act. To be great at acting."
"Okay. Thank you."
"But the discipline to be in that business? I don’t think it’s in you."
"Don’t say that. Please don’t say that."

I sit on my hands so he won’t see them shaking.

"It’s a different kind of discipline than being a writer. You love Stories, Laena. You see Stories in the smallest things that happen. You notice every detail about people, situations. And you are a loner. I want you to promise me something."
"Promise me that you will never lose faith in your self."
"I won’t."

I promise not really knowing what he’s driving at and still a little hurt by ‘the actress’ comment.

"But all that you said, all that is good things to have for being an actress too, isn't it?"
"The World needs what your imagination has to offer. You have to think of it as a Gift. A Gift you need to protect and nurture as if it were your child. Do you understand?"

I don't but I nod.

"It doesn’t matter how much you need to give it, they need it too. Don’t forget that. You are a Lady. You are not a petty, shallow, little girl. I don’t care how old you are. I see you. I know you. Don’t sink to it. There will be plenty of temptations. Don’t sink to it."
"I didn’t slash his tires…" (Crooked smile, shrug in the shoulders, twinkling eyes.)
He ignores this.
He waits for me to reply. To assure him I understand his words.
I try, but I am missing the bigger gist.
I know I am and am trying to grasp it but it’s eluding me.
I don’t have the life experience to put his words in context.
I feel like a dog barking at only the familiar words and inflections I understand.
I feel so naïve.
I feel 17.

Sue knocks on the window and waves.
God I had forgotten about her.
"Hey, gimme a cig and thanks a lot for deserting me, lil bitch!"
She is smiling her rowdy grin.
"Fuck you Suz!"
I blow her a kiss and toss her a cigarette.
Mick opens his door and gets out to say ‘hello’.
I introduce them for the first time.

Mick is embarrassingly polite, the way grown-ups are.
"Pleasure to meet you. Heard so many great things about you."
"From her? Ha!" Sue whacks my arm. "Totally cool to meet you too."
We all stand, Sue and I smoking. Mick looking over our heads back toward the ongoing party.
There is nothing more to say.
"Hey, don’t we have to go meet ‘The Folks?’" Mick asks.
"Oooh!" Suz raises her eyebrows. "So Mick," she says belting him on the arm, "are you going to the Prom?"
"I am."
Her mouth opens. She is truly shocked. She gives me a ‘thumbs up.’
"Wow, I’m impressed. Okay, see you there then. Maybe we could all hang out afterward?"
I look at Mick. He is charming and sweet and agrees right away.
Sue starts to walk away, tugging under her t-shirt at the back of her bra.
Suddenly, she turns around, remembering something.

"Did you read the board today at school Lane?"
"I didn’t go to school today."
"I know." She says and winks. "Guess who’s nominated for Prom queen?"
"Oh god Sue! I’m so happy for you!"
"Not me!"
"Who? Dawn again? She’s nominated for everything."
"Not Dawn. Oh, no wait. Yeah Dawn, of course. Duh. But also--you."

Mick grasps it before I do and puts him arm around me squeezing my shoulder.
It won’t sink in.
Had I really changed that much?
I hardly remember this school year.
Prom Queens have to be pretty.
And to my peers, in America anyway, I’m not that.
The best I can remember hearing is I’m attractive in an exotic sort of way.
I couldn’t have physically changed that much.
It must be Mick and the way he makes me feel.
Outside, in the mirror I see the same face, but inside I feel like a different person.

I escort Mick into the living room where he and my Parents shake hands.
I stand aside, beaming at him; proud of this man I have brought home.
I am anticipating the impressive conversation ahead.
Instead, the air in the room changes.
I sense it before any words are exchanged.
"Lane, your Mother and I want to talk to Mick alone."
"Why? About what?"
"Go outside." My father orders.
Mick nods, indicating that he will be okay.

They’re going to ruin this for me.
Slamming the front door,
I sit on the ground at the end of the driveway.
Why did I ever think to bring him here?
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Ten minutes later, a rapacious Mick storms out, walks by me without saying a word and gets in his car, slamming the door hard.
"What’s wrong? What happened?" I leap up, following him.

God I hate them sometimes.

"What did they say?"
He looks at me scowling, gets out of his car, re-slams the door, leans against the side of the car, his arms crossed over his chest and through clenched teeth says to me,
"You told me you were eighteen."

My body turns inside out.

"How old are you Lane?"
(He doesn’t say ‘Laena’.)

I hesitate. I want to stick to my lie. Too late. My Parents have obviously revealed it.

"How old were you when I met you?"
"You lied to me!" The word hissing between his teeth. "You lied to me."
"I know but I was afraid you wouldn’t like me if I was too young. What difference does it make now?"

My Father storms down the driveway to where we are.
‘Do you know how old he is Lane?"
"Twenty-five?" I say this knowing that he told me he was twenty-eight, but figured he, at least, kept the lie up.
"He’s twenty-eight and you are sixteen."
"I could have him arrested for statutory rape. What the hell is he doing with a sixteen year old?"
"He loves me! Why is it so hard for you to believe that I would be interesting to an adult, to an older man? Why do you have to go and ruin things! I hate you! I hate you!"
I fall to the ground in my fury, not trying to be dramatic but obviously being dramatic anyway.

My Father and Mick stare at one another.
My Father understands forbidding this would only make things worse.
I hear him say, "You better treat her well. That’s all I have to say."
He turns, goes into the house, slamming the door behind him.
I watch him go and see the faces of my brothers pressing against the screen of their bedroom window.

With Mick as my escort, I attend the Prom.
Proudly he promenades me around the floor for the Prom Queen ceremony.
I don’t win but I don’t care.
Jett is there but I hardly notice him.

With Mick welcome, or rather, tolerated at my parent’s home
(—I think they preferred to have us where they could keep an eye on things—)
we spend our evenings watching movies.
Once my parents go off to sleep, their bedroom door shut, we lie fully clothed on the sofa, covered entirely by the most enormous blanket we can find.
When we are certain they have fallen asleep, quietly we remove off our lower garments only, (pants, skirt, underwear) stashing them behind the sofa.

(I guess we figure if they come in the room, we’ll appear fully dressed and merely have fallen asleep that way, tucked under the blanket.)

Then silently, we make love.

Days, I go to school and Mick to his construction jobs.
Nights, I go to work but we talk on the phone.
Always we meet up at the Health club in the late afternoons.
Several nights a week when I don’t work, we spend together.
And at least one full weekend day.

So many times we have made love, Mick and I:
In cars, on the sofa with a blanket covering us, on his living room floor, in doorways, in parks.
Of the many times we have made love, we have never been fully undressed together.

My Parent’s Anniversary.
They take a trip out-of town for the night.
For the first time, we lay together on my twin bed, naked.
Its almost too rich, too luxurious.

I lay him on his stomach.
I want to start from the back and work my way around. I know his face, his hands, his arms, his penis, his balls, but the rest is foreign terrain.
My tongue goes low and I lick him at the top of his buttocks, in the little V at the top;
Delighting in the sight of his skin shivering and watching goose bumps jump out of his flesh.
His skin is looser than the boys I have been with before.
I count all his freckles, reveling in my study of the body of this man I am so deeply in love with.
I try to memorize every texture, every crease, every freckle, and white-blond hair on his body. Every turn and twist of his bones, his muscles, and his smell—his scent seeps into my nostrils, into my bones.
My hands, my mouth, my eyes could now recreate him without looking.
I have never been happier.

Several nights later, "The Deer Hunter."
Mick is devastated by the film.
By the relationship of Mike and Nicky in the picture.
He is thinking of himself and Michael, I know.
He sits in the car, shaken by the film.
His head leans back on his seat.
His eyes are closed.
Tears are rolling down fast, one after another, soaking his lovely cheeks,
disappearing into his moustache.
Helpless, I am immobile in the passenger seat, facing him.
"What about it made you this upset?"

True, it was a sad film but he is beyond disturbed.
I know Mick’s Spirit, his Soul, but now I am becoming aware I know so little of his life.
His past.
He turns the radio off but when he starts to speak, his words form a lump in his throat.
He turns the radio back on.
I switch it off.
I want to know him.
This part of him. The part of him that drifts far away sometimes.
I want to know where he goes.
I need to know.

Eyes still shut, his palms smear the tears away from his cheeks, his neck, his chest.
I notice his hands again as I did the night I met him---the most graceful hands I’d ever seen on a man.
It was as if each finger had a curve all it’s own.
As if each finger had something unique to say.

He opens his eyes. They’re red, his white eyelashes wet with little bubbles of moisture.
He glances at me.
He looks straight ahead out the windshield.
"Laena, I’ve been lying to you."

My heart stops.

"But I didn’t think I would fall in love with you so I didn’t think it would matter."
He says it softly. No smile comes to his face to burn the tension out of the car.

Does he mean he really never loved me?
That all this has been a ruse, maybe thought up by he and Michael?
Maybe this was funny, to trick a young girl into thinking you loved her and have it all turn out to be a practical joke.
Maybe this was the reason for all the looks I felt and the whisperings?
Everyone was in on it.
They all knew.
I should have known it was too good to be true.
I wasn’t special and lovely—I was just a teenager caught in up in a prank.
Was it all going to end like this?
I would die.
My world would end.
My spirit would just evaporate.
Hot boiling tears form in my eyes.

"What do you mean?" My words coming out like a lost feather.
He puts his head back and closes his eyes again. Two more tears run down either cheek.
Suddenly he grabs me hard, hugging my body tightly to his,
the stick shift of the car separating us from the hips downward.
I let him squeeze me. Feel his body shaking with sobs.
I start to cry too.
"Dear God", I pray in my head, "please don’t take him away from me, please!"
He releases me and takes a deep breath.
I can’t breathe at all.

"Just tell me Mick. Just say it. If you don’t want to be with me, just say it, what ever it is."
"Laena, I’m married."

White blur in my head.
No thoughts, only zzzt zzzt like a bad radio station.
I don’t know what this means, where it fits into our world.
How could he be married? Married men are taken. He’s mine.

"Are you divorcing? Do you love your wife?"
"We’re more like good friends. We went to Kent State together. I met her at the Riots."
"What Riots?" I’m not old enough to know much about Vietnam.
"There were riots protesting the War. At Kent State, where I went to school."
"You mean the Vietnam War, like the one we just saw in the movie?"
He nods.
"I met Sandy there."
"Her name is Sandy? Your wife?"
A wife.
A wife.
He has a wife.
And it’s not me.
But he loves me.
There is no place for this type of information to go in my seventeen-year-old brain.

"She got pregnant and we got married because of it."
My mind is humming like a computer, trying to process these new pieces.
"You have a child?"
The world is getting darker around the edges. Like a piece of paper lit at the corners, the flame creeping closer to the center, turning the edges to ash, so is my world with Mick burning in on itself.
"Her name is Missy. She’s twelve."

His daughter is closer to my age than I am to his. She and I are only four years apart.

"I love Sandy, in a different way than I love you. She is my friend and my partner, but you are my True Love. You are my Soul Mate. I never thought I would have one. When I got married, I thought, ‘this is it.’"
He laughs an ironic guffaw then sings,

"Hold the line, love isn’t always on time."

The smile fades.
I am aware of the tears as they fall down my face but I am not sobbing.
I stare out through the windshield at the full moon.
It’s a yellow moon.
Soured by the news maybe.

"We thought about getting divorced. But then we thought to try and make one last effort."
"And what happened?" I say, my words aimed at the bug sqyashed dead on window.
"I have two twin boys, one and a half years old now. Keith and Scott."
"You have three children?"

This wasn’t in any of my plans, of my fantasies for my true love and me.
This is not the way things are supposed to go.

"Do you live with her?"
"So it wasn’t your roommate who was sleeping upstairs?"
He reaches to take my hand in his. I let him.
Our hands squish the tears we have tried to wipe away, our palms wet together.

"And what about me?" I can barely say the words, "Are you breaking up with me?"
"I know I should-"

An unseen hand grabs my throat and I combust, racked with a cry so deep it doesn’t sound human.

"But I can’t. Laena, you are my Lady. You are the one I have been waiting for. That I gave up on ever finding."
"Oh God Mick."
"Will you stay with me?"
I am laughing and crying all at once.
"You make me feel so special. You make me feel," I can barely get the words out, they are halted every other one by chokes, "You, (hick), make me (hick) feel (hick) known. It’s like (hick) you see through all this (hick) surface stuff that (hick) nobody else ever (hick) sees through and (hick) you see my spirit (hick)."
The last ‘hick’ makes me laugh suddenly.
"I don’t know how I could ever (hick) live without you now (hick)."

He reaches to the back seat for his cassette box, rummages through it and pulls out a tape.
I sit ‘hicking’ next to him in otherwise relative silence.
Emotionally drained, but relieved, overjoyed. And confused.
He puts the cassette in the player, setting it on the track he wants to hear, turns the volume up and looks at me intently.
The music begins. He sings the entire song holding my hand, staring at me, never taking his eyes from me, as if he wrote it himself and is singing it for the first time.

"And thanks for the times that you’ve given me. The memories are all in my mind. And now that we’ve come to the end of our rainbow—"

"What do you mean---‘the end’?" I am alarmed again.
He shakes his head and ‘shooshes’ me with his eyes, sending me a look that says, ‘shh, just listen.’

"There’s something I must say out loud—You’re once, twice, three times a lady and I lo-o-ove you…yes you’re once, twice, three times a lady, and I lo-o-ove you..."

The familiar translucent shimmering bubble surrounds us.
No one exists but he and I.
As he sings, all that he ever inspired me to be, becomes Truth.

"You shared my dreams, my joys, my pains, you’ve made my life worth living for, and if I had to live my over again, I’d spend each and every moment with you…’cause you’re once, twice, three times a lady…"

The year or so we’ve been together has been lived so intensely.
I am no longer the scared unsure little girl I was.
Through the mirror of Mick I have been transformed into a Goddess.

"When we are together, the moments I cherished with every beat of my heart—to touch you, to hold you, to feel you, to need you, there’s nothing to keep us apart. You’re once, twice, three times a lady and I lo-o-ove you and I lo-ove you. I love you."

He is right-- the only thing that could separate us would be Death, as in: ‘Until Death do us part’.
But we are both young and healthy-- there is nothing to keep us apart.
Not his marriage. Not my parents.

Mick has his boys and it becomes a Saturday ritual that I take my youngest brother with Mick and the twins on an adventure.
We go to Ballgames, to Adventure Parks, anywhere we can think of.

Sandy, his wife, goes out of town for a week and I meet his daughter Missy.

(I assume that’s how Sandy found out about me.
I don’t know whether he wanted to be caught or what he must have been thinking when he arranged that meeting, but he did it.
I don’t know how long she knew or if she ever confronted him with it.
But eventually I would find out that she knew.
And knew well.)

At the Health Club, we get into a fight about something.

(I try and try, but I can’t remember what it was. We rarely fought.)

Out of fear, I drive the five minutes to my old haunt ‘Pork the Beaver’, park my car in the lot and head to the payphone.
I call Jett.
I am scared Mick and I are going to break up.
I don’t understand yet that couples fight and it’s okay. It’s part of the deal.
I want to see if Jett still likes me, if I have a ‘back-up’.
As I’m chatting to Jett, Mick comes up behind me at the phone booth.
I don’t hear him immediately. Don’t realize he’s behind me.
He must have drove over, thinking this is where I’d go and saw my car.
Realizing who I’m talking to, he walks out.
Slam the phone down.
Follow him out, but he doesn’t wait.
His car is gone from the lot.

Distraught, I climb in my car and light the joint that Mick had left there.
Smoke the entire thing while listening to "The Piano Man" by Billy Joel.
Forehead pressed into the steering wheel, I weep copiously for all the lost souls in Billy Joel’s bar.
The song lasts forever. Hours and hours my deluded dying brain cells inform me.
I am crazy high and spend the next hour under the torturously bright lights at the 7-11 candy counter, trying to decide how to buy a candy bar without the 7-11 man knowing I was buying it because I was high and had ‘the munchies’.
I have no idea why it mattered.
Finally I manage to purchase a ‘Charleston Chew’.
I eat it in bed when I get home, imagining it’s a extended family of Paisleys partying on my tongue.

Mick doesn’t call to say ‘goodnight’ like he usually does.
He doesn’t call to say ‘good morning’ the next day, also like he usually does.
He doesn’t call when I get home from school in the afternoon and he doesn’t call at ‘The Cork and Cleaver’ that night when I am at work.
Is he really throwing us away?
Is this really ‘the end’?

Rage. Fury,
‘Well if he wants to play this game’, I tell myself, ‘I’ll show him. I’ll just go back to Jett and then he’ll see’.
I sit outside in my car getting high again.
"Freebird" by Lynard Skynard. An even longer song than Billy Joel's.
Alone in the 7-11 parking lot I sing defiant, loud, rebellious.
"I’m a free bird, yeah!"
Trying to convince myself I am going to enjoy this new freedom.
F*ck him.

It is 7 am.
My Parents have left for work.
I don’t know how I got home.
I don’t remember getting into bed.
I barely hear the phone.
I think it is in my dream.
I wake and realize it is indeed the phone.
Well, it’s Mick. I’m sure. But I’ll show him.
I’ll be silent and make him apologize.
I answer the phone.

"Laena? It’s Michael."
I am quiet.
Why would Michael be calling me?
"Laena, Mick’s been in an accident."
A cold fear seizes my limbs. I have no voice.
"He was on a scaffold at the new construction site. We were putting in sprinkler systems for the grocery store. He was singing and dancing while he was up there. He lost his balance and fell. He tried to grab hold of the bars on the way down but the scaffold tipped and a cement block fell and caught him under the chin on his way down. Broke his neck. He’s in intensive care."

I hear myself inhale sharply.
"Is he going to be alright?" I hear myself say.
"I don’t know." Michael’s voice cracks.
"Where is he? Can I go see him?"
"I’ll try to find a way for you to. I’ll get the Doctor to call you. I’ll explain the situation to him. He’s in intensive care. They don’t allow anyone but family."
"Did you get to see him? Is he conscious?"
"I saw him." I hear him choke and breathe in hard though his nose. "Sandy said it was okay for them to let me see him. I’ll try to find a way to get you in okay?"
"Okay. Will you call me and let me know what’s going on?"
"I promise." He says.
The line goes dead.

For several days, I lay in my bed, in the dark, wearing Mick’s Ektelon racket-ball gym shorts, his extra large T-shirt, cradling his gym shoes and racket, clutching all the photos I have of he and I.
Fading in and out of a blinding-thick gray fog that’s smothering my mind, listening only for the phone to ring.

I leave my room only once to go to the bathroom.
Down the hall I see the back of two heads sitting still on the living room love seat.
My grandparents---Etta and Andrew.
I guess my parents posted them there while they were at work—suicide watch maybe?
I wasn’t even aware they had come over.
I didn’t go into the living room, just back to my room to dissolve.

Sometime during those vague days, the phone rang.
My limp body springs to answer it as if jolted by lightening.
It could be arranged.
I was to go to the back door of the hospital and he would meet me.
I could go up for a short visit.
The time is arranged for later that day.
The Doctor is next to him and will talk with me.
His voice is kind.
I plead with him for certainty---for answers that will make everything go back to the way it was.
He speaks gently but without dispensing much hope.

I call Sue. She arrives a short time later and gets me up.
Still wearing the peculiar outfit of Mick’s enormous gym clothes, carrying my photos and his gym shoes, I walk out of my bedroom, Sue again, by my side.
My grandparents inform me I am not allowed to leave the house.
I smile saying I’m fine, that I just need some air and want to go to the store with Sue, that we will be back in an hour.
They let me leave.

Slowly we circle the parking lot until we find the door with Michael standing by it.
Wordlessly, he embraces me and I collapse in his arms.
Hazily I register both he and Sue looking at me with eyes of helpless pity.
Michael knocks on the back door and a Guard opens it asking to see I.D.
I have none.
"What relation are you to the patient?" the Guard asks.
Before Michael can intercede, I’m weeping and feverishly explaining.
"I’m his fiancé. These are his shoes. This is his shirt. This is his shorts. He loved to play racket ball. He sang all the time. See? These are pictures of him and me—here’s him singing by the car. Here’s him singing after we actually played in Buckingham Fountain—we weren’t allowed to and got kicked out but Mick didn’t care—it made him sing. And here’s me and him…"
The guard seems to feel my anguish.
He becomes a Human Being; lets the Rules slide.
Directs us upstairs to the Intensive Care Ward.

A white sterile bustling space with glassed-in cubicles filled with bodies hooked up to machines.
White sheets, silver railings, humming machines and hushed voices of nurses.
Together we walk to a glassed-in room.
There is a body covered to the chin in a white sheet.
Michael opens the door to the room.
I step in, for a moment looking back at him.
He closes the door behind me.
I look forward toward the bed.
Who is it?

I take a step closer, the pictures in my hands rattle against each other.
A blond headed man, unconscious and silent with tubes coming out of his nose, his mouth, his arms, tubes running like branches from everywhere to a machine next to the bed, lies small under a white, tight, precisely tucked sheet. He appears so short, so tiny.
Could this be my Mick?

I stand close to him, the metal railing of the bed pressing hard into my ribcage,
I feel every bone in my body begin to tremble as if suddenly loosed from my skeleton.
"Oh God Mick," I whisper, my face scrunching up on itself, my mouth open, lips pulled tight into a mournful frown, "Oh God Mick! You have to get better. Plee-aa—ss—e Mick," I sob, "I need you so much. Please don’t leave me. Please don’t leave us. I need you. Michael needs you. Rick needs you. Your family needs you—and your children. Oh God Mick, you are too special to go. Please get better. Even if you end up in a wheelchair, I’ll never leave you. I love you so much."
I hear my voice strain in its whispers and pleads.

They have the television on above his bed.
‘The Price is Right’.
Bob Barker condescending to the next contestant. It suddenly makes me furious.
Mick hates TV. Especially game shows.

"God Mick I’m sorry about all this. And I’m sorry for our fight. I don’t even know why we fought. I have never loved anyone as much as I love you. Look, see? I brought our pictures."
I hold them up by his peacefully closed eyelids.
"Remember this one? You were so funny as Little Bo Peep. And this one? This was at my dad’s surprise birthday party. See, I’m wearing the pants you bought for me. Mick?"
My legs buckle, the pictures scattering on his chest on top of the sheet.
"I can’t go on living without you. Please."
I let myself cry, my tears falling on his still face.
My stomach is a hard black rock, my limbs watery and weak.

When my moans melt into heaving sighs, I look at this face, microscopically.
There were the white fragile eyelashes I loved to watch guard his sparking eyes.
And there, the soft fine eyebrows.
The turned-up nose.
The full lips dotted with sun freckles.
The chin with the Barbie-doll butt cleft in it.
The bristly red moustache.

I place my lips full and wet on his cheek, closing my eyes to feel the texture of his skin.
His scent, the scent of my Lover, the scent of my Soul Mate, enters my nostrils, courses through my body penetrating my Soul.

Michael touches my shoulder. Time to go. He leads me out of the room.
Not taking my eyes off the fragile man in the bed I hear myself repeating over and over,
"Tell them to turn off the TV. Tell them to turn it off. He hates television. Why do they have it on? Tell them to turn off the TV."
Michael whispers, telling me it’s good for patients in comas to hear voices all the time.

"He’s in a coma?" I cannot comprehend this. "This is what a coma is?"
I had heard about Comas on Doctor programs on TV. On TV. An unreality.
Now suddenly it is the most important word in my life.

Back home to the gray fog surrounding my twin bed.
Two nights later, in the middle of the night, I awake for no reason.
I had pushed the sheet off myself, this being the heat of a Chicago humid summer and Irv refuses to spend his hard-earned money on something so unnecessary air-conditioning.
It happens suddenly.
My bedroom walls are covered with metallic shiny wallpaper—
(considered very 'Greg Brady groovy' at the time).
In the reflection of the wallpaper, I see a Brightness. A white glow.
Instantly, the room becomes unseasonably cold.
Bone cold.
Then I smell it.
His scent. The odor that lived in the curve of Mick’s neck.
It envelops the space as if someone has just sprayed it around the room.
I know.
I know.
A rush of warmth, of liquid heat, zips through my body, streaming into my limbs, from my toes up my spine and out the center of my skull.
Fear seizing me, holding me rigid and upright.

"Mick? Mick, I know it’s you." I whisper to the glow in the wallpaper.

Liquid heat rushing. Air bone-cold. Light in reflected in wallpaper vibrating.

"Mick, you’re frightening me."

I am frozen on my bed, knees clasped to chest, eyes wide and staring.

"Mick. Don’t. Don’t go. You know how much I need you. You are my everything. You are my mirror. Without you, I don’t exist. How can you leave me? Mick?"

The glow reflected in the wallpaper pulses.

"You gave me to me. I love you more than Life. We are Soul Mates. If you stay, no matter what condition you are in, I will always care for you. I will never leave you. Stay Mick. Stay. Oh Please, stay. Please."

My forehead hits my knees and I wail and whisper ‘please’ over and over again.
Then it is gone.

Darkness returns.
The air returns to its uncomfortable humidity.
I fall on to my back, looking up at the ceiling, afraid to move.
I close my eyes squeezing the hot wetness onto my cheeks.
It’s over.

Early the next morning, the phone rings.
Mick died late in the night.

The following evening, my phone rings again.
I don’t answer it. I am deep in a coma of my own.
My mother calls from the other room,
"Lane! Pick up the phone, it’s for you."
"Is this Lane Geller?" It’s a woman’s voice.
"This is Sandy, Mick’s wife."

I am silent.
She sounds younger than I had imagined. Her voice is warm and soft.

"I know," she continues, "I know about you and Mick."

I don’t speak.
My heart bangs hard against my ribs.

"I just called to invite you to the funeral, if you want to come. I thought it would mean something to him, and to you."

Was she really saying this?
I hadn’t even thought about a funeral.
And her, inviting me?
Was it a joke?
Was she going to have me murdered when I got there?
Yell at me? Tell me off?
Was she really this kind?

"I would like to. It would mean so much to me." I say, humbled.
"It’s at a place called "Michael’s Funeral Home". Tomorrow night, seven o’clock."
"Thank you so much for asking me." I whisper and hang up the phone.

The funeral parlor. Many familiar faces.
Everyone we knew from the Health Club---the twenty-eight year old girls, Michael and his wife Patty, Rick.

I am wearing the only black dress I own: a second hand black skirt and matching top with pink elephants running along the bottom hems.
In my sweating palms, I carry the pictures of our relationship.

In the front of the room is a closed casket heaped with flowers.
I stand at the back unable to move.
The room hushes as people slowly begin to notice me standing in the back.
A petite brunette with black-framed glasses turns around, stands and walks back to me.
Her smile is delicate, her teeth slightly crooked.
Her face lovely and understated.
She reaches out her hand touching my forearm.
"Hi. I’m Sandy, Mick’s wife."

The corners of my mouth hesitantly rise up, waiting for what might come next.
I look at my feet, then up at her with my eyes only, my head still facing the floor.
"Do you want to go up to the coffin?" She asks gently.
I nod.
She puts her arm in mine and leads me up to the front.
I feel the eyes of the room on us.

When we arrive at the front row of seats, Sandy releases my arm and I proceed alone to the polished mahogany casket that holds my life, my Soul Mate captive within it.
Kneeling on the resting block, I close my eyes, placing my free hand---the hand without the photos---on the cover, feeling the smoothness of the cold wood beneath it.

"Why Mick? Why did you have to go? I would have cared for you. I would have never left your side. Why did you go?"
There is no answer. No sound.
My forehead rests on the hardness of the box.
Softly, I sing to my true love captured within this eternal prison I will never be able to physically penetrate.

"And thanks for the times you’ve given me-the memories are all in my mind. And now that we’ve come to the end of our rainbow, there’s something I must say out loud: You’re once, twice, three times a man, and I love you, I love you. And if I had to live my life over again, I’d spend each and every moment with you. You’re once, twice-"

When she puts her hand on my shoulder, I hear myself singing and sobbing softly out loud.
"Come," Sandy says. "Let’s go downstairs and have a cigarette together, okay?"
I climb away from the ‘kneeler’ and let her help me up.
Together, all eyes on us, we walk arm-in-arm down the stairs to the basement.

She seats herself in a folding chair at the head of a long table.
I sit beside her.
There is coffee, and cookies. There is ham and bread. There is cake.
She removes two cigarettes from a fresh pack, hands me one and lights both with a one match.
We take a drag at the same time.

"Mick would be so pissed if he saw us smoking." I say.
"Well we’re really pissed that he died." She answers.
"So there?" I say.
"So there." She concurs.

Drag, Inhale, Exhale, Scan each other.

"What do you have there?" she points to the photos now pasted between my thumb and fingers.
"Just some pictures of me and Mick." I answer, embarrassed.
"Can I see?"
I hand her the stack, leaning in to look at them with her and narrate each one.
She lingers over each shot, asking questions, bringing to life again my lost love.
My energy revives.
I am telling the stories, forgetting the uniqueness of the situation, who I am telling it to.

Her eyes betray no hurt; she seems to look at me maternally, with sympathy, never letting on what this all must have meant to her.

We laugh again about how naughty we were being, smoking.
How Mick must be looking down at us disapprovingly.
He hated when I smoked and was always trying to get me to quit.
We take drags and look at each other, bursting into giggles like two naughty girls sneaking a puff in their Parent’s bathroom.
By the time we got through the pictures, I am relaxed and laughing---the first time since Mick’s accident.
For one brief moment, I don’t feel the weight of the loss.

A middle-aged Midwestern-looking couple come up behind Sandy, taking her hands, hugging her deeply and kissing her.
They take the seats next to me at the table.
They have Ohio accents, stretching their ‘o’s’ and flattening the rest of their vowels.
They are, I learn, Mick’s Parents.

In my own tight, young, 17 year-old narcissistic world of grief, everyone else is a character in this tragedy I am experiencing.
I had never thought about Mick having Parents. He never spoke of them.

I am stabbed with the urge to be ‘known’ by them,
to have them know what an important part of their son’s heart I had been.

(To this day, I can’t imagine how these people put up with me at the funeral of their beloved son; This seventeen-year-old girl their son had betrayed his marriage for.)

Sandy introduces me and I launch into a picture-showing episode like I’d done with Sandy.
His parents are not as receptive.
They grow increasingly uncomfortable, shifting in their seats, their eyes diverted, looking at Sandy and then around the room.
I am completely, self-fish-ly unaware of the extraordinary pain I must have been causing them.

I thank Sandy.
Michael and Rick take me out to my car.
Drive home to an empty black echoing hole.

A morning.
I don’t know when or how many days since the wake.
My parents call me to come to them.
They’re sitting at the dining room table, an open newspaper spread atop.

"Lane," my Father says, "did you know that Mick was 31 years old?"
"That bastard." My Father mutters to himself.
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"It says here: Michael Daggett, beloved husband—did you know he was married?"

I nod.
My father’s eyes shoot bullets at me. At the situation. At the deceased Mick.

"Beloved Father of three. Children too?"

My Mother looks at me, puts her hand on my Father’s wrist and emits one of her back-of-the-throat groans. "Irving…"
"Don’t Rae. 31 years of age. 3 children."

I am in shock. 31?
Mick had lied to me.

Michael calls. Wants to see me, needs to see me, desperate to talk about Mick.
Patty is out of town for the weekend.
Maybe I can come over and he’ll make dinner and we’ll talk?

He welcomes me into his suburban home furnished in a standard Seaman’s style.
I show him my ever-present pictures of Mick and I, and reminisce about Mick’s glorious hands, his fragile eyelashes, his champagne laugh, the way his spirit seemed to pirouette and shimmy, the way he sang his thoughts.
We laugh and toast to Mick and drink Chablis, the kind he and Mick liked.
And for a moment, I feel like my old self again: the woman Mick loved.
For the moment, I am not the woman who withered and disappeared after he was gone.

I stare at Michael as he talks about times he remembers.
Character traits he shared with Mick—they were best friends for so long—come alive in front of me.
Michael seems to share with Mick some similarity of movement and inflection I had never noticed before.
The way he moves his hands, holds the wine glass, the rise and fall of his vocal pattern.
Perhaps they inherited these things from each other over the years.

Hope washes over me, through me and I lean into Michael’s aura.
He isn’t Mick. I know that. But close enough.
He is a fine substitute and maybe, he can restore me, restore my life, pull me out of the Tsunami I am drowning in, yanking me back onto a safe recognizable harbor.
Just for a moment.
Just for a moment.

We talk until we have no more to say; Until stories begin to repeat themselves.
I look at my watch.
"Well. Thank you. I think I should go. I have to be home by eleven."

He stands. Takes my wrists in his hands. Speaks the unspeakable:
"You know Mick was thinking about ending it with you."
The air crackles.
"What do you mean?"
I can barely ask I am so stunned.
"He told me. He was concerned about your age. That the relationship couldn’t go anywhere."
"I don’t believe you." I say. "Mick and I talked about it. He said he could never leave me, that I was his true love. We’re Soul Mates."
"I know, but he was getting tired of the age thing. Of having to sneak around."
"We had to sneak around ‘cause he was married mostly."
I answer him without flinching but I feel as if a sharp tweezers is pulling my heart apart one piece at a time.
"Well, anyway."
"No, I know he wasn’t going to leave me. He loved me." I assert forcefully, demanding this be the last word.
"He just wanted you to go on with your life. He really believed in you. He always talked about how much potential you had. Maybe he just didn’t want to stand in your way. I know he loved you but maybe he loved you so much that he wanted you to fly and felt you couldn’t if you stayed with him."
"I don’t believe you." I say again, standing, grabbing for my purse, gulping back impending tears.
"Hey, I didn’t mean to make you cry."
He comes to me, wrapping his arms around me.
"Well what did you think saying that would make me do?"
"Hey hey." He says pulling me close to his chest. "C’mon, don’t cry."
But it is too late; I am shaking against him.
He clutches me tight until I calm a bit.
He takes my face in his hands the way Mick did the first night I met him.

"You really are so lovely Laena." He whispers, and for a moment, with my eyes closed, I imagine it is Mick speaking.
Hearing those words again is like a warm soft breath in my ear.
The world falls on its head. Time stops and Mick is not dead.
My body falls weak into his arms.
I feel a bubble begin to form around us.
A salty tear drops into my mouth.
He brings his tongue down to my lower lip and licks away the wetness.
Then he opens his mouth, covering my lips with his.
I am terrified and overcome at the same time.
The bubble bursts.
It is too soon.
Too soon.
Mick would be looking down from Heaven and hating us.
Hating me.
Wondering how we could be doing this so soon after he had left.

And yet, Michael’s lips are restoring me to the woman Mick loved.
I am she again.
I am the Goddess only visible through Mick’s eyes.

His lips still hungry, still feeding on mine, he walks me into the bedroom laying me on his bed. Quickly he enters my body, moving fast above me in and out.
I feel the wetness dripping out the sides of my eyes into my ears and hair.
If I opened my eyes I would see Michael’s dark brown hair.
If I breathed in, I would smell Michael’s scent instead of Mick’s, so I instead, I lay with my eyes squeezed shut, barely breathing, imagining it is Mick on top of me making love, a sensation I thought I was doomed never to feel again.

When he finishes, he lays on his side silently running his fingers through my hair.
"Do you think we should have done that?" I ask finally, breaking the quiet. "Do you think if Mick were looking down at us he would be mad at us?’
"I think," he says, smoothing a hair away from my forehead, "that Mick would understand."
"What? What would he understand?"
"That we both were just looking to get close to him again."

Michael turns over onto his back.
We lay together staring at the ceiling, up beyond the ceiling to where Mick is,
lying there together,
missing him.


At 12:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. I don't mind that the blogs are long so don't worry about what the guy said about keepin' um short.
2.I want to know what the aftermath of the arrest was
3.Just a suggestion--write in chronological order from Mick to now. Easier to follow.
4.If the dude whos pissed at you for whatever with th e couples therapy thing ever tries anything, it's public knowledge now. So don't sweat about it.


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