Seasons

Submitted by Jim Hirtle to Contest #4 in response to: Write a story based on the song title: "To Love Somebody" ... view prompt

I wish you could hear me. I wish you would open your eyes and see what I see, hear what I hear. Do you remember this song? You declared it our song. Remember. I thought it was silly—we had joy; we had fun; we had seasons in the sun—not a song of lovers, but that didn’t trouble you.

           I turn the volume up too high, praying you will hear and wake up. Too high. Now that’s ironic. The old woman upstairs doesn’t like this song. She keeps pounding on the floor. I’ll turn it down in a minute, no reason to piss of the neighbors. Besides, I don’t think you can hear our song. I don’t know if you can hear anything.

           I found this. You don’t know what I’m talking about because you’re passed out in your favorite chair again. It’s a photograph of you. I haven’t seen it in years. It’s a real photo, the kind we once took using cameras instead of smartphones. I remember our first camera; you were so excited. It was so cheap, made of plastic with a small square eyepiece you looked through. The package it came in claimed “Auto-Focus!” The truth was there was no focusing, just point and shoot. Remember how we couldn’t wait to see the pictures? We would spend the extra cash and take the roll of film to the One Hour Photo place. Remember?

           I discovered this one in your book, tucked between pages like a bookmark. Were you hiding it from me? From yourself? Did I put it there? No, I wouldn’t have done that. It’s the most beautiful photograph I have ever held. It’s faded now, but when I hold it near and close my eyes, I can imagine how you were glowing. On the back of the photo, in your girlish handwriting—Woodstock ’69.

We had hitchhiked from Albany to Woodstock. That was before the rains came but I remember the skies being overcast the whole time. I think we walked more than hitching rides, but that was cool; we didn’t care about anything back then. Except getting sunburned. Remember, you said don’t worry? I worried. “It’s the season of love, baby,” you told me with your thumb stuck out into the highway, “No worries. Just music and love, that’s all we need.”

Your skin was like an alabaster flask. Solomon himself would have given his kingdom to behold such beauty. Your hair was the shade of strawberry fields sprinkled by the morning sun, cascading gently down your arms. A growing belly straining against the cotton t-shirt you found at the flea market, “Princess in the Making” in faded pink letters. I thought it was a little creepy to buy used clothes; you smiled and handed the lady a dollar.

           My favorite photo of you tucked away in your favorite book. Do you remember the book? “The House at Pooh Corner”. We bought the book for ten cents the same day you bought the princess t-shirt. You told me we would read to the baby every day until she was born, and then every night before she closed her eyes. We sat right here on this old love seat, reading to her, to your belly. You read all the words except the ones belonging to Tigger; you made me read those. The wonderful thing about Tiggers... It was so funny, sometimes the baby would kick if we paused, as if urging the storyteller to continue. You cried every time.

           You wanted to name her Janice. I wanted to call her Michelle. She died before we gave her a name. “Goodbye, Michelle my little one…” I thought a name should be on the grave marker, but you said no. “Baby Girl”, was the name I gave the engraver. Beneath that, “To Love Somebody”, your most favorite Janice song. I thought maybe that would help you. Maybe new seasons would come. New Beginnings. But they never did, not really.

           She died. Not knowing her. We would never know who she would be, what her life would be like. We would never hear her laugh...or cry. Never kiss a scraped knee or put a quarter under her pillow as she slept dreaming of fairies. Everything was so dark. A dark season. You did better than I did, at first. It didn’t matter to me that you found peace in a bottle of gin. I thought, if enough time passes you would be okay. Mourning can’t last forever. Even if the dead one is your child? You stopped crying, stopped calling her name—slurring her name—but you didn’t lose the gin.

           Next came the midnight visits to the emergency room. How many trips to the E.R. did I make with you? I could time the green traffic lights I knew the route so well. I waited as the doctors cared for you, always diligent in providing you with a script. Too many trips and they were on to you. Remember how mad you became when they wouldn’t give you your little white pills? You called them names that would have made a sailor blush. I wish they had granted your wish, then maybe you never would have danced with Meth. I hate Meth. You had a new lover; you didn’t need me.

           Until you fell. I prayed that day would come. Did I ever tell you that? Rock bottom is where recoveries begin. You did so well. I was proud of every new mile marker. Hope was a fresh word. A new beginning? I believed, maybe new seasons in the sun?

           They never came.

           But you believe they have. How many “Day One’s” can an addict have? I've counted; you know. Once you made it to day 30—and then the white snow fell again. An ugly season.

           There were the others—Addy colored you in a purple haze, cloaking the one I remembered. Pure Ivory and Wicked X bathed you in their arms, scouring away the one I loved. Adam, Molly, and Candy sang new songs to your heart. Your heart—my place…gone. Crystal fell from the black skies. You inhaled her beauty—"a season out of time." Moonlight dances through the window casting anguish upon your defeated spirit. Promises of a new day. A new season?

“Like the seasons have all gone.”

           I wish I could tell you how hard it has been to love somebody like you. Someone so high she can’t see what I see. “No worries. Just music and love, that’s all we need.”

The songs have ended.

Out of time. Out of Day Ones.

You don't know what it's like baby...to remember.

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