The tension is back in my shoulders, and I reach up with my warm hands to find what is there. Or, to feel that nothing is there. A quiet night, dark outside my window.
What if I am already dead inside, life around me a game of pretending to know what a live woman looks like, pretending to be someone that can nurture, grow, and love.
The longing is strong for things that are not real; there was not any good mornings or good night kisses the last time a man lived in a life with me.
I see a cat around the corner, a tail moving, there it is again, that tail that is not there.
This story is not about a dead woman without a cat.
This story is about the lovely couple living in the apartment across the parking lot, in 19C. I can look down and see them waltzing about their lives. Doing the garbage walk together, picking out boring movies to fall asleep together to. The other night they watched an old black and white, and my respect for their shared taste improved.
They talk a lot with gestures and facing each other, laughing, or it looks like anyway from the window looking down at them. She is brunette (and rather vanilla) with several matching outfits of slim fitting athleisure. She is often pacing about ahead of him, loosing track of what she wanted by the time she enters the room he is in, waving her hands in tiny little vanilla fits of young frustration.
He fills a large tee shirt most days, with a dark beard touching his chest, only a head taller than his lovely partner. He is quiet, often responding to her with his palms facing the ceiling, a tiny smile surrendering through the beard.
You might think I hate them.
Tuesday, they walked their private garbage walk, clearly a task for one capable person. They each carried one not even half full bag of garbage, while gesturing with the other to themselves as they continued their dance of assertions and surrenders, the length of the walk to the dumpster.
My resentment indeed boiled as I pictured the conversation in which they negotiate the sharing of a task made for one person. At that moment I think of sex, clearly a task capable of completion by one human, but, indeed more pleasant with a thoughtful and attentive partner. I considered to myself how strange the comparison, and, then also decided that 19C definitely did not negotiate their sexual navigations with as much conversation as that which would be required to share this task.
My phone buzzes and interrupts my thoughts.
“Grace, I need you to come in. There is a session I need you to do; Hank wants to talk to you.”
“Alright, schedule it as a two o'clock for me please”. Disdain echoes through my existentially long sleeves and I turn to collect my keys and head down to my car.
The drive to the office is peaceful, quiet and I collect a store of patience that Hank’s problems will require today.
The office door is open, and the dim lighting welcomes me for the afternoon. I look ahead and Hank is there, mildly impatient. I smile because it’s only 1:30, exactly as I intended.
“Yes? Was I not fast enough for you?”
“That is not it, I am just fried with shit. I have something I want to show you.” He leads me in the door way, hand grazing the small of my back as my hems waft by his dusty ankles, hard edges of his fingertips cutting through any intention of gentility.
I come into my office and the usual forms and cords are absent from the desk; Hank’s jacket is on the lounger. I toss my keys to the top of the cabinet behind the door.
“There was a session that Claire needed...”
“No, there isn’t.” he looks pensive, and closes the door as I turn to him in the doorframe of my office. He plants his thumbs at hips, and he firms my stance against the desk. I lick my lips and I do not smile.
After squaring me to him, he stands in front of me, his feet planted outside of mine, his hips pressing mine into the desk; I am betting he can feel that there is not very much stopping him under my dress.
I reach up and take a handful of hair, grasping at his crown, and I close my eyes as the signal that I will receive what he needed to show me.
I turn to shake the fistful of hair, and the eyes closed away, and I am in the doorway again, alone.
“Hi Claire, what’s up?” I breeze by her into the office and plop my keys.
“Grace, yes, it is a new guy. Hank has the chart entered already. Thanks for coming so soon I will buzz you when he is here.”
“Okay Claire, thanks” I follow her out with my voice.
I set an alarm for 7 minutes and slow my breathing down. I still my body to listen, to store, to give peace with my calm face and warm presence.
When I wake, I am in the car again at 1:13 pm; it is still running and I am wearing the pale blue dress again, I can feel it snug around my ribs, but I do not feel my breathing stretch the fibers anymore. I make my way through the doorway, and into the office, where Hank is.
“I knew you’d be here.”
“You’re not here anymore” he whispers down to his left shoulder.
“God, I miss you already”
I can feel myself wrap around him, we turn into each other, and I become a blue wave around his torso, breezing cold lips over all his small pink edges of his dusty face, salt dissolving into water that used to belong in my glands. I can hear him say he can feel my love for him still.
The beard in 19c is trembling in tiny movements that no one can see, but Johnathen Hinkle can feel, echoing through to the very roots of his teeth.
“Sweetheart I don’t understand it either” he says gently, quietly, as if a bunny were sleeping in his lap, without taking his eyes off the pale blue woman he can see in the vacant apartment across the parking lot.
He raises his hands gently to the height of his ears to face his loving wife, “Baby, I am telling you, she always leaves if we take out the garbage... come with me. I will make you a bag to carry.” His voice moves the air gently, to not disturb the looseness of his hypothesis, nor startle his lovely new wife.
“Johnathen, if it will help you out of this kitchen, then … alright; then maybe OUR story can start, and we can just STOP it with this woman in blue story!”