Soundtrack to an Interlude
"Strangers in the night... la dum dee dum dee, Feelin’ not quite right, as we were dancing..."
The tune carried me into that strange trance I sometimes get. I was once again making up the words as I mumbled along. Fortunately, the moon was full, sitting low on the horizon like the great pumpkin Charlie Brown waits for on Halloween.
Only it's August and quite warm.
I listened to the night for a moment. A lonely dog, barking in the distance. The quiet hum of faraway traffic. The low buzzing of a nearby park lantern. Crickets. An occasional frog croaking.
I drew my breath in through my nose. Warm fragrances turned my mind to jasmine and honeysuckle. This was why I loved this park. Everything about it seemed to have a subtle second meaning.
The benches were placed carefully for perfect views. The air was scented with a different kind of flower every season. And winter! Oh! Snow has a smell too! Footprints let me know who has been to my bench. My breath let me know how cold it had gotten.
"Born to be wiiilld" I crowed to myself as I slowly sat down on my bench. I glanced around in the low light, furtively searching. "Is she here yet?"
"Will you still feed me, will you still need me?" Launching into one of my favorite Beatles tunes, I used the sound reaching my ears to gauge how loud I was.
The slight tremble in my hands betrayed my internal mantra of "steady as she goes and all is well." I placed my hands, one on top of the other. I pressed them between my knees, hoping to hide them.
"Blue Jeans Baby, LA lady, seamstress for the band" A little Elton John never got anyone in trouble, I thought. "Ballerina, you must have seen her, dancing in the sand..."
"Am I too loud?", I wondered to myself, quietly. Glancing around again I see an outline approaching slowly along the trail under nearby trees. I press my hands firmly into my lap. I pretend I am not wringing them.
The shadowy figure drew closer and my heart began to pound so hard I thought it was Ringo Star in there trying to get me to sing louder over his drums.
I looked down at my feet. "Move 'em out, head 'em up, head 'em up, move 'em out!" My nervousness was taking over and now I was singing the theme song to an old Raw Hide episode.
Somehow, though I wasn't too loud. If I was, I think the person about to walk by would be looking at me. The low lamp light combined with the full moon's glow meant that I could see their silhouette.
Nope. They were not looking, and it was not her. I'm not too loud. I'm still here. Good. The silhouette plodded by quietly. My eyes studied my shoes. High-top converses. Black. So cool.
Suddenly a slight breeze picked up. I heard something. "Morning has broken.... like the first morning..." a sweet low voice was singing. "Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird."
I looked up and pulled my hoodie back so she could see my face.
"Sweet the dreams newborn, sunlit from heaven" I sang in return, not quite sure if the lyrics were right. "Like the elation on the first day." She was in perfect tune. Who cares if the lyrics aren't quite right. It's not like Cat Stevens was here to monitor our now-familiar call and response.
My palms were sweating. She slid silently onto the bench next to me.
She took my hand, pulling it from my lap. "One two three o'clock, four o'clock rock!" "Five six seven o'clock, eight o'clock rock!" Her eyes met mine just briefly.
"We're gonna rock, rock rock around the clock tonight!" I uttered my ill-timed response. At least it was in tune. I felt heat in my face. I reached for the small comfort in how white the rubber around my soles looked in the dim light. My stomach ached.
Ringo was at it again. Louder this time. Her gentle fingers lifted my chin so I could look into her eyes, but my eyes did not comply.
"Strummin' my pain with his fingers..." she began to sing again. "Singin' my life with his words..." her voice trailed off. Robert Flack filled my mind with an emotive expression as she sang.
"Killing me softly with his song, killin' me softly, with his words, tellin' my whole life, with his song, killin' me softly..." I responded, ever-so-quietly.
The moon was higher in the sky now. Its white glow proved movement from the horizon into the heavens. She placed my hand back into my lap while letting out a long, deep sigh.
I forced myself to look up. Her smiling eyes were so soft I wanted to
brush the lashes with my lips. My awkward movement at the thought must have startled her. She pulled away.
I began to whisper-sing "like a ship in the harbor, like a mother and child. Like a light in the darkness, I'll hold you awhile..." This was my favorite lullaby. I put every ounce of emotion I had into the quiet words.
"We'll rock on the water...I'll cradle you deep..." she sang in return. "And hold you while angels...sing you to sleep." My heart hurt. I slowly lowered my head to her shoulder. She patted my hand.
We sat silently for what seemed like an hour.
"Here comes the sun, doo doo doo doo, here comes the sun..." she quietly began. "It's all right...doo doo doo, doo doo doo, doo..." "It's all right." I melodically returned.
"Tomorrow?" She finally asked. "Tomorrow," I replied. There would be two more nights of full moon light. Two more chances to harmonize our ritual.
Two more opportunities to look into her eyes. To smell her candy-flavored breath. To feel her steady hand on mine. To wait under the moonlight until she dawns on my bench.