The Phantom Silver Bicycle
A touch occurred on the left side of my head. At first, it seemed minor- a brush past the ear, everything intact and mostly undamaged. A fast brush past my ear, it clipped the edge of my earring knocking it hard to the floor with the sound of a sharp and brutal blow.
A single bullet painted the impression of concentrated arrogance, a zealous attempt on my life, an unscrupulous zigzag of death-dealing silver. I never dreamed that I would be so important to anyone. I discovered later that shootings are never a matter of passion but demonstrate a simple and impractical act of possession.
I cried at first, sobbed until my eyes felt as if they would fall off. For a long and undetermined amount of time the tears continued as there was nothing to stop me from doing it. I cried until my sinuses were completely swollen as if stuffed with cotton. I cried until the tears constructed tracts of saline that hardened completely and fell off my skin like strange coral pieces from deep beneath a forgotten reef. The emotional storm subsided, the clouds parted and I feel much better now. I will never admit to you or anyone that I was hurt. In reality the physical damage was a short, red line raised on the skin surface. A small bandage may have been in order.
Your ex-girlfriend a waitress at the café on the island. Your ex-girlfriend a waitress at the café who knew exactly where the security gun was.
I ran, then jumped in the water and started to swim back to shore. The island we were on had been so beautiful, so sunny and warm. A giant swan stayed nearby all afternoon. Our old wool blanket set up carefully, covered in mismatched food containers with lids and pretty acrylic drugstore dishes for eating. I thought how humorous you looked in Hawaiian print shorts and that big crazy straw hat. The image amused me for such a good while, only sad now as the humor fades like a drunk's return to sober morning. We argued on the road towards beach. It was over the television or the kettle or something so small. We tore at each other, not because the subject was important but because of a simple power struggle. You produced a small, un-housed razorblade, all silver with black capital letters printed on it. I was not interested in your cruel tactics. Perhaps you were just finally disappointed by my lack of reaction.
When I reached the other shore an hour later and some mile and a half away, I collapsed into the sand. I was winded and breathing so heavy, my skin cold from the water, sand particles coursing in my now heavy underwear. The mainland was covered in tourists. Big umbrellas and seas of terry cloth and cotton blankets, the winds polluted with smells of coconut sunscreen. I was like a blind woman fumbling for something to grab. I opted for the packed ground beneath me. It was all I could find and fall too with dignity. Two children speedily jaunted over to inspect my remains, to see if I was indeed a jelly fish like the ones they had poked with sticks. I flashed my eyes open briefly and glanced at their kaleidoscope picture. They turned tail and ran away with the sounds of screams trailing off behind them.
After a while I knew some authority would be contacted if I didn't rise from this sandy grave. I rose slowly, painfully avoiding ceremony. I bent my knees and pushed off from the ground. It's a long way back to where we were. I am a long way away from you.
"I am a long way away from you."
I carefully tug and unravel the bank roll stuck inside my bra. It’s a soggy, tight wad from all the water but no worse for wear. It would get me even farther from here or further from you. Yes, we won it together. You cracked the house while I chatted up the dealer. Remembering, it was all sixteens and gut-hunches but I loved you most of all.
I stopped at a sidewalk stall alive and blowing with cheap, printed summer dresses and parted with my first ten dollars. Another five peeled from the waterlogged onion skin of cash for a pair of leather beach sandals. The fifteen dollars allowed me a passable appearance, the option of a taxi and passage to a coastal hotel room. I slammed the door on the taxi and tottered up the New Mexican style walk. I stopped short of the hotel entrance and dropped my damp bottom onto the blanched retaining wall. The sunlight and shelter from the breeze was a gift. It was warm and redeeming. Lizard like, I sat there resting, soaking it in, totally oblivious to pending reactions of well suited men and designer clad fashionistas. The god-given heat began to repair my exposure to the cold waters, even drying my damp undergarments. The ice crystals collected in my core would eventually melt as well.
The history of us is as such, and I apologize for idolizing you. I told you things like 'I need you to be Mr. Right' and 'You are my Everything'. I can not rationalize my thinking at the time. The swelling in my chest tore my imagination in forty directions or more, love bleeding for every year you had lived. My traitor soul opened its giant ethereal hands and placed you up so high; way in the clouds with things greater than us. I saw you larger than the sun, greater than every known constellation and star. Perhaps, I thought your love for me required such sustaining.
In exchange for this, I collapsed in on myself. I was in the last and final stages of a black hole. I wilted, evaporated, fell over limp with rotted, dirty green and black edges. I recoiled at my own image and looked to you for every cue. I fell from the grace of my own mind. I no longer wanted to collect pieces for our lives together because I believed only you knew how to do it the right way. I forgot how to be fierce. I totally forgot who I was.
I remember when we were children and I was given that fabulous Siamese fighting fish for my birthday or some ridiculous occasion. We were both so impressed with him and with ourselves for the privilege of fostering. He was so pretty, so showy; fins gracefully draped, exhibiting their famous royal patterning. His crown tail was only trumped by the spots that ran along his sides and your innocent affection when you said they reminded you of my freckles. We both knew he could never play with other fish, but agreed with each other that it was okay.
"We dropped the fish into the tank and started feeding him with the unadulterated,
totally engrossed love that children possess."
We dropped the fish into the tank and started feeding him with the unadulterated, totally engrossed love that children possess. It never occurred to us to stop. The water surface was covered with pellets, the soaked ones floating slowly down to the bottom. The fish started to eat and did so, without us looking, until the next morning. My heart broke to find him bloated with our bestowed love, floating on his side. Had we been more extravagant children we could have named him 'Nemesis'.
Our history of intricate and entwined days, your miracle cure, my madness subsiding finally, and our love my dear clearly explains the greatest of all our miracles. It fascinates me how the blinding beautiful light of love's glamour can flip to total darkness. A constructed existence based on another person may eternally prove precarious as it becomes a tumbling tower of confusion and falling stone.
I watched as you began to relapse again. I stood helpless as you ran towards and made a graceful dive off the high cliffs. I couldn't stop you. I knew it had been on your mind, like painted ladies with cheap smells and big, boisterous qualities. I watched you run headlong, off the tips of the water rippled rocks as if they were somehow completely irresistible. I watched as you succumbed to the current, a sell-out for bliss and nihilistic, roulette style self-destruction. It has a euphoric reality no one can give, a stab clean through my heart. I looked down on my own fallen angel, lying splayed and badly hurt with a snake headed devil to battle. It was a magnificent display of destruction like a Phoenix combusting, lighting up into full flame.
I looked up from where I sat; clouds glide past like white dragons and create random divisions in the sky. I am thankful for dry land, thankful to break from our torrential and all-consuming matters of the heart. My skin commences its return to smooth states. I sort my thoughts into mental folders and smooth out my skirt down the length of my thighs. I need to forget. I need to run from you. I told you once my greatest fear of love is pain. I found both with you and here I sit alone.
I must have fallen asleep with my eyes still open. I am probably not fooling onlookers with appearances; evidence of recent events still plastered on my person. I suddenly feel the exposure of my breezy garment, the fragility of the five dollar sandals. I have bits of seaweed in my hair and really need a shower. I walk in a no-bones stride and enter the hotel lobby ready to face question-marked faces. I am done paying for your mistakes. I will not accept refusal at this point. I enter the hotel lobby like it's a dark and red velvet stage of grief and imagine how we practiced our lines in college.
'Can I help you?' The voice outside interrupts my internal oratory and snaps me out of my dreams.
'I will require a room for the night- maybe longer.' I hear my own voice state.
'Please.' I add and by some miracle, the groomed desk clerk places a key in my hand. Holy Mary, I am delivered.
" 'Please.' I add and by some miracle, the groomed desk clerk places a key in my hand.
Holy Mary, I am delivered."
I think about the morning on the island. Open arms wrapped in brightly colored blankets for the last time, hugging each other tightly while rushing fevers build, amassed passion from our morning struggle. Pressures rose unconstrained and ardent. Denim seams scrubbed leaving sticky, adhesive deposits. Both our skins are soft on the other, fair and familiar. You tasted like love, kisses dissolving like sugar. You move like a consecrate guardian.
I run the bath in the hotel room, grabbing every towel I can find and throw them on the floor. The sand must go. The chill must go, the smell of the sea water and kelp. I sting in my middle parts, still unrecovered, still engorged with disgust. The heat of the water crashes with the chill of my bones. Where are you? Did you make it out? Slowly, I slide myself into the big white receptacle and pray for rebirth. Silently, I pray for us both.
No one is afraid of a meadowlark. It is beautiful by nature. Your fire-breathing image was at stake the moment the light began to shine in your eyes again. It is unavoidable that love would soften your edges and bring you back into the world. That bullet was meant for you but I took it. Who knew she would be a waitress at the breakfast lounge? Your past life embodied, walked over to serve us post-love making coffees, croissants with jam and small refrigerated rectangles of cold butter. Our breakfast served up promptly with a shiny chrome gun from the back room. It is a good thing that she was a terrible shot. There will be no scar left on me, lest you prove unable to return to my side. No visible scar anyway.
This is a phantom silver bicycle that a fish can ride. From inside the bath I hear a soft knock on the door. This time, I know.