|posted on 9-Feb-2003 12:06:37 PM|
Back again with a third installment to the Love Story series. The titles are getting a little more hopeful, hey? Hope you like!
The first two parts are here:
1. This is Not a Love Story
2. This is STILL Not a Love Story
And once again, thank you so much Gimpy for this banner. I do not know where you find your inspiration... love you.
This Could be a Love Story
The light flickers from the muted television, casting revolving tones of blue and white against my skin as I sit solitary in the cramped living room of my small apartment. It is the same four walls that surrounded us on that day over a year ago, the same couch that we committed our last act of repressed need upon, the same exact place that has always existed here—except for one thing… except for the boy.
Make that man.
In the year since I decided to take back ownership of my own life, I have changed dramatically on the hidden, vulnerable inside, yet only marginally on the exposed, hardened outside. Now, I sit alone in the silence of my uncluttered life and stare at the comedic wrestlers throwing their bodies against one another in a pathetic display of machismo and steroid-built strength, pondering the unexpected insertion of an all-too-familiar wedge into my carefully rebuilt life. I remember clearly what it felt like to have that piece attached to my existence, the unhealthy relationship that we both tried to nourish, it draining the life from both of ours in the process. The question now is if there is room in the new world for it to survive, for it to receive the nurturing it needs to not send us both crashing back into the pits of despair that I have only just managed to crawl out of.
I have rebuilt my life into something resembling a self-sustaining existence through a series of changes over the past year, some planned, some not, each embraced as the right move to take at that time, each leaving me better off than I was before. Change number one occurred the day after we broke up, the same day I said goodbye to her for good in this room. I quit working at the Crashdown and got myself a new, second job. The pay had never been that enticing anyway, I really only worked there to create the illusion that a shared shift constituted quality time together, a lie which never worked on either of us. Now, without the appeal of watching her swirl through the crowds of customers on a busy Saturday night, six bucks an hour just wasn't worth it. My new job was driving a delivery truck back and forth from the tiny Roswell airport for a local delivery company. The pay was good and I got to keep whatever tips I happened to get.
That brought on change number two.
It was only a month after I'd started working there, and a new Independent Artists gallery had just opened in town. I delivered most of their artwork in the first week of business and one day the owner asked if I'd like to make a little extra cash hanging some of the pieces for him. I figured any idiot would be crazy to turn down $50 to yield a hammer for a few hours and quickly said yes. Two hours later, I was late for my shift at MetaChem and had the owner seriously reconsidering the quality of pieces he chose for his opening show.
Hence, change number three.
My paintings were displayed in a back, poorly lit corner on opening night, only three pieces, the entire body of my work. Isabel didn't leave my side the entire night, something I was both grateful for and resentful of at the same time. Three drop-dead gorgeous women that I could only dream of getting in bed, lingered a little too long in an area with only three pictures to look at, but she kindly engaged each of them in lively conversation about the depth of character portrayed and succeeded in selling all three paintings—even if I didn't come away with either of their numbers.
That night directly effected change number four.
I kicked Max out of my apartment, it was time for him to suck it up and make it on his own anyway, and moved a mini-studio into my bedroom. Max set up residence in an apartment just down the hall, typical since he never could leave me to my own supervision for long, and I donated all of my bedroom furniture to him and Liz, who practically lived there anyway. I don't think he ever told her that she was sleeping on the mattress christened by her best friend, but I was glad to have the reminder out of my place, even if I did have to sleep on the couch stuffed with its own demons.
I spent more than a few nights on the floor.
My work started improving, some of it selling, some of it not, all of it gradually moving forward in the gallery until I was one of several 'featured local artists'. It wasn't big-time, here's a record contract, sign on the dotted line kind of deal, but for now, for life in Roswell, it was enough. I was still finding my way back into a life where I supported myself completely, both financially and emotionally, and was actually happy, and wasn't ready for another big change… at least not right now.
Her phone call threw a wrench in those plans. The first sound of her voice had been surprising but I knew that I could count on my initial reaction as the true emotions of the moment… I was happy. Elated actually. I never thought I would be anxious to hear the sound of her voice again, yet when I did, it was as if a melodic tone that I had forgotten suddenly rang throughout my head and sent a smile to my anxious face. I wanted to know what was happening with her, I needed to know how she was, if she was happy… I needed her to know that I was.
The obvious sadness masked by her chipper words lasted for ten minutes before her voice cracked and she spilled the melancholy that was her life. I listened intently, offering what advice I could in my limited experience with listening to someone else's problems, and never did tell her of the changes in my own life, to her everything was as it always was. Oh, she'd asked me, that wasn't the problem. It was through no fault of her own that she remained unaware of the developments in the life of Michael Guerin. In fact, she'd practically begged me to tell her everything about myself these days… I just couldn't. She'd wanted to end it between us to find happiness for herself, that it was I who found peace instead may have been called poetic justice by some. Hell, even I called it poetic justice a little, but the bigger part of me, the part that knew I would always care about her happiness, called it a cruel twist of fate. She deserved to be happy as much as I did, and I wouldn't deny her the tiny bit of joy that crept into her voice by the end of our two-hour conversation.
Now, though, I had a decision to make. Had I really grown into a strong enough person to interject a little saving grace into her life? Were my freshly planted roots firmly entrenched in the soil of my new life to withstand the force of reaching out to save her drowning soul? The answer was simple… I didn't know.
With a sweeping wave towards the television to send it into darkness, I strode towards my bedroom/studio and flung open the door. I normally had a rule that I wouldn't paint after sunset, the light never bright enough to highlight the effects I strove to achieve in my creations. More often than not though, I found myself painting into the wee hours of the morning, straining to see the minute details I ensconced on the canvas, working tirelessly until the sun came up, at which point I would turn the easel to face the window and begin the arduous task of picking apart my fervent strokes by the light of day.
I could tell immediately that tonight would be another of those endless ventures into darkness, the urge to paint until I exhausted my supply of both colored liquids and inspiration overpowering. I attacked the blank easel before me, feeling blindly on the table by its side for a tool through which I could funnel the vibrations coursing within my body. I struck upon charcoal, so the first sketch was in black, white and muted tones of gray. My fingers worked of their own mind, caressing the paper behind the trail of dusty blackness as I drew lines in random directions. Her face emerged from within the strokes, peering out at me in surprise at being portrayed in this room from which I had all but banished her. The finished product was frightening, the lines stiff and rigid, revealing a hardened exterior that I had never witnessed with my own eyes. I tore the page from the pad, unable to believe that she had spiraled into the severity I depicted.
The second began with softer strokes, the lines curving around the tiny cleft in her chin until I recalled watching her lips tear my heart from my chest on our last night together and scrambled to manifest the lingering memory of that emotion onto the surface before me. The contrasting result was piercing eyes glaring back from a kindly face, the opposition between the two disturbing as I fought with the idea that this was how I had really seen her.
That page found itself next to the first on the carpeted floor and I panted heavily as I leaned against the third blank page, pressing my hand firmly against the surface to prevent another hasty idea from escaping my tortured mind. My head tilted to the side just slightly as I struggled to even my breathing, calling upon the fonder memories of our time together to create the muse for my next portrayal. The only memory that emerged was of our very last moment together, the utter devastation on her face at realizing that the words I spoke to her were true—what we had… it wasn't a love story.
I released my protective hold on the paper, stepping back to close my eyes for just a moment as I took a snapshot of her face in that instant. I felt like I had the real image of her prepared to create, and assaulted the paper before me without care or caution as to what showing her like that would do. All the softness was back in her features, her straight locks that I always told her I liked, replaced with the long curls that would always be my favorite. Her lips were pouty, inflamed, partly from the look she had perfected to throw at me, and partly because of the intense sobbing that had just deflated her. Her cheeks reflected that crying as well, blushed just slightly with the faintest swipe of red chalk, also applied to her perfectly formed lips, one of only two colors I permitted in this final drawing.
The other was in the obvious place, the one place in which color had always meant comfort to me. Whenever I felt lost, whenever the world pressed down on me just a little too hard, it was always in her eyes that I found my solace. I drew them now, taking care to still my shaking hand as I created the arch of her brow just perfectly, the line falling to the corner of the slight wrinkle emanating from her eye that she despised and I loved, always showing itself whenever she was happy… or sad. The green I chose could never capture the true brilliance of the emerald jewels that actually lay behind her gaze, but I focused on them intently, carving arcs of shimmering gold around the centers to showcase the magnitude of their radiance.
I stepped back to examine the piece I had created, frowning when I took in the finished product. It was her, so clearly her, captured in all her agony, the spirit that so longed to be happy trapped behind the mask of sadness that she wore on her face. Getting her expression just right wasn't the problem—it was the added effect that I had unknowingly added to the sketch that changed it. My hand, dusty from its trip through the maze of lines forming the first two attempts, had left a clear outline on the picture before me now; my handprint, plainly visible across the expanse of her face, as if my personal stamp was marked on her very existence.
Staring at it, I knew that the proposal she had made to me on the phone needed to happen, her timid request for my presence in her life was more than required, it was essential. I made the phone call, not noticing that the 2:34 AM harshly displayed on my watch meant two hours later in another city.
My eyes scan the crowd once more for her familiar face. I am worried that she will have changed so much that I will not recognize her, needless as I know that one look at her face even 50 years from now will reveal her to be the same person she always was to me—my first love.
My heart squeezes a little tighter in my chest, attempting to end this meeting before it ever begins by killing me on the spot. I thump my fist against my chest roughly, encouraging another few beats out of the fearful organ to get me through the next few minutes. I am about to see her again—after 13 months with no contact, we are about to dive back into each other's lives… my only hope is that at least one of us remembers how to swim.
I know that this meeting is supposed to be more for her than me, organized upon her request, but truthfully I think that I may need it even more than she does. My life has been nothing short of satisfying since our coupling ended, it has even welcomed its share of wondrous moments over the past year, but today, as I wait impatiently for her to arrive, I know that the silent whisper tickling my mind on long nights when sleep evaded me and inspiration refused to awaken is due to the person I am about to lay my eyes upon once more. The one person who I have secretly longed to try and fit back into the new life I have constructed, the piece that is not missing from my world as it is, rather the one that would make a welcome addition.
My brain screams at me for even formulating such thoughts as I wipe my sweating palms nervously on my jeans one more time. I have refused to allow myself to dwell on thoughts of her in our time apart, knowing that when I said I needed time alone to find myself I had hit upon a previously undiscovered truth. I did need that time, and I had it, lots of it, too much of it perhaps. It had been a long time since I let anyone inside my heart, and now that I was about to show the renewed model to someone for the first time I was petrified.
I look up to see her face swirling amongst the crowd before me. She hasn't seen me yet and I savor the moment to examine the changed appearance of Maria Deluca, household name. Her hair is blonde again, lighter than I remember, but still the color I always preferred and long, streaming down her back; the locks are straight but I'm sure I can convince her to curl them at least once. She is balanced on boots with pointed heels that resemble something close to stilts, a pair of low-slung, wide-cut jeans enhancing the slight curves in her lower body. A tight-fitting white dress shirt displays what needs to be seen of the upper portion and I have to shift my weight to reverse the effect she is having on certain parts of my body.
My movement must catch her eye because she turns towards me and stops in her place, her hand brushing a stray hair from her face as her gaze settles upon mine… finally. My brain is unable to process what is about to take place as she crosses the crowded airport towards me, only that I am pathetically unprepared for it. What do I say to her? How do I react to the lost love that has suddenly provided me the opportunity to know her again? My stomach clenches as she approaches, knowing that the only way to be sure of my words in the next few moments are to let my heart rule my mouth, something that has only brought me trouble in the past, and yet the only action I can rely on now.
"Hi," she says softly, staring at me with questioning eyes as she struggles to read the expression on my face. "Thanks for coming."
"Of course," I reply, knowing that had she asked me 10 months ago to come I probably would have also said yes.
The break in the silence between us is brief and we immediately fall into an entranced stare, our eyes locked on the others as we seek out guidance for what the next move should be.
"You look good," she offers timidly, shaking her head slightly at the banality of her words. Her eyes remain locked on mine as she blinks back unexpected tears that threaten to mar her vision. "I missed you."
Her mouth quivers just slightly and I watch as she takes a long, slow breath, fighting to piece together the composure crumbling around her. I want to repeat the words to her but know that volume would escape my voice at this moment. Instead I do the only thing I am still capable of… lean in and kiss her.
Our lips meet tentatively, her mouth still surprised at the sudden impact of mine against hers. She recovers quickly, encouraging my movements hesitantly as we tangle in the embrace that had once been so familiar. It is comforting, like I have slipped back into a familiar scene that I didn't know I had forgotten. All sense of the people surrounding us vanish and we are left alone in the teeming terminal, two reunited lovers attempting a test of the lingering passion they once had for each other.
I lean further into the embrace, my mind fighting to ward off any strains of conscious thought from interrupting this moment. Somehow this feels good, right, like there is still room for her in my life along with the happiness I have built on my own. I cannot help the small smile that graces the nonexistent space between us, forcing my lips hungrily against hers. I want this, in fact, there was never a question of wanting it or not, only of when I could handle it. I know I can now—I am strong enough to withstand the tumultuous effects of her trembling existence as we attempt a reconstruction of what we once had.
Actually wait… not a reconstruction; not a rebuilding of the relationship that once nearly destroyed us both. A new example, a new, carefully constructed foundation built out of caring and respect for the other that will support a solid home for both our hearts to reside in. I make these decisions quickly, not yet knowing if she wants any of my caring, support, or love, just recognizing that I have it to provide, and trusting that I can now turn the tables and give her what she needs for a change.
I pull back, my eyes remaining closed as I lean over her trembling form. I can hear the smile breaking across her face as she sighs contentedly and I venture a glance to examine her face. She looks up at me with such innocence, a lost child swimming in the devastation of her own creation, without a single idea of how to guide herself back to safety. I raise my hand to run it along her cheek gently, smiling as I feel her lean into the gesture.
"It's okay," I murmur. "I'm here now."
She nods, the tears she fought to suppress springing to the surface again quickly. She turns away, glancing at the bag at my feet in a wordless gesture that we should leave. I follow soundlessly, gripping the small hand she offers tightly as we weave our way through the crowded New York airport, headed for the first example of what her life has become without me.
I am apprehensive, scared, tense, and excited. Maybe, I think to myself, maybe this could be a love story.
[ edited 3 time(s), last at 18-Feb-2003 10:25:07 PM ]