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Mother What Have You Done?

1 Oct

You crouched behind a rock

Holding the first one

An egg cradled

In your armor

Your amour

The second one was stronger

More like you

Independent, instinctually intelligent

You placed

The third one in his arms when

You thought

It died

For you

Mother, why

Set me to float away

On this dream of love

I’m still alive

It says downstream

With the voice of a man

Exactly

But he doesn’t want to leave

Just yet

No one really does

SDH Pt. 10 – Where it turns into to something else all together

27 Dec

I’m not paranoid. I’m OBSERVANT! I shout silently—impudently and hop in the truck. A quick flash of me in a candle lit room on a table under a white sheet caresses my brain. It’s 45 degrees and R. won’t let me shut the door because it sticks and I have to struggle to open it fast enough. I feel that if I practiced, I would eventually get better and faster but he insists. I’m not cold. I feel a heat radiating from my core and pat myself on the back for being centered and maintaining my power zone. The way they explained it in training there are “right ways” to practice delivery driving and logistics. According to the company videos: stretching, breathing, eating healthy and taking part in relaxation are all integral to maintaining a long, healthy and prosperous future at work and at home. Or maybe I inserted that last part.

In the interest of full disclosure, the story you have been reading is 100% true. I think. Mostly. I mean it’s my version of reality. I will admit to you that I am parting my veils a bit for you right now. This is the part of the story where I tell you the kind of things that drove my husband so mad with desire he actually questioned if they were true.  I assure you they were not. Totally. I mean some of them sort of happened but not really and then those got mixed up with the ones that were not just true at all. So, hold on. We’re going for an exciting ride and it’s going to be fun. Well, at least for me and isn’t that what it all comes down to when you hear me moan your name in voice so deep you know it’s coming from that spot just below my navel. The spot you love to bury your nose in. Your hands around my hips, your fingers pressing into the firm muscle of my upper buttocks. I whisper, “What is that called again?” Into your ear and you reward me with an audible shudder. I make my breath hot and say more. This time I’ve altered my tone and all you can hear is how much I want you in every deeper confession.

“I like it when you bite my neck. I think it’s a button. Yeahhhh. When you do it right it releeeases tension and ohhhhh, yessssss. That’s the one. Oh myyyyyy.” More hot breath, more confessions, more pleasure exchange.

“Do you see where this is going?”

Yes.

Do you want to try to push my button?   MMmmhmmm.

SDH Pt. 9 – Where I ask myself, “How many parts are there going to be?”

24 Dec

I dumped my water out while I was using the restroom at Big’s (Read: Valero). I made eye contact with myself in the mirror. I told myself I was not paranoid. If there ever has been a bigger better to be safe than sorry moment in your life, this is it. This is your chance to live to tell the tale. To be the smart chic in the horror movie who makes it out alive but still somehow unfulfilled. I pour my bottle of water in to the Smart bottle, noting that my hands are steady and I feel completely in control of every circumstance I can be. Splash some water on my face and prepare to face my fate.

It occurs to me that if this were a movie, I could make it as sweet as possible. I’m beginning to wonder if there was a little something in that water because I’m actually fantasizing about it. Well, the lead up to it anyway. I imagine he fulfills my every dark fantasy. By dark I mean the dysfunctional pleasure response created by the thing I was lead to believe was love as a child. The thing I named love as an adolescent. The gateway drug that became an addiction in my teens. The intense emotional experiences  I created in my twenties. The dissatisfaction I felt in my early thirties. And whatever this thing I’m doing right now is because they were all THE best thing I ever felt at the time they were happening.

Even the bad parts—you know the ones that even though there aren’t really any bad parts or good parts; there are just parts—you still kinda wonder what that really means? Even though you KNOW that to be true, still you doubt? Yeah. Even those.

Letter to a Runaway (and Jesus)

6 Oct

Dear Johnny,

When I saw you crying in the Bell Towne Plaza breezeway  somewhere between Jamba Juice, Peter Piper Pizza and what appeared to be inconsolable anguish, I could only imagine what you were going through. I  thought maybe some bullies at school were giving you a hard time. You said you  ran away from home. And when I asked you why, you called it “rough times”. Then  you broke down and said you just wanted to call your dad. Did I jump at the  opportunity to offload your woes on someone else? Instead of asking you; I told  you how you felt and you agreed.

You didn’t even attempt to hide the way your body heaved with each convulsive sob. I didn’t even offer you a hug. Water, yes and the peanut
butter crackers I keep on hand in emergency situations like this one, along with the first aid kit and flashlight—but what about compassion, sympathy, genuine emotion? All I could muster was that sweet smile I put on especially for times like these, coupled with an intense desire to fix this for you.

I should’ve thought it through before I drove ahead and parked with the intention of accidentally intercepting you in your forward path and simply asking you if you we’re okay when you so obviously were not.

I know that hopeless feeling. The one that says you can’t go back but where do you go from here?

The one that tilts your head up to the skies seeking an  answer, any answer and the one that pulls your shoulders down so low it looks  as if you’re carrying a bag of slump blocks instead of books on your back.

Oh, Johnny. I know how unbearable that weight can be. So, why didn’t I ask you before? Is there any reason why you wouldn’t want to go home?

You were so determined to make that call and the urgency in  your voice forced me to comply. Twelve years old. I could feel you putting on the mask for me so I wouldn’t hurt for you like you  hurt. I recognize the protective instinct. Do you have any brothers or sisters? “Yes, my little brother is probably so scared I’m gone.” He hung his head in shame at having caused that. Let’s go inside and find a phone. We’ll call your dad and tell him you’re fine and where you are and he’ll come pick you up and everything will be okay.

Only some dads are the reason things aren’t okay. I thought maybe that crack on your lip was just dry air and heat and you really seemed desperate to speak with your father. A few yes ‘sirs and a couple I love yous later I thought okay, you’ll be just fine now. I thought. But did I see? I listened, but I did I observe? “He’s not angry. More upset than anything,” you say reassuringly.

Just as I ask out loud, “Johnny, is there any reason..” Jesus jumps in from behind the counter with the rapport-establishing small talk. What grade are you in? What school do you go to? Do you like sports? The stuff I always take for granted no one really wants to hear. The kind of questions that make a person want to tell you what  you want to know without asking. I let him take over, nod and smile at the kid
consciously wondering if there is not a more appropriate facial expression to
wear at the moment but still can’t think of one so I just sort of flatten it out a little.

“Things have just been rough,” you say again. You got a bad
grade in math. “Been there,” Jesus half sighs as if he’s confessing his entire
life story in an exhale so sharp I know you must have felt it too, Johnny
because you stepped back and the tears came out again. Only this time you
seemed relieved. “Me too,” I say.

I swear it was never uttered but I’m quite certain what we all heard was—You’re not alone.

With that we were silent long enough for the lady not really
browsing reading glasses nearby to jump into the conversation she was eavesdropping
on, most likely trying to determine if some sort of authoritative intervention
was going to be required or if Jesus and I could handle it. Well, lady the TWO
security guards I strategically met Johnny in front of were not interested in
the slightest bit to this boy bawling his eyeballs out or the young woman who
kept making eye-contact with them while they chatted about who knows what. Another human being is suffering right in front of you and you don’t even see it! I thought I heard her think, “That’s just inviting drama into your life.” as she stepped
back in front of the mirror and tried on the 24th pair.

You started to look antsy so I thought it might be best to leave you two for some man to man time before dad arrived just in case there was something you needed to say that you couldn’t say in front of me. But I invited you out “to warm up in the sun” and to my satisfaction you opted to stay, looking strangely at ease with the man assembling lamps behind the counter. Before I’m out of range I hear him ask you if you have anyone to talk to, someone you trust? You say yes, you have counselors and it’s been a rough time. Your eyes soften. The tears subside.

Well, if you ever need a big brother man, or just someone to
talk to—I’m here. And that’s just what I want to hear before I walk out the
door and redial the phone number you tried on my cell before we went into the
store. I spoke with your grandfather. He sounded scared. I repeated my name and
phone number and told him I was the person who found you and he could call
anytime.

I have to be honest, Johnny. I think I failed you.

When your dad pulled up looking all sketchy and fingered you
over rather than approach Jesus, who escorted you out of the store I got
between you for a second but couldn’t decide. I looked him in the eyes and saw
nothing before they darted away. Your grandma smiled graciously as I waved to
you and sang, “Goodbye, Johnny. It was nice to meet you,” with a smile in my
voice so sweet I got sweaters on my teeth. What I really wanted to say was
drown out by the music in my head.

Be good, be good. Be good. Be good, be good. Be good. Be good, be good. Be good. Be good, Johnny.

When you told me your name as we entered the store, I said
deliberately, “That was my dad’s name,” to illicit some response from you. You
twinged.

I cried too, just like you: On the city bus, on the walk to
school, at my locker, in the girls’ restroom, all the way through home room and
halfway into second period geometry before Mrs. B gently folded up my soggy,
unfinished first-quarter final and led me outside the classroom.

I was scared too. Just like you. I should have seen! I
should have been there, instead of wherever I was. Sipping my Caribbean Dream
uncontrollably and smiling. After you left, I went back in to consult with
Jesus. Did we do the right thing? Do you think he’s going to be okay?

He looked into my eyes for a few seconds searching for the
right words. Then he smiled the smile the son of god surely smiled at the men
below him. The one that means forgive them for they know not what they do and
said, “If he was my son, I would have hugged him.”

Oh, Jesus! What have I done?

All I ever claimed to want in life is to help others. I
failed this innocent child who had escaped the grip of blinding, deafening love
that is an abusive parent—if only momentarily and through the greatest feat of
strength he had probably exhibited in his life up to this point in a
death-defying leap of faith into the unknown which I know from experience
requires enormous amounts of will and determination. Not to mention a steel
resolve to disregard the pain and suffering that will surely follow whether you
get caught or not.

Because the fact is Johnny, none of your counselors may ever
be with you long enough to tell you that to be the kind of person who runs away
from an abusive love relationship you have to be the kind of person who is
willing to accept and inflict pain on yourself. As a child, realizing that your
parents are the bad guys and that it just might be safer out there than in here
YOU end up feeling like the one out of control. Eventually, you dare to go out
on your own alone into the world just to try it and decide half way down the
block you’re never going back because you’ve practiced feeling the pain of
separation by cutting yourself or getting into it with the bullies. You’ve internalized
the guilt over not accepting that kind of love by reminding yourself that you’re
not worthy of love anyway because that’s what you hear them say when they ignore
you to fight over bill collectors or how to get cash for these useless food stamps.
You train yourself to accept the fear of no longer pleasing those you wish to
please most by getting bad grades in your best subjects and being punished for
it. Isn’t that right, Johnny?

I may have sent you back into the lion’s den, but I can promise
you this. They do love you, Johnny. They do care. They’re just too wrapped up
in their own hell to show you how much. THIS is the hidden gift in the smile I gave
you. You will get to the place where you don’t have to hurt yourself anymore.
You will be a capable, talented human being who loves and accepts love,
respects and is respected by those you choose to let into your life. And you won’t
have to run—anymore.

__________________________________

Jesus, you were perfect. But now I am so jaded I question if
you did it for me or for the boy? Because later when you had me paged at the
store I told you I would be going to when you said we don’t carry that sort of
thing here, I thought you were just as lost and concerned as I was.

I thought you genuinely cared enough to ask for a miracle.
When the voice over the loud speaker inconceivably announced, “If there is a
customer in the store named Jessica, please come to the fitting room,” and then
repeated itself I was busy staring blankly into a dusty plastic bin wondering
if it would hold everything I needed it to hold. I am constantly, consciously unfurrowing my brow over and over at the thought of Johnny’s less than joyous homecoming to grandpa, baby brother and no hugs. WHERE is his mother?

Ever so slowly, I push my empty cart back to the fitting
room reasoning there must be a least five Jessicas in the store at any given
time, but there is no one. Only the kindly attendant Theresa, who had helped my niece
and I find the just the right bathing suit two weeks before and what do you
know, it just happens to be on sale too.

“Have you found your Jessica?” I ask disbelieving my own question.
She puts both hands on my shoulders. Oh my GOD! Are you her? “Well, I don’t
know…”  It’s the strangest things she proclaims. Never had anything like this happen to me before—a man called and asked if I could.. and if I would.. could she.. So I did.

I called you back at the store across the street, thinking
god knows what about Johnny. I’m not even sure what you said, but I gave you my
phone number and you texted me yours and what the hell is that shit they’re
trying to pass off as food in the grocery isle anyway?

I’m having trouble concentrating on this list. Why do you need boxes? I’m running away too. But this is different. Isn’t it? Don’t be so hard on yourself. No one else even bothered to stop.  I need to eat. Sit down. Smoke. Talk to someone real about why and how and if only and maybe I’m just projecting.

There are some dads who do make everything okay. Maybe Jesus is one. Or maybe he just wanted my phone number.

Either way, Theresa insists she’ll be an honored guest at the wedding.

And Johnny, if you’re out there and you’re still listening—be good.

Detachment

26 Aug

The wound was deep

But I held my hand

Over my heart

And when you asked

I pressed the other against your cheek

Engaged your eyes with a smile

Lifted two fingers away from my chest

And showed you the blood there.

Only a few drops, see?

You relaxed then so I held your gaze

With a turn of my cheek

Affectionately toward yours

And when our foreheads met

I pushed yours gently to the left

So you would watch the pretty nurse

Approaching, she was appealing in her

White starched dress and cap, silk

Stockings with a seam

Running all the way down the back of her

Taut calves to the rim of her

White soled comfort shoes

Dipped in scarlet

She never slipped as she

Walked right through me

Crimson prints marked her path

To the next room

To the next door.

As I tried to hold your gaze

Chin in hand

And smile affixed

I felt you stiffen

Your eyelids drooped

You looked as if you swallowed something

Very sharp

Or very poison.

The door shut automatically behind her.

You flinched at the finality

Of the sound

But never looked down

You didn’t have to.

Instead, you looked to the left

From where she had come

And to the right again.

This time when you caught my gaze

I knew I could release you

You used to say my eyes looked empty this way

But I knew

You’d have to hate me

To release me.

Never Once

2 Aug

Today

I woke, I worked, I walked

and never once wondered

how it would be if

If only you were here.

Tonight

I write and wrestle with the thought

that I never once wondered.

 

 

July 21, 2008

Dream 06/22/2011

23 Jun

I’m in a convenience store like Circle K and I’m sure that I need to run away but the moment I realize this my body goes completely limp. Other customers see this and point and say look at that. I catch the attention of one man, I can barely talk but I manage to mouth the words, “Escape. Please. Help.” He senses the fear in my eyes and picks me up but the moment he does, he starts to become weak. He can’t hold me anymore. Soon he reluctantly puts me down and collapses on a pile of light blue soft water pellet bags stacked in the corner next to the sports drinks. Now we are both stuck in the store but I have some power back now and I tell him he can’t do that again for his own safety. Just touching me will drain his power and he just looks at me like how the hell did that little tiny thing just drain me of everything I have. He was a big, strong man too. Like Paul Bunyan big.

I still need a way to get out of there and it doesn’t matter where to, so I ask some people to lift me into a grocery cart thinking I can roll myself away. Whatever. It doesn’t matter how. Three young men pick me up and put me into the cart kind of laughing and thinking crazy white girl, she’s not going to get very far in a grocery cart but whatever. I have the use of my legs now and ask them to put a floor mat under me so it won’t hurt so bad going over the bumps. I stick my legs out the front under the handle where it hinges for storage and start pumping Flintstone style. It’s surprisingly easy and I make quick progress down the hill away from the store and the farther I get from it the stronger I am.

Soon, I am in one of my flying dreams. Taking off the first time is always the hardest part and this one is a low flyer. I spend most of my time about 5 ft. from the ground but occasionally gain 15-20 ft. enough to fly over telephone poles and see owls perched on top of roof tops. Inside peoples’ houses. Flocks of birds I identify in the dream are startled and scatter on my approach. HUGE owls. Pruning, flying, hunting, sitting.

One flies into a house through a tiny porthole and I follow it. It perches on a ladies wardrobe – five rows deep and 8 ft. long. It’s like a mini department store. I want to look at the owl so I sort of lay my body down on top of own of the shelves and feel myself become awkwardly big, not that I was small before I just FEEL my size now and I feel way too big to be in the place I’m at. I look back at the portal we came through. Did I come through there? Now I am so big feeling that I fall off the shelf. The lady hears me and comes into the room. Is that you? She says, talking to the owl like a mother talks to her baby. Oh, how I’ve missed you. You were gone for so long this time. Where are you my sweet? Come to me so I can see you. And then she sees me and her voice turns mean and she says, YOU! So you want to see MY owl do you?

I am afraid of being caught by her and hide behind a curtain but it is no cover. Somehow I end up at my aunt’s house and she is chastising me for breaking into her friends homes to look at birds. At first I am submissive and bow my head a little to her and then I realize she is reading from a list of addresses that SHE gave me to BREAK INTO AND IDENTIFY BIRDS. So I say that to her and she gets this really proud look on her face and smiles and I say, You ENCOURAGED me to break into your friends houses to identify birds and now you are PUNISHING me for it!

The end.

Letter from the editor

20 Jun

Dear men in my life,

I recently ended communication with all of you to commit to one person. I have decided that one person is me.

Tower—this is One Niner-Seven-Three requesting the option.

I am requesting the option—the privilege—to find out more about you, explore your life, your interests, your values and allow you the privilege to explore mine too. I value you as a person. However, I will not commit to anything but me at this moment, my responsibility to be safe and treat others how they would like to be treated and this is totally fair and normal and healthy.
You value me because I am my own person, free-will intact, with an abundant life that I created for myself despite the obstacles we all face.

I spent the last ten years of my life with a man who almost made me believe that everything you find so endearing about me is bad, wrong and crazy. I’ve spent the last six months undergoing a major life change, the last four months in therapy two times a week and my entire conscious life in pursuit of self-awareness, knowledge and happiness. I would say I have been lucky to do so or that it is a luxury but the fact is I made it a priority in my life. I am grateful for the reality I created for myself.

I am not a psycho-path or a sex-addict. I am a woman who has been loved, honored, befriended, abused, controlled and driven to the brink of insanity by men who wish to impose their will on me for the last 38 years. No more. I am taking control of my life back.
I’ve struggled these last few years and made mistakes but I can’t regret it because it got me where I am today.

No matter how you may have known me in the past, today I am a mature woman with a secure sense of self who knows what she wants and constantly strives for personal growth. I am a confident individual capable of providing myself with everything that I require. I have a healthy appetite for food and sex and love and companionship in moderation and I embrace and adore these things about myself regardless of what you or god or society has to say about it. I am also human and fragile and require support from others at times. I am grateful to you for that.

You like these things about me, but can you accept me for who I am? You claim to have this modern view of a woman’s right to be exactly who she is and be with whomever she wants and then you try and claim me for yourself. Just stop. Stop trying to change me into something I’m not. That girl will make you want to run for your life. Stop trying to win me—win abundance in your own life. That is more attractive than anything to me. Be yourself. You are an amazing man just as you are. Be with me when we are and be happy alone when we aren’t. You like me best when I take care of me. I like you best when you do the same.

Respectfully,
Woman in your life

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22 Nov

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What it is

18 Nov

When the late October cold front swept across our four corners and brought with it high wind advisories; I welcomed the change in weather. Any weather in Phoenix, Arizona is exciting news. Any weather other than the 100+ degree days forecast we just barely left behind earlier in the month, that is.

I expected the crisp chill through my thin sweater and the wind that whipped my red hair into flaming wisps and tangled it prettily around my face. I expected the dust and the soft violence of air mixed with tiny fragments of sand and bone. I accepted that the tree we so tenderly pruned and lifted off the ground last year may not survive despite the presence of the ropes and railroad ties staked in by strong, capable and caring hands.

I have a certain expectation of the wind to begin with. I’m fond of it in the way an adulteress is fond of her lover. It’s a force of nature after all. Not a bad thing, although it can certainly cause serious damage and not a good thing, though without it certain seed would not be spread. It is what it is and that’s all.

When everyone died a few years ago, I felt the wind an ally. I felt a departed friend in its forcefulness and its transitory, ethereal coming and going. I’ve come to expect the wind to bring out certain emotions in me because it reminds me of that day. But this day was different. I didn’t expect this.

There’s a very particular smell associated with sandstorms. Not unlike the patron in smoky juke joints of the past, it clings to your clothes and hair and penetrates every orifice so stealthily that you begin to forget it happened but it’s there. They say smell is the most powerful of senses linked to memory. I cannot disagree.

In the summer of after eighth-grade graduation, I met a man I would fall so deeply and permanently in love with no one else would ever stand a chance. In fact, I cheated on every boyfriend I ever had – with him. Funny thing is, I never felt like I was cheating on anyone but him. When I met him, he was holding a baby. It was the first time I ever saw a man put a child above all other things, including himself. He couldn’t have known it then, but he groomed me to be his perfect companion. The books and music he gave to me were more like sustenance than any food I had yet tasted. More significantly – he gave me my first journal and many others to follow.  We had little physical contact. Long conversations on the telephone and short infrequent visits always in the company of others were treasured moments. I identified with the blank pages of the journals he presented to me as if they were holy scripture. It was there we shared our most initmate moments. As I wrote down my secrets and desires, I felt him filling me up.

I saw many women come and go from his life. My friend Lissa included. She was four years my senior and beautiful, and experienced. She had a car. An old Dodge Charger, mustard yellow with olive green interior. I knew that they had slept with each other before I ever knew what that meant. Lissa told me the stories as she dressed in her daintiest bra and panties. She let me try on her old lace corsets and garters. We twirled in front of her floor length mirror, admiring our taut, glowing skin under the costumes we invented from scarves tied around our chests. We wound the silky fabric tight around our bodies before I ever knew such thing could be called fetish. Or bondage. Or that men would like the way I looked as much as she did.

I told her that I loved him. She laughed and then realizing the seriousness in my voice, tenderly stroked my hair and told me how it was between them. Her face flushed as she retold their last encounter. She breathed more heavily. She seemed alive with an energy that I had never seen in her before. I could not even imagine the things she told me then. Even now it seems more like a mysterious, magical interchange rather than what I know to be a sexual encounter. It sounded like just the thing for me.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

I met Lissa and her little friend, Jade at my house near Berkeley. I was 21, recently divorced with an infant son in my care most weekends. His mother left me for a better life. A life she didn’t think I was capable of providing. She was right. I want nothing to do with the life she leads now. But she was my first love. High school sweethearts and the whole deal. I would have died for her. Looking back on it, I guess I did.

Lissa was a huge slut and had already slept with two of my three roommates before she decided I was what she really wanted. It wasn’t until after she brought Jade over for the first time that she started in on the flirting, suggestive conversations and the mini-skirts. My god, I still remember those skirts. I liked her immediately because I didn’t have to wonder what was on her mind. Frankly, the attention did my damaged ego good. I assumed that Jade was her little sister at first because Lissa always dressed her like a miniature version of herself. Especially after the first time we met.

Lissa fucked enthusiastically if not skillfully. She gave blow jobs more than willingly and it always seemed to me that she was extracting secrets from me even though I don’t believe in that shit. I usually felt a little empty, a little drained after an encounter with her. She couldn’t have known it then, but she was unwittingly working recon for Jade.  I saw the way the little one looked at me and it made me feel like I better look away before some trouble came of it. She was 15. Nothing was ever going to happen there. And Lissa made a fine surrogate vessel for the urges I inevitably experienced during their visits.

One night, after a few intentionally weak vodka and cranberries the little one asked to try the bong. Lissa was ecstatic. My roommates and I had grown somewhat protective of her but decided the potential for entertainment far outweighed our concern for her safety or her 10 o’clock curfew. The thing was almost as tall as she was and much more intimidating, inanimate though it was. I didn’t know then that she was a first-chair flautist or an honor student or that her father was an alcoholic with a temper. When she cleared the four-footer on her first try and held it in as long as we told her too without coughing, I saw the trust in her clear, green eyes and I knew the night would not end well.

Lissa passed out. Jade was on the verge, her eyelids opening and closing involuntarily. Me and my buddies led her out to our car and told her to take a little nap. Guiding her into the backseat, I realized I didn’t even know where she lived. God, she was so beautiful and helpless at that moment. Pure and clean as far as I knew. What the fuck? Where did that come from? We got an address out of her and prepared a formal apology for her parents some where along the half-hour drive from our off-campus bungalow near the university to her middle class suburban home. It was agreed that the youngest looking of us would take her to the door. That was Jorge.

I didn’t know until much later how she suffered after her father met us at the curb 15 minutes past curfew and dragged her from the backseat where she sat alone. None of us dared to be that near her malleable frame, her angelic face or her perpetually wet, pink lips that seemed to smile even as she slept.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

It was the early eighties when my father broke his leg on a worksite. Our family suffered, but not to our knowledge, at least not then. The construction trade was booming and we always had what we needed plus a goodly portion of all that we ever wanted as well. Dad could never be described as the doting father-type but he did make absolutely certain that we girls never wanted for a thing he could buy. He bought our love easily and when that faded, he consistently bought it back again.

I was grounded for two weeks after that night which was just enough time for the bruises to heal. Lissa took the fall for being the irresponsible one. She told my parents she let me drink and they thought it was adorable I was such a light-weight. Practically passing out after two drinks! I wasn’t allowed to spend the night with her anymore. We were granted one last night together however to “say goodbye”. That night, Lissa dressed me up again and spun me around in front of her mirror as she held me in her arms and told me that when I was ready, this is what I would wear when I went to him. We kissed and giggled playfully over the thought. She put make-up on me to complete the transformation and I knew one day soon, I would be a woman.

Jorge, who had pretended to be overly concerned about my welfare and my age and my friend’s complete lack of respect for my parents that night on the lawn, made quite an impression and I was allowed to see him again on the condition that he come over and  introduce himself properly in the presence of my father’s .44. He was 21. My parents believed he was 17.

Lissa and Jorge had been together for a year or so before she started going into Paolo’s bedroom instead. I’m sure I thought she loved him, though I had no idea what that meant. He thought so too. He confessed his jealousy on each and every car ride from my house to the bungalow as if I was his best friend. I never said more than two words to him. I’m sorry and thank you. I guess he really did feel responsible for me or at the very least responsible to my parents who allowed him to take me one night every weekend as long as I was home by 10. No exceptions. They called Lissa a little whore when they thought I wasn’t listening. That sounded mean but I couldn’t tell you what I thought it meant. Maybe it meant that she liked sleeping with men or that she was just plain bad or both.

That summer, in Jorge’s big green car, I got my second kiss. My first had been only months before at the last dance of the school year. I still remember that boy’s name, but that’s all. “Happy Birthday, sweetheart,” Jorge said and pulled away before I realized what happened. It was almost uncomfortable, awkward – like I had noticed my father had recently begun to do and it disturbed me though I knew not why. What possible reason could a father have to stop kissing his daughter?

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Alright, alright. I kissed her already. What do you want me to say? I kissed her and she smiled and it made my friggin’ day okay? I don’t see anything wrong with that. That bitch Lissa broke my goddamn heart when she left me for Paolo. He’s got a goddamn kid over half the time and she picks him over me? Whatever. I’m over it.

I just don’t see how a chick like that – perfectly nice and all – gets up from the couch one night, looks up at me with this look of absolute pity in her eyes and then walks right into another man’s room. What the fuck is that?

It wasn’t my choice to be Jade’s escort. Just because I look young and am polite enough to deal with the parental units doesn’t make me her gd-boyfriend all the sudden. I mean, c’mon. I’m 21. That shit is grounds for statutory rape and I’m not stupid.

To be perfectly honest, I thought she despised me. I had no idea why I kept picking her up every weekend and spilling my guts to her about Lissa except I felt she was the only who really listened. Fuck the guys. I mean, they were my best friends man, but they didn’t care about the chicks they laid– not like me. Jonas fucked Lissa in the laundry room the first night he met her and we all heard it – including Jade. I could count on her to shut the fuck up and listen when I talked. She wasn’t the type of chick to interrupt or interject her opinion every other minute.

She had the kind of face you could call sincerely caring. Her eyes never gave anything away but sincerity. I was certain she new nothing of compassion or empathy. She just didn’t have the proper experience required.

The kiss would have been a non-sequitor had it not been for what happened later. She was excited about her birthday and was being her usual smiling self when she bounded toward my Buick and hopped in for our show hug. The one we put on for her parents’ sake. God, when she smiled, she fucking glowed. It seemed like a perfectly logical thing to do until I felt myself instinctively pull back and saw the first glint of knowing in her innocent eyes. She suddenly seemed much older and I found myself forcing the numerals one-five to remain foremost in my mind.

What the hell was she doing hanging around with a bunch of college guys anyway? Not that any of us minded. She was smart and quiet and held the dual-title of house geisha and madame. She unwittingly inspired the women we occasionally dated and often brought home to return for…shall we say, seconds? The ladies were just as enamored by her as the three of us were protective.

Every Saturday night it was the same story. She read poetry aloud to us from our myriad text books, some older than she was and a lot less relevant. Couples merged from one to many on the floor, the couch. Anywhere we could get horizontal. Her voice melted away any doubt that our women would compete for, if not simply succumb to any and I mean any desire or fantasy we might come up with. The fireplace helped too.

Lissa eventually tired of playing her litte learning game with Paolo but I had not let her back into my room until that night. Jade had just finished reading to the last of the lingering lovers who had not yet retired to their private rooms. She put her head on the nearest pillow as she always did and waited for someone to finish and take her home. I was about to close the door behind me when I saw Paolo come out and sit right down on the couch beside her. They spoke softly, their faces close – too close. Lissa nudged me hard in the ribs and gave me a look some where between she’ll be fine and who gives a shit.

Paolo had been in his own room all evening putting his son to sleep. I trusted him with
Jade, and I did feel somewhat responsible for her well-being after having met with her parents face to face, regardless of the charade. I was so damn excited to be back with Lissa. I didn’t think. I forgot all about the kiss I planted on Jade when I picked her up for her birthday celebration and the new look in her eyes and at the time, I really had no idea she had already fallen for him.

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Who did that dude think he was fooling? Everyone knew that Jorge was in love with Jade and that the façade they had put on for her parents was trickling down the gutter to Realityville. I had no idea how Jade felt about Lissa and Jorge getting back together, but I suspected it was not good. It was hard to tell. She had this melancholy happiness about her or a joyful sorrow or some kinda shit that freaked me out and turned me on all at once. Didn’t matter though. She was not 18. Jail bait. And I was a new dad, not about to fuck with someone else’s baby daughter.

I played some songs on the stereo. That seemed safe enough. She said she recognized the sound a band called Mazzy Star made and tried to indentify the producer off the CD jacket in the dark. I was impressed. Riley and I had been listening to her calming voice muffled through the door until he fell asleep, fighting his infant exhaustion all the way down to Pillowtown. She was a lullaby and a living nightmare all rolled into one fabulously luxurious package, laying on the very couch where many much older and experienced had succumbed. Didn’t matter though. Not 18.

That was the first time we talked alone – one on one. She told me she thought the producer was the same guy who made Opal sound so good. I’m almost certain she didn’t know what the hell it was a producer did exactly until that moment. She seemed like a pretty cool chick though. Just young. I was fucking lonely as hell and tired of laying co-eds one after another. Six weeks max was all it ever lasted. I just couldn’t commit after Sheila. Sheila wanted more than I could give and went ahead and found it in another man before she bothered to divorce me. Now I know there are only two ways a relationship like that can go. So why not kill it before it gets too risky? I’d die for one person on this earth and that’s enough. Bought the album though. Good shit.

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