From here, I hear, from my chair in the corner, too tired, I fear, to do much more than notice.
Cool air through the windows, wide open because I can still smell the food I cooked for dinner and I want to smell the storm coming instead. Lightning flashes like it’s sneaking a picture and I’m worn out from pretending, pretending, masked just enough, not so much as to be someone else but to prevent either being fully seen or partly held. Another flash—no photographs, please, please nothing still or frozen. I’m worn out, though, so I go quiet and stay there, trying to make myself evaporate, now, in the evening, late, slow, safe, finally free to.
What’s there, or out, what sounds. Slow, murmuring thunder, otherworld approaching this. Far-off siren wails, in broken chorus, solo, broken again. Airplane faint on final to the X-shaped airport, the big, square south marked spot in the middle of run-down neighborhoods and freight yards. Car mid-speed gliding through a green light on the long straight and wide running cardinals N and S down below my windows. Dog bark, across the street and up, carrying down here and back. Horn—taxi, for sure; funny how I can tell that now, how well I’m coming to know the distinct calls and cries of our urban fauna. Yell, somewhere. Car alarm, across, over, elsewhere. Repeat, shuffle, repeat.
And the breeze. Gusting between buildings, down alleys, through trees, across streets, around lightposts, cars, signs, through the screen, in here. In here the fridge creaks, just once, and a door closes heavy in the hallway, and there is no one, including me.
I wait to hear the rain start to fall, smelling it first, remembering the night we, the little she and I, were having dinner outside in the summer and a woman at the crowded next table asked if I was someone and I told her no I’m no one and they all seemed disappointed and skeptical as if I was playing coy. The cars will sound different when the rain starts, I think to no one, and I miss what I never really let myself have because I couldn’t believe I did.
One of the first things I told you was how much I love thunderstorms. You said I should do my rain dance and you’d come sit with me huddled close on the couch while we watched the weather through these windows mine. But we never did, and never will, and that’s fine because you’re not the one, not anyone either.
* * *
It took me over half an hour to get those words down and wash the dishes and jot something and pour a drink and be restless and now the rain has started and the thunder is louder, longer, deeper, nearer, gone now from brontides to booms and big drum-rumbles, but not yet quite cracks or peals. The lighting’s close, but still not here, on final. Still I hear cars, though, as before, and sirens and airplanes, barely, as the rain turns up, but no yells, no dog bark. Always sirens. Do they need to be that loud? There’s surely a standard decibel level, which means yes, someone decided they do. But why? I used to wonder things like that and you’d shrug your shoulders, indifferent to my whys, even annoyed, I suspect because you didn’t have answers and wouldn’t, couldn’t just share the question.
I am tired. Tired of not believing that the wishes of others will be anything but burdens, tired of being sure that believing and dreaming are best kept secret so as to be left alone. I’m tired, and happy there’s no one here to hear it, no one here to let me hear myself speak things that are better left thought or written.
“Be careful, lest in casting out your demon you exorcise the best thing in you.” Yes, ok.
* * *
In bed now, another two half hours imperceptibly gone, and a big thundercrash strikes my nerves and sets off a car alarm on the street below. The rain is at its heaviest, pouring, and I know I should check the window. It’s getting chilly in here anyway, but that’s ok. No one’s here. Not even me.
Then one thought comes and it is this: To nestle in close and warm and let you tell me it’s all ok—and believe you. Not believe it, believe you, whoever you are, have been, could be but probably won’t. I never can, well, never could, not but once, really, and not because it would be, but because I knew she’d make it so.