Friday, October 10, 2008

Galleon's Lap

I wrote this for an exercise in beginning non-fiction. It almost got into Catch, but they didn't want me because it doesn't reach a conclusion, which is actually accurate to real life.

The third couch cushion served as a void. I always sat on the right side and he always sat on the left. He sat, slouched down with his legs parted or with his feet resting on the coffee table. I sat with my body angled towards his, my legs crossed with my foot curling around my ankle. In between us sat the couch cushion. I had never paid particular attention to the couch cushion before. The interwoven scratchy threads with particles of crumbs that held on with decisiveness.
That crevice that delved deep into rocky surface of my middle cushion, it evaporated at night when I closed my eyes. My comforter would turn into his bony form. The star covered cloth would grow arms that wrapped around me and there we would lay, legs spread, throats constricting with our whispers. I would lay my head on his chest, formed by my mascara stained pillowcase, and as my breathing slowed I would fall into sleep, my comforter soft on my bare skin. The two of us would be wrapped in it, be covered in the blue and yellow stars. Be held together by down feathers and fabric.
The problem was waking. Waking to find him reduced to a cell phone clutched in my right hand on the off chance that he would call me. Waking to find myself alone, hugging the insubstantial body of my teddy bear, Snuggly. His nose long having fallen off, his eyes scratched, and one ear partially disconnected. That’s the whole trouble with stuffed animals, with comforters, pillows, and closed-eyed dreams, is the point where they cease to be real. Where I awoke to find him reduced to a rumpled blue comforter or the disintegrating teddy bear. How, I often wondered, did Christopher Robin make Winnie the Pooh come to life?
We watched movies together, tentatively passing the popcorn over the gap, making sure that our fingers didn’t touch. There was always a tense moment as our hands neared each other, my breath would stop for a second, caught in my throat. When the moment passed my heart felt as if it were pounding throughout my entire body from the ever so brief stimulation of an almost touch
“I love that scene,” I said.
“What scene?”
“The one where he meets her at the top of the escalator. I think it is one of the most romantic scenes in any movie.”
“Someday, I will meet you at the top of the escalator.”
“But you aren’t in love with me, there’s a difference. We wouldn’t go back to your room and make love afterwards.”
True, he agreed, and the honesty of it lay in the space over the couch cushion until it slipped down my throat and began the voyage down my body, finally stopping to wrap itself so tightly around my ribcage that I could no longer breathe. At times like this, the foot and a half distance between us raged like a storm over the ocean. I sat and watched the chaos that ensued in the middle of us and he sat staring straight forward with his eyes on the television. I counted down the distance, a foot and a half, 18 inches, my voice got smaller carried over that vast space, making him turn to me and say, “What?”
How was I supposed to move from one couch cushion to the other? It was not as simple as picking up my bottom and sliding over. There were whispers in the way. The ones that said, “what if?” The ones that hung in space over the tortilla chip crumbs and the chocolate chip cookies pieces. The ones that lingered beside the drop of spilled peppermint bon bon ice cream.
He called me one night to tell me about his new girlfriend. The girl with blond hair and blue eyes. I threw the phone against the wall when we hung up. I didn’t want to look at it anymore. He and I no longer sat on opposite ends of the couch. It was not a couch cushion that stood between us, but a person. Who—compared to the couch cushion—looked like a giantess. I had never met her, only seen pictures, but these pictures came alive before my closed eyes at night, just as his sleeping form did. That picture of them kissing, it played forth as a pornography in my head, as a self-flagellation for my passivity. It had just been a couch cushion between us. I could have moved over at any moment, but I didn’t. I had gotten stuck, blocked by the crack in the seats. I could conquer a couch cushion, cross that vast expanse of air, but I did not think that I could beat blond hair and blue eyes. I was the opposite of this girl, where she had the body of a teenage boy; flat-chested with narrow hips, I was dark and curvy. I was not what the he wanted and so he stopped calling me and when his number disappeared from the back of my throat, I stopped calling him as well.
That couch cushion. An expanse of maroon with rocky crevices. But that is the trouble with examining something that closely. The rocky crevices are really only slight indents and one side of the couch was all I ever had.

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