Thursday, May 10, 2007

love: leaving

@ Kim's bed

Behind the veil of her Condition she hears Tad. He's telling her about a movie he, Alex and Geoff saw, something about Spartans and Persians and CGI creatures, and how Geoff hated it. Kim's chest opens a little; she feels as though she's back in the old world. Of course he hated it -- Geoff's cinematic tastes ran more along the lines of Bergman, Kieslowski and Lynch; anything that smacked of bourgeois, post-production excess was sure to invoke his ire. On the first awkward date, the one where you eagerly define yourselves in likes and dislikes, this passionate young man with the choirboy eyes insisted Eraserhead was the best movie ever made, that Kim really didn't know what she was missing. So on the fourth date they rented Eraserhead, and it was truly awful. But since it was a test of her suitability, and she really did like this aspiring artist with the brooding eyes, god forgive her, she effused about the movie's objective correlative and bleak existentialism, dredging up remnants of a college Lit Crit class and acing Geoff's test. And that set the precedent, of course; she could never tell Geoff what she really thought of David Lynch without rewriting her husband's entire definition of her.

Lost in the past, she'd realised she'd neglected Tad and mentally castigated herself. She wished she didn't fade and out like this because every word that dropped from his lips was a feast to her, for it opened up a host of memories she could feed off until the next time he appeared at her bedside. Did he know how much his visits meant to her? Why else would he keep coming?

He was describing a hike they did in Yosemite, how long ago was that, oh he couldn't have been more than what, eight? God he was incredible taking on that mountain – Half-Dome it must have been. She thought she was alone, battling demons every step up that mountain, seeing her past in black and white; but when she turned at the last cairn wanting to throw herself off Half-Dome's rocky profile, she instead found her eldest son staring up at her. God he was incredible. He was her one good thing... and Alex too. If nothing else, she could at least say I made these kids. Geoff and I could put something together at least.

She never pictured this. She never pictured herself lying in a hospice bed, groomed and cared for by a phalanx of aides, at the mercy of others, relying on their sense of duty and pity. She never pictured a son who visited all the time, and another who existed purely though his brother's narratives. She never pictured being forty; she never pictured motherhood. That was Geoff's fault. He had to let the propane run down... typical of her husband, who was so good at engaging at the moment of an idea's conception – honey, we need a gas grill, it'll make dinners so easy – but then melting away when the glamorous idea became dull reality. So of course the propane tank ran empty while she was grilling ribs, so she loaded the tank in the tiny trunk of her Miata, cursing Geoff when paint chips flaked off the tank to drift around her trunk.

She drove to the Texaco, where the tattooed teenager behind the counter summoned his manager to the filler tank. “Elle” read the name tag beneath a deeply lined face that seemed much older than the arms that took the tank from Kim. Elle hefted the tank experimentally.

-- Still a little bit in here. - but not enough to grill ribs, thought Kim.
-- Oh really? How do you know?
-- By weight.
Unable to argue, Kim just nodded, then stepped around the filler tank so she had a clear view of her car and its wide-open trunk while Elle began the refill.
-- Gotta be careful when you fill these things because the propane can escape if you top off, and you don't want want that smell all over you, do you.
-- No – Kim agreed – you probably don't - then craned her head for a view of the Miata and its popped trunk.
-- You got a baby in the car?
-- Excuse me?
-- You got a BABY in the car.
Kim laughed; what a silly notion. Me? With a baby? Elle stared at her, awaiting an answer.
-- Um, no. A baby? No.
Elle stood motionless while propane whirred into the tank, and Kim felt as though she must justify herself.
-- No baby. Just, er, my car's wide open. And it's kind of my baby, you know?

Elle looked as though she didn't know, and Kim felt a chasm open in front of her. The undeniable fact was that she wasn't 17 anymore, and having a baby in the back seat was perfectly natural in Elle's eyes. My car's my baby? What was I thinking?

Kim drove home in a daze and found a message from Edward, who'd dropped off her radar a year ago. Hey so I had this dream last night, that you have twins now, twins with your sun-catching blonde hair, and their names are Thaddeus and Karl. So, um, confirm or deny, since my dreams have a way of creeping into reality. Be well. Kim was overcome, weakened by coincidence and fear of a growing distance in her marriage; and that night she made a point of staying awake until Geoff finally came home and she's certain that's when Tad came onto the scene.

He's gone now; Kim doesn't remember when he left. What did he say about Half-Dome, she thinks. Goddammit I wish I could stay present. She wars against herself for ten minutes then drifts away.


fatmammycat said...

Very lovely, makes me rather melancholy though.
On a very unrelated note, or not if you consider hiking sories and bears, pulled this from pharyngula earlier and thought of you and bobby no guns while hiking.

Er yeah, spray that. Right off to the gym.

Theo said...

earnest, well-articulated pathos isn't normally my idiom... but, wow.

finn said...

thanks teho, and 'tis a melancholy day FMC.

that bear video is so wrong btw, and as someone who still carries the nickname "Moose" i can't even click to view. blurghh.

Brown Suga' said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brown Suga' said...

Very moving and well-written, Finn.

[Applauds quietly

fatmammycat said...

Finn, there are 42 and a bit K in the dublin city marathon. I jusy ran 15k in the gym and now my hips feel loose. And also I've just learned about the 42 business, somehow 26.2 miles doesn't seem nearly as bad.
Stooopid numbers, scaring folk. And yes, the whole bear thing was rather eye-popping.