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Return to index Penguins in a Bottle.
Four people. Four diaries. Four stories. One common thread.
Was there ever a moment when you didn't matter? The sun rose and I thought of you. The sun set and I was unmoved. Your absence was a thread of darkness that bound me to a grim march of mediocre days, unasked and subservient. All words were hollow because they lacked you. Each movement was only a ghost, a potential, without your fire, your light, your heat. Come to me.
Can you question my devotion? I lit a candle in the porcelain basin below the mirror and shivered in its cold eternal reflections, tiny dancing pieces of distant light on the walls, scattered memories of the moment your eyes burned into mine. I long to gather them up but breath clouds in the air and I cannot move. I am helpless without you. Come to me.
Is passion so fraudulent you can so wholly disregard this soul, this naked unburdening? I stand before you shaken to the core, no longer attached to this world but by a single thread of hope. Love was impossible before you. Love is impossible now, in this swaying moment of dreadful possibility. Waiting. Come to me.
Come to me, that the clock may not be deprived of its ticking, the dawn of its hour, the shaky hand of penning the final word. Consummating fire burns. Its heat is yours.
There was never a moment when you didn't matter.
I had nothing more tragic on hand than a tattered umbrella, so when you asked what was wrong I invented. Wildly.
Death depression anger divorce. Aliens and day-late shoe coupons.
You didn't buy a word of it. You said, through the phone, you'd write me a song on your techno machine. I called you a liar.
The distant sounds of wailing bagpipes woke me up that night, six stories below in a gritty parking lot under dull street lamps. The sound alone set car alarms off, or maybe it was one of your skeezy buddies trying to get lucky. Klutzy gits.
I climbed down the fire escape in my pajamas and we made it as far as the last gas station out of town before the too-small engine in your scrap bike fried, and it was flip flops and six-year-old nikes all the way back down cracked blacktop and thumbs nearly lopped off by careless passing drivers.
You told me you read To Kill a Mockingbird, and I told you to shut up and kiss me.
And then there was dewy grass and the passing police car with too-bright lights and a guy named Bubba or so you claimed, and an old-fashioned black phone with a cord and my crazy cousin with her billion credit cards and broken orange nails and trying to remember where we lived after she shared her water bottle around because we were dying of thirst and the scared kitten under the drainpipe you tripped over after she'd pointed us in the right direction and how gently you held him and I cried and you promised to marry me at 11:59:59 on new year's eve and
No, no, I don't buy it either
Do you believe in love, sweet love? How long has it been since you sat in the sun, found shapes in the clouds, daydreamed your heart out?
There's only so many tears to cry, only so many twinkling stars in the sky, how long can you howl to the moon? Raise up your mourning shades, it's noon and the grass is green and wants you to come play. It knows your name.
Your secret name. The one you asked your dog to call you and wouldn't tell me til I tickled you hard. Brief fingers on soft pale sides, t shirt twisted up just enough, a laughing, panting pile of arms and legs on the shag carpet floor.
What makes you happy? That mascara-running misery? Too bad. When there is this ice cream sitting here with no one to claim it, a sun-warmed rock next to me by these secret-sharing waves. Your phoenix tattoo shimmering in the sun, plastic anklets scraping against sandstone.
Where have you been? Earth to Lovely. Welcome back. You should never fly alone. If you won't stay here with me, take me with you. The grass is greener, but the inhospitable trees don't give up their secret paths to just anyone.
Love? No, no, I don't buy it either. But there is this moment, your fingers brushing mine, and for all we know this half-second of linked gazes and short breaths is what Jesus meant when he said Forever.
Famous and Fabulous Air Guitar
Your famous and fabulous air guitar rocked apologies from the top of my car (couldn't you have used your own?) from two to four last Thursday morning, and I couldn't come out to tell you to stop for fear you'd see my smile.
So the neighbors did it for me, and when the last police car pulled in, sirens disrupting the noise ordinance more than you and your stolen cheerleader megaphone ever did, I couldn't come to the glass and wave you away because I was crying with laughter all over my pink shag rug leftover from the dorm that you hate so much. It was delicious, and I turned up the radio to my favorite station because it was six a.m. by then and time for work anyway.
Only it wasn't over and I should've known you wouldn't let it go that easily, when the DJ's were telling amused stories about their flooded requests inboxes and how some lunatic had stuffed them and all with the same song. And just to humor the guy who put so much public work into his Sorry's they promised to play it every other song for an hour, so I listened to Undeniably Human all morning and was late for work and nearly fired but it didn't matter because I was giddy with sleeplessness and humming Phil Roy tunes under my breath anyway.
And when you phoned during my break and refused to talk to me but only spoke to my manager instead I nearly started giggling all over again because she looked at me with the end of the phone turned away from her mouth, her paper hat knocked sideways and ketchup stains on her uniform, tired and sweaty and her hair a mess, and she mouthed "hot air balloon?" at me in utter disbelief and it was then I knew what you were planning and my manager had never looked more friendly or relaxed.
I forgave you three miles above the browning tree tops and blindingly reflective skyscrapers while the basket driver turned red and tried to ignore us and you played 99 Luftballoons on your famous and fabulous air guitar for twenty minutes after.
We held hands all the way home.