January 29th, 2006
The February 2006 edition of National Geographic Magazine has a cover story devoted to love. It begins with a short-short story of the author’s wedding day. Lauren Slater does a great job with narrative and description, really throughout the piece but particularly with that beginning story. That’s what made me think of writing some short-short stories. I’ve thought of putting together a short story collection for a long time, but all I keep writing are these really brief beginnings of things. Writing a story much longer than 2 or 3 pages seems daunting and I never get much further. If I take those beginnings and tighten things up a bit, I’d have a fair amount of short-short stories and… Anyhow, here’s today’s effort.
I saw Lisa Burnett when I was 19 years old. I don’t remember when we met in 6th grade; she holds the key to that memory. I sometimes pretended to recall certain words or phrases, a hair clip or a pair of shoes. I really don’t remember it at all, though. But I remember when I saw her later on, when I was 19. That day stays with me.
She wore a light, feathery skirt, a thin white one. It kind of wisped around, almost like Batman’s cape in all those comic books, unrealistically flowing in the background. A tight green blouse with brown buttons down the front and a dark brown corduroy jacket finished off the outfit. The jacket seemed out of place, a little too big. The right color, but somehow just barely mismatched.
She walked normally that day, but in my mind she spins and twirls, that skirt rising and falling in the air behind her. I separate the two, but the mental image of that day is almost stronger than reality. She also smiles most of the time in my head. In truth, a bit of sadness touched her face the entire day. She only smiled once, when I made a joke about the A-Team, that old TV show from the 80s. No explanation for that one; you had to be there. It fit the moment.
We introduced ourselves (it was in a dentist’s waiting room) and, after about an hour of finding the hidden pictures in a copy of Highlights Magazine, we exchanged phone numbers. After I looked at her, I thought that to spend some time with her, to just be in her presence, would satisfy me for the next several months. She gave off a certain air of confidence and security that I wanted to have in my life at that time. Of course, as time flew by, simply being with her wasn’t enough. It never is.
We quickly became physical and, just as quickly, weren’t.
The whole relationship was quick, actually. That’s how life is, quick. And even when I thought we took the time to do things right, in the bedroom and outside of it, we didn’t. We never took the time to do things, we just did them in a sort of response to our lives. Our relationship stayed healthy for a while and then it wasn’t. We enjoyed each other and then we didn’t.
Our life proceeded like the magazine, just the highlights with hidden things that made it interesting at times, but not enough to keep our attention.