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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

One Day We All Fall Down Forever

This was based on a song I heard and an idea I liked. See if you can see what I was attempting to do. I have to turn this in by April Fool's Day - appropriately. Any comments are appreciated. :)

I have to shorten it by a page or two, which is alot. I can probably take care of that by changing the font (yes, sometimes, it's as simple as that.), but if there's something I can cut to make it work better, I'd rather have a cleaner, leaner story.

See what you think... (I had to come back in and fix this because the breaks were all in the wrongs places. I'm sure people who read it a little bit ago thought I was on crack...)

One Day We All Fall Down Forever
by Cass Van Gelder

A small slice of light slithered across the darkened room. Midnight had come and gone and still he laid, his fingers finding her side of the bed, her pillow; her warmth had faded like the patterns of the sheets. A lingering strand of hair, absently he curled it between his fingers. There should have been whiteness, he thought, but the dark brown of her shed wisps would never turn to any other color. The thin threads of curls had fallen as easily as we all do one day forever.
You are not alone, he heard her sing, her voice so light it barely glanced across the air, the same air the laid upon his chest and made it difficult to breathe. Put out the fires in your head, and lay with me tonight.
He closed his eyes and wished for sleep and was grateful when it never came, just in case he might hear her again.

“What do you want to do?” voices overlapping.
Go home. I want to go home.
Everything changed and nothing had gone as planned. She was always whispering his ear when he got mad, “Forgive the past and go and make some other plans.”
But every plan had had her in it. When he rolled out the colorful map of what they were sketching as their lives, she had filled the stark middles. But now the middles were left white and colorless, the lines light and outlined, no longer boldly being marked and remembered.
What did he want? Her…here…now.
He wanted to go home and know that when he smelled her perfume, she’d be just around the corner, curled in her big red chair that she’d bought specially for reading novels. Instead, he hunted through the laundry basket for pillowcases where her scent lingered. When he opened the kitchen door, he wanted the soup smell to be her latest experiment that he pretended to like because she loved cooking so much. Instead, it was a dish the neighborlady had left and he had been too tired to throw out.
The closet door slats secreted out her scent, let it waft in, convincing him she might be just beyond the white doors, playing a trick, laughing at how silly he’d been to believe it. He wanted to open the doors to all the emptiness that her clothes and boxes brought, crippled by the grays and blankness in front of him.
They hadn’t even had time to figure out what they wanted together alive. Plans of graves and markers came so far after bottles, homework, graduations, weddings, and sneaking cookies to grandbabies that they had never even considered them.
What did he want?
He wanted to go home.
Instead, he signed a paper with her name on it, and his signature, and a reason that would explain why he had to go the rest of his life without her.

They knocked him to the ground, running. Lightning had cracked and sent them all scattering. They spoke to him, their mouths wide with screams but nothing coming out. He just stared at them, saw her lying on the ground, put his scarf around her so she’d be warm. She was always so cold, even now.
You are not alone, he said to her, whispering to her as she slept, the dark tendrils tangling with the sticky darkness from the back of her neck. He laid her head on his lap, watching as the gangly legs and arms and bodies shifted about them, racing into each other, falling and getting back up to run again.
She was just tired, he thought. She’ll get up in a minute and they would run with the rest of them. But for now, he’d let her rest.
The lights flashed around him. There were cracks of sound that popped near him. A uniformed man ducked and ran to them. The uniformed man looked frantically down at her sleeping, his fingers finding his way to her throat. The uniformed man spoke to him, his mouth formed words he could not hear. The uniformed man felt his arms, his neck, hurt? he heard him yell through the thickness in his ears. Everything was muffled under the richness of sound. The pistol crack of sound had left a thrum in his ears.
Then the uniformed man slapped him, hard, but then stared with curiosity, searching his face.
“She just needs some rest. She was running. She’s just tired,” he said calmly to the uniformed man. 
“…pillows inside,” he heard the uniformed man yell, watching him point to the truck with screaming lights.
Of course.
He smiled and they lifted her into the truck, and onto the pillow, the scarf and dark stickiness trailing, unnoticed, behind them.

“We’ll be late,” she laughed, running ahead of him. He could easily catch her, but liked watching her giggle and stumble slightly in her kitten heels; she was his tomboy in shoes that should make her slow down but never did. “Come on,” she said, her smile reaching across her face, blinking once, then over his shoulder, as if she recognized an acquaintance, a familiar face she couldn’t place. She stopped and reached for his hand, her fingers slipping through his; the other reaching to the back of her neck. She looked at him, confused, her fingers coming through her hair, the blood mixed with the strands.
She dropped to her knees before he could catch her.

He helped her into her coat, the one he saw her eyeing last June when they went walking in The District after dinner. It was a game they played. She’d notice something beautiful in a shop window, remarking about its lines or the underlying blues she saw in the reds. He’d pretend to only moderately notice, but then would surprise her months later with it for a Christmas, a birthday, a Friday. She’d pretend she hadn’t stopped all those months before in front of the shop window on purpose; and he’d pretend he didn’t know she’d done it on purpose.
“You don’t mind?” she asked. She’d burnt enough dinners to know he didn’t, but was raised to always ask, out of politeness.
“No, I don’t mind,” he answered.
 She dove off the deep end into an experiment, a plan, a destination, her hair flying, her eyes reflecting the excitement of what was coming, pulling him along out of his office, his patterns, the life he’d led before her, the plans he had made and followed, so tightly, so desperately. But with her came a messiness he waded in. A trail of discarded envelopes, coats, shoes, bags were left as she walked from room to room. Even a ruined dinner meant 5 cookbooks strewn about the countertops while she figured out the recipe that would suit them best.
She challenged what he said when others just accepted it as truth. The first born son of a Kennebunkport family, he was used to going unchallenged, in deed and in word. It was accepted that he had learned his father’s and grandfather’s lessons well, and had taken deftly to wearing suits when only 15. He looked the part as if he had auditioned for it.
Her family had traveled, out of need and sometimes out of necessity. Her mother’s voice had lead them around the country in their 1965 Rambler, while they chased bands who wanted her to front them and while the family was chased by the IRS and local loan sharks. Many nights, she had been helped through a first floor hotel window while her mother urged her to be quiet and her father brought the car around back, headlights out.
So surrounded by music and bohemians, she fell in love the first time at age six with her mother’s drummer, declaring it full-heartedly by saying, “…I wish you were my daddy.”
By seventeen, sadness had a habit of pulling her away into a world unconnected to this one. Sunny Saturdays would be flittered away while she curled on the bed, Perry Mason reruns on the TV she was not watching, absorbed instead with the grayness the day had brought her.
But he pulled her back before she floated away in melancholy at the thought of a good houseguest leaving them, the possibility of never seeing them again. He pulled her out of the bed and into the sunlight, playing her favorite Carole King album, and singing along though he had no sellable voice.
They hovered between earth and sky together.
“Don’t forget your scarf,” she called back to him, already halfway down the apartment building stairs.
“…but it’s so warm,” he started. He grabbed the scarf off the hook, following after her, skipping the last two steps, trying to keep up with her.

Even in the middle of August with the heat’s stickiness slowing everything down to where a snail could have beaten them all to a finish line, the whiteness, the drinking, the laughing, it had all gone so quickly.
He stood with his brother and three high school buddies at the front, their backs to the uneven crowd – her family did not fly and still held a grudge that they were holding the wedding in his hometown and not hers, though she never had one to speak of anyway.
When the music started, they had all turned like they had rehearsed last night to look at her, except for him. He wanted to have his own look at her, to have something that belonged only to him. He waited only a few moments, two little slivers of time, and then turned to see her, the gown she’d had made from a brushed satin she’d found advertised in old 1950’s Modern Bride magazine, surprising everyone with her need for traditions outside of her bohemian upbringing.
White lilies burst from her hand, cascading in long trails of dark ivy. Her black hair was pulled off her face on one side with a small Peace Lily, the other hanging down over her eye in satin ribbons like Veronica Lake. Her train fanned out behind her, brightening the deep green church carpet as she walked towards him.
He looked for the purposeful mistake in the gown that she had asked the seamstress to make. On their trip to the Grand Canyon, she had watched the Cherokee weaver make a mistake and went to correct her before she went further and ruined the intricate pattern. But the weaver replied without turning around that the mistake was on purpose because, “…only God can make perfection.” She later asked the seamstress to do the same, smiling at how easily she mixed his philosophies with her own Buddhist ones.
She met him at the bottom of the stairs, reaching for his hand as they started up the stairway. She stumbled; he caught her by the elbow, helping her to steady herself.
“New shoes?” he whispered to her.
She shrugged and smiled. “I thought I’d try these little kitten heels, but I keep falling.”
He slipped his fingers in between hers and started to help her up the rest of the way. Her fingers tightened and pulled him back a bit.
She whispered, “What if we’re wrong? What if this doesn’t work?”
He smiled, “Then we’ll go out and make some other plans.”
Her grip softened and she allowed him to lead her up the rest of the way, in front of everyone.

He paced the pastor’s office, stopping to brush the bit of dust he saw on the bookshelf, to straighten the award, the picture, the ceramic scripture. His legs were trembling, so he sat down on the overstuffed embroidered ladies chair, hoping to calm his legs, only to jump back up when he noticed the unevenness of the cushion. He paced to the other side of the room, his reflection in the pastor’s mirror causing him to pause, tilt his head, touch the top of his head to tame a stray hair.
“Ready?” he startled at the voice.
“Is she here?” he asked back, casually.
“Be careful getting in the car. I think the boys tagged it on the driver’s side,” his brother teased.
“Is she here?” he asked again.
“Mom’s still going on cause you didn’t use her florist. I wish you hadn’t gone with that guy out on the highway. She keeps going on, ‘My stars, but what we coulda’ done if we’d a had real roses ‘stead of these lilies. Looks like somebody’s a dyin’ in here.’”
“Hey, boys!” the pastor’s booming voice filled the room. His cologne was thick and stuck to dollar bills he had given them both when they had been little, “To keep ya honest. Always stay honest.”
And he had been, this time. He had told her everything, how he’d run from everything in his own world in order to straighten out the one in front of him, how he’d wrecked the girls who came near him with the slightest affection, damaging them so they never made that mistake with him again, not realizing that they’d not make that mistake with anyone for a long time. He had told her things within the caves that lived inside him, growing ever deeper.
He knew her damage, saw her wear it like a shield to keep those away who would ever be like-minded. She waded in the sadness of the world, lifting her head on a gray Wednesday only to take in the Chinese soup he had ordered in for her. “I’ll make you some,” she’d said, brightening. “I’m a really good cook.” Even if she could not heal herself, she tried rescuing others.
With all the cacophony of the ceremony and his own absence from her side, he was afraid the grayness would take her over and walk her out into the street and out of his world.
“Is she here?” he asked the pastor, nearly frantic.
“Why, of course, son. Where else would she be?” and he patted him on his narrow shoulders. “You boys finish up in here and come on out. We need to get started.”
“Yes, sir,” they said in unison, as if they were still nine years old.
After the minister left, he exhaled. He hadn’t realized he’d been holding his breath until he did.
“Hey,” his brother said with concern, “if you’re that wound up, dude, we can leave.”
“No, no,” he brushed his brother’s hand off.
His brother stopped him, stood in the doorway and looked at him dead on.
“Seriously. Look at me.” He did. His brother’s eyes reflected back their family’s brown irises with shards of black. “I always wished someone had done it for me, so I’m doing this for you. We can leave, right now. My truck’s right out back. Nobody has to know. I’ll come back and explain everything.”
He stood, listening to his brother, his own breaths slowing as he did, calming as he thought about the prospect of leaving, of opening the door, and walking out into the green and the blue of the day.
“Okay,” he said, sighing. “Let’s do it.”
His brother’s eyes went wide.
“But first, let’s go get her.”

His head ached and the light was beginning to bother him. The migraine pills had stopped working weeks ago, but he didn’t want any more prescriptions. His medicine cabinet looked like it belonged in a pharmacy.
He’d agreed to come out tonight only because his roommate’s shrill voice had gouged him into coming.
“It’s thee-a-tar,” she’d had said pretentiously, trying to hold his hand as they walked, him slipping away to brush his hair back or scratch his nose. The play had been loud and nonsensical. It seemed more a stream of consciousness than any real story. When intermission came, he fairly burst through the doors in search of caffeine or chocolate or even a darkened corner to help ease the pain in his temple.
“You look like someone I should be talking to,” he heard from behind him. He turned around sharply. She smiled and then looked concerned. “Hey, that looks awful. Let me see your ears.” She reached for his face, his instinct to pull back nullified by her perfume.
“What’s that you’re wearing,” he asked, her fingers gently rubbing his lobes.
“Karma,” she smiled.
“I meant the perfume,” he laughed with her, already feeling the edges of the pain willowing away.
“So did I. That’s the name of it – Karma. Lean down, you’re awfully tall,” she said, looking over his shoulder, concentrating on his ears.  “Better?” she asked. He nodded slightly, hoping she’d not take her fingers away.
“Let me see your tongue,” she said, her face nearer to him than he’d allowed anyone in years.
“My tongue?”
“The tongue is a map to the body and you are nearly hysterical,” she said. He didn’t correct her mixed metaphor, grinned at her instead.
“Have dinner with me,” he said.
“Ask me,” she replied, snapping her purse shut.
“I just did,” he said.
“You told me,” she corrected him.
He smiled at her as she wiggled her ballet flat off and then on again. “Blisters,” she said. “I cannot find a shoe for the life of me. “ She put the shoe to the ground, wiggled her foot again and then turned to leave. “Oh, good-bye,” she said. “I’ve always hated how they never say good-bye on TV shows, so I’ve made a point to say it in real life. Good-bye…again.”
He watched he walk away, a little wiggle of her ankle to fix her shoe.
“Please!” he hollered across the room. Everyone turned and stared at him.
She looked around, smiled at all the lookers-on. She walked towards him well aware of all the eyes on them.
“Of course,” she said. “But next time, ask me right the first time.”
He made a mental note to remember and chuckled at the thought of himself on one knee in front of her as he did. She slipped her arm into the crook of his offered arm. He didn’t seem to notice how every time she turned to him, she grinned even bigger, noticing the light that surrounded him.

The crack of light had grown brighter as the night grew deeper. The threads of her hair had worn thin red paths around his fingers.
This hadn’t been their plan. They had wanted 60 years of lying in the same bed at night and making it again every morning. She would touch him lightly to calm his snoring and he would get another quilt when she would steal the covers, even on the hottest night.
He sat up slowly in the bed, the strands of hair tangled now. He walked to the bathroom, letting the fissure of light flood the room. He blinked at the brightness, at the darkness of his own face in the mirror, how it slid to the side as he open the medicine cabinet.
He eyes glanced over the bottles, things he had taken for so many years before her for this ailment or that, that had seemingly disappeared once she occupied every inch of space ad breath of his life. He reached for the brown bottle and let the round pills roll in his hand.
Go out and make some other plans
These were not the plans he made. They were not the plans he wanted.
And you are not alone
He wanted to be beside her, walking with her as she whispered to him.
Laying in the dark
He let the pills slide down his throat. He didn’t care what he washed it down with. It would not matter or change the outcome.
Put out the fire in your head
The heat of his headache was replaced with the warmth of the wooziness.
and lay with me tonight.
 He slipped into their bed, closed his eyes, fingering her hair until he slept, finally.

copyright - All rights to the work posted on this site are retained by Cass Van Gelder. If you'd like to use some of my work, please ask. To do so, the permissions must be spelled out in writing...from me...I meant it. I have mean cats; don't make me use them.

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