It’s noon… Katie e-mails me. She told me she wouldn’t. Don’t e-mail, don’t visit, leave me alone for awhile. She tells me she’s coming home, will I see her? I tell her yes, of course, here are some rules. The rules… The rules… don’t do this, don’t do that, the motivation for the rules should have been clear without having to be said. This morning she voices some feelings, these are my answers to cease my involvement in those feelings. Yes, of course, I’ll see her.
Around four, I go back to work. Her car isn’t there yet, she’s late. Wait, I don’t know when she left. Maybe she hasn’t yet at all. Yes, she’s close. I can feel it. I watched out the back window, like old times. Wait, watch, stalk, yes, I’m Mr. Creepy. I must have missed her. I smelled the diesel from the Mercedes in the kitchen, she’d parked out of view of the windows, and I hadn’t seen her move from the car. I remembered old times, when I’d do all my prep work on the back table just so I could watch out the dirty back window with a equally dirty screen to see her. I remembered all the times that I’d step away for a few minutes only to come back to see her dirty tennis shoes disappear from my sight. So close.
I lingered outside while finding things in the freezer. She has a habit of coming home, then leaving, why not today? Maybe I’ll be lucky? I was. I stood, and watched her. She walked from her steps to her car. I didn’t move to greet her or talk to her. I stood. I waited. I watched. That’s all I wanted. Was I opposed to greeting her or talking to her or being acknowledged by her? No, of course not, but desire was gone from me for these things. If they happened, good. I wanted only to stand there and watch. She saw me. I dropped the pan I was holding into the overgrown flowerbed in front of me and walked up to her. I hugged her.
Twice more in the kitchen I saw her.
I sent word to her that I was done. She left the door open for me. I took her to my house. We’d watch “Closer”. I identified with all the characters. Children. Idiots. Morons. Fools. Backstabbers. Hateful. Self poisoners. “American Beauty” was a positive reflection of me. I liked that movie. This move reflected everything about me that I dislike. So, I hated it. Katie? She fell asleep. Before that, she asked me a question. She answered it for me. A person asks a question, the other person pauses, and the first person answers for them. This is a fun little trait for joking matters, but this question wasn’t in the joking arena. I shut down the conversation. Usually, I’d deal. I’d tell her the truth, and she’s wrong, and to stop making me out to be an asshole. Instead, I told her to stop talking about it. Time for a change, I suppose. Maybe I was just tired, maybe just not in the mood. It upset me. Then… I wasn’t.
The movie ended. I turned off the TV. Katie stirred in her sleep. She talked to me a little bit, which I’m sure she doesn’t remember, then she fell asleep again. The TV stared at me with it’s blank, blue screen, and in turn, I stared at the curtains. My skin, blue, the windows, dark, her, at peace. One time she told me she wanted to drop out of school and become a professional sleeper. We all want that, right? Sleep… that peace that sleep brings. We don’t have to poison our bodies with alcohol or nicotine or anything like that to achieve escapism, we have sleep. It happens every night. I can’t sleep my life away. Tonight, I wanted to let her sleep it away though. I felt… I feel… restless, and yet, listless, but to no ends, no purpose. Where should my focus be? Shouldn’t I be thinking about temptation, the rules, yesterday, tomorrow, now, any thing? No, empty, my mind was clear of thoughts, but muddied by something. It felt familiar, an old … friend isn’t the right word.
Ten minutes of listening to the empty TV hum, I stood up, and turned it off. Katie shifted again. Bathroom, and in the darkness did what people do in bathrooms. In darkness, I paced to the far end of the living room and looked down into the night. A clear night, a night that still smelled as if it had rained just moments before. I lowered my head to the frame of the window, one eye blinded by wooden proximity, the other open to see the night. A neighbor’s tree swayed slightly in the breeze. Katie stirred. I waited. Silence. The tree recaptured my attention. She stirred. I waited. “Steve?” I returned to her. She’d want to go home. Silence, quiet, everything done with grace and without the quality that brings attention. I padded over to her, she wanted to go home. Keys, cards, her sandals, retrieved from my room, perfect silence and grace, the noise on the stairs, unfortunately loud, she went into the kitchen, bright light, stirring her consciousness, and annoying my drive to keep her asleep. Someone needs peace tonight, and it won’t be me to get it. It will be her.
Smooth door, quick snap of lock, perfect operation of manual transmission. I spoke only when spoken too. Perfection has failed. A mute male means something is wrong to a female. “What’s wrong?” the truth was… “Nothing,” but no one believes that. She asked if I was mad at her. I told her the truth “No,” but no one believes that. I dropped her off. She hugged me good bye. I must be a disappointment, she didn’t feel very content when she left. Another day I’d have thought that a disappointment would be something to fix. Today I considered the possibility that being a disappointment may be the best, or the only, thing I can be for her. She walked from the truck door she closed a little too solidly for her. I pressed my face against the glass of the driver side window to get the angle of the mirror right. Up the stairs, the door opens, the door closes, the light goes out. I waited. Not more than a minute later, her bedroom light came on. Then… I waied some more. Twelve minutes, if I remember right. With my head in the seat belt by the tweeter kits that the previous owner never bothered connecting and I had torn out in frustration. I listened to the hum of the engine and watched flecks of … whatever … pass through the headlights. No desire to leave, or really to stay, but twelve minutes after her bedroom light turned on, I decided I had to move. She’s still awake, and I couldn’t keep her asleep.
The radio, still off from when I turned it off at the start of this trip to try and keep her asleep. The hum of the engine and the hum of the tires on wet asphalt kept me company. Too slow, I drove home. I thought that maybe I’d be lucky and a policeman would pull me over and sobriety test me. I’d like someone to be there… To bear witness.