some fall in love. i shatter.

The Sousaphone on the Floor (#1)

In Stories Volume 1 on March 5, 2012 at 11:20 am

“Can we not talk during this ride?”  He nodded in immediate acquiescence, pausing on Andi’s face looking straight over the steering wheel before focusing his own gaze out the windshield.  She revved the motor, pulling them away from the driveway and the sounds of the ocean breaking against the shore.  The humidity had broken, she had left all the windows down.  The unfinished smile of a half moon cast a glow over them and the unlit backroads before Andi’s headlights cascaded around each bend.  She could feel drying saltwater in the cracks of skin on her knuckles, could feel the pulling dryness as she moved her fingers around the steering wheel.  Andi focused on that physicality so that she wouldn’t break and begin speaking to John.  He felt the lingering sand between his toes while trying to hold at bay the emptiness threatening to consume the two of them inside that car.

He hadn’t done anything.  She knew it.  He knew it.  She hadn’t done anything either but they both knew it wasn’t about what either of them had done.  It was about who they were and who they had become and the expectations that they had of themselves, of each other, of the “union.”  John sensed that Andi was doing one of two things.  Half of her was imagining what it would be like, years later, when they would have been together long enough to forgo conversations during car rides.  The other half was preparing her for driving alone in the car; practicing the silence as preparation for the lack of the physical.  Such a realization kept his fingers away from the radio buttons and his ears blockaded against the rush of wind.  He wanted to hear the slightest utterance if it gave the smallest hint as to which way things fell.  She was silent.

They drove for an hour on backroads cutting between the coastline and the highway.  He didn’t know the area at all, couldn’t tell if she was lost or driving for the sake of driving and not speaking and keeping him at a distance; keeping the world outside the car at a distance.  No matter where they wound, the sounds of the ocean continued chasing down the car.  Even the wind that rushed past when they reached small straight-aways couldn’t drown out the water.  Their ears had become conch shells.

She kept driving, making loops that she understood and he didn’t.  He wasn’t from here, hadn’t grown up visiting friends here, hadn’t snuck out at night to parties that required passage through dark underbrush and along cliffs that jutted out over the sand and surf.  She knew every one of these curves – they represented a certainty that was out of reach in every other aspect of life, embodied by the man sitting silently next to her.  She was trying to be those things he thought she was.  She was trying to be so many things, not meaning to toy with him or string him along, no matter what he thought at that moment or in the future; unable to pull the trigger on committing to John or just pulling the trigger.  Her thoughts had become the curving roads that protected the homes and forests of this posh peninsula but instead of protecting anything, her thoughts just continued in loops and circles that only served to keep aspects of herself apart for a period of time.

Things had not gone the way Andi had expected.  Not in her relationship, not in her work, not in her life.  John couldn’t be blamed for all of that, at least not two-thirds of it, but he stood in front of her as a symbol.  But she could have a choice in what that symbol represented.  Would he be the strength that guided her toward a happy future, or was he the anchor that tied her to a failing past?

He remained silent, innocently awaiting judgement.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: