And now there is this. The absence of. The angry pissings at the Motel Fatigado: us and them, man and woman, worn out.
We are what we say, what no one wants to hear. We are watered-down gin and roll-your-owns, discount pills, and a rerecorded cassette of Exile on Main Street. We slide across the walkway in loose slippers, and snag our prayers between loose dentures, and glide our weight from bed to toilet with loose bowels. Age, and its body of contempt, is what we have left. We abhor it because we have surrendered our grace, and now we scurry between each guilty deed, unacknowledged.
We are down to the naked essentials of soup and soap, a little dietary fiber, a little packet of sweetener for our morning Nescafé. And I talk, oh, about the precious bullshit of our romantic youth. The folly of uneducated kisses, the clumsiness of our fingers. The complicity between heart and body. And ha!, all that curious, furious desire. Good god, remember that?
And now. Now, we recall … that foolishness! That blessed ignorance of pain, of having no fucking clue about love, about loss, about blood and age. We held hands once-upon-a-time by a shapeless river, and we watched the leaves tap into each other, then feed downstream into infinity. “When we are older,” I promised, “it will be better.” This would be ours, I said, and not just the bridge and not just the warm smell of rain, but this place that was locked inside our heads, and all this stuff that was poured into us, the sweetness of eternal us.
And now. Who was I to make such promises? Do you hear the strain of my voice? I cry for those days. I goddamn cry, with roiling tears, I cry.
And in the meantime, we grew old.
But now, we are still us, right? Am I the only one who remembers it that way? Do you remember, and what do you remember, and does it keep you warm?
And now there is this: we, still together, thank god, but locked inside this particular cage in time; us and them, man and woman, worn out.
And now, it is the absence of, yes, but also the plenty of. We hear what no one will say, and we see what no one else dare look at.
And now, your blood, so tacky on the carpet.
Steven Baird is a transplanted Canadian currently living in Virginia. He is an award-winning graphic artist, but who would rather stay home and raise chickens with his wife Angela, and write things that sooth his jangled soul. He has been writing since age 10, and it has taught him patience and wonder. He is the author of two published novels, "Ordinary Handsome" and "A Very Tall Summer", and is currently working on an untitled third. He features short pieces and nature photography in his blog Ordinary Handsome.