Sunday, May 20, 2012
It has been a LONG goddamn time since I posted anything. This is a sort of mediocre, sort of strange story that I wrote because I felt like I was going to lose it if I didn't write SOMETHING. I don't know if I'd call this "depressing" or "cute" or what, but at least--unlike most of my writings--no one dies.
Ladies and gentlemen--the entire zero of you who read this blog--I present my first "full" (if you choose to apply that label to it; I wouldn't, necessarily) writing in almost half a year.
"I think that every day, no matter where you are--unless you're in the middle of nowhere, I guess--you meet someone who says something--who says some variant of, 'I've lived here all my life.'" The man (who was really just playing at being a man, the struggling hairs poking out unevenly over his face) speaking flicked a gnat off of his arm thoughtfully and sighed into the chilly spring air. It was nearing dusk, now, and the figures of the man and his companion were beginning the slow march towards blending in with everything, if not saved by their obvious height; they were, after all, standing in an open field. White tarps covered bales of hay and loomed eerily throughout the space as the colors, though still stark, grayed.
"Eh," his companion snorted. She was surveying the quickly fading horizon and his voice had scarcely registered to her. Her long, gangly limbs had earned her the nickname "Stork" years ago, and--as she herself hadn't moved from home--it had followed her as she stood resolutely still. Her companion was hardly offended, being well familiar with her offish manner.
"Seriously, no matter where I've been. You always hear it, man. People telling you they've always lived somewhere." He mused quietly for a moment. Stork drew a cigarette to her lips with long, even fingers. The smoke began to curl upward, untraceable by either set of eyes, as he continued, "But what's most interesting is that some people say it with pride. I feel like--maybe it's just me--I feel like I'd be ashamed of that, you know?" A gnarled, brown-gray fence post supported him by his surprisingly well-muscled arm. An instant, and he considered his company, eyeing her awkwardly for the first time in several minutes. It felt, to him, like remembering something long forgotten: the very mild shock was much the same as he waited for a reaction to his clumsy words. Unsurprisingly, considering that it was Stork, none came.
His chest expanded and released as he felt a tiny growth of relief. Another moment and he was convinced that Stork would continue to not react to anything--she never did--and that further discussion was warranted. This time, he dared ask his companion a direct question: "Stork, you feel ashamed of it?"
"Living here?" came her reply, always more quickly than he ever guessed. This fact always stilted the conversations. Stork never minded--or maybe she didn't give a fuck. That seemed likely. He watched her with a sense of anxiety that he didn't care for as she took her time--she always did--rolling the question around in her mind. Finally--"Eh." She took a deep drag, her long, straight hair (did she straighten it? He didn't think she would really be that vain, to take all the time to straighten all that hair every day, and he never saw a hint of curl) falling towards her waist, wispy near the ends. The lack of real emphatic reply hung much heavier than her actual response in the darkening air, and one of the two struggled with its weight for several moments before, again, remembering his present company.
He dropped it and it fluttered into the night on a current of strong-smelling tobacco smoke.
Many more minutes fell into the field before their eyes. He was bored, but didn't want to show it; Stork seemed perfectly content, chain-smoking and breathing in the sullied air. Looking down, he could see that the hem of her cheap blue jeans were muddied from the short walk out to the fields. Somewhere, in one of the surrounding pastures, a cow bayed threateningly.
"Joshua. Boy," Stork finally said, the words even and clean and smooth despite the amount of smoking she'd just done, "I'm ready to head back." He nodded and they turned and walked without any further exchange.
Sometimes, Stork frustrated him. Alternately, and fairly regularly (enough to sustain the odd kind of friendship they had), she amused him in the most confusing way. The way she insisted on calling everyone by his full name was sometimes an endearing quirk, but tonight it was largely annoying. Josh found himself unable to stop the frustration he felt from burgeoning, becomingly stupidly, disproportionately strong, and he almost seized Stork by her stupid thin wrist and said, "Would you fucking cut that out." But that would have been childish, and Josh instead pressed his hands resolutely to his sides as Stork swaggered ahead of him, her limbs thin and her body small. She night made her look even more like a fairy than usual, with her tiny build glowing in the hushed grays that cooled everything around them. She looked so fragile.
"Hey," he said hoarsely, trying to recant the unexpected syllable even as it left his thin lips. Though he regretted shattering the perfect silence that she seemed to so revel in, and wished automatically for her not to have heard the desperate cry for her attentions, he was even more ashamed that she did not acknowledge him, that she continued to stride unbroken and graceful before his anxious eyes. For several seconds, the much more firmly-built being of the two (the only one, really, who seemed more than a phantom in that field that night) paused and breathed and grew upset before, finally, his lips birthed another syllable, fresh and dripping with the pain of his affections: "Stork."
As though he had summoned her she turned, graceful and with eyes glowing gray, her hair oddly still and also flowing, a constant stream over her smallness. Even then she failed to address him at all but with her eyes, and her body towards him not even wholly (a fact that killed him so immensely, for so small an infraction). He imagined her eyebrows, flat and uninterested in anything but returning home. He faced her, ashamed, and breathed in. Graciously, she did not prompt him for explanation, but--sensing in the way that the opportunistic smoker will that the pause would be lengthy--called another cigarette forth from her bag in her fingers. A small flash of light that briefly illuminated her sharp features (smudged eye makeup) lit the end, which smoldered vaguely in Josh's peripheral vision as he looked directly into her veiled eyes.
A pause grew, bloated and wilted before them, and he sensed his timing falling from his grip. Having so little control frustrated him. He didn't understand how to achieve her gorgeously pregnant spaces, the places that sat between her words and created expectation; yet Stork was universally acknowledged to be painfully awkward. His own admiration for her conversational skills surprised him, struck him as ridiculous. Angrily he tried to slash them down, but became again aware of her attention still (strangely) on him.
His breaths came deep, in long sighs that promised and ultimately hid unspoken words. The secrets being revealed grew deeper with each sharp intake--whatever it was seemed now impossible to say, a serious and deep thing. Expectation had been created, yes, but it was of the wrong sort. He flushed to realize that Stork was possibly growing concerned. That was something unreachable, an achievement too high for any man, and the attention drove him into an ecstatic bout of testing her limits, of continuing to not speak.
Finally, Stork sighed deeply as well, and flicked the butt of her now-finished cigarette (quickly smoked, to be sure) somewhere in the dampened grasses of the field about them. He expected nothing and got, instead, a simple question: "Wanna come over, Joshua?"
The perfect blend of casual ("Wanna") and stupidly formal (that fucking habit, goddamnit Stork) made him want to reach again for her--would you fucking--goddamnit--Stork, goddamnit--but he didn't. His hands moved to her face and she responded with a chilly stare before turning her face away. She breathed out onto his suddenly-near-hers face and it smelled stale--cigarettes, drying her sweet mouth. Her lips gave dispassionately to his kiss, and once he'd moved away, feeling proud and disappointed together, she paused for a few seconds before turning her body decisively around and continuing the walk back to his truck. He stood staring, confused and excited in the way only a young man can be, before closing the new abysmal air between them with only a few strides.