I shared my story “Dirty Jazz” with friend Lance Manion who’s featuring guest writers this month.
Visit http://www.lancemanion.com/guest-post-andira-dodge/ and read mine as well as some other really interesting pieces.
long way home
He drove a bit slowly on the quiet road, going out of his way a bit to see if the tree was now the lone hold out. Not in a rush to get home, he was anxious to see if the tree was still awash in golden color. He found himself taking the time to notice how the treeline seemed to meet the sky on the ridge overlooking the road. Driving farther away from town, he was thankful now for the road repairs that had annoyed him and sent him this way the other day. He couldn’t forget the vision of the few splashes of color in the dismal November landscape, how that tree in particular seemed ablaze when most others around it were still, brown, lifeless. He wasn’t the sort that would read much into symbols and such, but it was becoming important to him to see that tree once more before it joined its brethren, dropping its leaves and standing quiet for the winter. He pressed his foot gently, speeding up just enough to keep pace with his breaths. He wondered briefly how he would feel if he came upon the tree and found it bare, naked. For some reason, he remembered seeing his father just before they closed the casket. He didn’t look asleep, as they said. He looked lifeless in every sense. Wearing clothes he would never have worn. Lying still and grey under the stupid makeup. His hands crossed in some inane pose that was supposed to look peaceful. He hoped that tree still had its leaves. He slowed down before the final curve, very thankful this road was so deserted. Like some sort of unveiling, he almost felt before he saw the golden boughs reaching out of the copse of sleeping trees. Tears streaming down his face, he drove home.
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“Have I lost you?” he asked.
“I was never yours to lose,” she answered. “Not really.”
He wondered how that could be when he had memorized the curve of her face and could decipher at least seven of her smiles.
She shifted in her seat, looking ready to bolt. He was reminded of a racehorse chomping at the bit to get out of the gate. But she was no thoroughbred. She was a very damaged human being. How could she leave?
“Where will you go?” he asked.
She stopped her scanning of the room and looked at him directly. She held his gaze a moment before saying softly, “Does it matter?”
He wanted it to matter. He wished the time they had spent meant something.
“Can’t we just go back and…”
She cut him off. “There’s no going back, just like there’s no taking back the things you said.”
“But don’t you see,” he pleaded, “those vicious words were not for you. I was full of those words before you came along. Those same words brought you to me. You’re helping me pour them out.”
She looked down at the ground.
He almost whispered, “Don’t you want to see how the story ends?”
She looked up at him, her eyes brimming with tears.
He crooked a finger under her chin and met her halfway with a kiss.
“Come on,” he said. “Let’s go home.”
She wavered for another moment and then said “I can’t let you destroy me.”
They stood another moment looking at each other, each realizing they had put their heart in the other ‘s hands. Their heads full of stories, they turned and walked home.