Monday, November 24, 2008

New Beginning 578

I remember the exact way the heel of your hand fit against my back, the pressure squarely at the center. Your wrist brushed the apex of one shoulder blade as your fingers rested on the other, tapping a rhythm only you could hear.

We fit together from the first like the Matryoshka nesting dolls I brought home from Russia. Lenin inside of Stalin and Stalin inside of Gorbachev…their smooth curves fitting together, matching like the single piece of wood from which they were carved.

I miss your touch in lots of ways but none more so than there on my back, where it rested, marking me as yours. All outward signs you have faded. No trace of you remains anywhere but for my soul. Not so easily shrugged aside as a hand on my back. I push and pull, twist and tear but cannot release your grip.

I'm unsure if it's a blessing or my cross to bear, but when I close my eyes, I feel you next to me. Still. I hear hum of the air between us as you stretch your hand from your side and reach for me.

I try to free myself from the spell of her husky voice long enough to say what must be said. It is difficult. Chills run up and down my spine in syncopation. I need to get out of this now, before I end up in a grip I'll never escape.

"Honey," I say, hearing my voice waver like breath in cold air, "I'm afraid you dialed the wrong number."

Opening: Dasha Alexander.....Continuation: Joanna


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:

"Yeah? That's real sweet, Mr. Tyson, but you're all done here so why don't ya just get back in the ring?"


Since you've been gone, my life is one big traffic jam. I have waited, struggled forward and honked the horn impatiently, only to find I am the bottleneck. In the end I have become my own worst enemy, pushing in circles instead of a straight line, then wondering why I always come back to the same place.

I'm stuck in the middle of this no-man's wasteland. I can't go forward, backward or around.
If only, is the mantra of my days and I have wished a thousand times you'd have stayed and fought. But you were a coward and death was your misguided attempt to protect yourself. Only there is no protection. There's no home safe enough, no action succinct enough to keep your heart whole all of the time. Life beats upon you until you are so tired from the struggle that walking away seems the only relief.

How shitty of you to die on me. I should have been allowed to be the one to leave, to turn away from you -- to dump you as you deserved. As I deserved. Instead I'm haunted by your presence even more so now you're gone. Maybe someday I will believe what once was is gone and all that is left is what could have been.


I can never forget the way that you -- so like those famous Russian men -- would eat pickled beetroot and drink cold vodka before bed, and on that tiny mattress you would grab me every time you farted as though it helped you force one out.

It will haunt my dreams until the day I, too, pass away.


I can feel the warm brush of your hand against my cheek as you take the cigarette from my lips, a Galoise from our weekend in Paris, and put it in your mouth. I remember how your body rubbed against mine as you reached for your lighter.

If it hadn't been for the bratwurst and sauerkraut from your meeting in Hamburg, or that silver lighter from Amsterdam, or that hum of air between us, perhaps I'd remember more...


Evil Editor said...

I find this somewhat mesmerizing, even though nothing's happening. I wouldn't mind a clue whether it's a man or woman, though I assume a man would mostly miss a woman's touch somewhere other than his back.

There's a missing word in each of the last two paragraphs.


"Lots of" is not an expression I would expect based on the rest of the piece. The rest is more formal sounding and precise.

If no trace remains, I would say all outward signs have vanished, not faded. Though you can do without that entire sentence, as "no trace of you remains" says the same thing.

Anonymous said...

I love the second paragraph. It is haunting and poetic. By the third paragraph I think the magic starts to wane just a bit, but overall this is nice.

wendy said...

Very nice! Your story weaves a spell that settles in comfortably. Needs polishing, though.

I think naming the leaders on the dolls might take from it a bit. I've been to Russia and in the airport alone their were hundreds of these dolls with hundreds of different faces. The ones with the Russian leaders on them were a momentary amusement quickly lost in the beauty and significance of the others on the shelves.

Loved this:
"...hum of the air between us..."

The music is in what happens between the notes as much as in the notes themselves.

This was a lovely start to my morning.

Anonymous said...

I completely disagree about taking out the leaders' names. It's a great detail and beautifully written. Maybe it tells us something about the character since those are the dolls she bought. (Although the jump from Stalin to Gorbachev was a little jarring--would the set not have had Kruschev, Brezhnev, etc.?)

The first two paragraphs reminded me of Jhumpa Lahiri's last "short" story in her collection, "Unaccustomed Earth," which begins, "I had seen you before, too many times to count..." Lahiri is know for her lack of showiness but her quiet, presisely detailed writing. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but she did win the Pulitzer...

Jeb said...

Lovely evocation, but for me it goes on too long. A frisson in the third paragraph, and a firm yearning in the fourth, I become impatient for a tidbit of real, hard information.

benwah said...

I know when I'm thinking longingly of the touch of a lover, my mind drifts to cute representations of totalitarian dictators and birthmarked proponents of glasnost.

pacatrue said...

I also liked this very much, but think you can cut the entire 3rd paragraph without losing anything. It is only this one paragraph where I start nitpicking on sentences, thinking it's wandering, seeing it as overwritten, etc. Just cut that one paragraph and keep on.

Anonymous said...

I know when I'm looking at other people's writing and the feedback they've gotten, that my mind drifts to hoping the author won't be fazed by unconstructive comments encased in a rude, crusty shell.

writtenwyrdd said...

There's something compelling about this, but it's not my cup of tea, so I'll keep my comments to this: I wouldn't have been able to keep reading this much longer with nothing occurring. The writing is beautiful, but there's no story showing up yet.

ChrisEldin said...

I like the tone of the first paragraph very much.
I like the second paragraph, but also the Lenin inside Stalin made me gag a bit. There are those visuals we should just never have...
Perhaps the third is overwritten, but I think this really depends on what happens in the fourth paragraph.
Good luck, author.

Dave F. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave F. said...

If I could rush around the house, cook dinner and SPELL, I'd be dangerous. It even rained today!

I like the comparison in the second paragraph because of the contrast of nesting dolls being like a soft caress compared to the the harsh reality of Soviet dictators.
But I am with EE in that I want this linked to a real person in a hurry. Like right after the second paragraph now that you have the reader's attention with a startling comparison.

talpianna said...

For some reason (perhaps I need to be in therapy), this reminds me irresistibly of THIS:

I ache for the touch of your lips, Dear,
But much more for the touch of your whips, Dear.
You can raise welts
Like nobody else,
As we dance to the Masochism Tango.

Let our love be a flame, not an ember,
Say it's me that you want to dismember.
Blacken my eye,
Set fire to my tie,
As we dance to the Masochism Tango.

At your command
Before you here I stand,
My heart is in my hand. Ecch!
It's here that I must be.
My heart entreats,
Just hear those savage beats,
And go put on your cleats
And come and trample me.
Your heart is hard as stone or mahogany,
That's why I'm in such exquisite agony.

My soul is on fire,
It's aflame with desire,
Which is why I perspire
When we tango.

You caught my nose
In your left castanet, Love,
I can feel the pain yet, Love,
Ev'ry time I hear drums.
And I envy the rose
That you held in your teeth, Love,
With the thorns underneath, Love,
Sticking into your gums.

Your eyes cast a spell that bewitches.
The last time I needed twenty stitches
To sew up the gash
That you made with your lash,
As we danced to the Masochism Tango.

Bash in my brain,
And make me scream with pain,
Then kick me once again,
And say we'll never part.
I know too well
I'm underneath your spell,
So, Darling, if you smell
Something burning, it's my heart.
Excuse me!

Take your cigarette from its holder,
And burn your initials in my shoulder.
Fracture my spine,
And swear that you're mine,
As we dance to the Masochism Tango.

Beth said...

I could not picture what was supposed to be happening in the first paragraph -- is someone being murdered? Are they dancing? Making love? It wasn't until I read the whole piece that I understood what was meant.

I'd recommend starting with the fourth paragraph. Maybe save the nesting dolls image (which is striking) for another place. But it seems to me that paragraph four might actually lead to a story, whereas all the other paragraphs just lead to more musing.