[If you haven’t read the prelude to Mind of Matter, sets the mood for the whole story! Check it out! Thanks for your continued support.]
Give or take a few, for an indeterminate number of reasons.
And of course, subtract accordingly for the last three months… to account for the habitual occasions in which he felt as though the couch may be more susceptible to his heavy metal concert of snores than she- or to mirror her brooding frame of mind, perhaps the idea of the two of them being confined by the thirty-six square foot space, that was their mattress, was as repulsing to him as it had been to her.
Either way – 4,380. That was then.
This, this was now.
No need to give or take, consider or reconsider. With no calculation necessary, she can tell you that this is the first. The first night she’s laid on her left side with her right arm stretched before her atop flat, cool, and more significantly… empty, linen. It’s not as though she’d never situated herself in the bed devoid of Cj’s presence. There were undoubtedly instances, in the 12 year they were married, that he or she found themselves entangled in sheets with heavy lidded eyes minutes or even hours before the other had even considered turning in. Especially as of recently. But, this.. this was different..
His physical presence wasn’t something she had desired in years. And his emotional presence had been unobtainable since early on. The wiry, disheveled patch of hair that thinly coated his torso hadn’t caressed her cheek in so long that the thought it ever occurred almost seemed delusional. If not for the faint scent of his De’vershon cologne in the air, the darkened distance that was within her sight, would have been enough to extinguish her musings of his prior existence ever in the room.
Their bed was one of kind, a king mattress atop planks she had nailed her self to the frame CJ had bolstered against a refurbished headboard. They’d found the headboard together at some run down thrift store off the coast. They’d sanded it together, stained it together, and the first time it saw any damage, they had been together – in every sense of the word. She reached up feeling the indented surface that had met with diamond of her engagement ring mid-orgasm. A scratch, a small crack in the surface, she’d created in their project. Had she done the same with their relationship? Was this her fault?
The room was dark, but for her, there wasn’t enough darkness. This wasn’t a presence, it was an absence; an awareness of absence. Despite the empty bed before her, there didn’t seem to be enough space. Her naked body felt heavy against the pillow-to padding beneath her. The longer she lay shifting and turning, the more dominating his scent became. She exhaled to fan it from her senses only to be met with a suffocating fog as it returned her blow. She became overwhelmed with her yearning for a state of nothingness; empty. The idea that inside a single moment of sleep lies an alternate reality, respite, devoid of the reoccurring imagery she was feeling forced to endure. But, the silence, the smells, the lingering reminiscence, his absence – it all felt exorbitant. The sheets become a web tangling her feet amidst their sticky grip and in any position, the cushion her head rest against felt dense and rigid.
She gave up.
First, aggressively tossing the pillow into the darkness, hearing it hit the wall adjacent the bed, which was followed by a long scraping. The large metal framed photo hanging above the dresser slid down, landing with a thud, before falling forward. The glass cracked against the hardwood, but didn’t shatter. Then, She ripped her feet and legs from the knot of covers dominating her and stood next to the bed, her right foot with the tail of the sheet still wrapped around it.
The fan’s oscillation seemed loud and prominent. Why couldn’t she hear that before? Where was that repetitive hum moments ago when it could’ve served to mask the overbearing cogitation that encompassed her mind? The neon glow of the alarm clock on the wooden table next to her, blinked, mocking her frustrations. 09:32. That’s it? Just nine-thirty? She encased her face in her palms and vigorously rubbed, poking the corners of her eyes. Stumbling over the pile of linen now laying amuck and shaking her right leg free, she reached for the switch across the room, just inside the door frame.
As the light flickered on she was able to steady her gate and stood staring at her reddened cheeks in the mirror of the vanity next to her. She reached down shuffling through a dense pile of clothes she’d pulled from the dryer earlier that evening and reasoned with herself to throw in the floor before she laid down.
“Folding and sorting laundry was a task for married women,” was the thought that had cast a smile and made her decision.
She lifted a black, cotton dress with thin straps, from the pile and turned to the mirror, holding the dress against her figure; her mind was swarmed with memories.
In that dress, she and CJ had shared a number of occasions, but their 10th anniversary dinner trumped her reminiscence. She recalled sitting across from him in the booth of Arny’s, a local Italian cuisine they frequented. Just after drinks came, sliding her foot from her new high heels and caressing his leg sensually with her toes. She watched his smile shape into the crooked grin she’d fell in love with time and time again. His beckoning brought her toe just before his thigh. She dropped it with a teasing giggle. It was so easy then, to feel and to be felt. She took a deep breath, snapping out of the memory, and facing herself again in the mirror.
She slid the dress down over her shoulders and tugged the cinched waist down over her breast. The v-neck fell down atop her breast and she began situating the sewn-in pads into the crease. She reached into her cleavage to set each boob in place, puckering them up with invitation.
She leaned in toward the mirror and grabbed the lip pencil she’d tossed atop her make-up bag the night before. She carefully drew the outline of her lips on her mouth. Her tiny black-handled brush moved without wavering. She studied the outline momentarily before smearing it with her forefinger creating a full redden kiss. With an eyebrow pencil she’d thrown in next to the lip-liner, she filled in the spaces she’d wiped clear just moments before. She ruffled her long brown hair, which was frizzed by her feuded attempt at sleep, but still held some body from the curls of the evening before. She thought of her face as rather plump and her eyes to appear weak and tired. But she was wrong. She appeared strangely dignified to others, her eyes bright yet mysterious, perhaps of promiscuity or carelessness. The green iris around each grasped the attention of anyone she spoke to, sparkling and demanding her presence. Her eyelashes were long and dark, undoubtedly one of her best features.
She stood erect turning and backing up to the mirror. Her back was relatively straight as she inhaled to reduced the slight gut that puckered out just before her. Her rear was plump, too plump, she thought, smearing it down aggressively with both hands. “Good enough,” she hissed, rolling her eyes.
She left without hesitation, only stopping to grab her purse hung on the hook by the door.
She left the clothes piled where they were. She left the metal picture frame face-flat, broken next to the bed and the sheets and covers tangled where they’d fallen. She left the bedroom light on. She left the God forsaken scent of De’vershon… right where he had left it.
She pulled shut the driver door of the old, dark blue ford escape that had been accompanying her for some time now.
As she turned the key, stirring the engine, the radio sang out, 93.4 FM. The seatbelt alarm signaled her with instruction and the radio blared with life of its own. It began skipping itself through stations… FM 102.6, AM 366, FM 97.7, AM, scratch, scribble… a thud of the speakers.
“Piece of crap!” She aggressively whispered to herself banging her fist into the dash. The radio adjusted accordingly, as what she presumed was a short of the wires corrected.
Cd 1, track 4, took front stage. “Oh, How fitting,” she thought. Aerosmith’s “What it Takes” rang out and she hummed along…
With the SUV in drive, she made a sharp right to put it perpendicular in the drive and slammed the gas. She took of down the dirt path, releasing her foot from the throttle and watched in the rear view as the dust settled around the rear. The car slowly pulled forward. She glimpsed back to make sure the necessary supplies were still laid out in the seat behind her. Then she glance back at the house several times.
Twelve years ago, just days after their honeymoon she and CJ had bombarded the doorway with boxes of clutter that the movers left behind in the old apartment. He had pulled her into the yard and closed the door backing her down the steps and making her face the front of their newly constructed two-story, ranch-style home. Holding hands with Cj, looking at this exciting step in their relationship upon it’s completion, had made her cheeks harden in a smile. She’d giggled in anticipation the whole drive their.
It was her dream home, with little exception. She and CJ had chosen a layout and put upon it their own critiques. When she wanted the ceiling in the master raised, he’d concurred, joking he “reckoned” she need “more space for that big head.” Most of what she desired in the home matched his demands and almost anything that couldn’t be agreed upon went in her favor. Almost.
She had begged with enduring eyes that they wrap a white-wooden, railed porch from one side of the house to the other. The contractors suggested the rails meet up with siding along the garage. Once the professionals (as Cj ceaselessly reminded her) had offered their prospective, Cj’s mind was made. He called it compromise.
“You’re getting your porch, honey, it’s just not going all the way around both sides. That’s excessive.”
In her often passive nature, she didn’t push the issue, telling herself “marriage is a compromise, this is the first of many, I’m sure.”
Looking back now, she realized that, that one decision was a testimony to the entirety of their future together. She was a dreamer, creative with a hint of bizarre. What she wanted of life often superseded the expectation of most. CJ loved this about her but her ideas would rubbed him the wrong way. She’d present, with much charm, her newest scheme and CJ would reciprocate with a slightly less-eccentric idea. She’d passively “compromise” and find herself resenting the final result. It was always her creations, but his way. Everything had to fit under his illusion of the American dream he sought after.
She hated that garage. The completed porch had been a vision she’d only dreamed of before its completion. Standing on the porch, the view of the two-acres surrounding their home was breathtaking. A forest of pines and american plane trees surrounded the perimeter which was outlined by a dark brown wooden fence she’d maintained over the years. Fields rowed and farmed adjacent the fence met with the front yard, only separated by a dirt path they’d had gravel laid on. She’d had the drive lined with intermittent rose bushes and paperbark maples. She refused the destruction of the twin oaks that set a yard or so from the porch, framing the house. The green grass that wasn’t tilled, was speckled with dandelions and daisies. She’d spent hours planting wild flowers and vines around the porch. Her vision was met with the almost perfect directional pattern of the sun as it rose and fell on the north-west corner of their lot. Then, there was that damn garage.
On the mornings she found herself up before CJ she’d throw on her robe, roast her a cup of coffee, and make her way to the porch to sway in the wooden swing her grandfather had passed down to her. From the swing, on the right was the peaceful landscape she’d always hope for and on the left, the rest of her view… was the crimson siding that framed the garage.
“You should’ve just married the damn garage,” she scowled at Cj on so many occasions.
As if it wasn’t enough that the garage often obstructed her attempt at tranquility, it had also been quite the obstruction to hers and Cj’s relationship in the last year. Most nights he resorted to the garage fumbling with trinkets, parts, and other junk; his hands covered in grease. He was clinging to the absurdity that with some miraculous turn of the wrench, one part or another might start humming differently than it had before. His dinner would cold awaiting his arrival and she’d tire of sitting up doing the same. She’d retreat to the bathroom and drown her thoughts in a bubble-bath, reading the latest erotica she’d bought, while the Jets of the jacuzzi tub thumped her back and sides. She began to long for the same affection the author of each novel so eloquently described. She told herself sultry bubble-baths were her thing and junk was his. She’d be in bed before he even came inside and the idea that he would eat, shower, and join her in time for the pillow-talk they had shared in the years before was alluded. She lay staring at the photo on their bedside table. The photo they took of themselves just outside their new home, the day they moved in. The smiling girl in the photo mocked her. That girl, that smile, it was gone.
Her final thought before pulling out of the drive: “I’ll burn that picture tonight, too. I’ll put it right on top.”