Twisting Time  

Issue 36 by Gary Bolick

Twisting Time  

“On the animal kingdom. Consumed by theory, not practical applications.
But each one of these species has to be studied in isolation, it is useless to identify a particular trait in one animal then assign that same behavior to another, different animal.”

Jabir ibn Hayyan – Alchemist
circa 765 A.D.

JENGA, yes, JENGA and rain. Both are safe for all ages, right? At the beach, sheets of rain rather than rays of sunshine coating the beach. JENGA! Throw in a slumber party game, a few choice words, a little alcohol, nothing too severe: Pinot Grigio, and wait. Now add a little, no, a lot more rain, bingo! Problem solved, right?

A thunderhead. No, not just a passing storm, Medusa's head covered the horizon. Bluish-green clouds morphing into snarling, jet-black that sent shards of lightening dancing off the Atlantic. We, Deb and I, had just dropped the last suitcase on the fifth floor and were admiring the view. Boom! Lights flicker, microwave, fridge and stove all gurgle, then all the clocks start flashing 12:00.

Sheets of thick, sideways-blowing rain covered the ocean, smashed and thrashed the picture window. Since there were no hurricane or tornado warnings we headed for the bedroom, positive that after a few hours of down time we would be relaxed and satisfied with not a care in the word, save for drinks and dinner. We were positive the sun would be setting as we toasted the beginning of a long Labor Day weekend. It was to be our last stretch of significant time together before Deb left on a three-month sabbatical in Venice.

Friday night fell face-first into Saturday morning, then afternoon and night. 'Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow . . .' became Sunday afternoon. Monday? A travel day. I was driving back to Winston after putting Deb on a plane out of Myrtle Beach to Kennedy. Desperate.

"I'm sore," Deb said, "Enough!"

No, not coy, come hither, giggling banter; just plain irritation and anger.

"There is a mind connected to this lower body."

Then the rain paused, finally. Nope, pausing only to turn its gnarly head inward. There it found Deb and me glaring at one another. I actually heard, or I thought I did, the rain, laugh.

A thunderclap, the lights flickered: 12:00 flashing. Deb laughed, I did hear that, at first, derisively, then sarcastically, finally shaking her head, cursing.

"Go on, Mr. Flintstone! Go on and get your club, asshole! Just one minor request before you have your way. On the back of my head, I want to hold on to this face."

Another hard blast of wind scattered buckshot-like rain on the picture window. Not a soul on the beach. Mist and fog hung like Spanish moss, making it nearly impossible to discern water from sky or ocean from sand; all outward and inward perspective was lost.

Staring at one another, the last forty-eight hours of intimacy had suddenly changed polarity. Blind, magnetic attraction had assumed the opposite pole; each of us retreating into the safest corner, possible: the tiny, broom-sized closet of ourselves. Huddling, we both hunkered down into the rock-solid-fortress of a perfect, revised version of me.

I remember that! Time whispered, Sure! A real gem and jewel, you were, sure.

Yes, me-in-that-time, that wonderous, go-to moment that lies at the bottom of everyone's well of memories, easily dredged up in the most difficult of situations that echoes out, "Fine! OK! Don't need this shit, 'cause, yeah! See? See that? That's who I am . . . me! Got it? Asshole!"

"Go on, pick a good one, the best. One moment-person-place that has been used and reused so often, even I can't keep it straight. Perfect! Now, slap the other, the one standing right in front of you, slap 'um silly with it until your own all the space, again. What? Having a little trouble getting started? Steady now, good! Now pedal, I won't let go until I know you're safe! You, Jackson, go first."

Where else? It had to be that day. Spring, Paris, running from the storm. Then, the day cleared, instantaneously. She laughed, stroked my face, then we downed the espresso and left. Her hand and arm threaded through my own so effortlessly, my senses seemed to be extended out through her and then returned to me, renewed, fresh, revelatory.

"See it? Up there on the corner, the old marker broken, you can barely make out the swan's neck: Rue des Cygnes. He, yes, the wonderfully disturbed genius, Baudelaire, just one of his many places in the city. Yes, he saw it and thought of Zeus with Leda and how Paris was in decline, no longer a place for gods and dreams. Careful, though, now it's crazy with prostitutes, easy, sweet, that one is smiling at you. It's you, sweet. Now, I see it so clearly through you.

"Surviving here, wrestling, cajoling, trying to make time obedient, allows a young girl, woman the chance to hide and catch her breath. But mostly hide until, yes, then you came along, a dream deposited in a beggar's bowl."

Another scattershot of rain, rattling the windows. Deb looked across the room, first directly and then through me.

Shaking its head, time . . . we both heard it, now, murmuring its challenge and lament of, "Always constructing a series of protective boxes, each of you, hell the whole damned lot of you, nothing more than silly Chinese puzzle boxes taking one instant, persona or purpose to hide, place it into another and another and another. Pity that, I . . . sorry, where are my manners? You, Deb, please, it should have been ladies, first, please, go on."

Deb turned away to look out of the picture window, to stare back into the same horizonless tableau. As she hovered there, she began to hear an old, familiar voice in her head, that of a little girl, watching the mature version of herself, remembering. Now, though, she was running both ways now, seeing herself as the woman she had dreamt of becoming while simultaneously holding onto the woman desperate to be released from the time, place and person, here.

"The canals in Venice, the sinking city, the rush of water rising and falling, all of it was both a seduction and a point of revulsion. I mean, what do I expect to find there that I'm not already dreading, leaving here. Locked up with no key, and all the names and places we reach out for, think we found in the past and try to transfer to the future. Yes, I heard her name, more than once. Heard him, longing for her in ways that I can't even imagine. Still, I'm sure I said, maybe even shouted a name myself. Probably on purpose just to even the score. Will we always, after finishing the wrestling, touching, probing and release, roll over and look at one another and sigh, and say or at least think it, Yes, it's you, just you. Isn't that the problem?"

Deb held her hand up, mimicking the firing of a hand gun to her temple. It was at that moment I knew that we both had fled, jumped free from one another down onto the still battered shore, ocean, sky, but nothing answered. No resolution in sight, just more rain, so, of course, retreat.

Jackson? Continue. Where was it? What were you saying?

Sea oats lining the shore, beaten, glistening and wet, plastered down. Yes, silly, but all I could see was that . . . a shining pompadour, and her surprise and wonder and delight.

"Hear, listen, I found this in Memphis, I'm sure you, maybe no one in Pairs, or France for that matter, has ever heard this, his first, early, yes his best music. Me? Guilty as charged, American and southern."

"Please, sweet, play it, here, below the Steinway where I've made a palette. Candles and a chilled Sauternes."

Here, still, here. Both of us, still here. Now.

"So?"

We heard the challenge from time, again, together.

Yes, that is the problem, so.

Deb nodded, then turned to smile at me, then looked back out at the ocean, again.

Another blast of sleet and wind slammed into the window. Gently stroking her shoulder, a light kiss, another blast of wind. A long pause, her shoulder less taut, relaxing. So, was there an exit? An off-ramp back to where it all started? The lock seemed to be loosening, rattling, jangling, the pent-up hounds howling.

"So?"

Looking back, smirking, Deb shook her head,

"Not a chance, sailor, no."

Extracting herself from the moment and me, Deb walked into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator door, pulled out a bottle of Pinot Grigio, poured a glass, began to sip on it and looked blankly back and out through the window into the gray, featureless sky. Sipping and looking, then another sip, her eyes began to roam and then stopped. An explosion of laughter filled the condo. Laughter that was boundless, open, and free; all emanating from, what sounded like, a little-girl-lost retracing her steps back to the lost path, the way home.

"So?"

"Deb, is everything, OK? Deb?"

"Deb? Wanna play? Darcy's got a great game! We're all down stairs!"

"Deb, I . . . I've never heard you laugh, like that."

Filled with adolescent giddiness, Deb sprinted across the great-room, dropped to the floor and reached under the coffee table, pulling out: JENGA.

"Perfect! A little, no lots of wine, and the twisting tower of truth! Haven't played 'Truth in the Tower' since I was in junior-high school. What ya say? I told you, I mean it! Chastity belt's on for the rest of the day. So, you in?"

I nodded, fetched a glass, filled it, and then sat down on the floor across from Deb, the tower rising up between us.

"Me, first! I, wait, sorry. You don't know how to play. No one does. It was a game we came up with at sleepovers. Shut up! I know! Chick, adolescent girl thing. Whatever. It's, it was fun. Funny, though, when I think of it now, these tiles brought out more truth then, than the thousands of, quote-unquote, serious talks I've had as an adult. It's the, ah, well you'll see. It's all about the challenge!

"So?"

"I pull a tile and if it, the tower, stays up, I say one word. Could be a name, place, idea, whatever. No thinking, I mean it. The very first thing that pops in your head, you have to say it.

No holding back. I —"

She paused, her expression changed. Deb looked away and then back, saying,

"We've made love a hundred different ways during this God-forsaken weekend. Answers, now. I need some answers. I mean, you just want let up. It was nice, no, wonderful . . . until, well, it's not me, is it? I'm not sure you're even making love to me. There's something else there, isn't there?

"I, no, enough, let's play. Remember first thing that pops into your head. Believe me, sailor, I'll know if you're lying. How? The tell. Any pause, any hesitation and you're busted, sailor."

Deb eased the first tile out. The tower remained upright, resilient and strong. No swaying or twisting, that is until she said, "Simone."

Without hesitation I answered,

"Refrains . . . Simone said, refrains."

"So?"

Silence.

"Refrains, and she adored long, silent stretches of time. Reminded her of a certain stairwell. A little girl waiting, longing, and so, the world walked up, one by one, all wrapped up in revolving time and she made dolls out of them. After that, she arranged them just so. Yes, just so. Then she asked me to tea, yes, tea and pastries at La Coupole."

"So?"

"So, yes, I looked at her and before I could say anything, she pressed her finger to my lips and told me to remain silent. We went to the Louvre, l'Orangerie, the apartment."

"So?"

"So, you see? It's the sound of that, yes, that sound won't stop. Yes, the dissonant two-toned siren of the ambulance arriving and departing."

"So?"

"So, it was what the EMT said, 'No! Only immediate family may ride!' "

"So?"

More silence.

Deb pushed the tower over. Tiles littered the glass table top. I could not look up. I knew she was staring directly into the top of my head. It was always some version of the same weird, broken record. Repeating over and over again. Yes, the same, old refrain. Finally, I looked up and to my surprise, Deb was smiling, saying,

"That good, huh? Wow, that, ah, that really explains . . . everything. No, don't apologize. It's good to know, now. No . . . no way you and I can go on. Maybe all this rain and time were, well, a Godsent. Speaking of that, God, God do I ever feel sorry for you. No shit, I do! Where on earth . . . the universe can you go and ever hope to find another like her, again? No! Don't say a word. Believe me! I know! Really know how hard you tried to find her, over and over again, believe me, sailor, I know."

Silence.

"So?"

"Tragic events always force a reinvention of time. The individual is forced to go inward, so far down into their own sensibility, if you will, to protect it, that once they come up for air, to turn a phrase, then the only real connections they can, possibly, hope to achieve, those, ah connections, have to be filtered through the same tragic time and the events that forced them, there, in the first place. Interesting loop of survival . . . though, seems we, I mean, all of mankind does it in one form or shape or another just to, well, survive. Yes, no? You don't agree?"

More silence.

"So?"

Nodding and smiling at another new tower.

"Thanks Doc, two hundred, right? No, I mean I understand about surviving. It's the aftermath, the quality of that, ah, surviving. May I ask you a question for next week?"

"Yes, please, I want to hear it from you."

"Is it ever possible to break free from a pitch-perfect stretch of time?"

"I win, again.

New tower."

Silence.

Pull one more tile.

Teetering, twisting, and then collapsing.

"Interesting question, Mister . . . sorry, I mean, Jackson. Interesting.

Next week, same time?"

Silence.

"Yes, fine, same time, all the time, isn't that the problem?"

More silence.

A smile and a nod.

More tiles.

A new tower.

Another week.

Same time.

New tower

"So, still having the lucid dreams, and the insatiable, ah, need to connect physically, ah, sorry, I see it in your face. The seventh, ah, failed, sorry, I meant, interrupted relationship since, yes, sorry, again, it's right here in my notes, Simone."

Silence.

Depends on how much time, I.

We can go longer, today, as long as you like.

OK, go on, you pull the first tile.

Cleanly out.

Good.

You were saying?

Refrains.

"Yes, that word, again, interesting, it really is. I almost, sorry, but I have to tell you. Probably should not have waited this long. Whatever. Yes. It stirs me as well. Yes, just the mention of Paris, and a woman, connected to the city in that time. I can hear the boots stamping. Even the light was different. No, I hesitated to tell you. Thought we could figure this out sooner. I, still, find myself almost too close to it, even now. Not much older than you were, when I was there in '43. Stationed there until after the liberation. Yes, sorry, Jackson, go on.

Refrains?"

"Please."

 

 

“Thirteen, all suggestion, fraught with possibilities. Neither a woman nor a little girl. At my age, during that time, I was a reflection of those times. Between the two wars, in Paris. How did Eliot put it? ‘Twenty years largely wasted.’ Mother had just won the Pris de Rome, she loved her Steinway more than Father or me. Father? When he wasn’t at La Coupole bending his elbow with all the other painters living in Montparnasse, he was sequestered in his atelier . . . sorry, sweet, his studio.

“Confusing, the three of us. I was loved, but never figured it out, completely. Their affection reminded me of two lovers tapped out. Worn and frayed, but still there, still acknowledging something akin to love, but still not sure. Once sated, fulfilled, there is always that pause to reflect if, well, both of you asking, Is another round will be worth it?

"Early in morning I barely saw them. In the evening, they were spent. She from practicing or teaching, and he smelling of paint, sweat and sex. Yes, he would often bed his models, so that I was little more than, as I said, an after-thought.

"Price you pay for being caught square in the middle, between two colossi. Still, at times, father was sweet, calling me Nikè, his own little victory over cynicism, and he was content. I learned later that it was on those days, those sweet, like fresh-gingerbread-warm days, it was on those days, he had slept with a model.

"Mother? She insisted on calling me Manx. She said that even though I remained quiet enough, I was always under foot. Imagine that? Left in the stairwell, banished to my room, it was simple. Mother could not tolerate any real or potential interruption to her, almost meditative approach, to playing. Even the thought of someone potentially stepping into the room while she played disrupted her concentration.

“She was seeing a therapist. No, not to mend her relationship with Father and me, it was to learn how to block out the audience. Mother was astounding when she thought no one could possibly be listening. Immediately after she received the news that she had won the Pris de Rome, she called her performance, ‘Pedestrian.’ Imagine that? But it was true; she wasn’t nearly as good when playing before an audience. Once, on that rare, no, the only time, when Father picked me up from school, that day, he simply deposited me in the flat and left, mumbling something about a commission, a portrait, yes, as I said, another woman. I believe the ‘commission’ was a dancer at the La Moulin Rouge, anyway, Mother thought I was still at school. When I heard the door open, I sat perfectly still in my room, and listened.

“The Steinway seemed to weep, then purr, and then ascend to a plane of sound that, I suppose, is what Plato meant by the one ideal on which all of music aspires to imitate. Seems Mother could only step outside of her paranoia and neurosis while playing in her own, self-imposed solitary confinement. She was a prisoner to her own sensibility. Must be where I got it from; where I started to fall into my own vault of regret and doubt.

“Sorry, that’s a little strange. Still, it's true. You must learn that about me. Everything must be filtered through my own particular sense of love. Sorry, I know it is strange, but I, I've never been able to change it, not since I learned it, or perhaps began using it as a defense since the time I was a young, well, yes, thirteen.

"I've always felt that there is no real connection to anything, anywhere except by or through my own design. Could be a place where you and I are standing together, or an idea. Concrete or abstract, doesn't matter, that is, if it does not dovetail into well-constructed version of my design. Has to be my version in a place, I alone, have carved out within myself. If not? Well, then it is plain and simple, a counterfeit. An imposter attempting to steal inside of, well, me. That is what you are changing in me, my sweet, that and, well, we'll see about the rest.

“Here we, are, finally. Yes, this is the spot. In the afternoons, just after school I would wait for her to come back to our flat. Interesting, Mother was more afraid to leave me alone with her Steinway, than here, at the foot of this stairwell, almost out on the street. Never gave it a second thought. It was her logic, her filter, her way of sounding it out within herself until, well, it sounded just right.

"Cleopatra stepping off her barge. Always the same, long green sedan. Jean-Marc, the driver of the Citroën, his taxi, kept that time slot open, alone, for mother. Running around to open the door, tip his hat, and bow when she slid the franc notes in his pocket. For that moment, every day at five-fifteen, we were a Daguerre-o-type, a wonderous tableau from the nineteenth century. He, Jean-Marc, a mix of lust and total submission. Mother? The queen. And I? Yes, in the middle, again, but strangely, feeling older, first, and maybe only time, I felt in control.

"For me. Yes, the dance, his bow, the smiles, all the adoration, I fancied them all for me, I had to, where else was I to go? So, for that wonderous-long-pregnant pause all our eyes colluded and collaborated and ran wild with possibilities, then stopped. For that brief moment I was the center, held all the chits. Yes, me. I only see that, really, now. I wish that I could have filmed it. Maybe I did, and now, with you, am able to show and share it with, well, just you.

"Sorry, yes. We would climb the stairs together, then after opening the door, she would immediately drop her bag, walk over to it, the Steinway. Once there, she would run her hand along velour-covered bench, scowl, as if she had forgotten and remembered, all in the same moment that I was standing there, then dismiss me.

“Here, just under the stained-glass window is where I would sit and stare up this twisting stairwell and imagine that the steps had become the piano keys on Mother’s Steinway, anything to try and be closer, to see and hear the world as she did. Then, as each person began to climb the stairs, I fancied their footsteps tapping out scales or some étude. When I grew tired of that, I would read, and then nap. I grew to hate the bottom of stairwells. Even now, whenever I approach them, I’m that little girl again, waiting and listening and hoping that the next pair of approaching footsteps will make the sound of Mother’s shoes.

“That was the other game I played: trying to identify each person who lived in the building by the sound of their walk, the rasp and click of their shoes. After a while I could tell by the time of day and the sound of the shoes who was about to appear from around the corner. I was a bottle-nosed porpoise out of water able to connect sound, movement, time and distance. Four o’ clock was the sweet Algerian cleaning lady, four-forty-five meant the afternoon postman, five was the delivery boy from the grocer. I would listen, hope, read, nap and wait for Mother.

“It was that one particular day, though, that I heard something completely new and strange: heavy stamping. I had been asleep, completely out. The pounding of the boots jerked me out of a deep sleep. When I looked up, no, actually, I smelled him first. He reeked of tobacco and soured wine. He stank like a man who had consumed too much wine at lunch, one who had tarried over brandy after brandy, smoking and laughing. Then when he realized the hour, that he was late, he left in a rush to catch up with his work. The offensive odor was from him sweating out all that wine and brandy and cigars, like some hideous fog, it piped up and out from under his khaki-colored wool uniform.

“Those bastards adored the occupation. Every café, and restaurant was filthy with them. It was a German officer. He was making what would become a weekly visit to our building. His French was very good. He asked me my name, smiling, he said it, 'Sounded different.'

“He pulled out a small pad of paper and wrote down my name and our address. When he reached down to pat my head, his hands smelled like shoe polish and vinegar. His smile was too broad and he tried too hard to be nice when he asked me where my parents were, what places they frequented, and if I knew the names of their favorite friends.

“I hate the bottom of stairwells. Come on let’s go. I know of a wonderful place.”

In front of Simone. Waiters flying past, silverware and china assaulting the air with clips, clicks and clatter, nothing could draw my eyes away from Simone.

Her hand traced over the powder-blue tablecloth, up past my collar and came to rest on a strand of my hair. As she twisted it around my left ear, Simone whispered under the fray,

“Never take silence for granted.”

We kissed for the first time, there, at her favorite table at La Coupole. She pointed out one of her father’s paintings. It was one of many from several different painters that the gracious owner of the restaurant had accepted for payment of long overdue bills. Each one of those paintings was now worth millions.

“Father and his friends were remarkable. Montparnasse was the center of the artistic world, then. Here, in La Coupole, is where they all loved to congregate.

“Look, just over your left shoulder, that caricature? That’s of Mother. And right here, on this very banquette is where they would put me along with a large bowl of ice cream and comic books.

“I was to entertain myself for the rest of the evening while they and the others in the colony stretched the night out until it surrendered itself to dawn. I slept on this very spot more times than I can count. Such a varied and interesting troupe of painters, poets, political activists, musicians all here, all unknown then, but now? Legendary.

“Funny, now that I think about it, they all seemed to sense that there was little of that special time left; what I mentioned earlier, between the wars, before the occupation. Some survived it, I'm afraid, too well. Horrible collaboration. Others? I lost Mother and Father to General Order Seven. They were afraid to ignore it. Most of their friends did and survived, or as I said, collaborated. Paris was an open city, I still don’t understand why Mother and Father reacted so quickly, why they were so afraid. Only mother was Jewish, but father insisted he go as well. Still, and it’s very hard, even now, to think about it. It was the one really loving thing my mother ever did for me. She was the one who came up with the idea.

“She was afraid they would take me. I was sent to Rouen to stay with her sister. Father said if they remained in the flat while I was away that it would give rise to suspicion. Father and Mother went to Dresden. To protect me they dutifully followed General Order Seven, and worked in a munitions' factory there, in Dresden. Yes, that Dresden. No, it wasn’t the work that killed them, it was the firebombing; the Allied bombing of Dresden is what killed them. You are the first American I’ve kissed since, no, ever.”

When I started to speak, Simone put her finger to my lips, buttoning my mouth, smiling. We looked at each other for almost five minutes not speaking a word, just the candlelight jumping back and forth between our eyes. When I tried to speak, she leaned over and kissed me, more passionately than the first time. Simone, and her love of,

“Deliciously long stretches of silence.”

“The one thing I miss from sitting at the foot of those twisting, turning stairs is the long periods of silence. I know, I said that I hate the bottom of stairwells, but when I was sitting there alone, at least it offered a sort of reprieve, my own little bubble, keeping, protecting me from, yes, people. Other people, aliens. No, not their race or ethnic makeup, simply their definition of what love and truth is in here, in me. No one, but I, yes, only I know how it was, will and should be, yes, in here. And so out there? Why even try? Understand? I-"

Simone stopped, scanned the room, shook her head and smiled, saying,

"I'm more of my mother's child than I ever dreamt possible. I, no, enough of that! Quick, kiss me.”

When she pulled away, Simone looked to her right, sighed and then drew in a long, languid breath of air, holding it for several seconds. After a long exhale, she slipped out of her trance and was returned to me, again.

“Silence is my Alchemist’s forge, renders everything golden, eternal. Silence is the fire; memory, the bain-marie. Past and present sublimate you, into a fit, perhaps lovable creature."

It was the first time I ever saw Simone pause without smiling or drifting off into a reverie. When she started to speak, her voice cracked, her eyes watered. A waiter stopped, but she immediately dismissed him. After a few more seconds, she said,

"I never forgave myself for their sacrifice. As all children must, I blamed myself for their betrayal of one another, and me. Still, I go back, always return to the vile S.S. officer who smiled too freely, laughed too loudly and touched my arm in a fashion that said, 'In time child, I'll have you.'

"So being spirited off to Rouen was, well, Mother and Father were right. I was safe while they, along with a hundred thousand others melted from the fire, the firebombing and for what? To start over? To do it . . . maim, kill and betray all in a more sinister, creative way?

"So, I've retreated. And in my flight away from any and all connection to anything or anyone, I stumbled over . . . you, Jackson, you. And you and I have become what I like to call the perfect refrain.

“Refrains. That’s what I call them. Find a perfect moment, reduce it down to its essence so that you can recreate it, at will. That is magic, but unfinished. The real magic is in sharing it, teaching, showing, to another, hopefully, blessedly, at least, one person.

"Yes, there was the, no, really, they were two wars made into one: the actual wars, then, a husband, a child, and I was lost, again, simply postponing my life. So what I believed to be a silly game has saved me. What I lamented as a curse, was really the magic at the bottom of those stairs, all stairs, really, because they have led me here, no, with you.

"Since you arrived, I’ve leapt backwards, caught up with that thirteen-year-old. It’s sweeter now than anything I have ever experienced in . . . any time of my life. So, yes, that’s what I meant about refrains and stairwells and the light of a star that burns on long after the source has extinguished."

She was suddenly grounded. Her chin forward, strong, resilient and smiling. Her hand, in a moment's notice, had the waiter tableside, nodding, smiling and gesturing to the staff. Was I really twenty-three years old? And the year? Siting there across from her, it could have just as easily been nineteen thirty-nine, sixty-three or seventy-one, the last being what I was told was the present.

What is that?

Impossible to say from here and now. Impossible? Not to recapture it, she and I, then and there and the transcendence of the anticipation of what was to transpire, next. Just impossible to be free of it. No?

So?

So, Simone put down a hundred-franc bill and pushed my chin up so that my face aligned perfectly with her own.

"Jackson, sweet. The two of us, now. Feel it? Feel time as it closes its arms in and around us? It is hiding us, now. Wait, almost there. It, this, our time, comes straight from the fire, golden. Just a moment, more and, we'll leave, but look around, breathe. Close your eyes, see it? It's there, waiting. I see it, as well. Not much longer, sweet.

"I want you there. I will pause at the bottom of the stairwell, put your hand in mine and we'll walk up the spiraling keys, play out our own ètude. You and I, we’ll make love for the first time, on the floor, by the Steinway. Shhh, no words, please. It is for me to finish. I haven't been, set foot in their apartment in twenty years. Yes, twenty years, wasted, until, now."

Silence.

"Now, kiss me.”

About the Author

Gary Bolick

Website

Gary Bolick is a native of N.C. and currently resides in Clemmons, N.C. with his lovely wife Jill. He lived and studied in Paris and Dijon for a year and a half before graduating from Wake Forest. His most recent of three published novels is A Walking Shadow (2018) and his most recently published short story is "When the Heater Jumps" in Hardball Times 2020.