Monday, April 11, 2005

Take It Back

Take It Back
Marnie Thorp

Most of the night was spent in quiet darkness, broken by the occasional dream of feathers and fractals, gun battles and flight.

But then, this morning, clear as day, either just before or just after the alarm went off, maybe in between the flickerings of consciousness roused by the strains of mùm that wake me every morning, I dreamt about her father.

Why now? I blame Bonnie, who yesterday asked about him, and since she didn’t know the story, and I feel compelled, always, to recount it in excruciating detail, got that yarn spun way out for her. She even said, now you’re going to get all upset again. Nah, I said, I’m so well and over it. Mmhm.

And we’re driving along the highway in the desert, heading North in that beautiful white convertible. The car is real. Have you seen Before Night Falls? That convertible. It’s wide open spaces, like the blankness in Nevada before Black Rock. The bluest sky, the red dry earth. That part is less real.

I press my lips to his throat, kiss him, then bite. Inhaling his good rich cinnamon and sweat smell. My teeth on his earlobe, and his surprised laugh ends in a low groan. My hand is on his thigh, then tugs up his t-shirt, palm on his stomach, he’s driving still, the landscape blurring by as in a film. I hike the waistband of his trousers down on the side nearest me, exposing that perfect hip bone. I bend my head and kiss and bite that, too. I know what he’s thinking, he’s hard, but I laugh and sit up again.

We cross the U.S. border, entirely uneventfully. No border crossing, no guards, no markings even, just a dusty road into a town. And I say, We have to stop. We have to stop every so often, so I can run into road side truckstops and collect kitsch. Because I’ve never been here before, in these States, and I wonder suddenly, Which States? Where are we? Where are we going? The dream lapse, which I love, where the fantasy spools out before the flesh world thinking can catch up. Up from Mexico, where are we headed? And what’s on the border, what? “Texas?!” I holler, “We’re in Texas!” And the plates on a passing car confirm it.

And in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, why did we come across the border so easily? Why didn’t anyone corner us and ask for his visa? People get killed on that border, all the time. I turn to look at him and he catches my thought; he shrugs.

We’re out of the car and walking in the dusty street, and into a store shadowed despite the bright day. Hammered silver, delicate silks with gossamer lace, turquoise, lapis, dust and more dust. I’m fingering frail dresses saying, This one, for the girl, don’t you think? He’s speaking to the shop owner, in Spanish. He laughs. I ask him to find out the prices for me.

Then the shop-keep rouses, slow, heavy, and comes around from the back of the store. She’s a woman, not a man as I’d thought, and she’s holding up five or six pendants. Cheap, dime-store, costume jewellery. None of it is to my taste. I think this, these exact words, and am ready to say them, when she speaks to me in French, the jumbled Mexican Quebecois Frenglish of the dueña of that place we stayed at in Pie de la Cuesta. Somehow I extricate myself without buying and I follow his back out of the store.

It’s all so good, the sun, the dust, the easy time at the border, and home, we’re going home, and the girl is waiting, and I can’t wait to see her and I say, to his back, I love you so much. And it’s wrong. Even as the words leave my lips. I feel it, it’s real, I love him and it’s wrong.

And I try to rewind the dream, to undo it, retreat, shimmy back to the moment just before, but it doesn’t work and I wake. And the last thing I want to be is awake, more struggling with the day.

I’m spent and I’m angry and I want to live forever in that moment when I’m following his back out the door, the moment just before.

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