Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Fall of Superman

by Zinta Aistars

Life would be so much easier if I were a cartoon character. Problem solved in the next frame. But life has nothing to do with easy, does it? Never did. Never would. Part of the recipe. I know all the answers, really I do, fine intellectual platitudes and golden edged advice that resonates with its soundness. Pain is part of the plan, yes, our own damnable human natures that so rarely learn from joy to blame. Pain is such a prize teacher, even if she hits us over the knuckles with a ruler edge. Go easy and we skate along, taking joy for granted. Full bellies, solid roofs overhead, more cars in our driveways than inhabitants in our pretty houses. Loved one warm and constant beside us in our bed. Spoiled brats.

Sure, me too. Spoiled to the core, wormy hearted. I deserve this pain. Push my face to the floor. Go on, cut me off at the knees. Teeter me precariously right on that cliff edge. Deserve it all. I’m not arguing.

Oh Lord, but that doesn’t take away one iota of the sting.

I can list my past sins from here to the far horizon, but still I whine and wheedle, squirming at the spank. Ask me for my excuses and rationalizations, and they come twice as fast.

Man in my life had chosen another bed, and you’d think I had lost the sun in my day. Hell I have. I’ve lived too much of my life on my own, or keeping man-toys at tether end, to think I can’t make it taking this path solo. Catch me in the right mood, and I’ll probably even convince you it’s a preference. Solo. No man is an island, but woman, she’s another story. Didn’t I read in a recent article, some paper somewhere, citing scientific evidence that the Y chromosome is a faulty chromosome by definition, doomed to disappear in the ruthless process of evolution? Who needs him.

I do.

Going gets tough, and I look for his shoulder to lean on. Even if he does lean on mine twice as often. It’s a rich comfort to look up and see him there. In his favorite armchair across the room, perfectly angled for my view as I lie back on the couch to read my book. Over its edge, I see him. Tangle of dark hair, wisp falling over one eye, and I’m sure he knows that concentrated look over his own book kneads my heart soft. My own book falls to my chest. If it weren’t so cliché, I’d say: heaving.

Chromosomes be damned.

I rise from the couch, adding slink to my step, and make my way across the room. His eyes lift immediately, sensing movement. Swear he knows what those dark eyes do to me. Uses it. I’ve never known anyone with such a dark and intense look, nearly evil, if I didn’t know better. Or do I? Yet the next moment, the gut wrench of regret is there, the light sharp against the dark, and it stops me midway. I stand in the middle of the room, abandoned to every storm, nailed to the floor. Prepared for argument, he looks at me with something akin to submission, admission, regret. If I had wanted to punish him, I have but my own empty hands.

“Forgive,” he exhales, leaning forward, his face pressed into my two palms, his own beneath them. I feel heat; I feel the wet from his eyes. I feel the silk of his hair. His mouth to my palm, mouth I know, mouth that nourishes me, words whispered into my hands, unheard but felt.

“I won’t,” I hiss. Refuse even this kindness to myself. I loose one hand and touch that hair. Black strands tangled in my fist. “Not yet.”

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