This is the third installment of a series of short stories. Read part 1 and part 2.
Things I Want To Do with Evan
Another long phone conversation like the one after he got back last Thursday. He learned something about his mother that robbed him of his smile, I don’t know exactly what. The look on his face broke my heart.
Picnic. I always say I’m going to have a picnic with a guy and it never happens. I hope he’s a checkered-tablecloth type of guy.
Figure out how his rhythms counterpoint with my rhythms. That’s all that matters, babydoll.
Bumpy train sex.
Hike in Red Rock Canyon till I’m knackered, then rest under a shady tree and guzzle a canteen. Kiss his red face, taste his salt on my tongue.
Sing him my best songs. Tell him what each moment in the songs mean, not just the lyrics, but the modulation, the tone, the way I creep up on it, beat it into submission, break it free from its surly bonds.
Not talk about coke ever.
Not talk about what happened last December.
Things I Shouldn’t Have Thought About Today
Here I am still singing in a casino.
Someone says to me, You’re fabulous, but why doesn’t that change my life? You’d think something would change.
Should I turn right or left or pink or eucalyptus or cray cray? I hear interviews on television with celebrities and it’s like a Rorschach test the way people hear it. To me, the inkblot is a yearning—I listen for their turning point.
Sometimes I hear MONEY.
Sometimes I hear LUCK.
Sometimes I hear SOMEBODY who says, I will transform everything, and he does. I want to meet that guy. Sometimes the girl has to marry the ugly bastard, like Mariah Carey and Celine Dion did, and pretend to love him.
If I hit back/revenge/defend myself/stand up for myself/whatever you want to call it maybe things will change.
We remake our life every moment. Okay, all right. But what the hell does that mean? There are a zillion ways to remake it. The problem isn’t doing the right thing, it’s knowing what the right thing is to do.
Sometimes I wrack my brain for something that will change things—a new song, a new band, new chops, a new writing partner. But the thought that tortures me is—what if I need a new heart?
Fantasies I Had at 15
I’m singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in Candlestick Park for the World Series, and Dave Tedder is in the audience somewhere. I work my way through the song and the audience is enraptured, hanging on my every note, when suddenly, at the climactic high note, I collapse unconscious on the stage. There is a collective gasp in the stadium. The umpire is incompetently trying to revive me when across the infield comes Dave running towards me. When I open my eyes, he is holding me in his arms. He has finally revealed his true feelings towards me.
I go to heaven. Turns out heaven is a sea of sheet music, and each one is a revelation. You can sing all day and all night. When you get tired of one, you toss it aside and reach out for another, and it’s just as fabulous.
Things My Sister Said to Harris Last Thanksgiving
Kara never told me you were so cute.
Isn’t anyone else coming to this Thanksgiving dinner? Kara, don’t you have any friends?
Oh, that’s just my cleavage. It’s a little bigger than my sister’s.
Things I Saw on the Street Last December
A crumbling parking lot. I drove around the potholes.
A Mexican grocery store. I went inside. I felt like an invader. The checker spoke Spanish to me, like, Say what?
A dirty diner with impossibly low prices. Two friends told me they got sick there. Drive on by.
A driver who cut in front of me on the interstate, and if I hadn’t swerved, would have bumped me.
Normal people walking. It’s not the Strip out here, in fact, it’s not even pretty.
A Catholic church. I stopped in the parking lot and walked inside. It was so empty and dark and echoey that I started to cry. There should have been a priest to console me. He would have been patting me on the back and saying, I’ll listen. He would have been young and handsome like Jesus. I would have pushed my head into his chest. He would have been gentle and caring in bed. Our conversation would have gotten right to the point.
Harris left me.
Oh dear. Tell me what happened.
I would have told him everything.
They’re both disgusting, he would have said. They’ll both burn in hell.
Are you sure?
I’ve seen the hell passenger list, and they’re on it.
My Least Favorite Things About Last Christmas
Everybody looked happy.
The expectation of good things.
All expectations, in fact.
The swell of crowds on the Strip.
Crowds, expectations, pitches, sentimentality, feeling, need, exposed underbellies, Catholic churches, bad parking lots, homeless guys, phones, friends. Anything could push me over the edge.
Singing in the casino cabaret for idiots who wanted to buy me drinks to get me on my back.
The looks in their eyes.
Driving home alone at 2 am.
Dead Christmas tree needles are a blight on the season.
Cold desert nights.
Drafts from the window.
Staring out the window.
Not being able to control my looking-at-the-distant-mountains thoughts.
The memory of Harris spooning me at night.
Having my permission with Harris revoked.
Kendra and I look the same, so it must be who I am inside that he hates.
The thought that Kendra and I aren’t the same.
The thought that Kendra and I are the same.
The thought that Kendra and I are connected forever by flesh, DNA, and sin.
The thought that, as Kendra wrote in her junior-high diary, It’s a doggy dog world.
Buying a gift this Christmas for someone who dug a grave in my heart.
Something My Sister Said to Me When We Were 15
Somebody’s always gotta lose with us.
Things My Sister Said to Explain It
No, I’m not going to apologize. Harris is not well suited to you. That’s my professional opinion.
My Favorite Saying
An eye for an eye.
Things I Feel When I’m with Evan
It’s new. There’s hope like that fabulous dawn you saw when you camped out in the desert five years ago. But that’s just a temporary phenomenon, like the morning dew you saw on the saguaro flowers. Two months in, the dew always burns off and it never comes back.
Is Evan going to go back to her?
Does he think about her when we’re making love?
I wonder if he does blow.
Things I Should Do with My Lists
Throw them away.
Leave them on the counter for Evan to read.
Make up fake lists for Evan to read. Lists that make him think I’m not so screwed up. But how would I know what a list like that would say?
(To be continued)