Sunday, December 7, 2008

We rode down the avenue, my arms wrapped tightly around her waist as we sped along on her motorcycle.  Weaving in and out of traffic, dodging cars as she ran red lights, she laughed lightly.  I couldn’t see my own face, but it was surely white, if not green, by this point.  Mercifully, she stopped at the next light, and turned around to ask if I trusted her.  It sounded like she already knew the answer, and I felt better as I realized that trust her I did.  She still hadn’t told me what we were searching for, nor where she had acquired such a fine motorcycle.  While I was more than willing to drive us around the entire lower half of the state, she had insisted on bringing me herself.  I had never known her to have a license, but an inexplicable urge forced me to get on behind her.  Trust was implicit in the arrangement, regardless how my stomach behaved to the contrary.

We picked out several dresses, ranging in style and color.  We began with a simple, wine-colored dress that lightly trailed out behind me.  “Careful, nena,” she whispered in my ear.  “Don’t fall too hard.”  We continued our expedition, which had become an extended shopping trip, picking out my classic jean-and-t-shirt combinations, along with a slew of heels, boots, flip-flops, and sneakers.  Some looked newer than others; I leaned towards choosing comfortable, worn in clothing.  She would return to dress me in stiff, new outfits.  Each one came with its particular warning. 

I lost the need to speak during our outings.  It seemed that she could look into my heart and read me, anticipating my verbalizations until they became superfluous.  Her voice was quiet, and my own internalized.  We must have seemed invisible to the world at those times, as we became lost in the noise.

This became a regular ritual; whenever I was feeling particularly stressed, she would arrive out of nowhere, white hair blowing in the wind as she rode down my street.  I would climb up behind her, wrap myself around her back, and she would find something new for me.  Only once did she refuse to let me see her finds.  "It will be waiting for you when you get back," she said.  "You will not find it today, nor tomorrow, but it will be waiting until you are ready."  The last time I can remember, she surprised me, taking me down to the beach.  “You are disappointed today," she observed.  "It has been a difficult time for you, but keep this in mind: Everything works out for the best,” she told me, her voice growing small among the sounds of the waves hitting the sand.  As her voice grew softer than I had ever heard it, mine grew louder in my own mind as it tried to stop from drowning in the surf.  I looked over at her, and somehow, I was not surprised to see her fading away.  My voice escaped, crying as it had the last time, and I heard her say that I would see her again, but I didn’t quite believe her.  My eyes had followed my voice, and through their tears I could no longer see clearly.  All I saw was that the trust that had grown between us was evaporating, and soon there was nothing left for me  but the keys to her motorcycle, lying in the sand where she had been sitting.


Barbara Lorraine said...

First, I say to you what I said to Luis: consider formatting. It's not necessary for everything, but for this piece it can be nice for navigation.

I do have to wonder, knowing what I know about you, if this piece was inspired by your grandmother; you might think about clarifying the relationship between the speaker and the white-haired woman, unless you'd rather keep it nonspecific. And there is something I like about the unclear relationship--it could be about lovers, or close friends, a mother and a daughter, a grandmother and grandchild, etc.

I do wonder, though, why it is that the trust is what was evaporating between them, rather than their bond, their connection. Elaboration? I would like to see more in that last image of white-hair fading away. It happens so fast.

(And yes, I know you wrote this quickly last night, but I'm jusy saying is all.)

Amelia said...

I think that I have to go with Barbara on this - formatting this a little would be nice, the big blocks of the paragraphs make it seem a little like info dump instead of a story and take away from the mystical feeling that I think you were going for. I also feel a little lost in it, a little like I don't know what's going on and that I'm reading the cliffnotes to a bigger piece, which works sometimes but here just leaves me a little frustrated. Sometimes a story doesn't need developed characters, but since this appears to be about a relationship it might work better to expand and elaborate. I think this is a really good start to something that could be amazing, but that it needs to be about twice as long to get there.

Partially Yours, Nina said...

I was captured by your first few sentences in particular. The immediacy of the image of riding behind someone on a motorcycle was a good hook. It made me continue to finish, to want to understand and discover more about the relationship you are describing. However, after the second large paragraph, the pacing changes. You step away from those sharp images of adventure and the narration does not fully sustain me as you try to imply the intensity of the relationship. I agree, more elaboration and transition is necessary. But this is a good effort and an enjoyable read. Thanks.