Monday, March 12, 2012

Part II - six

". . The hills, of course, were a paler shade in those days. . ." Aunt Maggie smiled a distant smile and rested her hands on the smooth veranda.

I gazed at her long nails and lost myself in the lines of her curved fingers. Those hands, I knew, had once been capable of marvelous things. I recalled from my youth the first time I heard about Maggie's hands. She had revived a litter of spaniel pups smothered blue by a jealous breeder simply by touching them, one after the other, with a single outstretched finger. According to mother, the air sizzled where puppy and finger met. There were other stories, of course, and more dramatic, but this one lodges in my mind. I had never seen the magic myself and I wondered. . .

"Also," Maggie continued, "there were more trees. . ."

I followed her gaze to the hills that rolled away from us beyond the veranda. The sun was lowering and long shadows were stirring there.

"When the sun goes down" Maggie closed her eyes, "you can't see anything."

She brought her hands to her face, slowly, and in the gathering gloom I thought I saw a faint glimmer pulsing near her fingertips…

Rebecca sighed and lowered the notebook. “Wow, Gin, I feel like I know your aunt after reading this.” She placed the Journal on the bedside table, noted again the title, penned in straight black lines on the cover:

Memories of Maggie
1995- 1998
Virginia Jason

Beside her on the bed, Ginny smiled. “You’d know her as well as anyone after reading that stuff… She was a difficult woman to know.”

Rebecca rolled onto her side, snuggling up to Ginny, her new and always best friend, her cosmic lover and, she was learning, one hell of a writer. “You make her live and breathe on those pages,” she whispered through dark hair into Ginny’s ear.

“I try,” Ginny said, rolling onto her side now, facing Rebecca, the golden child who had stolen her heart. “I think of these… fragments I’ve written as a kind of gift for her.”

Stroking Ginny’s dark head, Rebecca asked, “Where is she now?”

Ginny savored the sweet scent of Rebecca’s breath, warm on her face. “I don’t know,” she said. “The last I heard she was in Eastern Europe somewhere…”

Rebecca touched her lips to Ginny’s; a blue spark flashed, illuminating their open mouths and tingling across their lips and tongues a moment. “Have I ever told you,” Rebecca whispered, “that I…”

A sudden knocking at the door filled the room, pounding into their consciousness and destroying the moment.

Ginny rolled onto her back, wincing at the continuous pounding on the front door. “Maybe I shouldn’t have covered the door bell,” she mused.

“I have a feeling I know that knock,” Said Rebecca, rising from the bed. She looked at Ginny, still on her back atop the rumpled bedspread, and Ginny gazed up at her.

“James,” they pronounced simultaneously.

Rebecca sighed and made for the door. She hoped James had given up on her. But that knocking was insistent.

Opening the door, she found him standing there. He was tall and blonde and well built in his blue jeans and boots. Beneath the long sleeved flannel shirt he wore, a rather tight t-shirt strained against his flexing pectorals. His right hand was raised, poised to continue knocking. In his left hand was gripped what appeared to be a large envelope, or maybe a booklet.

“Hello, James,” she said.

He lowered his right hand, smiling sheepishly, and raised his left.

Rebecca saw that it was, indeed, a booklet of some kind that he held.

“I brought this for you.” he said, extending his hand and, she now saw, the thickish saddle stitched magazine that he held.

Taking the offered item, she held it in her hands and studied the cover. Above a realistic line drawing of a typewriter, the keys of which were hearts in various states of injury and malformation, a bold font proclaimed:

The Broken Heart Review

All but the third word of the title were black - Heart leaped from the otherwise black and white cover in a loud and almost garish red.

“There’s a poem for you on page 42,” he said.

Resisting the urge to flip through the magazine to the named page, Rebecca looked up and smiled. “Thank you, James. I’ll read it later.”

“I guess that’s all I can ask,” he said with a wan smile. “So, you guys all moved in?”

Rebecca shifted the magazine from one hand to the other, and back again. “Pretty much,” she answered. “Thanks again for letting us use your truck.”

“Any time,” he said. “But you know that all you have to do is ask. I’ll do whatever I can for you.”

Since meeting Ginny, Rebecca had begun to feel guilty about the way she’d treated James the last year and a half or so. She realized with a new and growing sense of shame that the way she had led him on, and used his feelings for her to satisfy her own needs, were among the worst things she’d done in her short life.  She hoped she would never do anything worse. “I appreciate that,” she replied.

Their eyes met and Rebecca could read all that went unsaid behind his blue gaze. That he loved her. That she was the only one for him. That he would always be there for her. That he would die before he loved another woman. She could read it all, and clearly, because she’d heard it all before. She was glad that he kept it all inside his head this time.

Holding The Broken Heart Review up before her, Rebecca smiled. “I’ll read this tonight,” she promised.

James leaned slightly forward a moment, as if contemplating or yearning for a kiss, and then retreated a step or two. “Enjoy,” he said.

As she closed the door, Rebecca clutched the magazine to her breast and sighed. She’d created some kind of monster in James, she was sure. In her mind she saw him lumbering in black and white through starkly lit fields and damp dungeon corridors, seven feet tall with arms outstretched and bolts in his neck. As a child, she had loved the old Universal Frankenstein films. Unlike the creature in most of those old movies, she hoped her monster might have a happy ending.