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The story so far:

"Befores and Afters" -> "Hammers and Canyons" -> "Open Chord Love Song"

Night Lawns  by oil
For some reason, I gave him my purse.  We sat out back on the loading dock together, hiding out, pretending like we weren’t going to kiss.  I put my hands into the pouch of his sweatshirt to keep them warm, and he took out my saline solution and my wet naps. He took out Laurie’s weather-beaten spare pacifier. He laid everything down on the concrete in neat little rows. Some Children’s Tylenol, Daniel’s nametag from his first day of second grade, a miniature dolphin, a tampon, a crumpled pet store receipt.

“So you’ve got a dog?”  

I shook my head.  “That was the day we got the guinea pig.”  I watched the comings and goings across the boulevard at the McDonalds drive through.  Even in my drunkenness, I was shy about looking him in the eyes.  “It was an ugly one, too.”

“So it’s dead, then?”

Some high school kids were standing in a clump behind a closed Rite-Aid, and the night breeze carried their pot smoke our way.  

“It’d been pretty sick,” I said.  “It had this condition called Being a ****ing Pain in the ****.  It was the same condition each and every last one of our fish had.  And every other goddamn pet my husband has insisted on buying for Daniel.  Daniel’s never lifted a finger to take care of a one of them.”

“When I was a kid, my dad would’ve whipped my **** if I’d forgotten to feed the dog.”  

“Well, I’m sure that my husband gave that guinea pig a real stern talking-to for dying on us like that.”

His band had already left for the hotel without him. Meanwhile, my girlfriends had split up and were searching for me—I learned this when they complained to me about it the next day.  They’d been really worried about me, they said, and they almost called my husband to let him know I was M.I.A.  It was Karen who was my unlikely saving grace; she’d had an inkling that something was in the air between me and Jay and she coherent enough to convince everyone, between boughts of bile-vomiting, that I wasn’t in danger.  She also facilitated the corresponding cover-up, making up some story to tell my husband and my kids.  

So they left us alone.  Fewer and fewer cars crawled up to McDonalds, and all the remained of the smoking teenagers was a patch of flattened milkshake cups in the parking lot— scattered popcorn in the streetlamp light.  I lost myself in Jay’s rich baritone when I leaned up against his chest, and it didn’t matter much what he was saying.  I don’t remember getting up from our spot on the loading lock, but I remember walking through the strip malls, crossing dead highways, walking on the grass medians until the sidewalks started and the strips gave way to the suburbs.  I walked through people’s lawns, and I relished the feeling of being lost in my own city until, finally, we reached the park and collapsed into one another.

It’s always strange, I think, seeing someone up close for the first time.  He looked older than I’d imagined he would.  His crow’s feet had never showed up in album insert photos, and the white in his stubble must have been invisible under the lights of the stage.  I took off his shirt, and he smelled of sweat.  To me, he was still a rock star, and these little flaws made him seem more real, more tangible to me.  He had a little bit of a gut, and he made a little self-deprecating joke about it, but I told him he was perfect and meant it.  He tasted good—apricots, somehow.  

My husband had this track trophy from college, see.  

I guess it was pretty much his most treasured object.  He’d never been a star, but he’d done very well at league championships and he’d won the 800-meter dash.  He kept it up on the mantel.  I was always embarrassed by it.  I’m not sure why it entered my mind, but for a while I little lost track of Jay’s body and that little statue was all there was.  It was as if it were parasitizing my brain.  

But hey-- I brought myself back.  Into the moment.  I let my mind follow my body, and I clung to Jay like I was fighting for my very life.  After it was over, I didn’t know whether I’d won or not.   
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  'Night Lawns' statistics: (click to read)
Date created: Jan. 14, 2008
Date published: Jan. 14, 2008
Comments: 1
Word Count: 927
Times Read: 608
Story Length: 1