A day be and that which ends. And tired through the bones. Creaking notions in the bottom of the blender, whipping around. Coffee at ten pm, because I might miss something. Television. Baked goods. Beer and maple syrup. Snoozing on the couch.
Wake up and you’re there. Sitting at the computer screen. Who are you? I ask. Where did you come from? Why are you in my house? Stare at me. Don’t speak. I run to the closet and get a broom, but when I get back you’re gone. Front door is open. You’re running down the street.
On the computer screen, you’ve mucked up my words. Don’t touch them, my words. Don’t take them away from me like this. So much is different. So much is erased, lost forever. My thoughts stolen away, or worse, changed. You changed it all. You made it meaner, leaner, like some stranger wrote them.
Next day, I add locks. And long chains and strands of rope designed to keep you out. But I don’t do anything about the windows, and that’s how you come in. While I’m in the shower, I can hear you rustling around downstairs. I step out naked, like you’re my lover. Like I should handle you with my fingers, and chew on your skin. I slip down the stairs and chase you around the couch, over-and-over circles until my heart’s beating and I’m sweating. Out the window you go.
At the computer, all the words that you took are back. You brought them back. I want to thank you for that. I want to touch you. But the words, while back, don’t satisfy now. They ache. And perspire. And I’m working them out, flipping them around, trying to remember how you changed them. Trying to find the compromise. But this battle’s lost. Gone. I can’t find what you did, and don’t believe anymore in what I started.
The next morning, I get in the car. Today I’m going to work. I’m going to convince myself that this is what life is all about, the long steady drone of telephones ringing and chatter outside the office door. You’re no where to be seen. Not present in the cubicles, not listening in on the calls. Maybe you’re gone. Maybe you’ve found a different place to go. At the end of the day, I sweat at the gym. Push. Leap. Feel like a stronger beast, renewed.
At home, the computer screen. Here are my words. Don’t take my words. Everything else, all the money and the probabilities of future success, the lawn clippings comprised of my aspirations, take them all and put them in the fire. But don’t take my words. Don’t come in my house tonight.
And so I’m typing. I’m writing again. Words flow. Back and forth, tangles of letters on a baking tray, waiting for their final form to rise. Today I won’t leave until I’m done. Today I’m focused, and nothing is on my mind but these words. Today I’m not exhausted or distracted. Today I’m whole.
But then you find your way in. Past every effort to keep you aside, to put you away. And you’re breathing on my neck. Strange sneaky lover, whispering in my ear. This word is wrong, you say. This word is misplaced, or additional. This one defies logic. This one has no sense. And this sentence? It’s broken, and now it’s too long, and here you’ve lost your thought and shattered its bones. Erase, delete, expunge. Return to try again. Love – try harder, you say. Minutes pass. We pass. And this screen? It’s suddenly empty. It’s no where. It never started, and I never was. All those words, those individual points of pride that welled up and out of my skin, they are scattered on the lawn. Being carried off by ants.
I get up. You’re right there. Strange hateful labour of my angst. The see-saw of my dreams. The asphalt lot where I impound it all, and send these words for care-taking, even as they’re sold off one-by-one to the cheapest bidder until I have nothing but a screen, an empty screen, as though I never started in the first place, as though there is no record of my efforts. Or of my joys and the best places to which I have gone.
I swing my fist. And you crumple to the ground. I find myself on top of you. Hitting you. For you are not my lover, or my compatriot. You are just a sack of flesh that I am beating. Harder and harder. Go ahead and scream. Beg me to let you have your life. But you take my words, and you can’t do that. Don’t take that. Anything else, fine, but not that. I put my fingers around your neck and squeeze. Try to pry them off. Just try. With all your might, with every effort, do everything to save yourself. But you can’t. You won’t. This is the end. This is it. I won’t let you back in here. You are not coming back.
Eyes wide, goodbye. Is this your last breath, or this one? Count them. Measure them. But soon there are none left. And no panic in the eyes. And no soul left in the body that is left behind.
Outside, it’s raining but not hard. I’m digging a hole but not deep. Length and width of my own body. I lay you inside, face down. Go ahead and stare at the earth, forevermore. See what you can steal from that. Soon you’re vanished under the dirt, and smothered in grass. And I’m soaking wet on the place where I buried my lover, my other self, my senseless endless stalker that took my words to the grave. But that’s okay. It’s fine. I’ll find new ones. And you won’t come back this time. You won’t interfere. You have no power here, not now.
And I’m at the computer screen. And these are my words. One follows another, and that is the only story. Let them out. Don’t disbelieve them. And never, not ever, allow anyone to deny them, even that if that person looks like you and comes from you, was born in the same instant, saw all the same things, felt all the same impulses and desires to soar. For this is who you are, and these words are yours, and in the end, that is the one truest story of them all. Just try to take it away, love. Just try.
***this is written for my friend Mark at http://markpaxson.com/. I always thought that the greatest inhibitor to writing comes from inside. But you know, it doesn’t have to. We make the rules, after all, no one else. And we can break them whenever we want to, too.