My files are filled with fragments and almost-people, stories that never became stories, fictional moments pulled down from where ever I pull them from.
Here's one from five or so years ago -- there's a moment or two here that might some day, some year find a home in something else, and Joe reminds me a little of that guy in The Shipping News:
Joe married her first, then thought about it later. The heat of late August had slid through his veins, throbbed in his loins like lust; he’d mistaken the humid air for love. Cari, tiny and bold, confused him with her hummingbird-like energy – she zipped in to sip from his lips, spun out on adventurous journeys through the city, confused him with her darting. He thought she was perfect. If he managed to grasp and hold her she would carry him with her, zipping and slipping through life.
Joe was a big man, gravity-bound, duty-filled. The fifth of six children in a loud family, a slow-thinking Taurus. It was his first whirlwind romance. It was his first romance, despite his thirty-four years. Two months after meeting cute in the Wherehouse grabbing for the same Dire Straights CD they hightailed it to Reno. He called his mother – giddy as much with the unaccustomed feeling of giddiness as with champagne.
“What did you say her name was, Son?”
Cari drank. Issues, deep unresolved concerns involving the man who’d lived behind the apartments growing up, her high school math teacher, her first husband when she was 18. The baby she’d relinquished.
“I’m damaged goods, Joey,” she clutched him.
“You’re good enough for me,” he said, tongue thick in his mouth.
On December 24th, he woke up in the cold apartment and she wasn’t there and neither was her shampoo, toothpaste, make-up kit, birth control. Frog on a log, he sat at the kitchen table watching the hands of the two-month-old Crate and Barrel clock move slowly around the dial. Birds go south for the winter, he thought. He’d never expected her to stay.
That night in August, in Reno, she’d leaned on him. On the strip, a million neon lights fluttering like the beating of a nervous heart.
“I’m so heavy, Joey. Hold me up, I’m going to fall.” Frail in her tiny skimp of a dress. He’d scooped her in his arms, held her like a baby.
“I’ll take care of you, Cari. I’ll be your man,” he’d told her. Happiness impossible and perfect in her delicate frame.
“Is it real?” he’d asked, light on his face, light on his feet.
“I’m real, Joey,’ she’d said, looking deep into his eyes. “Feel my arm, right there,” she’d said.