Nothing In CommonNatalie Goldberg
The night that our paths crossed through a sprinkle of some unaligned planets circling the distant earth, was the same night that I realized that the moon was stalking me. The moon was punishing me for restless times of chasing and running after, but never quite reaching. I didn't want you to finally see these sounds that penetrate. I heard a song, and it was us but I was asleep. You can sleep dance to music. I know because I dream to music. This is melodramatic, but then again, so are you. I don't mean to upset you, I never do. It just happens. Kind of like she happened, right? Luck of the draw. Maybe I'll call you, maybe not.
She stopped it there because it was stupid. Their paths hadn't crossed at night, but at 1pm in a grocery store. It was earthly and she had reached him quite quickly. She was an insomniac, and had literally no rhythm, therefore she would not be dancing, and especially not in her sleep. She moved further under the covers. Her ears blared and her throat convulsed. Advil was on the counter, but it reminded her of him. The liquid ones. He seemed fascinated by them, studying their obtrusive blue quality for more than an appropriate amount of time. She never took them because they reminded her of her shower soap. Maybe it wouldn't have ended if she had. At least there would have been a common interest, and as a bonus it could have been an FDA approved one.
A bag of cheetos slinked across the floor, blown by the wind from the permanently open window. No sooner had a few orange pieces fallen out that she was leaning over the toilet. His favorite. She wasn't this girl though, sappy and moping over a warm body. He shouldn't have been anything besides skin and bones. Who could have known?
She puked until she saw an unknown face in the toilet and her breath turned murky. This time was supposed to be over, the time when she heaved for hours, telling herself that it was all for a good cause, that the rewards would come soon. She felt him holding her back like he used to, whispering. She was sick for all he knew, with a strange stomach condition that led her to choosing tiny clothing at department stores and pawing through books full of names. Pepto-Bismol was a failure. Too bad.
The phone rang, as she had hoped and feared it would. It rang again. She focused on the squares that paved the bathroom, the cream-colored tiles. Her eyes could lose themselves in solid colors. Again. The bottom of the toilet seat was particularly fascinating today. Again. She couldn't hear over the flushing. She had to flush a few times in order to get it all down. It drowned out any other pesky sounds that vibrated between the walls.
He was always on her, his limbs scratched her stomach
"It's me. Let's get coffee. We should…talk. You know the number. Bye."
She stumbled into the room with the telephone. She latched herself onto it, as if it would save her from drowning. She didn't call him back. But she grabbed a scarf, and drenched herself in the rain on the pavement. As the streets raced past her, she let any worry of how she will say what she will inevitably have to pass her by. Her thoughts are only on a latte with whole milk, and washing her hands. Downtown, at the same place she always met him, she does both. She thinks about the mailbox, and how full it will be. She thinks about her unsent letter, and is tickled by how empty his will be.
"Hey," he said, sitting across from her. "You look nice." This was, of course, a lie. He was horribly classic, so easy to spot. He smiled at her like she was the ultimate answer. "No, really. You look nice." She studied his face. For some reason, she expected it to be different than a few days ago.
He reached for her. She shrank.
"Come on, don't be like that." He nearly laughed. She stared at him blankly, trying to piece together how someone with such nice jeans could be so heartless. She knew what he would say next.
"You're overreacting." His fingertips grazed her wrist. He moved closer. She stayed still. He whispered a few things. Nothing really, though. "Come back with me-we'll go home. Just for a little bit." Maybe he was too proud to do what she wanted.
"Please, I need you." Apparently not. She slipped out of her seat, and then sat back down again. "What am I without you?" She smiled. It was true. Her floor was decorated with his button down shirts and dark pants. He never remembered to take wash a dish, and his feet were permanently spread out across the couch. A mess; the first mess that she couldn't bear to clean up.
"I know you still love me. She willed him to stop, to not say anything more that might sway her. To her horror, his hand began to blend with her cheek as he pressed his fingers against it. "Baby, baby…" Her eyes ripped away as she tore his hand from her face. "I'm allowed to fucking touch you. You're my girlfriend." She remained expressionless, begging her innards not to spill over. "We have somebody else to think of, too, we have to do it for him. I can't just abandon a part of myself. Kevin is gonna mean everything to me, I know it. We'll do this together. It won't be like you think, not like last time." His fists had become her last time. Her blood and her bones were accustomed to it by now, always ready for a jolt. His words didn't restore her. Maybe he should know now.
" I'm a fucking daddy." He held up his arms. "Excuse me," he announced to the restaurant. Everyone turned. "I'm a daddy!" His cheeks were about to be cut off from his face, they were pushed out so firmly by his grin. Surprisingly, she was not regretful. "How the hell can you not be amazed right now?" he asked her, "we're about to start a family. I want to go home with you, that's the only place I can be, home with you and Kevin." Customers egged her on and on until she stood. Her throat crackled before she spoke. She was dry.
"We should go home." She turned her lips upward.
He picked her up and swung her around. Her body was absent in his arms.
"Wait." Knowledge was forming itself inside of him. "How could you leave him there alone?
Her legs shook, but only slightly. "I didn't."
"Where is he?" She remained silent. "Where the fuck is he?"
He yanked her arm. It wasn't the first time. "Where the fuck is he, you stupid bitch?"
"Kevin isn't at home. He'll be back later, though, if you want to leave a message." She was burning now, feeling her body convulse with euphoria as his face fell.
"What are you talking about?" He shook her. "What the fuck are you saying? Where is he?" His fists were out of control and she could feel his muscles reach their aching point as he asked and asked again. He looked as if he didn't want to know the answer, so she gave it to him.
"Start digging. Maybe by morning you'll be as close to him as you want to be. But I doubt it." A million eyebrows raised in confusion, as she turned, sensing a beauty in this accusatory silence, and slipped away, leaving the man who she had given herself to grieve over the speck they shared who would never have a chance to murder a woman's trust as he had.