I drank all night.
After three big glasses my feet became numb but happy. Then the happy numb feeling crawled up my legs, torso. It couldn't go much further than that, on account of the hole in my chest--not an actual hole but what felt like one. Gaping, tearing, pressing.
I tired but couldn't cry. The sweetness of that simple release refuted me. Something in me clung to the pain that cut at my chest. It felt like a heart attack. Worse. The pain kept going without making me sick, lose consciousness. Vicious.
Rachel called around seven and asked about summer plans. It had been a year since we talked so I had trouble telling her voice at first. She had moved away three years ago to get treatment for some rare disease and nurse other wounds she couldn't really talk about at the time. I slurred in my words but we managed to catch up and make some promising summer visiting plans. Her voice sounded like mercury, slow, smooth and calm, stilling me through the shakes that was beginning to charge through me in waves. After half an hour, her break time was over and she had to go. I let myself sink slowly back into the aching knowledge of the hole. The teeth that seemed to tear at its edges.
My bottle had turned empty, the last drop burning down my throat before Rachel's call. The night air thickened when the neighbors fired up their grills and their dutiful kids practiced their pianos. A chirp or a bark here and there diluting the sound of traffic from a distant road. Sweet evening sounds, like a symphony, for which I was but an audience. I listened with hunger, absorbed in its warmth, palpable yet far from my touch.
Ned the neighborhood event organizator eventually swing by to ask why I had left the party so quickly. I claimed a headache.
"Headache? You don't sound sick... are you having a party here without us?" He handed me a pizza box, eyes full of mockery.
"Not sick, just a little dizzy from seeing so many neighbors at the same time. I'm a loner. Thanks for the pizza though." I caught the box and lifted it an inch to his direction in a half-ass attempt of a salutation.
"No problem. We are neighbors. Like family." He winked, patting my legs and leaving his hands on my thigh. I wore a long skirt. The fabric didn't hold up to the heat emitting from his hand, spreading and thinning until it felt like nothing sat between his skin and mine. I felt all the liquor swishing in my head, making sharp noises no one but I could hear. I saw blue and black squares tangled up with the fading sun, or a memory of it, like blood around the edges of a darkening lake, swimming and sloshing in front of my eyes. Ned's hand felt closer and the noise grew louder, the shapes moved faster. I gave him a desperate look, staring hard at the gold wedding band on his other hand. I had seen the way he walked around the complex with his wife, his hand on her waist, occasionally slipping down a few inches and squeeze into her sari hugged curves. I stared hard at his ring, and imagining the two of them walking, imagining his wife looking up at me with her large eyes framed in dark charcoal. She had a lovely round face with a red dot between lush eyebrows. They called it the third eye at the Yoga World.
I stayed still like that for what felt like an hour, meditating on Ned's presence outside of my apartment and his wife staring down at him. Finally he shook his head and said, "well, it's late." Then he gave a small wave and shoved off.
I stared out my window, my back in a thin film of cold sweat, soothed by the singularity of night colors. Black tree limbs. Dark sky. Then the wind blew and the moon rose up and swam through currents of clouds, winking playful winks
at me. It was full. That might have accounted for all the craziness. I
had thought Michael cared a wink, not like the others. He dropped off
items on my porch since that time we watched a movie together and...
almost kissed. But even before I hurt my legs, I couldn't claim to have
known how these things worked. It could have all been in my head, pure
When I blinked again the moon hid
and for a long while I couldn't see its face. The wind was high so the
cloud thinned like skimmed milk dissolving into water. Still it hung
around like a veil. Sounds recede so suddenly it reminded me of horror scenes from low budget films. Then my ears adjusted and tuned into the quieter music of the night. Insects buzzing, moon light splashing against shiny palm fond, traffic from a road not too far away but muffled by several community walls. They faded too, over time, leaving me alone with my thoughts, wondering whose windows may still be open, like mine.
I stuffed up my ears when the sound of Michael and his woman smacking lips and moaning pushed through the quiet evening air.