Utterly lacking in inspiration and figuring that whole run with a sentence thing from yesterday worked so well, I’m trying it again tonight. Got a couple of tweeps to send me a opening line, or two… (click on each of the lines for a link to the contributors’ twitterfeed)
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The air was greasy. The degree of greasiness you only find on a triple-cheese pizza, or a 15 year old’s boy’s face. Long after I had held her hand in mine, her scent lingered mysteriously around me. It wasn’t the scent of deep-fried-everything that clung to me, followed me as I walked to the car. It was the scent of lavender that still carried. It made her seem somehow British …proper; but the tint of her hair (also hinting at lavender) and the dangling parrot feather earrings said she wasn’t so highbrow as that. She was old enough to be my mom. My mom wouldn’t have acted like this.
I sat with her in that diner for hours, held her hand as she cried. I don’t know how this conversation got started, I’d just wanted to stretch my legs, get out of the apartment. Cabin fever. This old diner is a great place to be alone when you don’t want to be alone. Tables full of people with noses in books, laptops, papers …or just staring out the window with a look that says they’re somewhere else. Even when it’s crowded and tables double up, people don’t talk to each other. It’s just not done. There are unspoken rules here among the night wanderers. Sure the kids come in after the bars close, full of noise and bluster, shouting over the ringing in their own ears. But they keep to themselves. Nobody talks to each other here.
So, how did it happen? It was banal enough. She’d said something about it looking like rain, I’d leaned back and sighed as I looked out the window, rubbed the week old stubble on my face – man, really got to get back into shaving, letting too much slide – and said something about how ya’ve got to take the good with the bad. That’s the last I really remember, it’s all rather blurry after that. The quiet hiccups and sharp intakes of breath as she tried to keep it together, the sobbing and the crumpling of napkins when she’d lost it entirely. Something about a daughter moved, car accident, life alone, a dying sister. Seemed like all her bad was coming at once.
I didn’t know what to do, what to say. Nothing I did put a damper on that flood of tears, some of what I said made it worse. So I quit talking, just nodded, patted her hand as I held it. Looked around frantically for somebody to help with this, help get me out of this. Nobody was looking, because you just didn’t talk it here, it wasn’t done. So I sat with her for hours, until the tears finally stopped. She dotted her last rumpled napkin at the running mascara on her face, took the last mouthful of her long cold coffee, got up, leaned over and kissed my cheek as she walked to the door. Thanks sweetie, was all she said.
As I turned out of the parking lot the rain broke drops of light on the windshield.
I can still smell the coffee, the grease, the lavender. Her scent has lingered, and it got me to thinking: it all lingers, everything does. Every time we touch somebody.