I sit in the dirt, watching the water. Bass flicker in the murkiness there; he points them out here and there, softly tossing a pebble to trick them nearer so I can see. What else is there to do when you’ve lost your mind? The fish don’t know, they keep doing what they do and don’t have a thought for me and my mind. They only avoid sudden movement, of which I am careful.
An ancient backpacker’s mat appears from the truck and I’m given a place to sit there. I have to make an appearance later and shouldn’t look like I’ve lain in the mud. I don’t care if I do.
I go searching for a cigarette and when I return there is a pillow on the mat. A pillow with a wildlife motif. A man’s pillow, placed exactly where my head will lay.
I close my eyes there and wonder, wonder at the small things that I will survive on today. The drive with hot tears behind my sunglasses and the hand that tucks my hair behind my ear; the friend, the water, the pillow. The quiet parade of objects that emerge from the truck to ponder. A small Norweigan flag, mine now. An English flask, beautifully engraved, run over and smashed completely flat; useless but for it’s loveliness and curious state.
A gravy boat. It perches on my belly for a while until it confuses me. Why am I lying in a road by a lake with a gravy boat? And then I remember, it’s something I would do; it should be funny.
A small bottle of lotion.
A magic bag of tricks.
Found treasures and remedies for dry and untended skin. Skin that doesn’t feel like mine, that doesn’t fit.
We’d eaten chile rellenos, seated high over the street where the people walked; people with places to go and money to spend, lives happening. The sun was shining, maybe birds were singing. It’s how I see the picture, but I don’t remember and wouldn’t hear. I ate and was surprised that I could. It feels so wrong to eat, like eating on somebody’s grave, which is ridiculous. Who’s grave? Mine?
Nobody died. I have to eat.
I am ravenous, and I eat over the grave, the one no one but me knows I am sitting on or in. His long legs brush mine, a comfort, safe. His blue green eyes look at me, never deeper than what I can stand. The most they do is turn dark once.
We look like any couple, maybe slightly more interesting, better looking than some. People that don’t quite know think we are, because they know there’s something, just what they can’t figure.
He is beautiful, but he is not mine, and I am not his. He is the impossible friend, who couldn’t know the broken girl I am, who’s never seen my world, who doesn’t know darkness, who needs nothing from me. He is the impossible friend who I would love if the universe was different. But he is just a friend. The friend who brought me to the water this day so I could think, or not think.
I turn the music up. It seems so trite, lyrics that meant something a lifetime ago, now just a feeling that doesn’t make sense, nothing more. I am nothing but feeling and confusion; it seems fitting, none of the words making sense. And then the Norah Jones I’d given him gives me a lullaby and finally something feels right. I sleep the half trance of temporary peace. This moment, it’s all I have.
I ask him to drop me off and I don’t bother to retrieve my own vehicle. I know I will have to walk for blocks later, and it will be night, but I don’t care. I have borrowed time and now there isn’t anymore. I’ll worry about it later. For right now, I can’t give back one stolen moment of peace.
There’s nothing to be said when I leave, only his eyes dark once more, and my quiet thank you, and then I’m gone, carrying my stolen peace in a bag with a Norweigan flag to say it’s so.
I hang it over the calender in my office and sit in the dark, watching people through the window again. The calender says May. I don’t know when this started, what day my self slipped under the door and ran away. I don’t mark things on calenders and I’d rather forget. But I look there all the same, trying to figure it out. Which day did this happen? Which day did I realize I couldn’t get away from it? Which day did someone tell me “You have got to get your mind together”? When did I stop being able to get my mind together anyway? Have I gotten it back together at all?
I play with things on my desk. The tiny pewter tray with the viking ship. The pocketknife I forget to leave in my pocket and always need then. A rubber band, so useful. Nothing looks familiar, does the trick of making me make sense to me. It’s just stuff.
I go back to my closed eyes and see ripples on the water, see a pebble falling into depth, see a small fish making it’s way. I only know this, this moment of stolen peace.