Put down the rubber hose and turn off the gas. Turn on the light and tighten your tie; turn your collar up and seal the top button. Roll the hose up and place it back in the cabinet. Shut the door to the garage, climb the stair(more)s as quietly as you came down them, be careful not to wake your children. Walk out fo your house, don't forget to lock the door, get in your car, drive back to the bar. Grab three shot glasses from behind the counter, a seat in the corner, and a hold of your dignity.
Vomit up all of the whiskey you drank, one by one, watching the sun rise through the portal in the bar door. Return the shots to the bartender, flash him a false smile as you do so, and get back in the car. Go to work. Trudge through a day of menial labor and meaningless meetings. Be bored. Be very, very, bored. Let your sorrow turn back into annoyance. Apologize to Catherine, then scream at her for whatever it was that she did. Answer the phone, talk to Mr. Wallace and revoke your application for Vice Chair. Take your papers off your desk and stack them neatly in your briefcase.
Come home. Kiss your wife, thank her for breakfast. Sit at the table with your family, watch the sun set think about your day. Listen patiently as she asks if you and the kids should go on holiday this weekend, to California, perhaps?
Put down the rubber hose and turn off the gas. Turn on the light and tighten your tie, roll the hose up, close the cabinet, climb the stairs as quietly as you came, crawl into bed, kiss your wife.
I suppose we all wish that we could go back to certain places in our life. We wish we could go back to before that one person died, to get to know them better or to say goodbye. We look at the past and sigh and wish that we(more) could be there.
I wish I could rewind. I don't want to go back in time. In some ways I'm in a better place than where I was. I wouldn't give up my time here for the world. But I wish I could rewind myself. I wish I could go back to a time when everyone else was complicated and I was simple. Back when my own mind was calm and I didn't fight with myself. I understand other people now, but I've gone and misplaced myself along the way.
Sometimes it is like living with a stranger, with no way to escape. I don't understand myself on a level that was never a problem before. I wonder why it is now? What's changed? Have I changed, and I didn't even realize it? I can't be sure. But I do know one thing. I want to rewind myself so much it is painful. Because no one believes that you can understand them, when they see that you can't understand yourself. (less)
I open my eyes and gaze at you lovingly. I crawl out of bed, take off your shirt, put on my bra, put on my shirt and a pair of shorts, and walk, backwards, until I sit back down in your big sofa and curl myself into a ball.(more) 'I ought to sleep,' I think. I close my eyes and open them again. Close. Open. 'Perhaps I love him,' I think. I think about the first time we slept together. I think about how, just before that, I stayed silent the first time you told me you loved me. I think about how we made up after our first serious argument. I think about what it was we fought over. I think about how hard my heart was beating after the first time our lips touched. I think about the first time you leaned in to kiss me. I think about how you walked me home after the first time you bought me dinner. I think about how I couldn't stop looking at your hand as it held on tightly to the first cup of coffee that I made for you, shortly after the first time we met, which was when you had walked me home under your umbrella after seeing me running home in the pouring Seattle rain because I had just barely missed the bus. I think about my life before I met you. 'No, no. I don't love him.' I think to myself. I watch you climb out of bed and slowly put on your clothes. You walk, backwards, towards me. You kiss my forehead and walk, backwards, out of your apartment. I hear the rattle of your keys. The familiar warmth fills me as I awaken.
I had just been dreaming about you.(less)
Stop. Yank your arm free of your grandmother's hand. Push her into the field. Call the crows. Walk away.
Stop. Lose control. Let him pull the matches out of your pocket. Let him lead you around the perimeter of the prom containing your high school's prom, pouring gasoline. Pul(more)l it back with you in a long line to anywhere. Strike all of the matches at once. Drop them. Walk away and pretend to study.
Stop. Go to school in the city. Not the city in your state, The City. Graduate with a Psy.D at 27.
Stop. Make too much trouble as a teacher. Get reassigned to the facility.
Stop. Never meet him.
Stop. Pull your grandmother out of the field. Fall in. Let her call the crows.
Stop. Regain control. Spit on the matches he pulled out of your pocket. Leave the five gallon jug of gasoline outside of the barn doors. Return home. Study.
Stop. Go to school in the city nearest your town. Get a BA in Secondary Education English in 5 years.
Stop. Let your grandmother die a natural death.
Stop. Sign up to be a camp counselor at her favorite organization.
Stop. Come face to face with a beautiful man with the Serpent's eyes, who vandalizes against God, who is the only one who treats you with any sort of kindness or respect.
Stop. Burn down the barn they use as a church, of your own accord. (less)
Blink. I watch the blur of colors blind me for a moment until I feel nauseated, and suddenly my vision snaps into place. Before me is an all too-familiar scene.
I see a younger Violet with her frizzy bob and bright blue eyes smiling at me. She's mouthing(more) words I cannot hear, like as if I've hit the mute on her. My brain feels fuzzy and disoriented; I can't remember why I'm flashed back into this memory.
And then I remember.
I am aware of her pulling my elbows to hurry me up, but I stay rooted to the spot. She pouts and throws her arms up and starts walking away from me. Meanwhile I am still rooted to my spot, heart beating so frantically I can hear it pounding in my ears. My palms feel clammy and the feeling of dread suddenly hits me like a brick on my chest.
I stand there helplessly as I watch Violet step off the curb in frustration. She does not hear the frantic honks from the white Volkswagen Beetle that was barreling in her direction. When she looks up, I see the surprise coloring her features, to the slack of her jaw and her blue eyes widening.
It all happened so fast that I could not close my eyes.
My heart stopped beating for a moment when I heard the loud crash.(less)
"Tom, you've got to stop this, it isn't good for you."
(more) He pressed play again, watched her. Watched her dance on the edge of the frame, behind the bride and groom. She was wearing yellow, the way he had told her not to. The colour made her look sickly.
He hoped she was.
She stumbled on her heels for a second. Probably pissed; she had always been sloppy. "You're an embarassment," he had hissed out so many times, grabbing her by the elbow. She had yelped melodramatically at first, but later she only winced, screwing up her face with suppressed agony.
She had a low pain tolerance, sensitive skin. On their honeymoon the sheets in their hotel suite had made her break out in hives. She had sprained her ankle on a board walk during their trip to Florida.
Difficult, his mother had said, pursing her lips.
Even in the video he could see the familiar flush over her face and neck; she had been drinking.
Wait. Pause. Rewind.
There was someone behind her. A guy. Who the hell was he? He hit play again. He was tall, dark haired. He smiled- was he holding her hand?
The two disappeared out of the frame. He watched but they did not appear again.
Pause. Rewind. Watch again.
"Tom, you've got to stop this, it isn't good for you."
"I just want to know who he is. It was your bloody wedding."
"Which you didn't even go to." Her voice dipped lower, "Please tell me you've left the house this week. You haven't just sat in obsessing about this?"
"I just want to know-"