Author: mmmmmmmm PM
You have to explain how you take ancient houses and imaginary boys and girls with sad eyes- pomegranates and bougainvillea and little kids with stars on their cheekbones- and make them magic. tribute and imitation at once.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance - Words: 819 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 1 - Published: 09-13-08 - Status: Complete - id: 2571094
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"So I say to her, I say, Francesca! You have to explain it to me."
We're twirling in slow stilted circles, spread over the whole sidewalk, a dance that would be a waltz if we knew how. Supposedly we are keeping a rhythm. Chances are it's the rhythm of however he's feeling, or maybe the words I'm telling him, but it's no musical thing like a bunch of organized lines and boxes. We are right beneath a streetlight, a spindly metal pole whose lemon-light we are drenched in. We're dancing in between the abandoned main street and a boarded-up storefront. The briny ocean smell is thick in my mouth and it makes me feel like laughing.
"She asks me, "What is there to explain?" And she looks at me out of gold lantern eyes. She pours me a cup of tea that tastes like honey. We sit on the old bridge, and our legs are dangling over the dirt where water used to be. We watch the crumbling stone houses up on the hill, with the ruins of something in the middle of them- a castle, I think. I wait for her to answer and it feels like she's taking hours. The edge of her silk scarf blows on my skin, in the middle of the same breeze that tickles the trees and sends the leaves raining on me."
He's listening with a turned-down gaze, looking at our bare feet dirtied by wandering up and down the sidewalk. His tawny hair is lurid in the yellow light, laced with chestnut. There's the barest hint of a smile on his mouth, and every few moments he glances up at me with those eyes, the one that hold secrets he doesn't like to tell anyone, especially me. His hands are curled at my waist, those long pianist fingers with the cold tips, like a doctor's touch. A breeze drifts past, and then I know for the first time that it's gotten cold, but I've been too happy to notice.
"So I tell her, you have to explain this magic to me. You have to explain how you take ancient houses and imaginary boys and girls with sad eyes- pomegranates and bougainvillea and little kids with stars on their cheekbones- and make them magic. Francesca laughs- a rich warm thing in the bottom of her throat- and she explains to me."
He looks up at me, and then we're both laughing, for no reason other than each other. It's the sharp sound of ice cream bells from my throat, and a hitched smoothness- a snagged silk- from his. A wave of dizziness pulses at my head and I pull back from the spin. I let my back hit the iced light post and slide down. For a few moments he doesn't move and I'm left staring up at him. He is a reverse silhouette against the sky. He leans down beside me then, resting on his elbows with long legs sprawled in front of us. We're facing an old empty store with boards over its windows. People have scrawled their words up on the wood, little tributes of "Danny loves Susie" and "Anna was here". There are conversations- each line from a new person, on a new day, in a new ink, like "Hide and seek" then "lost and found" then "keep better track of your stuff". And last there are the ones I can't figure- scrawls like "don't look down" and "tell her not to worry".
I tell him, "Francesca explains it to me. She says, "I live in the bottom of a canyon, where I stare up at the mountains and I get dizzy, I feel so small. And I bake bread in my little blue and white kitchen, in the oven that gets so hot I have to open the windows. And the smell of everything, the rich soil and the orange groves and the honeysuckle vines. I sit outside of Marguerite's on the beach and I watch the people that walk by: the faces of girls who haven't been hurt yet; the old men and the wisdom that lines their faces, the kind that can't be taught by anything except living. And I know the problems that are behind people's eyes, simply by smiling at them and understanding everything I can. Then I write them down.""
A beat. His hand creeps over, the fingers like ballerinas, rising and falling in a rickety dance. It collapses down onto mine. His fingers, like spiders, but kinder.
"I ask her if it's a good lesson. I ask her if it's good to watch people so much. She says, "Yes, but don't get caught looking. Because a lot of people are afraid.""