"It Sings"

I constantly forget things. I leave for work with an empty coffee mug; I leave toothbrushes in hotel bathrooms; I leave our children’s toys at playgrounds throughout the city. I lose my keys in the door; I lose them underneath couch cushions and in drawers. Sometimes, I lose them right where they are supposed to be because I am looking for them in my jeans or beneath the couch cushions. I lose my sunglasses, only to find them on top of my head. I’d be lying then, if I said I remembered our first meeting well. In fact, neither of us remembers that day in detail. Instead, we’ve created a story about that day, a narrative that suits us. Which strikes me as appropriate, life is about generating a proper narrative arc.

Sometimes, over pots of cheap decaf, we’ll talk about the morning we met. We’ll search our memories to unearth what made that morning special. Mostly, we invent the details: you’ll say that I wore a top hat and a purple pin stripe suit, and that I juggled the silverware to impress you, dropping the steak knife on my toe. I’ll say that you wore a red evening gown with epaulets and insisted that we dance the fox trot before dessert, kicking off your shoes and pushing back chairs with your delicate, pale feet. You say that I told you I wanted to name our children George and Charlotte and that I planned on becoming an astronaut who would spend his declining years in a colony on Mars. I say that you were up front about having chlamydia, though a mild case, that you picked up during that summer you spent in Venice at an artist’s colony, painting gondolas drifting funereally through the canals. Here is what I remember—a dimple on your right cheek, rain threading its way through acres of sky and a Jacaranda tree, weeping on the pavement.

Our reality was more mundane than these fictions. Everything was simple. We spoke quickly and confidently, made jokes at the appropriate times and left with smiles and a promise to meet again soon. It was as if we’d known each other for years, as if you’d already explained what a duvet cover was, how to buy eggs, checking each shell for cracks, as if nederlandsegokken online casino we’d already stood at the edge of the car, rubbing our children’s feet vigorously, removing all traces of sand. The rest of our relationship would be like slipping into wool socks on a cold winter morning.

Now you say that I am impatient, while you sip tea and wait for the clothes to dry. You say that a vacation doesn’t happen by dreaming of swimming off the coast of Spain in seas silvered by the moon: it is about having a healthy income, budgeting for time off, and making reservations months in advance at places with continental breakfasts. I say, vacations don’t happen at all. You say I need to fold the clothes. We, like everyone else we know, haven’t had sex in months. We need a vacation, I say, and you remind me of the trip to your parent’s house in Pennsylvania as you refold a towel that I had folded like an amateur.

Once, years ago in Mexico, we heard a child say hello to the buy non prescription viagra online moon. “Hola luna.” It nearly broke our hearts.

I know that you are right about vacation. You are always, insufferably, right. I wake early and track the prices of tickets to Barcelona mid-June. I buy a guidebook at the local bookstore and highlight pages. I listen to podcasts in Spanish, so I can avoid fish, which we both hate. I learn how to say good morning, and how to ask after people’s children and pets. I speak to you in Spanish. I call you Senorita and sometimes, Senora. I drink too much sangria and perform a rendition of the Flamenco that I saw on television. The children laugh at such foolishness and briefly join in, prancing around the room like ponies on fire.

In the afternoon I image an elderly man sweeping the serpentine streets of Barcelona under a warm Mediterranean sun—the backs of his hands, creased by veins, covered in dark knots of hair. I have already started to travel there—taking part in an early siesta.

“Hola luna,” I say to you in the morning, and you look back at me with your uninterested eyes. “Shhhh,” you say. “The children are sleeping.”

We are being dragged along through the current of time with only moments to grasp like rocks, to keep from going under. Stop being dramatic, I hear you say to the voice in my head.

I see your reflection, ghostlike in the window, and now I am watching you, watching me, watching the rain. I don’t remember anything well. The act of love is an invention. You put your arms around my neck and lean into me. Your skin smells of soap and lavender. Shhh. Quiet, my love. The rain is falling in the garden—it sings.

 

Andrew Bertaina

About Andrew Bertaina

Andrew Bertaina holds a BS in Literature and an MFA in creative writing from American University. He is currently living and working in Washington, DC. His work has appeared in The Broadkill Review and Big Lucks.