That morning she asked him, “is that some sort of old habit, the way you talk to yourself?” She raised her eyes from the book and threw the question in front of him as if the thought had just struck her. Obviously the thought had not just struck her.  She had been cruising around it for awhile. Her voice had that soft but ever-so-slightly serrated edge to it, the edge it took to during these times of all things serious.  She held the words back and let them bounce around her head again and again before they rolled off her tongue.

The two were sitting adjacent to one another at the kitchen table.  Aside from the occasional plane passing over, the morning was gorgeous and quiet—almost too damn quiet.  A blue sky without a plane passing by has a mysterious depth about it all its own.  

The vinyl tile that held the kitchen together gave his bare feet a pleasant chill.  The weather was a bit too warm for this time of year.  She had rolled up her sleeves as far as her elbows, and her perfectly contoured fingers spun the coffee spoon around a cup, stirring things up in her own little way.  He glanced at her circling hands and the effervescence of his bubbling mind went effortlessly flat. 

She seemed to have lifted him off the edge of the universe and brought him back down to earth with one simple question, and now she was tightening the threads back together one by one—perfunctorily, emphatically, as if she would do it no matter how much time it might take. 

He could only watch and say nothing.  He said nothing because he did not know what to say.  The few swallows of coffee left in his cup were now cold and looked like mud. 

He was soon to turn older in age, as was she.  She was a mother.  He, a father.  For her, he might as well have been on the dark side of the moon.  For him, she was the one who lit up the moon. Off in the distance, a plane fired up its engine, getting ready to take off.  

The strange timing of the question was almost too much for him.  His mind fizzled out.  In this room with her, a gentle wind slipped through one window and drifted away through another.  Reaching out to hold the silent woman in his arms, he couldn’t help but feel that he was wandering wildly through the chaos with, and of her.  Again and again he would ask himself, “Am I in love with her?” But he could never reach a conclusion with complete conviction.  All he knew or could understand at that moment were the colored threads of himself hanging from the ceiling.  They were always right there.  And here she was wrapping them back together with each passing day in her own little way.

It was that morning when she asked him about his talking to himself.  She had cried that day—again.  And they made love—again.  He couldn’t recall what made her cry.  She probably just felt like crying.  He sometimes wondered if she had become involved with him just so she could cry in his arms.  Maybe she can’t cry alone—who could really?—and could be why she needed me.

He crawled out of bed and went for a hot shower.  When he came back drying himself off with a towel, she was still lying in bed, her eyes closed, sunny side up and smiling, sizzling, waiting to be flipped on over.  He sat down next to her and, as always, he caressed her shoulders while his mind wandered over to the threads, the threads of his existence.  

Soon she stood up from the bed, got properly dressed, rolled up her sleeves, and went into the kitchen to brew a pot of coffee and whip up her own sort of confections. It was shortly thereafter when she asked him, “is that some kind of old habit, the way you talk to yourself like that?”

“Like what?” She had thrown a question his way that caught him off guard.  “You mean, while we’re…?”

“No. Not then.  Just anytime. Like, when you’re in the shower, or when I’m in the kitchen and you’re by yourself doing your thing.”

“I have no idea,” he said, shaking his head.  “I don’t pay attention to those things.  I mean I sing to myself and win all kinds of fake arguments with myself when I’m in the shower.  But never do I talk to myself with any kind of resolve.”

“You really do.” she said toying with a spoon.

“It’s not that I don’t believe you,” he said, the embarrassment from it all affecting his voice.

“I used to talk to myself a lot, too,” she mentioned.  “When I was younger.”

“Oh, really?”

“But someone made me stop. ‘A proper lady does not talk to herself.’  They used to say.  And when I would do it, they would get so angry!  They’d lock me in a closet—which, for me, was the scariest place for a girl—stuck inside with all that darkness.  After that, it didn’t take very long.  I stopped talking to myself, and even others for awhile—completely.  Not a word.  After a while, I couldn’t have talked about things to anyone if my life depended on it.  

Again, he had nothing to say, instead, he just listened, and said nothing.

“Even now,” she said, “if I feel I’m about to say something, I just swallow my words.  It’s kind of like a emotional reflex, because of everything that has happened in the past.  But, I don’t know.  What’s so bad it’s about talking to yourself?  It’s natural.  It’s poetry in motion. It’s just words falling out of the sky.”

“I kind of know how you feel.”

Still stirring up her own little world with the coffee spoon, she glanced at the clock on the wall.  11:06 a.m.  A loud plane, one of those B-52’s was flying lower than normal. The vibration alone was enough to make one speak from their soul.

She waited for the plane to pass.  Then she spoke again, “I sometimes think that people’s hearts are like endless wells.  Nobody knows what and the hell is at the bottom, or how deep the well really goes.  All you can do is use your imagination with every little thing that comes rising to the surface every so often.”

Both of them sat silent—the threads almost spun—thinking about wells for an infinite minute.

“What do I talk about when I talk to myself?” He asked.  “Give me an example.”

“Hmm,” she smiled, leisurely shaking her head a few times, almost as if she were stretching out her mind.  “Well, first there’s airplanes…”

“Airplanes?”

“Yep. You know.  The things that are always flying through the sky.”

Laughing out loud, “why and the hell would I talk to myself about airplanes, of all the silly things.”

She laughed, too.  And then using her fingers, she measured the length of an imaginary airplane in the air.  This was a habit of hers.  One that he adored so much, he picked it up himself.  Imitation, is after all, the highest form of flattery.

“You speak the words so clearly, too.  Are you sure don’t remember talking to yourself?”

“No ma’am. Not at all.”

She picked up a ballpoint pen lying on the counter, and spun it between her fingers for a few more moments, then she looked at the clock again.  The clock had done its job, five minutes had passed since her last glance, it had wasted five minutes worth of time.

“You talk to yourself as if you were writing poetry.” She finally said.

Hints of red flustered over her face as she said this.  He found this to be peculiar and a little weird:  why should my speaking to myself make her turn red.

He tried, out loud, the words in their natural rhythm:  

I talk to myself  /  almost as if  /  I were writing  /  poetry

She picked up the pen again.  It was a yellow plastic ballpoint with black horizontal stripes with a bee logo on it.  

He pointed at the pen and said, “next time you hear me buzzing about myself, write down what I say will you?”

She stared straight into his eyes, “you really want to know?”

He nodded his head up and down.

She ripped out a piece of paper from a dusty old notebook and started writing something on it.  She wrote slowly, but she kept the pen moving, never once resting or getting stuck, even for a few words.  

Chin in hand, he looked at her batting eyelashes the entire time.  She would blink once every few seconds at irregular intervals.  The longer he looked at her, the tighter the threads of himself became.  Those lashes which, until moments ago, had been damp with the remnants of tears now held his entire being together. Himself, he began to understand for the first time in this life.  

A strange sensation of being completely lost washed over him, as if one part of a complex pattern had been wrapped and rewrapped until it became clearly simple:  I might never be able to be found again.  When this thought came to him, the horror was almost too damn exciting to bear.  His being, his very self, felt as if it would melt away.  Yes, it was true: he felt as fresh as a man brand spanking new, he had fallen in love.  But it wasn’t your typical lustful love, it was a different kind of love, not of this world, unconditional and unattached.  It felt like something had set him free without even trying. Yes, it was something alright and it was borderline divine.  And he spoke to himself as if he was writing poetry.

She quit writing and thrust the paper towards his direction across the table. 

In the kitchen, the imagery of some great thing held its breath.  He often felt the presence of something not of this world when in her company:  the image of something lost lifetimes ago, something of which with each passing life he had lost the memory of.

“I know it all by heart,” she said.  “This is what you said to yourself about airplanes.”

The words he read aloud:

Airplane

airplane flying so damn high 

beneath a zephyr tinted sky

once

I wished to be a pilot

and could be why 

I feel at flight

with somewhere to be 

when lost in those eyes

so blue and sky lit.

“All of this?!” He asked shocked.  “This is hardly poetry.”

“The whole damn thing,” she said blushing.  “And I beg your pardon but I believe it to be super neat.”

“i don’t believe it!” He said embarrassed.  “Neat or not, it seems like some half-assed poetry to me.”

She gave her lower lip a little nibble and shared her perfect smile. “Well sir, believe what you wish, but you said what you did, and I think it’s pretty damn delicious and sweet.”

He let a gentle sigh.  “This is too strange.  I haven’t thought of flying airplanes since I was a child.  And how come I can’t remember any of this? Why, all of a sudden would an airplane pass through my mind.  Oblivious and off in the distance, an airplane hummed gently through the sky.

“I haven’t the slightest idea, but that is exactly what you were saying before in the shower.  Maybe you weren’t thinking about planes, but somewhere deep in the forest, far far away in the wilderness of your heart, something was thinking about them.

“Who knows?” Maybe you are right.  Maybe in the well of myself I was thinking of all sorts of planes.  

With a polite thunk that shook the universe, the ballpoint pen fell on the table, then she raised her eyes and stared into his. It was that look that no matter how many times he fell back to this earth, it would forever make him shiver.

They remained in silence for quite some time.  The coffee in their mugs grew cloudy and cold.  The earth seemed to spin spiral-wise on its axis, while the new moon hidden behind the sunshine hung the force of gravity over their heads and turned the tides of themselves just on the other side of fate.  The threads of himself on the ceiling spun with perfection and swaying carelessly in the wind.  Time flew by in silence, a distant plane passed back and forth through the sun-drenched blue sky above.  If Heaven felt like anything, this was it.

They sat there thinking about the same exact thing:  an airplane.  That airplane hidden away deep in the wilds of his heart.  How big was it?  What color was it?  Where was it headed?  How long would it take to get there?  Who was meant to be passenger and who was the pilot?  They both thought about those questions for the swiftness of an eternity.

She cried again soon after that.  That was the first time she had cried twice in one day.  It was also the last time she would ever cry.  It was a specialty emotional reflex of hers that she no longer needed.  He reached across the table and ran his fingers through her soul, and then her curly hair.  There was something tremendously real about how wild it all felt.  Flight, like love itself, sometimes bumpy, sometimes smooth, the destination never too far away, and, always worth the risk.  

“So what do we do now?” She asked.

“Well, you’ve got a plane to catch,” he said. “So, you best get that head start;)”

“As for me, I’ve got some swimming to do, so if you ever need me, you know where I’ll be.”

Love,

Ryan


Leave a Reply