Throwback Thursday: Love in the Time of Sonnets – late 1980s

Love Among the Ruines - Edward Burne-Jones
Love Among the Ruins – Edward Burne-Jones

Love in the Time of Sonnets

‘Twas once a time ago I thought I felt
A glimmering of love so deep for him.
Beneath his tender gaze I thought I’d melt
But now the light of love has grown too dim.
For he I loved had not the same for me
And crushed my love, my soul; he went away.
The love I thought we had will never be,
And I will not live to another day.
My heart cries out for rescue from this pain
The wounds are far too deep to heal, I know.
I will not see the rising sun again
And long to rest my love the earth below.
Be careful those whose hearts do eas’ly break.
I wish I had not made the same mistake.

I think I was jumpstarting my romance writing career, iambic pentameter style. Guess I needed to work on the Happily Ever After, though. ūüėČ

Throwback Thursday: Fall (a poem from 1990?)

My beloved 1st cat, Einstein.
My beloved 1st cat, Einstein.

I pause and straighten my tired back.
The leaves rustle as the rake falls and I make my way
Through the red and orange stacks to my cat, Einstein,
Who rolls in the late sun on the pavement with such abandonment.
I envy him.
He breathes in the air, then pounces on a pile
Of imaginary mice.
I watch him, seeing life in this temporary death.
Icicle fingers of the wind caress my cheeks, and I pull my jacket closer.
Scooping up my cat, who smells of fresh dirt, I hold him close
And walk inside to the warmth of my family.
I am home.

Throwback Thursday: The Clan of the Carb-Bores (early 1990s)

Clan of the Cave BearDid you read the Clan of the Cave Bear series? I did in the 1980s, borrowing the books from my mom, who got really into them. Well, really into the first one, at least – she didn’t care for the later ones that devolved more into romance novels (can you guess why I loved them?). I remember loving it (and in fact I ought to reread it) – apparently so much that I spoofed it in this short story that I must have written sometime during my college years.

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The Clan of the Carb-Bores

“Aaii! Why am I so ugly, Mother?” the girl wailed, looking at herself in the mirror.

Her foster-mother, I-Shape, sighed in sympathy, the same sympathy that had led her to take in this deformed, orphan girl-child in the first place. I-Shape had been so sure that she could turn this pitiful creature into a proper woman (one who weighed about as much as a house cat).

As medicine woman for her followers, I-Shape dictated the diet of each member within her franchise area. She had been so successful that her customers were forever extolling the advantages of her diet, which was based on drastic carbohydrate reduction. For this reason, they were widely known as the Carb-Bores.

I-Shape‚Äôs named was an apt description of her figure, which formed one straight line from head to toe. But this strange foster daughter of hers was different. No matter how low I-Shape dropped the carbohydrate ratio, the unfortunate girl’s cheeks still blossomed out in cushions of pink, just as her body curved in and out in the most embarrassing places. Being so big and ugly, she naturally carried the cruel name of A-Line.

The same name was used to describe the garments she had to wear to conceal her dreadful body‚ÄĒshapeless draperies of black and brown. Only proper women, like I-Shape, could wear the bold prints, bright colors and clinging fabrics that emphasized their contours‚ÄĒor, rather, their lack of them.

I-Shape sighed again. If only A-Line were a man she might still win respect, like Carb the mighty More-girth. He was badly deformed like A-Line, although his hideous roundness was centered around his middle. Of course no women would have him, but he was still allowed to remain in the community, giving diet advice to others. He had simply admitted that he could not stay on his diet long enough to lose weight, since, for some mysterious reason, he had to diet harder and longer than other people to lose the same amount.

No woman could have made the same admission, though. No woman could ever be forgiven for failing to stay on her diet, no matter how long it lasted and how hard it was. Naturally most women were always hungry.

To forget the pangs that tortured them constantly, the women threw themselves into a frenzy of aerobic exercises. They assured each other that they were having fun while burning off the extra energy‚ÄĒbut since they didn’t have any energy to start with, they were usually limp and exhausted after the first few minutes.

They could not conceal their envy of A-Line, who really did enjoy all the jumping and dancing around, since she had lots of energy to burn. It was, I-Shape realized, just one more thing that set her poor daughter apart from the community. That and the far worse secret even I-Shape didn’t know about: A-Line loved to cook.

This horrible vice had to be hidden in daylight, but A-Line simply could not resist getting up in the middle of the night to perform the forbidden acts of ingredient-gathering, oven-heating and perhaps even batter-mixing if her culinary efforts were leading to the most forbidden activity of all: cake-baking.

She had tried her best to hide her secret from the others, sneaking downstairs when she was sure everyone else was asleep and keeping the kitchen in darkness. Inevitably, though, the aroma had alerted the keen and half-starved sense of other dieters nearby.

Carb the More-girth had finally decreed that despite all tradition, A-Line seemed to have some inborn need to cook. He allowed her to continue doing so only if she remained satisfied with taking a small sliver of cake for herself while cutting huge hunks for the men (who were allowed to follow their diets less strictly). In fact, he had begun to refer to her as Woman Who Bakes.

Her culinary talents won her some small, grudging acceptance from some of the men. But alas, they only increased the contempt of Board, the mighty dieter. He had already despised her bitterly enough, constantly admonishing her that she could easily lose weight if she used a little willpower and boasting that he had never eaten more than one diet cracker per day, ever since his pediatrician had pronounced him to be dangerously overweight at the age of three months. As a result, he had earned the name that described his shape.

It was a cake‚ÄĒactually, Board’s secret craving for cake‚ÄĒthat finally proved to be A-Line’s undoing. Having proudly refused, for months, his allotted hunk, Board decided one night to try a mere morsel. However, as his taste buds all but burst, Board lost control and threw himself onto the cake. Later he sobbed, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.”

Naturally, Board blamed A-Line for tempting him. Subconsciously, he hated her even more bitterly for another reason: She’d always been able to eat cake in moderation while he had totally lost it in one try. He knew that because of this awful incident, he stood a good chance of becoming renamed Man Who Pigs.

Board was all for sending A-Line to the diet camp right then. But More-girth spoke up for her (as soon as he swallowed his own cake), asking what other woman of the clan would subject herself to the terrible danger of baking for the man.

But he couldn’t continue to protect her, though, after the horrible sin she committed on the night of the men’s diet meeting.

Even I-Shape was forbidden to come downstairs on the nights when the men met to discuss their dieting problems. (It was not seemly that women should know that men had any problems at all.) A-Line had not meant to eavesdrop, either. She simply forgot that this was the night, of all nights, when she was to stay upstairs and forgo the foray into the kitchen.

But downstairs she was, reading a new recipe, and she could not avoid overhearing Board, the mighty dieter, speaking these forbidden and abominable words: “One large with sausage only, and one large with everything but anchovies.”

It could not be! But it was! Their carbohydrate-starved bodies had driven these men to commit the most contemptible crime of all‚ÄĒsending out for pizza!

Hearing her gasp of horror, they discovered her. More-girth gasped with horror, too, knowing that not even he could save her now. She must be sent to the diet camp.

Blind with terror, A-Line raced into the night, and her excellent health and stamina soon put her far ahead of her pursuers. Suddenly she found herself gasping again, only this time from amazement. A young man was coming towards her, openly eating something that looked perfectly delicious! He was obviously not someone from the area because he seemed to have no fear of someone grabbing his treat away for his own good and flogging him unmercifully with carrot sticks.

The she remembered. Long ago she had heard of a people called the Jellidonutii who actually ate three meals a day. Some, like this daring young man, had even been seen eating verboten delicacies like jelly donuts‚ÄĒhence their name. The young man grinned.

“Greetings,” he said merrily. “I am called Jocular. You look healthy. Are you one of us?”

“No!” A-Line wailed. “I am not normal. I can’t keep ‘the weight’ off no matter how much I diet.”

“Well, then,” he said, giving her the once-over, “this must be your normal size, kiddo. So stop hiding under those yucky clothes and come with me.”

A-Line wasn’t sure what came over her, but she not only fell into step at Jocular’s side, but toyed with the ties of her bulky cloak until it slipped from her shoulders. As the cool night air caressed her bare arms, she suddenly felt empowered even if it was about a zillion more centuries before someone came up with a word for it.

Whatever the feeling was or wasn’t called, it felt GOOD. Just as it felt good to know that she soon would share her secret with Jocular, admitting she was the Woman Who Bakes and offering to whip him up a torte any old time he was in the mood. She had the feeling there were many Women Who Baked among his people, and Men Who Baked, too. And even more beings like the handsome Jocular: People Who Were Happy. She could not wait to get to know them…and him.

The curvaceous A-Line soon was immediately renamed A-Plus by the well-fed Jellidonutii (who varied in size from skinny to regular to big and beautiful‚ÄĒgo figure). Not long after, she and Jocular were married atop an impressive wedding cake of the bride’s own creation. Since Jocular turned out to be not only a Man Who Bakes, but also a Man Who Sautes, the twosome happily joined forces to open the first restaurant in recorded history: The Filet Magnon. They later had a child named Julia who got into sauces and whose descendants have not exactly gone unnoticed in culinary circles.

Author‚Äôs Note: In Jean Auel’s book The Clan of the Cave-Bear, we learned of the primitive customs and superstitions of the Neanderthals–of Broud the brutal hunter, Iza the medicine woman and even Creb the priestly Mog-Ur of the Clan. We admired the superior advancement of the Cro-Magnons, also called the Zeladonii and the Mamutoi, when they appeared in the three (thus far) sequels:¬†The Valley of the Horses, The Mammoth Hunters, and The Plains of Passage.

The heroine of all four is Ayla, a Cro-Magnon orphan who breaks the Neanderthals’ sexist taboos and becomes Woman Who Hunts. Fearful of her great wisdom and strength, they eventually banish her via the Dreaded Death Curse. Luckily, her wanderings soon lead her to Jondular, a very eligible Cro-Magnon bachelor who makes all those Neanderthal males look like a bunch of, well, Neanderthals.

We musn’t be too hard on those primitive cavemen, though. Just think of how primitive we will seem to chroniclers of the future, when they try to describe our customs and superstitions. Among other things, they will surely wonder about the strange sacrifices made in the name of weight loss, by members of such strange clans as Metrocali, the Optifasti, the Nutrasweeti, the Calorie-Counteri and, worse of all…

THE CLAN OF THE CARB BORES

 

Throwback Thursday: Up In The Air – Short Story from 1990

green-eyesI have a vague memory of starting this as a romance¬†novel, but apparently I turned it into a short story. Sure, I can see lots of things that I could improve, but hey, I wrote it at age 18. What do YOU think? (Bonus Points if you remember the Yugo cars and Like cola that I mention here…)

 

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Tennis magazine in hand, he settled back for the long and uncomfortable flight back to the states. Even in first class the seats weren’t large enough for his 6’6″ frame, but to be crammed into coach by his company was pure misery. “All for a bunch of sauerkraut,” he thought, and stared out the window at the concrete below.

“Excuse me…‚ÄĚ A voice came through the buzzing of the other passengers. “Excuse me, sir,” it tried again after receiving no answer. The man turned toward a pair of large green eyes. “I think you have my seat.”

He glanced at his boarding pass stub. 22c. The woman was right. “Damn. Not only coach, but the aisle seat, too,” he muttered to himself.¬† He hated the aisle. He always sat by the window. It was there he could escape the mundaneness around him by focusing on the world outside. He rose slowly, hunching over so as not to bump his head, and fixed the woman with an intense stare as he moved over.

“Thanks.”

The man said nothing as she brushed past him. “I hate green eyes,” he thought. “Just like Grandmother’s cat.”

* * * * * * * * *

“He looks like a brooding poet,” the woman mused, imagining a 19th century English aristocrat.¬† “What angry eyes.” She glanced quickly at him and giggled, feeling sorry for him. “A possum, maybe, or a porcupine, all scrunched up in a little ball,” she thought. “Or in his case not so little.” She giggled again.

He frowned and looked away.

She looked out the window and thought about all the little people running around doing their little jobs. She hoped she’d never end up like that- they reminded her of ants scurrying around, intent on their purpose and gaining food, and avoiding everything else. Life was regulated enough, why did these people enforce routines upon themselves? The jet engines hummed as the plane began to back away from Frankfurt am Main International Airport. After one last, lonely look at the beautiful green in the distance, she fastened her seat belt and watched the stewardesses perform their demonstrations.

“Guten Morgen, meine Damen und Herren. Willkommen an Bord bei der Lufthansafluggesellschaft. Wir hoffen da√ü Ihr den Flug genie√üt, und werden alles gerne tun, um Sie bequem zu machen.”

“What did they say?”

“Pardon?” The man glanced up from his magazine.

“I don’t speak German. Do you know what they said?”

The green eyes rested on him intently. “Welcome aboard, if you need anything just ask,” he answered, dropping his eyes back down to a picture of Boris Becker. The woman continued to watch him, wondering at his standoffish manner.

“Oh. If they say anything important, could you please let me know?” She flashed him a nervous smile as the plane gently lifted into the air.

He was studying her, one eye on the magazine, the other on her.¬† He didn’t know why. She intrigued him somewhat, he supposed. But he hated women who giggled. And she had green eyes to boot. Images of his grandmother’s black cat came to mind. He’d loved his grandmother, with her Thanksgiving turkey and gingham dresses, her smooth white skin and creased eyes. He’d always thought of her as a relic from the past, a way of life forgotten. She’d been his June Cleaver, his guard against the loneliness that he sometimes felt. The trips to Grandmother’s house were his haven, his hiding place from his angry parents. Until the cat came. He knew that cat had hated him. Fierce penetrating eyes had seemed to watch his every move. Those eyes made him feel exposed, bared to the world. Grandmother had coveted the cat, and it embarrassed him that he was jealous of the love she gave it. When Grandmother had died, they’d found the cat next to her, staring up with accusing green eyes. He had hissed and lashed out when they’d tried to move him, and the man still bore the scar he’d gotten as a boy. But it was those eyes, accusing eyes that haunted him still. “Ridiculous,” he muttered. “I will not be afraid of a cat.” But still he shied away from green eyes.

The woman studied him, too, but quite openly. Stodgy, she thought. Probably has his life scheduled to the hilt. I bet he couldn’t cut loose if he tried. She contemplated whether or not to introduce herself, but his frown seemed to warn her away. Psychotic. Why do I always get stuck next to the weird ones?

She thought about the people she was leaving behind, and compared them to the stranger next to her. The contrast made her want to laugh, but she didn’t. In France, people worked hard, but they also knew how to play. This man next to her looked like he’d forgotten that essential of life. A mixture of anxiety and fear began to surround her. What would she do when she got back home? She no longer even thought of New Haven as that. She gnawed on her lower lip, wondering how her mother would treat her. If it were with the same detachment as before, she didn’t know if she could handle it, but what else could she expect? She looked out the window. Clouds were so soothing. They flowed smoothly and peacefully past, unimposing, free, and she felt herself grow calm again. The land grew smaller beneath her. Little dots of color crawled down the highways that plowed across the countryside, intruding on the natural beauty. She sighed in remorse, drawing his curious eyes to her. She didn’t look, but dug out her latest romance book and began to read.

“Why do people read such trash?” The question startled him as much as her.

“What?”

“Why do you read that stuff?” he repeated, and his eyebrows drew together.

“Do you want a serious answer? I could just say it’s for the bed scenes, like everyone thinks.”

“Well, if not that, then why? They’re all formula anyway.” He didn’t really know why he was asking. He didn’t really even care.

“You can learn a lot of history from them, actually. I once answered a test question that way,” she giggled. He frowned. “But I read them for the love, the psychological love. It’s missing in my life, so I find it in these. Good enough?” She was starting to get annoyed. People always berated her about her choice in reading. What difference did it make to him, anyway? He hadn’t exactly been Mr. Friendly himself, what right did he have to pass judgment?

He shifted in his seat, feeling awkward for obviously angering her. But why should he care? He’d never see her again, wouldn’t want to even if he had the chance. Soon he’d be back on familiar territory, and could resume his regular routine. His eyes flickered in her direction. She was staring out the window. He turned back to his magazine.

The woman surveyed in amusement the people around her, wondering, as she always did, who they were and what they were doing. It was amazing to contemplate how many people were in the air at any given moment, each flying for some purpose to some unknown destination. Airplane flights seemed somehow more significant, more meaningful than driving a car. After all, no one took a flight just for the hell of it, did they? They all had plans, intentions; they didn’t just fly to see where they would end up. She’d do it if she could afford it. The earth was so much more beautiful when one was not buried in the drudgery of it. Gliding over the clouds, looking at the marbling of the fields and the ribbons of water weaving across the land brought peace of mind. It took one out of the small and brought them into the whole, the oneness of land and people.

A little boy in the seat ahead of her caught her eye. He was standing on his mother’s lap, grinning exuberantly at her with great joy as he proudly displayed his bottle, shaking it up and down. She smiled in return and made gitchy goo noises, much to his delight. He waved the bottle ecstatically, letting it go with a squeal, and watched as it fell onto the man with the magazine. The top came off and the milk gushed out, cascading over a picture of Ivan Lendl and dribbling uncomfortably down the man’s leg. He started in surprise and bumped his head on the over-head panel before his still-fastened seatbelt snapped him back down into his seat.

The woman’s eyes widened and she clasped a hand over her mouth to keep from giggling, but her shoulders convulsed in a telltale manner. The boy shrieked enthusiastically, and the mother turned around in quick embarrassment, apologizing profusely.

“It’s no problem, ma’am,” the man replied tightly. His thighs felt clammy and the smell of the milk was beginning to make him nauseous. He handed the empty bottle back to the mother. “Things like this don’t happen to business executives,” he thought to himself, wiping at his pants with his coat, and discarding the magazine entirely.

“Can I help?” asked the woman. Her nose still twitched suspiciously, but she looked all seriousness. He eyed her caustically, drawing his brows up into a fierce scowl.¬† Unruffled, she returned the look, imitating him as best she could. They remained that way for several moments, until a noise distracted them. They swiveled simultaneously toward the boy, who was scowling ferociously, obviously enjoying this new game. The absurdity of their actions struck them both at the same moment, and the man and the woman collapsed in a fit of laughter.

After a few moments, the man looked over at her, surprised. He hadn’t ever done something like that in public. She looked back and grinned. “He got you good, didn’t he?”

He found himself grinning in return. “Yes, I guess he did.”

“We seem to have gotten off to an awkward start, haven’t we? Should we try again? I’m Kathleen. Kathleen O’Connor.”

Irish, he thought. They had nasty tempers, didn’t they?

“Nicholas Hartmann.” German, she thought. Interesting.

“Where are you going?” she asked him. There, she’d finally gotten to ask someone.

“Home, actually. I’ve been on business.”

“What do you do?”

“I’m an advertising executive. Actually, I come up with slogans for various products.” He grew pensive for a moment, reflecting on his recent failure, then looked at her.

“Do you mean like ‘You go Yugo, you go dead?'”

“What?” His head snapped up. She laughed.

“I don’t know. I always thought that was a pretty fitting slogan for those cars. Or how about ‘Do you like Like like Like likes you?’ That one was for Like cola. I think they went out of business now, though.”

He chuckled to himself at the thought of presenting those to his boss, but then brought himself up short. He never chuckled- it reminded himself too much of giggling.

“Kann ich Sie etwas zu trinken bitten?” The stewardess interrupted, drawing them away from their study of each other.

“Ja. Ich m√∂chte eine Cola Light, und sie…” he turned to her questioningly. “ein Bier, bitte,” she answered proudly, explaining afterwards that was the only German she knew.

As the stewardess turned to get their drinks, he marveled inwardly at the strange woman (Kathleen, he amended) and her unconventional manner. If only her eyes weren’t green. He sipped his Diet Coke quietly.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

The man had fallen asleep sometime ago, his head lolling toward the woman and his mouth slightly opened. She watched him awhile, thinking of how much more relaxed he appeared. She wondered why he held himself so aloof, whether he actually felt he was better than others or if it were a defense mechanism to keep people from getting inside him. She suspected the latter. Her friends had always told her she herself was too flamboyant, too outgoing. How could she explain that that was her defense? How could she explain the isolation of growing up with a mother she didn’t know because her mother ignored her? She liked people, that much was true. But her behavior was more a decoy than an attention-getter. If people concentrated on what she did rather than who she was, she was safe, because she didn’t really know who she was. Kathleen O’Connor. Age 23. A strange mix of optimism and self-doubt. That’s how she thought of herself. Passive-Positive: one whose life is a search for affection as a reward for being agreeable and cooperative. She’d read that in a book one time.

She looked out the window at the ocean below. It was dotted here and there with white. Icebergs, she supposed. From the top the ocean looked glossy, unfathomable. That there was much below the surface she had no doubt, and it amazed her that it could disguise its treasures so well. People were not only like icebergs, like the common saying, but they were like the ocean, too. Underneath they hid so much, both good and bad, and the further one dove the more they discovered.

She glanced at the man once more (Nick, she reminded herself), contemplating this thought, then laid her head back on the seat and drifted off.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

He awoke with a start, as he always did, feeling like he’d missed something important. Realizing he was still on the plane he relaxed a bit, but grimaced as the hardened fabric of his pants where the milk had spilled scratched his leg. Yawning, he sat up and glanced at his watch. He hoped they’d be on time, as he still needed to go to the office to explain to his boss why they’d lost the account. They hadn’t actually lost it, since the Knorr company had decided against producing a new kind of sauerkraut (he secretly agreed with their decision- who would want to buy onion and bacon flavored sauerkraut when the original stuff was bad enough?), but he knew his boss wouldn’t see it that way. Since it was Tuesday, he’d go to the gym to work off some frustration, and then work on his finances. He’d almost rather take the evening off, but work was work and schedules were important.

He turned toward the woman, who was still sleeping. He’d opened his mouth to say something, he’d already forgotten what, but closed it again, not wanting to disturb her in her sleep. She looked so young, with her carelessly braided black hair and slightly chubby cheeks, chubbier now as her head slumped on her shoulder. Young, but not afraid. He tried to remember himself at her age, guessing her to be about ten years younger than his own 32. Apprehensive, concerned about the future, his future. But he’d done well, he admitted, netting a good job with a secure future and good money. He had a small condo furnished with quality pieces of furniture, tasteful but not over-priced. Everything was in order and he was in control of everything. He knew many people would be envious, but sometimes he was so…bored.

The thought struck him suddenly. “Bored?” he whispered. Yes, bored. His life structured, organized, boring…But this is what he wanted, and it was what he’d worked so hard for. “What’s the point of working so hard if you don’t enjoy the result?” It scared him to think he wasn’t satisfied to be where he was when he’d done all he had to get there. He’d built himself a place of security that was supposed to make up for the loneliness of his childhood, his divorced parents, his dead grandmother. He felt lonelier than ever.

“Are you O.K.?” a voice asked groggily. The woman sat up slowly and stretched as best she could.

“I’m fine,” he answered. “And you?”

She hated clich√© answers. “You looked a little worried.”

“I was thinking about business,” he responded crisply, although he didn’t know what had angered him. Her. Her freedom. Her spontaneity. Her ability to laugh. He wanted that. And he did something he’d never done before; he told her.

“Me? You want to be like me?”¬† She was shocked. How could anyone want to be like her when she always felt like she was falling apart, feeling good about things only when she could get away from them? She was so worried about becoming like everyone else, turning into a rat, turning into her mother, she did everything to avoid it, but where did that leave her? She had no plan, no vision, unlike the man. But she still knew she did not want to be like him, trapped by routines and responsibilities, unable to escape oneself. She didn’t know what she wanted.

“I never asked you,” he continued. “Why are you here? Where are you going?”

The question so paralleled her own thoughts she almost laughed. “I don’t know. I only know where I’ve been.”

His eyebrows drew together, obviously puzzled by her answer.

“I’ve just spent a year in France,” she went on, “and I have one more year left in SUNY-Binghamton. After that…?” How could she tell him, this man she’d just met. How could he understand? She’d come to a foreign land to not only escape from her own, but to learn to better understand herself. That’s what everyone said would happen. She’d wanted to gain perspective, to figure out what she really desired from life. And she’d loved it, been fascinated, learned a lot. But she didn’t know anymore about herself, what she wanted, than before. The confusion was only clearer.

“Guten Abend, meine Damen und Herren. In ein paar Minuten kommen wir in John F. Kennedy International Airport an, und wir wollen Sie erst bedanken, da√ü sie mit Lufthansa geflogen sind. Wir hoffen wir haben alles gemacht was Sie gebraucht haben, und laden Sie ein, mit uns wieder zu fliegen. Herzlichen Dank!”

Her eyes looked into his for a brief moment, but he glanced away. “Are we landing soon?”

“Yes.”

Neither one looked at the other. They busied themselves with fastening seat belts, rearranging carry-ons, each conscious of the fact they would be leaving in a few minutes.

As the plane touched down and began taxiing toward the gate, the man turned to her.

“It was good to meet you,” he said, eyes cast down and brows furrowed. “If you’re ever in Chicago, maybe we could-”

“Yeah, maybe,” she cut him off, fussing with her hair. She felt an irrepressible sadness. She didn’t know if it came from being back on the ground or from leaving.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

As they exited the plane, he tried to think of something to say, anything to reestablish contact with her. She had distanced herself, appearing cool and under control. She walked quickly away, disappearing into the crowd. She didn’t want to see the man. He had touched her in some way; perhaps in the way he had opened up to her, something she knew was rare for him. That she could inspire such trust amazed her.

He watched her go, knowing that in the last ten hours she’d left a permanent impression on him. He headed toward customs, at once sad and optimistic. He had a lot of thinking to do, but somehow it didn’t seem as frightening anymore.

She turned around once more, impulsively searching for him, but he was gone, lost among the many people. Waiting at the baggage claim for her luggage, she realized the old feeling of being trapped was gone. She didn’t know if it would return. Kathleen smiled to herself, still unsure of what she wanted to do, but for the first time confident she could figure it out. She glanced up and saw her mother by the exit. “She looks nervous”, Kathleen thought, surprised. Then her mother flashed her a quick, anxious smile, and she knew from that one small gesture things would be different. She didn’t know how, but it was enough for now.

Grabbing her bags, she shuffled toward the exit. She turned slightly to readjust her purse on her shoulder, and in that moment she saw him standing by the ticket counter. Their eyes met and they gave each other a smile, a mixture of thanks and understanding.

The man walked up to catch his next flight, anxious to get home and start his Tuesday routine. Or more likely, to revamp it. He felt the green eyes follow him. He knew they always would, just like Grandmother’s cat, but this time he felt no fear.

Throwback Thursday: The Sea (probably 1993?)

waveThe sea was deep and turbulent, raging, seething, the day I dove into your life.
It sucked me in, in under the surface, churning and thrashing, wave after wave.
I scraped along your rocky bottom, waiting to drown, the force of you holding me down.
Should I be grateful, then, that it spit me back up, landing me on your shore? Battered and shaken, I watched you recede, darkly.

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(I’m starting to see now why I crave the HEAs in romance; I need them to counterbalance the sadness of my own poetry.)