October 30, 2008

Turn My Key. Open My Door.

I wrote this story in 1995. I don't usually write in this style. But I always liked this one. What's funny is that I remember the dress I put in the story. Long and black, with metal ornaments dangling from the uneven hem. And I remember my goal. To write a story that would last just as long as the song. I've got that flash of embarrassment at looking at something I wrote so long ago. In a more naive style.

Anyway, here it is:

Miss You
(3:03 “Some Girls)

The passion you pretended
Was only to obtain,
But when the charm is ended
The charmer you disdain.
Your love by ours we measure
Till we have lost our treasure,
But dying is a pleasure
When living is a pain.

--John Dryden

Sitting in front of my stereo, as close to the speaker as I can get without morphing into it, I bow my head and listen to Jagger’s dark whiskey moan. The record sleeve is by my side, the colorful print of the women in their different wigs, all going for a look, a glamorous shot, a new way out.

I sip from the nearby bottle, my hand sliding around the cool neck of it, and I let Mick’s voice steal over me, let him wrap me in the sweet satin strands and strangle me.

And then, when the night is finally over and I can make my way through our empty house to take a shower, I click off the repeat button and let the song play one last time.

(Miss you.)

Post ice-cold shower, draped in a towel with my hair wrapped tightly, I wander into our bedroom and open the closet, not even looking at the still-made bed. No sense trying to sleep. No sense climbing beneath the sheets. No sense at all.

I dress myself carefully, keeping in mind what she would like to see me in if we were to run into each other. Keeping in mind that she likes me in jeans--tight jeans--and a white cotton T-shirt that’s been washed many times and has a soft sheen to it.

The mirror shows me what I look like, yet I know myself better from the feel alone: hollow, gaunt, unsteady. The T-shirt is slightly oversized, but when I move, when I turn my head, the fabric pulls taught over my breasts and shows off their curves, lays flat at my smooth belly, rides slightly out of my jeans to give a quick glimpse of the slim, pale line of my back.

I always choose the clothes carefully, keeping in mind that she likes my jeans worn hard, until they’re little more than faded blue denim threads. The Levis manage to conceal my long legs, the subtle roundness of my hips, but only barely, as if a strong wind might blow the ruined fabric to bits and leave me naked and free.

Quickly to the door, before the fear can work on me to hold me home. My keys are in my pocket, my sunglasses shielding me from the light. A few steps to the car, and I am safe again, ready to cruise, blocking out the words that form in my head and bat against my skull, like thick, neoprene bubbles.

Not gonna see her, that voice says.
(I know it.)
You haven’t seen her once in four months, it continues.
I know, and I also know that my eyes have a haunted look to them--the eyes of someone who was about to say something, but has forgotten what, something that’s right on the tip, right there, (I can almost taste it), right on the tip of my tongue . . . but it’s gone.

‘Cause she’s gone.

And still, I dress myself carefully, keeping in mind what she would like to see me in if we were to run into each other.
After dark, she likes me to wear black, says that I am like a cat at midnight, gray-green eyes flashing in the light of the moon. She says that black suits me, suits the mystery of me, so I wear my long black dress with the jangles on the bottom that sing when I walk, and I wear my cashmere coat that brushes the ground if I don’t wear heels. Or I slip on black jeans, still crisp with new, still crackly at the seams. I pull a thick, wool sweater over my head and shake my hair free until it finds its resting place on my shoulders, black snow that slides down my back and melts against my skin when I’m naked.

She says that black suits me, suits the mystery of me, so I wear my black velvet catsuit and I walk the streets, blending into the dark like a Tom on the prowl, blending into the featureless night like a creature-feature monster, searching for something that’s just within hearing distance, like the sound of a house settling down for the night, just within hearing distance . . . but gone.

‘Cause she’s gone.

Listen, Mick, can you stop for once, the sadness of it, the howl of it. Hurts too much, Mick, stop for just tonight. Please.
At home, hours later, I listen for the sound of her key in the lock, of her key in my lock, a different sound than mine makes, so lonely click-clicking in the empty metal hole, while hers filled it, (like water filling an empty glass), hers filled it to the top and then turned, turned, and opened.

(Miss you.)

I undress myself carefully--when too many days have passed and it’s finally time to go to sleep--keeping in mind what she would like to see me in if we were to run into each other. Keeping in mind that she likes me smooth at night, and fragrant from a cool, midnight bath. Cool skin, powdered dry, warm mouth on hers, warm lips on hers, my hands roaming over her body, fitting together with her in the jumble of our sheets, in the twisting and turning of a night no longer lonely.

(Oh, how I miss you.)

I keep one ear always ready to hear her key in the lock, keep the tip of my tongue poised against my teeth to say her name as she moves against me, slides against me, drives her body hard against mine. Keep the tip of my tongue poised to say her name the way she likes me to say it, a low moan, a sigh, a silent mouthing of her name with my head thrown back, exposing the vulnerable whiteness of my throat, exposing . . .


I am quiet and still on our bed, wearing nothing but the smell of my body, of the smell of my skin and my freshly washed hair and the heat that steals from me that she used to replace. But now I’m alone in our bed, and I think that every small sound is her key in the lock, and my body readies itself for her--as if it has nothing to do with my brain--it readies itself and my hips shift so slightly and my heart beats so fast, and if she were to walk in and tear down the sheet she could fill me and turn, turn, and open, and then it would end.

But she’s gone.
And I don’t think she’s coming back



Suzanne said...

Love the story AT, It made me ache a little around me heart. It's good to go back and look at things we wrote before, and see how much we've changed.

Alison Tyler said...

Hey, thanks so much, Suzanne.

I look at this, and edit the piece in my head.

But then I remind myself, I was a kid when I wrote the story. My view of the world was massively different.

Although my preference for songs remains the same. Some things don't change, I guess.


Neve Black said...

Wow! I really liked it. It has a haunting feel to it. Even though you were young, I can still hear your voice coming through.

You know, you had to stop at that place, before you got to where you're now. You know what I mean?

p.s. I find myself pulling my Some Girls CD and singing along with Jagger.

Angell said...

HOT DAMN - this story is a freaking masterpiece.

The imagery is incredible.

Love it Alison.