The phone rings subtly, the thunder does not. Drunken calls from Myrtle Beach inspire a longing for beaches, for memories, washed away like grains of sand in the tide.
Parched from the conversation, the thought, and I wonder:
Could you drown in a glass of water?
I reach for the glass as I sit up in the bed that belonged to her. Grandma’s bed. The glass balanced on Grandma’s coaster. I don’t dare remove either from the room on the off chance she’s watching. She was always so neat.
The coaster conveniently rests on the smooth corner of a bookshelf made from a block of cherry and Dad’s hands. It’s signed on the back ‘By Dad, To Son – September 1992’.
This room has had as many purposes as occupants over the years: storage closet, to nursery, to hospital room and back. I purvey the walls in the dark and the walls look back. Press clippings, posters, trading cards – a wallpaper of heroes. The room now a shrine that I sleep in.
Littered clothes coat the floor like carpeting, books sporadically stacked into towers of some misshapen architectural design. There’s still a hook for a hat on the back of the door.
Rain floods in with thoughts through an open window screen, collecting in a bucket on the floor. A motorcycle engine races against the thunder. Plugged into an outlet and nearly electrocuted, thunder booms and Al Green channels through iPod ear-buds. It’s a shame we don’t spend more time listening to thunderstorms. Sometimes we need the rain.
It’s nearly 3 a.m. in the morning and I still can’t sleep, writing by lightning flash. Life’s purpose, my purpose, escapes me.
Water takes the path of least resistance through the shingles. No direction in mind, allowing gravity to steer. A spring breeze gives life to dormant drapes and I glance out through the window to the lawn. Dad’s grass grows through the hay in the spring and is coming in just fine this year. Last year he put the seeds down too late, but they need time.
And rain, of course.
Is it too late? Wish I could do more, start again – I’d remember to fertilize this time. I’d remember that if we do what we always do, we’ll get what we always get. I did something different. I got something different. Different isn’t always good.
I take a sip in the room that belongs to no-one.
Last drips of light sponge into the horizon.
“Can you make the throw?” I still hear the voices every time I pick up a ball.
Sunspots dust my eyes through reflected visor plastic, condensation pooling with every carefully dosed breath through flared nostrils. Hiding in a helmet.
Nowhere did I feel safer, never did I feel more vulnerable; exposed. Garbed in mask and armor, Zoro masquerading, leaving my mark distinctly with every arm stroke, a renegade always on the run, cape neglected from the ensemble as it had a penchant for slowing down my gait.
Two strides, balls of my feet bouncing like twenty-five cent rubber trinkets off the graded tire turf.
I can hardly force down cotton full swallows of spit.
I’m deaf to the world entirely, feeling for vibrations in the dark – a base drum heartbeat, footsteps that rumble the ground. Like the bats darting in and out of lights flooding over the field above, echolocation my guide.
The unknown terrifying, what we know all too well, equally so. Damning. What I seek, I can’t find and I’ve learned thinking lightly is difficult to do. I try anyways.
“Did you ever see the sun set from the hill?”
“Never dared to look, Adam. It’s always a race and you know how I hate to lose.”
Three steps, a rubber-band-snap release, 40 yards and a leather to plastic thunk in the bottom of a trashcan; resounding.
“They’re pretty, you know, sunsets. You get to see a day end, reflect, enjoy.”
Unresponsive, unflinching, I sling off another pass into the waning, melancholy light; mechanical.
“Wouldn’t hurt to watch a sunset every once in a while, Scarecrow.”
Frozen in my drop, my mouth unclenching as if drips from an oil can had been applied liberally. I thought about the long road ahead, about home, about walking through cloud. Comfort intertwined with fear, both having their purpose.
The sun will be back, many times in fact. Rising, setting, bobbing through the sky on the end of a fishing line. I know this just as I acknowledge my sunsets are counted. Drifting along through rippled waters.
“I’ll watch sunsets on the moon.”