I entered the basement with a sigh and tried my best to
mute the gladness in my eyes. It was a deep long
breath, one that i never would replace.
Though we'd just met I held a memory of her face so
fresh and clear, just like a photo in a frame of a girl
taken before I ever knew her name. It was a mental
snapshot of her high above me on a stage. Back then
she'd been like a J.D. Salinger novel; my eyes had
never left the page.
Five or six chairs, she went and set them in a row. I
sat down and oh, she didn't even know what I was
thinking. Soon her voice rang out. For an hour or two
or three all eight of us joined in the song until our
breath grew short and the evening had grown long.
At the end of the night I walked out past a table full
of bowls of popcorn. I climbed the stairs, kicking
aside a thumbtack and then I made my way back home on
the wings of a downy twilight. Two miles I walked
haunted by words that we'd recite in another seven day
span, when again I'd see her pale hands mime a
pirouette on the keys of her synthesizer.
A few weeks later I was following her home on my bike,
the one with the bum rear brake and the gears that had
gone on strike. So as one can imagine, I was straining
on the hills, though I tried hard not to let her know.
I was noticeably out of breath, though, so I suppose it
had to show. ('Silly, anxious me,' I think now.)
On the way to her house we crossed NE Broadway and
cruised the sidewalk of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Boulevard, which you're really not supposed to do and
yet we did it anyway. She asked if that was illegal,
and it could be for all i knew, but i vowed to myself
that I would not reveal her. I wouldn't let them steal
her when they'd arrive to arrest me for the crime of
the crush I was cementing on her.
As far as I was concerned the police could lock me
away. I just hoped they'd still say I could play my
guitar in the cell, where i'd construct a bridge part
for the song that i would craft to win her love.
And it would go, 'I wish I could squeeze you just like
a vanilla sandwich creme, pressing my fingers to your
middle. You know it would be a dream watching your
sweetness pour out. Oh girl, I surely would be redeemed
for all the time I've wasted querying my bedroom walls
for the secrets of your foreign heart all during my
lonely trip upstream.'
Last night in her car I pulled a cassette out of its
case; I won't deny the subtle glow that took her face.
When she recognized those chords to a song that was her
own, I was scared we'd crash, but luckily she got me
home without a scratch. Then the song came to its end,
a recording of my voice with her words, and the vehicle
was silent once again.
I rolled down the window since the door had to be
opened from the outside. I popped out the tape and
quickly stammered a goodbye. I didn't want her to drive
away, but I couldn't tell her so, so I stepped aside
and closed the door behind me. I watched the rain then
blindly dance from the road as the wheels began
A knot in my throat, cramped by the words that were
burning, it released to an audience of myself and the
lampost, making light of my unrequite, alone on the
front porch thinking, 'I thought I'd never feel this
Oh, I wish I could squeeze her like a vanilla sandwich
creme, pressing my fingers to her middle. I know it
would be a dream watching her sweetness pour out. I
know I surely would be redeemed for all the time i
spent there staring at her bedroom walls so enraptured
by her foreign art, knowing my hopes were not obscene.
And she could take that or leave it, but i'm for taking
it all the way. I'm serious, you wouldn't believe the
sides I took when we were alone today: I went from
assuming her glances to be no more than cursory to
thoughts that the only reason she doesn't read my mind
aloud is 'cause she's just not brave enough, because
she's afraid just like me. But of course, as always, i
could be mistaken.