A Platonic Upheaval

Posted: July 7, 2011 in Fiction
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Here I am and I don’t even know where to start. All I know is it began with her.  It always starts with a woman, doesn’t it?  From the highest plateau of the sublime to the deepest cry of existence, it begins and ends with a woman.  Everything anyone has ever known has begun as the result of a woman’s womb.  Without her, nothing could ever exist.  Without her, where I find myself today would never exist.  And it began innocuously enough.

I was at work, on a graveyard shift, and only about an hour into it.  The doorbell announced the future; yet another customer and the night was still young.  Pure instinct and not a little amount of experience forced my eyes upon the door, ready to greet the one who entered.  And there she was. She smiled, I smiled. But her smile was different; it took the form of one who knows a joke and can’t wait to heap it upon you.  I tried not to follow her trajectory, not at all wanting to give myself away.  I didn’t want to surrender the secret; that I thought she was beautiful. And besides, I had customers in front of me who needed my attention.  One, two, three and to the four, and then there was her.  I tried to maintain my composure.  On the inside I was hectic and rushing. Rushing and somewhat desperate like ol’ Seabiscuit chasing down War Admiral to get through every one of them.  Get through them all and get to her. And finally:

“Hello, will this be all for you?”

“Yes, this is all.”

Whether it was me, mired in hope, or whether perhaps it was her, I know not. But it seemed as though she were containing herself; like I had told her a joke and she couldn’t help but laugh. Well no, not laugh, a laugh would be loud and obvious. A giggle, it was a giggle. The kind of giggle that escapes even without your permission; like when as a youth you couldn’t keep from giggling in class. Even less so now that the teacher had warned you against it.  And to my surprise, she didn’t leave.  She took her purchase: small French Vanilla Cappuccino and Macadamia Nut cookies, and stood by the counter.  Another and another, they came. Customers presented themselves, each building the tension, hope and anticipation until, at last, there was a lull in business.

We talked. About everything.  About how I really didn’t mind 3rd shift because that’s when the interesting people come to the store. Do you mean drunk people? she asked.  Of course I do, I replied.  About how two nights ago she was driving back from Corpus with some friends and one of the more pretentious ones “sharted!” Had I heard this word before? she asked. Not really, no. I replied.

“Well, it’s when you fart and shit yourself at the same time!”

The cadence of her voice, the tone and inflection it took, by this time was already familiar to me.  Her laugh, which has became famous, first showed itself in this context.  About many more things we talked until every single customer became to me a bitter nuisance, moscas en la casa. Every purchase, precious minutes away from her.  The hour was approaching 2:30 am and I sensed our time was waning.

“I better go” she said, “Do you work tomorrow?”

“Yes, I’ll be here,” I said,  “Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel”

By now, my nerves and anxiety were showing themselves. The cold self-doubt of me next to a bella farfellina was winning the day.  What an idiot, I thought to myself.

“Ok, I have some homework to finish so I’ll come by after for my snack!  See ya”

“Goodnight” I replied.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  And were it not for the sheer platonic upheaval of that night, I just might be persuaded.  Dull, right?  Droll, que no?  But I tell you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, what a multitude have called chemistry was at work that night.  Here was a beauty for the ages, and we talked. Talked like it was meant to be.  Talked like eons of conversations supported the edifice of our friendship. Every word led to another like we had known each other before.  Like it was all beyond merely us.  This, you see, was part of her giggle.  A giggle she would later admit was beyond her and above her. A giggle she could no more control than I could control the torrent it caused within me.

This was day one, the most memorable day of January 2006.

By the next day, I was eager in anticipation.  Anticipation only a female can bring.  Getting up was no problem, getting around no big deal.  Life was soft around the edges.  I didn’t even dread going to work.  No, in fact, I awaited it.  With every entrance my eyes would cut across the store rapidly in large swaths of anticipation.  But my attention was on a simple desired observation: Was it her?  No. Another and no.  Then another, no.  Yet one again and, of course, nothing!  It wasn’t until I was, as we say in store vernacular, ‘in the middle of a customer,’ when to my longing eyes should appear, as the night before, my platonic upheaval.  She walked through the door with intentionality looking my way but once. And only once. She didn’t have to indulge me, her giggle informed me like an inside joke.  A thing only we shared to the exclusion of all others.  She giggled toward me, as it were, never once taking her attention off her desired goal: French Vanilla Cappuccino and Macadamia Nut cookies.

This time, however, she made herself at home.  And as I hastily rid myself of the pest the customers had now become she slowly pleasured herself, gastronomically speaking.

“Hey, you made it!” I said, trying desperately not to sound too happy.

“I know, it’s late! My homework ran longer than I thought.”

“What are you working on?” I asked.

“I’m practicing my Italian,” she informed me, “I’m going to Italy in February to learn the language for a class credit and I wanna be ahead of the course.”

“Really?! That is an amazing opportunity!” I bubbled, “Congratulations, I bet you’re excited?”

“Yes, I am. Very much so!”

“Say something in Italian!” I asked gleefully.

“No, I still suck at it!” she replied laughing, turning her head away from me pretending to walk away.

“Oh, c’mon!  Just one sentence or something!!”  I urged.

“Ok, ummm let’s see: “la notte è giovane e c’è molto parlare di”

I marveled at the beauty of it.  I knew not a word of what she had said but it was music to my ears all the same.

“What did you say?” I asked in complete curiosity.

She laughed, again pretending to walk away, “Something like: the night is young and there is much to talk about.”

A customer approached the counter and as I tended to him, she grabbed a newspaper.  In what was, I now know, her custom, she perused the classifieds for garage sales.  Turns out she bought and sold books, mostly on eBay, but also on occasional yard sales of her own. You know, for extra cash. And especially now with a looming trip over seas, she informed me she would be having one the following day.  Would I care to join her?  I don’t think I would have said yes any faster had she invited me to join her in Italy.  So with that, plans were made for the morrow.  And, again, I was in eager anticipation, for what by this point, was her sublime presence.  Just then, as she readied herself to leave, she leaned across me reaching to throw her wrapper into the bin.  I mustered the courage not to move and made myself an obstacle. The cusp of her shoulder grazed my chest and the fragrance of her hair filled every part of my being.  I couldn’t help but take in the breadth of her as she took the breath away from me by her close proximity.  I sighed and smiled. She noticed and smiled. And as she walked away and out the door, I missed her already.

All friends and lovers, brave sons and dear daughters turn ears my way! See my new found joy: she came as the morning sun and perforce drove many darknesses from my eyes. Bits and pieces they fell from my person like tiny scabs set in their way. As often happens on these bright and sharp mornings, when awake, the day presents herself in a thousand forms of splendor like the many faces of her.

This was day two and all manner of elation arose within me.

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