Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Open Road

The petulant visitor worried the deadbolts on the front door as she sat in the close and airless room---a tinny Glenn Miller track trilling.

"Don't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me.
Anyone else but me.

With anyone else but me..."

She stood up and checked the locks. Then she checked them again. And one more time. Just to be sure.

He was sneaky, this snake-oil-slinging swashbuckler poised outside her door. He was also unexpectedly patient. More patient than she could ever hope to be.

The trembling tip of her cigarette leapt to life with each reckless inhalation as she contemplated his infuriating endurance.

Hiding inside the inky darkness she remembered the time he knocked on her window in Denver, and how, by the light of a waning moon, he somehow convinced her to move to Los Angeles, California where she didn't have a job. Or friends. Any home. Or a plan.

It would not be the first time she'd crumbled.

"Just pack your stuff. Just go!" he'd harangued her as the moonbeams puddled at her bare and frigid feet that stood in an apartment she could no longer afford, when he convinced her to move from New Jersey to North Carolina.

"Just one thought, can change your life."

And so, she left. She always left eventually. Even after "sitting on her hands" like her friend Debbie Devito had taught her to do whenever she contemplated saying or doing anything incredibly stupid or juvenile.

She sat on her hands a lot.

She also did a lot of leaving, because her gentleman caller was charming and alive and he smelled like the beaches in San Felipe and the hotel rooms in Europe, and cross-country Greyhounds, and vast open spaces and how you'd think think freedom would smell, if it had a scent.

The grandfather clock ticked off the fading moments of indecision as she wondered if she had finally outgrown him. If the fanfare and the new had somehow lost its lustre, or allure.

"Be fair to me and I'll guarantee...
I won't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but you, till you come marching home."

She placed one hand, upon the door.

-Tara Callahan

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