Monday, January 28, 2013

Moment Before

She sat on the velvet couch.  For its age, for the number of times it had been picked up and moved across the country, the shape of its cushions and arms had held up nicely, all of them still firm and plush but for a bit of fabric worn down on the edges of the armrest.  She remembered its position in each of her many houses and the particular walls over the years it had been pressed up against; its presence being one of the few constants in a life full of change. 
She sat on the velvet couch.  She was aware of her body and the constant tingling.  Unlike when her arms  fell asleep, the sensation now was lighter. It felt like she was being lifted, as though her body was slowly rising, winning the fight against gravity like a helium balloon. 
In direct contrast to this sensation, the parts of her which touched the couch, the back of her legs and back and butt, they all felt heavy and organic.  It was as though roots or thick curling vines had grown out of her and merged her body of flesh with the wooden legs of the couch and she had become part of the plaster walls and found a new home in the cracks. 
She was both floating and grounded, tasting salt on her lips and smelling sugar.
The tabletop lamp beside her was on and glowing, it seemed as bright as the sun. Even though there was no other source of illumination in the living room and the curtains were drawn against the night sky, she could see every color and shape that decorated the space.
She looked down at her lap and at the black a-line skirt which covered her ample white thighs.  She saw the tiny mesh of the material and the faint way it reflected the light like a moon.
She saw everything at once and in perfect detail. The pale pink walls trimmed with a golden wood along the edges, the narrow planks of the hardwood floor below the Persian area rug and all the tiny scratches on the ground. The glean of the coffee table just a foot from her knees and the few streaks left over from the last time she windexed the glass surface. 
It all shone in the light of the single lamp, all of it amplified by her intensified perception.  She sat with her hands on her upper thighs and noticed the sweat on her palms, smelling lightly of iron.  The tingling had gotten stronger, lifting her up and up and up and that sense of earthly groundedness kept her planted.
She sat on the velvet couch.  The dark blue curtains were mostly drawn, just a crack between the two panels was open in the center, perhaps just an inch wide.  The night outside seemed slightly pale and she wondered how close it was to the full moon. 
She sat there waiting as the clock in the kitchen ticked rhythmically, the ticking ringing against the walls in great booms and crashes, both lulling and jarring. The constant sound seemed to come quickly and yet an eternity would come and go between those ticks and tocks. She would notice the delicate trail of a cobweb in the far corner of the ceiling and remember a long ago birthday party of a long-lost friend and she would hear the songs of long ago, long evaporated from public memory. Then another tick would crash down, wrapping around the walls and pounding down on her flesh.
She sat on the velvet couch. Moments of her life flashed through her mind like a mashup of moving images and slides that moved at such a rapid pace she rarely noticed their presence until it was gone and she saw some other scene in her mind.
In the space of one tick of the clock she would see dozens of memories, perhaps more as they merged and shifted together, becoming new moments of recognition.  A bright blue car on a gravel driveway, her sister running down the carpeted hallway of their old home and falling at the edge of their bedroom door, a scene of herself in bed with her first love.
She saw words and old thoughts which had long since changed.  The fights and the kisses and long drives across the country with views of wheat and birds and landmarks never seen again.  The moons and road signs which she once noticed, the lines in books and magazines and the long steaming baths she once had every other day.
The room was glowing brightly, her body was shining, tingling, flying away, growing heavier and deeper and merging easily with the contents of the living room and flowing down into the foundation and then past all that cement and steel into the rocks and dark pungent earth that had supported her life.
She sat on the velvet couch knowing that soon he would come, she could hear his footsteps on the sidewalk, he would be there soon.

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