Home, Overgrown

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A familiar song played that evening. It was the rhythmic beep of my Nissan Altima door accompanied by the soft jingle of keys. The tape deck held melody.  This was not the only music playing in the parking lot of Guthrie Park Middle School.

We were talking about the city again, Rachel and I. She brought with her that quiet brilliance with each timely sigh and soft chuckle. Always in rhythm. 

I tried to keep the thoughts of unclothing that taut olive skin and athletic frame to a minimum. Her effects grew with every sweet whisper from her Persian lips. From under my Nike basketball shorts, to my cerebellum, I was bursting.

It was late summer and 3 months after I had graduated college, marking 22 years since I’d lived in Moncton.

 Scattered amongst those years ( especially the latter ones) were scenes similar to this one. It wasn’t always Rachel who occupied the passenger seat, but none of the others left it as warm. They probably all knew about Rachel too, she was there since gr. 9.

“I never know when you’re joking,” She said.

“Get to know me better,” I returned.

“I can’t. You know that,” she said.

“Because you think I talk to other girls?”

“No… that’s not it.” There was a noted reservation in her reply. 

She looked down and started flicking the keys. Her body language changed, it wore the sentimental pang that I’m no good at dealing with.

“Oh Moncton, boring little shit you are,” I sighed. “Look at us, chilling in a car on a Friday night.”

Her eyes said, “it really isn’t that bad”, but a beautiful melody in the form of a laugh came out instead.

“Where are all the other girls in the town you could call tonight?” She asked after some pause.

“Stop,” I said as my thoughts began drowning. Rachel always made me feel guilty. With no fault of her own, just the pure, natural honesty of a rose in a garden or a Greek sculpture. The kind of unassuming beauty that reminded me of the coating of shame that darkened my life. It made me weak.

“This place isn’t for you,” she said. 

“What do you mean?” I asked. 

“I mean you have a fancy degree, you’re smart and well put together, you’re the perfect catch.” She replied in the tone of an imperative that didn’t match her words.

I filled the following silence with, “Ha-ha”.

Somehow this made me think of sex. I gave her bedroom eyes that came across strong but were a silent surrender. Her lips were more than I could bare. As I reached over to the passenger seat to claim her, 

She interrupted with, “You got to go…”

“Where? Like out..”

“Out of this comfort zone. Away from Rahul’s convenience store, the 4 theatre cinema, Thai Sushi. You’re meant for bigger things,” she said before I could finish.

Graphic 1 1I kept silent. It always brings something deeper out of her.

“You’re going to hang around here, get a job you hate, drive your Nissan and get some girl who finds you irrevocably perfect, pregnant.” And although neither of us moved at that moment, a space grew between us.

She was referring to herself I thought, and the idea made me uncomfortable.

“You read too much. There’s nothing out there that could make me happier than where I am now. I have all I need, my love,” I said.

She looked at me as if I called her some obscenity, something found in a discount brothel, and said, “That’s selfish, you know anyone would sell his or her left arm to be as smart as you, you have it all.”

“Is it selfish to want some peace and not want to chase those rats in the city around?” I asked. It came out louder than I imagined. 

My heartbeat increased all the while. It always does when I’m scared.

This time she threw the weight of silence on me.

“What if I’m not that smart? Or special? What if I fail?” I finally managed to croak.

“It’s not just about you.” She said with milky calm. “It’s for the next guy and the guy after that. Who believe Moncton is a bubble, until you break the seems, and you get out.”

I closed the door the beeping was driving me nuts.

“Potential is such a tragic thing to waste.” She was looking straight at me, straight into me. I sighed.

“I don’t even know where to begin. I don’t even know where I’d go, what I’d do,” I said.

Graphic 2 copy 2
“You begin, you just begin, that’s all,” She replied. 

“I don’t want to be alone.”

“We’ll be here, I’ll always be here.” She said as the final bullet left her gun.

Her hand was stroking my hair. In as much as it was a sign of affection, it was pushing me away, telling me to go and that I must.


by @sledain


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