Wednesday, January 28, 2004

A Picture in Less than a Thousand Words, though it deserves more

I ran across a picture today. It's a picture of a guy and a gal-- no longer boy and girl, not yet man and woman. I'd like to tell you a story about these two people-- some of it may be true, some it may just flow from my imagination-- I suppose I'll be the only one to really know.


Some people you meet in life will never leave you, whether you want them to or not. Some relationships form without the knowledge of either party involved. Some ties made can never be broken, no matter how hard you try. She knows this. She's tried. You can see it in the sadness trapped behind her smile, in the lilt of her eyelashes and the glaze across her entire expression. She's been here before, where he says what she knows deep down and yet cannot seem to accept. She's tried this before and she's tried to walk away.

The last time wasn't so much a walk as a peel across the state line. She sat in the driveway, car running idle for ten minutes that seemed like twenty with every tick and tock. Almost eerily, Jeff Buckley wailed Last Goodbye over the stereo. Slowly, she opened the door and the car lurched backward, threatening to roll down the steep gravel incline. Hastily she threw the parking break into gear, fearful it might impede her getaway. She'd taken her time, though, and written it just right so all she had to do was drop off the note and head out of town.

The termite-tattered stairs groaned even under her fragile frame. Her hand lingered near the doorbell for the last time. A roommate swung the door to on his way out for the day, warm spring air rushing into the dusty foyer. He stopped to look at her, ask her if she needed help, if perhaps she was lost. He didn't know her. Didn't recognize her. Maybe he'd seen her once, or twice. Maybe in pictures, but she hasn't been around for a couple of years and he was never asked to pay much attention. He didn't know the history and impact of message in her grip. She extended the envelope from her pale fingers, the guy's full name hastily scrawled across the front. The roommate took it and set it with the other mail. He'd get it later today.

Or did he? Seven months later, there they are in the exact position she prayed to avoid that spring morning: standing face to face, every inch scaled to a mile. His shoulders sagging slightly under the weight of his certainty in her hope dismayed. In her eyes one more bauble to the ocean between them. Resonating in their bones, Jeff Buckley's Last Goodbye one last time. That is, until the next time.