Published in The Lyndon Review.
The purpose to her moving my computer into the bedroom was twofold. First of all, that meant that she didn’t have to go into the living room, which by then had become the victim of a hostile takeover led by spilled ashtrays, moldy bread, dusty furniture, and several roaches, each of whom I had jokingly named Fred. Secondly, it meant that she could keep an eye on me and make sure that I didn’t spend too much time at the keyboard. She made the move while I was working the night shift at the gas station down the street. By the time that I got home I had been up for seventy-two hours straight and I didn’t care enough to make a complaint. Thus I became shackled to the bedroom, leaving only to work and to make my occasional and vain attempts at putting the house back into a state that remotely resembled clean.
Her snores were the type of rumbles that God probably makes when he stubs his toe: loud, commanding, and reeking of unhappiness. I had surreptitiously tossed out my spiral notebook when the words “goat-like troll woman” had gained more metaphors than necessary and I became worried that she might find it. But I had managed a good two hours of sleep yesterday, and I didn’t have to be in to work at the doughnut shop until midnight, so I decided to drag my feet and do something else before crawling into bed next to her. Our cat Nighty laid pinned underneath her massive armpit, so she wasn’t lacking for company anyway. After a few more justifications and silent motivational speeches, I convinced myself that I really wanted to write something substantial tonight.
I pressed the first key softly, and even then the minute clack that it made brought a wince to my face before I realized that her snores would probably drown out anything short of twelve car pileup. Still, I proceeded cautiously, and after three or four minutes I managed to produce a header:
The Yellow Dart
An Internet site that I had visited in a half-conscious state had very explicitly stated that “The Yellow Dart” was a great title, full of mystery and suspense. Those three words comprised the last entry that I had made in my hastily abandoned notepad, and I had tried using it in many an unfinished (and often unstarted) story. The title had come to represent something important and incoherent to me. Those three words represented the story that I couldn’t tell; the words that I couldn’t say.
My work continued, the letters chattering away in hushed voices under my careful fingers. As usual, I couldn’t think of anything that made for an interesting story. I turned my head for a moment and looked at the bed, examining her chubby baby-like toes sticking out from beneath the blankets and decided to write about what was most dear to me.
This is how we first met.
“Hey Leah…what’s up?” I continued on without waiting for an answer and my brain reached down to smack my voice box for moving too quickly. “Would you like to go see a movie or something tonight?” The words dashed out, my lack of courage and nervousness around girls hot on their heels.
“I can’t. I’m going out for Valentine’s Day with my boyfriend.”
“You knew I had a boyfriend, didn’t you?”
I spent the afternoon banging my head against the paper towel dispenser in the men’s bathroom. When I got out, I ran into Lil. She asked me out, and I thanked her silently for being my safety net. It didn’t take me long after that to realize that she was the only woman I would ever find.
The text vanished before I got a chance to proofread it. A window popped up and asked me if I wanted to save it and I told it no, because she had rolled over to face me and my computer screen. I looked at her frozen in the still dark air of the room until her mouth dropped open and her head drooped back into whatever dream she was having. I turned and looked back at the screen, frowning more in disgust at the puked-up grass green of the desktop wallpaper than in disappointment that I had once again failed to come up with a good idea. I looked around the room and noted that the bedroom was decorated in the same color as the computer.
With a half-purr and a half-yowl the cat squirmed away from its fleshy prison and jumped to the carpet, scampering to freedom. I sighed and slid into bed, taking off my clothes first and leaving them scattered haphazardly on the floor.
Once in bed I pulled my knees up to my chest and gave them a hug. With both of us facing the edge of the groaning old piece of furniture only our backs touched. Her skin was cold and the scars on mine itched when we touched, but I chose not to move and to try and get some sleep for a change. The back of my mind had developed a nasty habit of lying to me, and it told me that I was unhappy. The front of my mind told the back to shut the hell up, what did it know about being happy anyway.
I was still lying in bed arguing with myself at sunset, a time when normal people were eating and getting ready for primetime TV. She rolled over and put her arms around me. Her hug was strong, and it pressed my lungs against my ribcage, causing a moment of pain before I decided that it was only an expression of love.
“By the way,” she whispered groggily into my ear, “my sister is coming over for dinner, so we have to do some cleaning.” She gave me a kiss that felt like a squid gnawing at my face. Then she rolled over and started snoring again.
The “we” in her phrase meant “you,” which meant that I would have to hurry home after work. Once again my brain started its debate, one side telling me that I was disappointed by this news. The other side responded with a resounding rebuttal of reminding me of my first meeting with her cute blonde sibling. My thoughts formed into words on a mental page, the only writing that I really did anymore.
“My sister talked about you on the way home,” said Lil, giggling.
“Oh? What did she say?”
“She said that she thought you were ugly, but I told her that I love you anyway.”
Then came the kiss, a vacuum cleaner stuck to my cheek.
I rolled over and hugged all that I had. Three hundred pounds of the only woman who would tolerate me.
On my way to work I noticed that I had a welt on my right cheek where she had kissed me.
Image: Dart Board, by Peter Griffin