Despite the distance we crash into each other repeatedly.
We spend a lot of our time typing messages. Talking over poor quality internet calls, across time zones that leave me exhausted, both of us wanting. A yearning that brings us closer but at a cost. Long nights of feeling alone while being together.
We hit and smash and spin out of control; never enough days and nights to find the balance that is there, tantalizingly out of reach, never out of sight. The wheels run straight for a while, but veer. We make it to the swamp. Though not the cemetery or the convent. Not this time. What we want is to run away into the woods.
Driving in cars brings back most of my life spent in the US, while the road stretches across states I’ve never experienced. My past ended here, a long time ago. A long way to the west. Hers has followed a different path. Lost to me as well. I pine for home but that home isn’t one I’ve actually had before. She feels, I think, something akin to this.
We find each other under Spanish moss. Outside our balcony, the night herons growl like raccoons fighting over trash. Everything is right but nothing is good. On the phone, she’s talking to her husband. Earlier she was crying. I break apart across the bow of a life I hardly understand.
Waves are washing up near Sutro Baths. A voice speaks with the mouth of the sea. Is there fog on Grizzly Peak? Is my mother dead, locked in her dark house surrounded by regret and pines? But what I recall, is Joshua trees. My wife in a 1950s dress standing next to one in a photograph, not the actual memory. That’s gone. Like she is.
How can you live in a place for sixteen years and not think of it as home? What does it mean, for you, for the place, for any future place where you might live, if you never do? What does it mean, when that place is a person, too? There is a sense growing like the year, that it might have been different. But I know also that it wasn’t.
We crash together again. The humid air and our desire hold us close but still she jumps. Out the window this time, but I have already left. When I return, she drinks wine and hides her smile behind her hand. She shows me how she tore the sleeve of her dress. We pull back into each other, and every ending feels like the end even if we know it’s just the end of the beginning.
Joy like I’ve never tasted it before. But we are back to our long distance calls over apps and odd hours. Why are we apart, when what we want is somewhere together? The same somewhere, south of us both beneath Spanish moss. Jasmine at night. Something better than we’ve had. Then we’re gone. The plane touches down among burnt looking fields. Summer has scorched all this year.
It takes me until New York to understand her. Because I’m not as smart as I think I am. Never as charming or as clever. August is a damp fist that nearly kills me. The city poisons her. The sex is better. The worst is better too, though no less terrible. We wrestle, we struggle, and find ourselves facing each other. We still want what we want.
It is cool in England. Hasn’t taken long for the island to shrug off the heatwave of summer. But then we’ve missed nearly all of it. The garden is feral. We are as well. Fruit rots under the apple trees, branches deformed by their unwanted crop. The yearning has spread.
Eric Edwards @E_M_Edwards is a writer living on the coast of England. His work has appeared on minor literature[s], Goreyesque, and in The Ghastling. His collection The White Owl And Other Small Stories is published by Wolf Head Press. He is, at the moment, between two worlds.