From up here I can see a hill in the distance, it must be Twin Peaks. I can see trees and a horizon: I can see the sky from here. Across the street are other tall buildings with windows in them that have other women who peer out looking at the hill in the distance or the cars that pass below, or the street hustle fights and the dead boys on the Boulevard and their crocodile smiles and black painted tears, at the bums and the helplessly addicted who walk the streets barefoot and tender souled. The street is raw. I try not to remember the bridge over some other bay north of here as the sirens wail and the path of destruction trails all around them. I try not to remember that sweet smile of a face that I have already half forgotten. I try not to remember the love or the trees, or the swamps with the floating logs that bred toads and mosquitos in a summer I long for.

It is me who is helpless now. It is me who is raw. “I thought there was some hope,” he said to me lost in a thought that he couldn’t form. I thought there was hope for us, that you would come back to me. Booze and lies. DMT and putting me last. Methamphetamine and criminal intent. Telling me to get off of your floor whenever you felt like it, telling me that you wouldn’t even drive me somewhere I could get anywhere from. Leaving me at a railway station with a train that wouldn’t come for almost 24 hours, then making me wait for you to drive back around with the south Oregon sun beating down on my head. No. I will not come back. You were meant to be my hope, my savior not my best new problem. Sorry. Not sorry. No. He takes another swig from the other end of a phone line and hiccups. Traitor. In a relationship with booze you never win over the bottle – the bottle is everything. There is something wrong with me, I can take or leave booze.

He accuses me of being drunk. I remind him that I haven’t had a drink in years. Literally over two years. Not a sip. The thought of a bottle of Courvoisier in my suitcase doesn’t horrify me, but I pushed it too hard, I get sick too quick. No, I can’t drink again. Tied to a bag. Tied to a bottle. Neither option seems appealing anymore. I pushed everything too hard. He pushed me too hard. I ask him how he is still alive and he laughs, weakly. I have a feeling he will die. I feel the need to tell him I loved him. That I don’t love him now, but in the past there was a me and a him and those two people loved each other, and that he fucked it up. “You aren’t a lesbo, Paltry, you just hate men.” I can’t be bothered to disagree. Me and men are done, I tell him.

He demands to know who I am fucking. I tell him I could not give a damn if I never have sex again. More glugging, more sipping. He is helpless. He is mean. He does not even know what he means any more, and neither do I. You see he is not capable of normal life, of normal interactions, of defining himself without another. He is not capable and there is nothing he could do about it. Something broke in him. I ask him if he thinks he is a sociopath, he is amused. Just call me Clementine Freud. I ask him about his relationship with his mother and get some kinda sob story back that she doesn’t deserve.

We are all infatuated with silence. We are all in love with spaces. So much is filled with so much that absence makes that heart grow bolder in this cold cold world – emptiness gives hearts room to expand and grow. We used to go walk round a grocery outlet in a sea side town. He would hold my hand. I felt like I was in charge of a large toddler who didn’t have the ability to cope with life and might melt down. He needed guiding, hand holding, leading, editing. “He’s had a stroke,” I would explain, and people would cool down and give him space. He was more capable before the stroke. He shouldn’t be left alone. He can’t care for himself. He needs help, but someone would have to force it on him and no one loves him enough to do it that can.

We would go on walks down trails. He expanded more into himself out there in the wilderness. He was skipper of stones on surfaces, carver of initials into trees. He was identifier of mushrooms and animals, birds and flowers. He picked me bunches of wildflowers like some overgrown Huckleberry Finn, and left me love notes pinned to the trailer door. My life shrunk. No more road. No more multistate spring trips. No more Minnesota summers. No more snow outside the truck in winter. No more Pioneer grocery stores.

No more southern California trips or Washington Dismal Nitches. Now there is just a hill out there in the distance, I can see it from this high floor of this old building. On top of it are trees and somewhere beyond there is a man I used to know, sitting in a trailer with the ghosts of his past mistakes, wondering what he did wrong and if I will ever come ‘home’. He has no self awareness, and he will die alone and blame me for it, and I will live with yet another spirit that knocks on my windows, and whispers in my ear how I let them fall. Mea culpa or tabula rasa? I look up at the tv screen and see the Yankees are winning. Don’t worry boys, if I have learnt anything these past few years, it is that there is always time to lose.


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