Friday, June 19, 2009

Specter Lane

As she made her way along the sidewalk, she felt a lurching wave of recognition. She was visiting the city for just a few days. She didn't think she would remember the place they had met on her last trip. It had been nearly five years after all, since she had visited the indistinct downtown hotel for a conference. It was a lifetime away, but the moment she rounded the corner, she knew. That past locale was right across the street from her current accommodations.

She caught herself reminiscing as she went through the motions at her meetings, meals and even before shutting out the bedside lamp and pulling up the starched hotel linens over her shoulders. It was if she couldn't help thinking about that space and what it might feel like to walk through it now that the entire world was a different place. Would it be just like any other space, or would the ghosts of what they did linger there behind stone pillars, just beneath the surface.
The next evening, after a long day, she found her feet pointed towards the tall, eerily familiar building. She passed two men sitting out front, laughing at some secret story they were sharing. She plodded up to the taxi stand and felt a twinge of memory. She remembered standing there in the cold night air watching a taxi door close and roll slowly away as her heart fell through her shoes, between the cracks, into a sub sidewalk grave. On this particular night the humid heat was stifling.
For some reason the lyrics to an old song were flashing through her skull into her lips: "I have often walked down this street before, but the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before." It was a strange association. This was not the street where he lived. She knew he lived on a street near enough, and she also knew she had no desire to sing and dance outside his door. She came to the turn style doors and pushed slowly around into the lobby.
Maybe she had hoped for a renovation or a demolition, but the lobby sat there, looking for all the world like only a day had passed rather than half a decade. The fountain still trickled in its familiar way and the striped fabric on the sofas was the same as in the old photos she had from her trip. She had only spent a few nights there years ago, but somehow it had burned its way into her memory, as if she had stared too long at the sun and it was burned into her eyelids. She stepped onto the escalator to the second floor and saw the corner where they slipped, surreptitiously, to touch.
She knew it was a strange thing to do, but she walked to the corner and leaned her back against the wall. As her head rested on the stone she remember the way he had leaned forward, pinning her against the stone as his lips brushed her seductively. It was almost as if she could feel them now, and his hands on her cheeks, pulling her face in for the most desperate and hungry of kisses. She felt the breath tightening in her chest as she tasted the finality of that kiss, a longing so intense it could only come during a kiss that both kissers knew would be their last. She reached around him and felt the sharpness of his shoulder blades, sliding her hands down to his jutting hips. He was angular like a building and... she opened her eyes, only to see a store clerk staring at her out of morbid curiosity. 
The magic was broken and she walked away quickly, back into the open lobby. Once the visceral experience had cleared, she felt like a visitor in the museum of her own life. "And this," said the tour guide, "this is the last place that they ever kissed, before going on to completely separate lives." If the tour guide was especially knowledgeable, he or she might tell the visitors that they would meet again, briefly, after she had married. "They couldn't keep a real friendship together, so they stopped talking altogether, though she kept up with news of his building commissions and he attended several of her performances without her knowledge."
Whatever had been drawing her to see the grave of their last moments as lovers, it had passed. She felt as if the chord had been cut and she was free to move forward without the ghosts of this moment haunting her mind when she least expected it. She walked back onto the sidewalk and saw the two men laughing again. This time, she smirked as well, as if privy to their joke. She walked briskly down the sidewalk, away from the museum or mausoleum and back to her hotel room to call her husband. Now she would occupy her empty moments with memories of her and her real beloved's starlit walk down a romantic pier, with their hands in each other's back pockets, talking about the future. The walk down memory lane had shifted from specters to living, breathing moments that had bearing on her past, present and future. She was looking forward to the trip home.


finnegan flawnt said...

*He was angular like a building* marvellous! and the museum of yer own life - just great!

Bad Alice said...

This is lovely. It drew me in and kept my attention. The emotions are true to live and conveyed so well.