I began this as a piece of practice fiction last Friday, based on quotes I had received scheduled for 2/14/11 release. However, I did not finish, and though inspired last night, did not last that long after a long weekend. Rather than give a half hearted “completed story,” this will serve as part 1.
“…today means nothing unless you do it the other 364 days…”
Those words echoed in my head and prevented my return to sleep as I slowly woke up and stared at your old cool undisturbed pillow and sheets that lay on the other side of the bed and briefly imagined how you used to look as you slept. You hair always seemed to seemed to lay perfectly as if you were part of a photo shoot, or maybe that was just what you were to me. I remembered how you left without a trace…granted I knew that you were leaving, but there was nothing for me to remember you by. I realized that all of the women I had loved, though I did not marginalize you as such, had no scent. No cue that jogged memories of you out of the blue. But those, those who did not belong in my life, those who I knew were fun, friends, mistakes, incompatible, they had the strongest scents. But when I smelled the sweet aroma of her, I could always look at you and know I was in the presence of something greater.
I slowly allowed myself to get up and mull about my bedroom, as the yellow sun burned away the Brooklyn night and permeated through the buildings, it found its way through the slats in the blinds. The morning was nothing like the cool blue mornings in California as the windows faced the Pacific.
I remember the subtle smell of the salt water as I wrapped you in my embrace. You sighed softly while biting your lip to suppress boosting my ego, as I stroked you. You writhed as I woke and we worked ourselves into that carnal dance that expressed our primitive needs and wants.
“Oh I have to go to work,” you would giggle, and I would let you go.
My sleeping boxers hung askew, as I walked barefoot on the morning chilled wood floor over to check my computer for any overnight e-mails. The desktop gurgled like coffee percolating as it turned on and somehow I randomly opened an old e-mail from you that began with, “I’ve seen my life, I love it, but I cannot have it…” Luckily, I was not sitting, as I would have probably rocked in my chair contemplating what it meant, and how I felt when I received it. It reminded me about the scene near the close of (500) Days of Summer, when she says, “It just wasn’t me you were right about,” now albeit different, and that being a movie…I couldn’t waste too much time on these thoughts this morning. I showered, threw on a light grey and black striped hoodie for the brisk day, and jeans then headed out to Starbucks with my laptop to grab some coffee, and at least get the day started.
I walked with my iPhone on shuffle as I darted between the wayward walkers making their ways to their offices, some smiling and other going through the daily motions. The street was filled with delivery truck, flowers in tow as I dropped my gaze to the sidewalk and made my way to my home away from home.
“Your usual,” she asked toothily.
“Yup,” I barely smiled as I paid, tipped and grabbed my drink, while pulling one of my earbuds from my ear.
“Hey…good morning,” Tonya asked, as I almost missed that she was there early.
“Hey,” I broke a smile of familiarity, “it’s really good to see you.”
“Especially today,” she echoed as we settled into a table by an open window. I sipped the unadulterated coffee as I began to assemble my laptop. “Been writing lately,” she continued.
“Yes…well editing, I haven’t really had any reason to write anything new.” She just gazed at me acknowledging that she knew why I did not write, almost in semi-disgust.
“No, not that,” I answered her unspoken commentary. “So what’s up with you,” I asked hoping to initiate her to begin the conversation as I focused half-heartedly on my work this morning. “Any big plans tonight,” I continued ill-advised.
Tonya twisted her lips in a way that to any other man would have been cute, but to me…well our relationship was a weird dynamic…we had brief past romantically, but we began as friends and still were beyond that time. We had passed the time where I could not look at her in that way, although she was a beautiful woman, our relationship was built in a time that I had other interests, therefore it grew as a true friendship, and she became my sister. With our relationship, had it started any other way, we’d probably be together right now. But now she served as my confidant, and immediately right now consoler…wasted. Her reddish afro was pulled back, and she released it as she stared at me.
In these brief moments, I thought to myself, how is Tonya single? She likes sports…well like a man stereotypically would. She likes video games, although my Playstation spends more time as a DVD player than anything else. She was very similar to…well, I tried to bring my mind back to the present and allowed my iPhone to play music in one ear as I focused on paying attention to her.
“Really,” she joked almost incredulously, “you know I’m not doing anything tonight. I would hang with you, but I know it’s not the time,” she smiled. Her brown skin seemed to shine in the morning sun. “Hey,” she broke my lost focus, “at least you’re out and not in the bed today.”
I broke a smile, and briefly flashed my teeth. “See, you can smile,” she joked behind sips of hot chocolate.
“Why do you keep meeting me here,” I asked, “you don’t even like coffee, and listening to me, when I speak, isn’t doing anything for you,” I pleaded.
“Because I’m your friend,” she added effortless in an attempt to not be offended by my statement. “You’d do it for me,” I nodded agreeing with her, but always feeling like a protector, I didn’t want to take away from her. We had both been there for each other during our moments of weakness…not always listening to the advice. We had been the voices of reason. We came up with silly plans, and spoke of our ideals. And, she had been what I needed since I got back here to New York.
Still unfocused, I glanced over at a Japanese couple that had come in and sat across from each other drinking their coffee leaning in so close that they looked as if they were drinking each others’ beverages. I tried to explain it as culture, but I could see their intentions in their eyes. I averted mine and sat back fumbling with my iPhone. I glanced up meeting Tonya’s eyes and apologized. “I’m just out there today,” I added.
“I can tell, you can’t put clear thoughts together. I feel like this is the worst that I’ve seen you.”
“Who me,” I responded. “No, I’m good.
“Cause I went looking for a trace of something that you left,” where the words that played over the speakers in the coffee shop, and my mind wandered. “Too much now,” was all my mind could muster…too much now.
The manuscript Blue Lines is the fictional coming of age narrative of a young California woman Key Yemaya Walker, and her 2 year growing journey through school, love, and life period piece, written by Kenneth Suffern, Jr., taking place at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill between the years of 1997 – 1998. Loosely based on true events, and experiences during that time, told through the eyes and voice of the main female protagonist, a freshman first attending the school.