Timelost Digression

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Jealousy

The night must have been cold.

The door was never locked, it opens disarmingly easily as always. First the screen, then the painted oak swings soundlessly wide like the lid of a novelty coffin, bombarded with colors and scents on the tile doorstep.

Dove Grey.

Stairs going up, stairs going down. I broke my arm once somewhere in between. The carpet seems to cling to my shoes like drying mud. I glance at the pigeonholes along the inner banister, neat and even like missing teeth. No mail. Relieved. Not sure why.

Maroon Shag.

TV rattling on. The Sammy Davis Jr. show. Even the theme music makes me tense. Afterwards, McMillan and Wife. Maybe Banacek. Sideburns and screeching tires. Then the anthems and the dull whine. 24 hours hadn’t been invented yet.

Faux Mahogany.

She is laying on the couch, in an open robe, barefoot. Watching the light of the screen reflect off the picture window like a double glazed funhouse mirror, strobe lighting the trees. Unaware. Undone.

Conifer Green.

Her eyes are steady, unblinking. She could be stone dead save for the heartbeat, pounding low under Sammy’s signature number. Mr. Bojangles. Glen Campbell after the break. The crowd is loving it, the applause goes on forever in the empty room.

Neon White.

Her head turns, her open eyes fix on me remorselessly. She doesn’t move. She doesn’t speak. I just stare back, oddly fascinated. I wonder what she sees, what disjointed, discordant element overshadows that my third word was Mama.

Rhinestone Cowboy.

Her eyes accuse me of a million petty crimes. This is not my place. These are not my people. I don’t belong here. I have stolen the place of another. Another she will never know, only jealousy for the son she never had. Somehow this is my fault and we both know it. I will never forgive myself for that. I have stolen the place of another, my own place.

A soft voice speaks in my ear.

“Have you never been jealous? Ever?”

It is dawn before I sleep again.

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1 Comment

  1. *winces*

    There was a time I said I never understood jealousy. I grew from childhood through adolescence, through first love and first heartbreak, and never felt the cold sharp bite through flesh.

    And of all the places, the grid taught me jealousy. Watching him walk away from me, while he’s whispering in my ear questions on what the language she’s speaking translates into, so he can more effectively flirt with her.

    Watching him smile, and flatter, and seduce, anyone not me. Dancing with him, watching his eyes wander, letting him leave but feeling as if I stood there, frozen in place, my arms outstretched, nearly willing him to notice me.

    Jealousy, to me, is insecurity. Jealousy is lack of trust. But more, being in the moment, being of the moment, that razor slide of fear over my skin, that moment when the pressure made the flesh part and I wept ruby tears…Angry with myself, angry with him, afraid, enraged, hurt…and feeling the sharp, sharp pain of my heart, clasped to bruising, unable to beat.

    I’ve been afraid of that feeling, ever since. That I could feel it, with such obsessive totality; I, that told other lovers I wasn’t capable of that emotion…it still scares me.

    But now I know. Neglect leads to insecurity. Insecurity leads to mistrust. Mistrust leads to fear, and spawns fanged jealousy. I watch for signs of neglect, scalpel in hand, and slice to the bone if I have to, to remove the feelings of neglect before they grow.

    On occasion, I miss, and just wound. And that would be bad, save that jealousy–true jealousy–feels so very much worse


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