Friday, November 1, 2013

Simple Pleasures

“I love your writing” she said; “but I don’t like it when I think it’s coming to the end.”

I hadn’t read to her in months; since she’d asked me to narrate a few stories for her before going to bed on the floor of the shack. I’d done it often over the years. I consider her my sounding board although the results are often less than favorable.

Funny material she generally groans at, and then excuses her lackluster approval with the declaration that she has no sense of humor. Those poems of mine that directly romance her, she laughs about after they’ve finished. Frustrating, sure, but even that doesn’t keep me from offering, there’s something fun about using my voice to entertain my spouse. It keeps me in practice I suppose; just in case Al Gore asks me to narrate his next movie that deals with the end of all life as we know it which I have no doubt is just around the corner.

“…I don’t like it when I think it’s coming to the end…”

She has a running joke she tells when the topic of my writing comes up before friends and relatives. They wouldn’t want to be one of my characters, she assures her audience. If they were they would likely die horrible deaths, perhaps multiple times; or they might see their life crumble around them, and each piece they try to pick off the ground would set off another implosion of misery and woe.

I had to assume that was her reference; that she didn’t want to come to the end because she believed there would be a train wreck lurking within the last sentence. Her comments are almost always inside jokes, little friendly jibes meant to be endearing but less than cloying.

I had just finished writing a story last night and liked it enough to want to “sing” it aloud. As she spends most of her time in the bedroom these days, the one room in which she never seems to feel ill, and I spend a lot of mine directly below her in the Whine Cellar, I had to print the tale and walk up the first flight of stairs, hoping to catch her in the kitchen while she retrieved a glass of water. She seemed busy, or at least intent on returning to some mindless entertainment elsewhere. I almost blew off my chance at delivery, but as she started back up the stair I felt disappointment. I had come to give her a kiss of sorts, a little gift from my scrambled brain. It was a moment’s connection we both needed, particularly of late, and I was about to drop the ball. Luckily she turned and smiled at me once she’d reached the landing. It was the prod I’d needed.

“Hey, ya wanna hear something?”

For just a second I saw her hesitate, her ears twitching toward the bedroom and the television left blabbing.

“Sure” she answered finally; and she slipped down a few stairs, sat herself comfortably and closed her eyes. She always closes her eyes when I read aloud, so taking her cue I paint the words as colorfully as I’m able.

I read her the story I wrote about the little girl in a train station who was playing with a little box and a stranger who thought she was alone and might need oversight asked about her box and in her best Oklahomanese she said "it's a box of floss" only it sounded like "Box of Flaws". I spoke it as I'd thought it, as if I were actually there, as if I were the stranger and I believed that a small alabaster ceramic box could hold a child’s imperfections. And when I came to the close I spoke the last words slowly, with a lift, as if discovering a truth hiding amidst a pile of random speculation.

“I love your writing” she said; “but I don’t like it when I think it’s coming to the end.”

I waited for the punch line, knowing that no matter what gentle poke she might give me I was still gratified she’d stopped her day for a moment and listened at all.

“Why’s that” I asked.

“Because then… there isn’t any more. I’d rather it went on forever.”

As a note about what I do in deference to who I am… it’s the nicest thing she’s ever said to me.