Sunday Scribbling: Hello, My Name Is...(a sketch)
Ed note: This is a very rough draft of...something. A mood piece, really. I'm rusty.:)
She sat up, so suddenly that she left her body's impression in the tangled quilt we'd been laying on. It looked like a discarded, lesser twin. We were in her parents' attic. It was summer, a long time ago.
“Don't you wish that feelings came with name tags...like those 'hello, my name is...' things? 'Hello, my name is sadness. Hello, my name is anger'?”
She was always saying stuff like that, asking questions out of the blue. I think she got them from the books she was always reading. I don't know. I rolled over on the floor, staring at the summer rain trailing down the skylight.
“How about 'hello, my name is happiness'?”
She curled her lips into a smirk. “Optimist.”
If you'd asked me when it started, when we started, I wouldn't have been able to answer you. We'd always lived near each other, spending time together at odd times. We never gave what we had a name.
I looked at her, sitting in a loose black t-shirt with her knees tucked in. In this light, you could really see her almost-prettiness. Her frizzy black hair tamed into a knot at the nape of her neck-her eyes big and jet black. She was like the first week of March, ugly Spring. My mother always said, “She's gonna be gorgeous...someday.” So I always looked at her twice-once for now and once for someday.
“Besides,” she continued. “You never see those feelings long enough for a 'hello.' It's always 'goodbye.' You can only feel sadness all the way.”
I laughed. I couldn't help it. She was being so dramatic, and I was just a boy. Oh, I wouldn't have referred to myself like that back then. I was a kid, or ideally a guy or a dude. But, I was just a boy. Gladys wasn't just a girl, though. Not even then.
I took her face in my hands and kissed her on the edge of her lips. She tasted like strawberry jam and witch hazel. “Hello, my name is joy.” That was the thing with Gladys. You always wanted to keep the argument going once it started, even if it hadn't been your idea. You ended up getting swept up in it.
I kissed her again. “Hello, my name is fun.” I kissed her more deeply. “Hello, my name is sexy.” She gave a smothered laugh against my lips then. And then we stopped talking.
Summer ended, as it always does, and we went back to our worlds. Gladys to her parochial girls' school, and me back to the tumble dryer of public school. One day, I was standing in my usual spot, talking to my usual friends. I don't remember about what. Nothing, probably. I was trying to be cool, but ordinary. Normal, as normal as a gangly seventeen year old guy could be. And then Gladys walked up to us. Not in uniform. I wish she had been. She was wearing some stupid hot pink dress and lime green tights underneath and big black boots. I couldn't even see early March, or 'someday.' There was only now, and now was a disaster.
I was trying really hard not to look at her, but she kept coming closer. Like she expected something. Meanwhile my friends watched the way you do when you are taking notes, getting ready to spread shit.
I made my face go blank. “Uh...yeah. That's me.”
She was waiting for me to say something else, but I wouldn't acknowledge anything. Not even my name. And I was way better at waiting her out than she was at just standing there.
“Hello?” She gave it one last shot. Her voice sort of broke on the end.
“Yeah, bye.” My friends laughed now, nasty. I felt flushed with something dark and mean and happy. I'd finally managed to surprise her. I felt like I'd named myself.
She turned on her heel and left after that.
School, and school, and school. We didn't speak after that, and we never went back to that attic room. She was happy, though. I knew that much. She finally hit her “someday”—confident, had lots of friends, a boyfriend who held her hand through the halls. Probably he could answer all of her stupid questions with deep philosophy, or with quotes from the books she loved.
Sometimes, I walked up to her house, wondering what would happen if I rang her bell, wearing one of those stupid “hello, my name is...” stickers. Letting her fill in the blank, call me whatever she wanted. Starting again. But I never had the guts.
I was in my second year of college when I got the call. My mother, a sea of words like the static on the radio. Just a few words in perfect, clear focus. “Pills. Gladys. Funeral Monday.”
She was happy. I saw it whenever I took the time to look.
I wish I had shown her how to name it.
To learn more names, go here.
Labels: sunday scribblings