Excerpt from The Secret of Hurricanes

September 14, 2009 at 8:20 pm | Posted in Writing: The Secret of Hurricanes | Leave a comment
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From Chapter Six

I knew he didn’t want me to, but I kissed him anyway.  Full on the mouth, just as I’d always wanted to do.  Our lips were dry and cracked.  Misaligned.  Unmoving.  Pressed against each other like two wounds.

 
He pulled back and licked his lips.  “No,” he said.  Then he cleared his throat.  “Don’t you understand?  I could have saved her.”  He sat down and leaned his back against Lydia’s defaced stone.  Then in a low voice full of self-disgust, “I should just leave.”

 
I should’ve been glad he wanted to leave.  To break this tie to Lydia if only for a little while.  This tie nobody but him could break.  But I didn’t want to leave.  I sat with him and took his hands.  Squeezed.  Thought, what wonderful devices.  What a miracle, his hands.  How rare.  What power for curing.  This is what hands are for.  Why they were designed.  As engines for concern.  If anybody could’ve saved Lydia, it would’ve been Zeke.  But something about her had been way too broken to fix.

 
We both leaned against her stone.  It was early evening.  The moon steered across the sky.  Below, the dead sighed.  And now I knew.  This was the best place I’d ever been.  The best place I’d ever be.  Somewhere between death and everlasting time.

 
“I’m old,” I said.  “Already old.”

 
He put his hand to my chest.  Pressed, as though to stop blood.

 

I’ll never forget how that night we rode.  Traveled country roads fast, snaking through the dark.  He turned off his headlights and gunned through intersections.  I understood why.  The small orbit of his headlights, it was too confining.  With the headlights off, it was like he was moving fast.  Free, under black water.  I understood because I’d always liked the feeling of darkness, of blackness, of water.  They had blurry edges that helped me align myself with the world.  He ignored stop signs.  Roads rolled out before us, ribbons of black.

 

I wasn’t afraid, only mindful:  Others had collided at these junctures, on these roads.

 

“I understand you,” I wanted to say.

 

That night, we went into stores.  First, a country grocery.  Where Zeke pressed his thumb into a Hostess cupcake.  I smashed my fist into a Moon Pie.  We drank orange sodas in plain view and didn’t pay.  Then to other stores.  Where we fingered goods.  I poked holes in paper sacks, letting food spill out.  Tried on lipstick.  Zeke took bites out of candy bars and put them back on the shelf.  Finally, we both went into K-Mart and tried on all the shoes.  By the end of the night, we’d been run out of a dozen stores.

 

And no matter where we went, Zeke opened all the doors.  He ushered me inside.  He steered me out.  He touched my back tenderly as I crossed each threshold.  He put his arm around my shoulders as we walked to the Galaxie, but he didn’t lean on me roughly to support himself the way I’d seen other boys do.  His touch excited me.  His touch said, “You matter.”  His touch said to me, “I would never hurt you.”

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