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Remnants of the blood red sun gave birth to an orange sky that lay quietly beyond the windshield. I twisted in my seat and fed the belt buckle into the clasp by my left hip. I looked directly at the driver’s face trying to determine who was in control, but the sun’s gaze skewed my view and kept her definable features hidden. Sensing another presence in the car, I inquisitively turned my head to the back seat. My eyes fed the image directly into my heart and it burst open with a joy unprecedented. In a small car seat she sat quietly, innocently looking into my eyes. My body convulsed as if thrown into an icy pool. My eyes cracked like an overstuffed dam. My heart was overflowing. I felt no fear. I felt no loneliness. The sun became a backdrop to this tiny ray of light. She was my daughter. My creation. My intention. I was in love with her. Nothing else mattered.
I immediately woke in the same state of emotion: tears soaking my pillow, chest heaving, heart speeding. The dream was real. It couldn’t have been a dream. My body felt its weight. My heart had never been so full. I clumsily slid open the drawer of my nightstand, uncapped the obedient pen, and wrote as many already fading details as my sluggish brain could recall. As I caught my breath, I felt my cheeks swell. My teeth revealed the impact of seeing my unborn and unconceived daughter only a few inches from the ends of my eyelashes. I had never been in love until that moment. And it was years until I fell again.
First day of algebra class and I forget a pencil. Awesome.
Gotta ask someone sitting near me. Too bad the only person in earshot is the starting point guard for the varsity basketball team. And I’m definitely NOT the starting small forward. Or even a bench player. I’m just some 14-year-old kid who doesn’t have a pencil.
She was blonde. She was tall. Legs like sunflower stems. I caught her eye briefly, but she just smiled politely and continued to walk past figuring I was another average customer. She had no idea what the day had planned for her in that obscenely crowded Apple Store on the Third Street Promenade, her place of employ.
I’ve been agitated and tired this whole week. My sleep schedule’s been off, I’ve been acting selfishly, distracted, checked out, thoughtless, easily annoyed, all that external projection stuff that comes with an indefinable feeling in my gut. It’s like a ball of anger is creeping slowly from my mid-section to my furthest extremities and nothing I do physically or vocally releases that stress in a meaningful or satisfying way.
I have released eight albums in eight years. Six hours and twenty-four minutes of music. I feel squeezed dry. The last trickles of music seeping from my pores like blood. I’ve sat in my bedroom with a guitar between my heart and my hands and found melodies and textures that never seemed to be my possession. I simply felt them floating in the air and then funneled them onto my fingerboard.
“I don’t believe in divorce,” Lisa declared in between bites of her spinach lasagna.
“Uh, I’m sorry?” I inquired as my mind jarringly shifted from the lovely drought of wine I just swallowed to the thought of a ferociously sensitive and heart-wrenching topic.
The tablecloths reminded me of Marilyn Monroe when they caught a sudden gust of wind. It kind of turned me on a little, actually. But my wife didn’t share the same rousing “tingle” in her britches when I gently nudged her with this visual.