Saturday, February 20, 2010

And Then They Were None

His palm patted his breast pocket to check for his wallet. His thumping heart echoed his thumb’s pat. His mind simultaneously checked his emotions. He pinched the top of his lips and straightened the hair that surrounded his mouth. He affixed his cap to the back of his head. He exhaled as he reached for the handle.

Her request reached right into the core of his fear: he wanted to leave his mark. She hadn’t forgotten his fact. He saw her at the bar. Her glasses were at the bridge of her nose and she held her work in her hands. He studied her; she studied them. Her legs were crossed. His eyes traveled the length of her skirt as his mind remembered her thighs. His heart pounded and pressed against his lungs. He couldn’t breathe. The words struggled with his lungs until they spurted out of his mouth. “Hi.”

Brady turned and met his kiss. “Hi.” Her hand patted his cheek as their lips pulled apart. She lifted her glasses off her nose. “Let’s grab a table.” She smiled.

Her smile slapped him with such sorrow the tears nearly spilled from his eyes. Mark tucked them and fixed his face. “No. I can’t. Wait. I could,” he corrected, “but I won’t. I can’t do this.”

“You can’t?” Her face struggled with his words. “Mark, sit down and talk to me.”

“I can’t.” He dropped all pretense at poise as he dropped his voice. “Brady there’s nothing to discuss. We can’t have a baby.” He pushed his hands into his pockets and palmed his rosary.

“I know Mark.” She turned and gathered her thoughts while she gathered her papers. “It was just a thought.”

He sat beside her at the bar. “It would have been different if you were pregnant. In so many ways I would have loved the happenstance of that. God. Jesus! You don’t know how much I want a child!”

“Yes I do know,” she sighed. “I hear my biological clock too. But that’s not this. I wanted a piece of us. Me and you. I wanted a piece of you.” She started to cry. She stifled her sobs with a sniffle. “Mark just go. It’s okay.”

“You always tell me to go.” He took his cap off and set it on the stool beside him. “I never realized it until I put it all down in the play. You’re always telling me to leave.”

She tucked her papers inside her bag. “Do I?”

“You know you do.” He watched and waited for her to respond.

“Well maybe I want to be the one to say it first.” She picked up her glass and took a small sip.

He decided to pursue the subject. “You didn’t tell me what you thought of it.”

“Yes. I did,” she replied with a rigid rhythm.

“No, you didn’t.” He motioned for Meg and spoke to her, “Hey kid, may I have a Summit?”

“I asked you to have a baby with me.” She took another sip. “Would I have done that if I was angry?”

“True. Is it fair?”

“Yes.” She looked him in his eyes. She turned and looked straight ahead. “I wasn’t flattered that you put part of her in the middle of us.”

“Yeah well, Kaitlyn's pissed.” He picked up his beer and took a sip.

“No she’s not. She’s hurt.” She picked up her drink. “She wanted it to be all about her. She’s disappointed. That's all.”

“Are you disappointed?”

“No,” she lowered her voice, “I’m heartbroken and humiliated.”

“Well don’t worry about it,” he said. “It’s going nowhere.”

“No, Mark. You’re wrong.” Brady shook her head. “It’s going everywhere. See that’s the part that alludes you. You never see your place in everything. It’s an attractive quality but it’s infuriating too. Everyone in your life sees you’re a shooting star. Everyone but you.”


“Don’t dismiss me.” Brady said. “God for a smart man you can be so stupid. We have to drop everything to grab a hold of you. Don’t you get that? We give up everything for a piece of you.” She squinted her eyes shut and exhaled. “And you just shoot by without even realizing that we’ve lost our grip.”

He started to speak.

“Don’t you dare!” she caustically cautioned. “Yes I heard the joke the minute I said it. So shut up.”


They seeped into silence.

“Well. We’re actually going to say goodbye aren’t we?” She stared at space.

“Are we?” He swallowed the space between them.

“Yes. I’m going to leave my Mark.” She started to weep. She stood up and pulled her coat around her shoulders and belted it. “Write our ending. Will you?” She inhaled and stood straight. “Okay. Your turn. Say it first.”

“It’s okay. Just go,” he whispered.

She turned and walked out the door; he dropped his head and caught it with his hand as his unshed tears washed his eyes.