life as muse, style on tap
“style is a simple way of saying complicated things”
~ john cocteau
there was something empty in her eyes. brazen blue spheres mindlessly wandering a glass sea. there was potential here. i watched as all the disappointment and rage faded from her face.
she was always cold, but somehow, in this moment, she felt warm. the warmth was fleeting but it put a smile on my face. carrie would never be described as a “warm” person. i often joked she had the disposition of a porcupine. she didn’t quite find it as humorous as I did.
we never traveled together but she agreed to accompany me to my winter retreat. the cabin had been in my family for years, but since my parents passed away ten years ago, it’s become my escape. the noises and the lights and the problems all fade; i focus on my writing in quiet solitude.
i don’t even know why i’m doing this, she said. you know i hate the outdoors almost as much as i hate this snow.
I couldn’t help thinking I’d made a big mistake asking her to tag along. I quickly realized it would be more nagging than tagging. i wasn’t yet sure i was okay with that.
the snow was falling hard against the windshield of my ‘86 Corolla. i could barely see the tar-stained circuit ahead of me. is this what a whiteout is all about, i asked myself. i was tempted to pull over but the testosterone led with a steady foot and firm grip.
the truck came out of nowhere. it would have been impossible to see in this weather, even if i hadn’t been wearing my back-up pair of glasses.
i’m not hurt, i thought. i don’t feel dead. snowflakes began building castles along the bridge of my nose. i remember seeing my breath, yet, i couldn’t see my own hand in front of my face. i had to get up.
i walked over to where carrie was laying. her lavender dress flattered the spray tan she got on Tuesday. her hair was pulled back and tied with her favorite elastic: lime green and gold. a color combination that never quite clicked for me.
i knelt down next to her and put her in my arms. there was blood running down the right side of her face. it spread like oil once it hit the snow below her. i held her hand but she had no strength to return the gesture. she just laid there, staring at the sky.
i’m constantly reminded of that final image of her. she could only lay there with her hair pulled back so delicately. even though i can no longer probe the deepest trenches of her mind, i still awe that the most aggravating, mysterious and complex woman i know died wearing the simplest braid.
flakes danced on each hair like the sun dances on the branches of the birch trees at sunrise. that was the last time carrie would ever see the sun.
camo bags are the new jack spade
click, click, click.
I almost couldn’t listen to the sound for another 20 minutes. It was Friday afternoon, 3:10 p.m. and my weekend at the Carolina shore was only 20 lonely, long minutes away.
I was noticeably perturbed by the weight each of her fingers put on the keyboard. No matter how many coughs or extemporaneous gestures I made, she never looked up. Not even once.
Who is this woman, I thought. Superhuman? No. She’s too big to be superhuman. Batman didn’t have quite the same amount of sagging arm fat that Ms. Burnwell possessed. Washington could’ve sailed across the Potomac on that mass.
click, click, tap, click.
I let out a long baritone sigh.