Posted on July 16, 2015July 16, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair7.16.2015 Journal Prompt Image from Der geteilte Himmel July 16, 2015: I thought he was… Like this:Like Loading... Related
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There’s down there and there’s up here and the two are divided, like heaven is from earth, though it is not so simple an obvious as that.
Down there time runs constant, even if that’s not how it feels. There are clocks to look to and sundials on some days and the radio says it is this point in the day or that point. And down there angels keep their wings under their coats so they are not ever known, and so also no believed in, and the air is thick as soup or smoke and that is why we cough or suck for breath when we run. And down there, Bernard is slow and uncertain, and he says he thinks he loves me – only thinks he does. And he kisses me to see what loving me feels like, and he touches under my dress, and holds his breath, and holds it for as long as daring can.
‘So?’ I say to him. And Bernard looks at me like he doesn’t know me, or like I have asked him to make a hard calculation in his head. ‘What does it feel like?’ I ask him.
Down there, loving me feels like soaring, he says, which is not quite the truth. Yes, he says, and the fluttering of a thousand butterflies against his skin, and dandelion seeds it feels like, and all his thoughts windblown and fleeing. But then he looks at his watch, because down there he has other places to be – don’t they always? – and he dresses quick as lickety split, and he forgets to kiss me as he goes and so he put his lips into the shape of a kiss and blows across the flat of his palm, blows from the street below to me at the window of the room he has just left, and I am to catch his blown kiss or make a show of catching it, at least.
But up here, high above everything, it is a different story. Up here there are no clocks and time stands still, or does cartwheels or handstands, and it does not matter which. Up here we can see the whole world laid out like a blanket, or the town at least, and everything small as ants or sand. And Bernard says he is a little scared of heights, his words all shape and no sound, but I do not think that is what he fears.
And there are no angels up here, not like you’d think. Not unless birds are angels, and they draw pretty arcs in the thin air and patterns in swirls and swoops, and everything easy and swift. And there isn’t there a breathlessness to everything and a giddiness that is like being drunk and falling?
I ask Bernard if he loves me different up here. He has closed his eyes, tight as pinches, and his words are sucked or blown. And he nods in answer to the question I have asked. And I kiss him, just to see what loving him is like. And maybe I taste metal or blood on his tongue, or salt I taste. And his heart, which should be the beating of a bird’s wings, is as loud as a drum. And all his nerves are jangled.
And Bernard holds me tight as never letting go, the only time that he does. And I know it is not for love, but for something else. Something closer to need and want and desire. And he does not have other places to be and so he holds me, onto me, and I hold him, and like that it feels a little nearer to love, I think – my kind of love.
It means more up here, she said. It’s like a higher truth and before God so it can’t be a lie. And we was all the way up the Blackpool tower and there’s a little cage at the top, right at the top, and it says you can’t go up there and yet we did, and all the sea-blown air around us and in us, cold and sharp as salt. And she said it was the best place and better than churches for being near to God.
She slipped her hand through the metal of the cage and like that it was as though she was touching wet clouds and she laughed and her laughing was like there was no one else in the whole world but us. That’s what she said. And she pulled me close, and kissed me. I swear that her kisses up there was like no other kisses she’d given me before and we’d kissed as many times as there is stars. Breathless we was up there.
‘Tell me now,’ she said. And she pushed me away only as far as she could see my lips making the shapes of the words, and my eyes she could see also. ‘Tell me,’ she said again.
And my words when I spoke ‘em, they was all torn and carried away on the blowing air so they was not heard by her or by me. I said ‘em again, saying ‘em louder, so loud it was like I was proclaiming before God, which is what she wanted after all. And I said as how I loved her more than ever I’d loved before.
And she took my hand and blew into it and made it warm as pockets; and she put my hand under her sweater and near to her breast, just where her heart is. And she asked if I could feel her heart beating and I nodded to tell her I could, even though all I could feel was that she wasn’t wearing no bra and that took my breath away and all my words.
It wasn’t a day for going up the tower. It was grey and cold and all the world shrouded and rain falling like needles or like sharp splinters of the sky. And we was alone up there, though she said we was never fully alone and there was always God. And she said I could if I wanted, now I could, all I’d ever asked for and till now she’d said as how she wasn’t ready.
She said that she loved me back and before God she did and before all else. And she took off her panties and put ‘em in my pocket.
I don’t know, but it wasn’t like I imagined it would be. I felt like we was seen, and not just by a higher being. I felt like we was on show and it was cold as sea squalls up there and the air like ice fingers feeling in all my places and hers. And it was quick, too, quick as losing ten pounds in a one-armed bandit and you want it to take longer and for there to be the sound of a payout when you’re done, and in the end all you have is a small and inexplicable feeling of loss, small and black like a hole, like staring into the eye of something dead, and like that it felt as if it was a lie after all.