The Twin Fork Bridge
Dan had explained to me at the same kitchen table how sorry he was. He didn’t know what had made him fall in love with Lucy. It had just happened, he’d said. Maybe he and I had been too close from too early on. Maybe we fell in love at too young an age and had smothered each other and kept each other from experiencing the world.
We both cried. I threw up. He left and I threw my favorite cobalt-blue vase against the wall. I couldn’t call anyone I was so devastated. I managed to get into my car and drove to Miller’s for a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of gin. I’d never smoked until that night, and to this day gin hasn’t touched these lips again.
The next day my family and friends came to my rescue and they have never really quit trying to save me since.
Dan has been very generous. I’m sure it’s purely out of guilt for breaking me in half. We never got a lawyer. He gave me almost all that we’d owned together. He and Lucy both made more money than I would ever come close to. The cottage was mine. He paid off my car and bought a new set of tires for it. All he took was the crappy Ford Escort that had the big dent from the deer I’d smacked into, and he drove off into the sunset with my life. For almost two years he mailed me a check for no other reason than to soothe his own conscience. I couldn’t touch that blood money. It’s still sitting in a separate savings account collecting interest on pain.
I watered not only the red impatiens in the front yard, but also the small flower bed off the back deck that was full of black-eyed Suzannes and the remains of daisies. I dead-headed the other potted plants on the deck and watered them too. It was eighty-two degrees by the thermometer and there were just a few puffy clouds in the sky.
The deck above the boathouse looked inviting as always under the shade of the oak growing next to it, and the short pier of just three sections, with the bench built for two, looked bright, sunny, and scorching hot. Being a Monday, the lake traffic was light. The water was calm.
An artist at heart, I knew I had to begin writing while my mind was reeling and my adrenaline was flowing. The boathouse deck was the place to go. Later I could clear off my desk, dust off my computer, start it up, and organize all of my writing paraphernalia.
It took a couple of trips up the steps to bring the necessities. I had my big white plastic bag from Books For You and a glass of iced tea with lemon. That was more for effect than anything. Next I grabbed my sunglasses, an ashtray, a lighter, a box of Triscuits, some cheddar cheese spread, my jack knife, and the little broom to sweep the cob webs that would start to come back as soon as I’d finish sweeping them away.
I chose one of the five new writing tablets and a pencil to begin. I needed time to ponder, so I lit a cigarette and placed it in the ashtray on the smaller of the two wooden spool tables seated to the right of my lounge chair.
I began to carve the perfect writing tip with my jackknife. It’s a drawing ritual that I use, and it seemed to be the right thing to do. Maybe Stephen King does the same.
I’d been in such a hurry after the initial scare of my loss of confidence at the turn of my car key that I hadn’t even bothered to change out of my work get up. Too late, I thought. Stay right where you are missy.
THE TWIN FORK BRIDGE
It started like any other day. My alarm hadn’t gone off yet and I was in a deep state of sleep, yet my subconscious knew the day was about to begin. My mind and my body were at war with each other for the right of way. The same as most days, something pulled me out of that place minutes before the single click and then the intrusively loud buzzing would begin.
Once that happened, there would be no more peace. I knew from hundreds of mornings just like this one, that try as I might, my safe zone from the world had ended again. It would be back, but with far too much time in between. Oh, I could have rolled over and stuck my face into my pillow to savor the moment, but that would have been it, a moment. Sadness would have crept in anyway. The only course of action I could take to keep it away was to get up. So I did, just like any other day.
The sun wasn’t visible yet from my bedroom, but I was certain that when I got out of the shower and into the kitchen for that first cup of coffee, it would be making an appearance through my favorite window over the sink. There would be patches of yellow and blue on the sand colored floor, a reflection from the stained glass piece hanging there. Morning was the best time to catch those colors.
Wearing a long, white, belted, terry cloth robe, I carried a steaming cup of bold, black coffee into the bathroom to begin my morning ritual. I squeezed the white tea therapy lotion generously into my palm and rubbed it over my silky smooth, freshly shaven legs. My arms, neck, breasts, stomach and as much of my back that I could reach would be in for the same, a sip of coffee, the special face soap and cream to follow, another sip and then I brushed my teeth. Foundation, sip, powder with the big soft brown handled brush, sip, a quick dab of blush, sip, mascara, sip, and now the hair styling fiasco.
I wandered back to the kitchen for a refill. I needed a heater upper for the goop and hair dryer ordeal. The patches of yellow and blue had moved only slightly, which meant I was making good time. The birds were singing. They probably had been, but the coffee and the shower enabled me to hear them on this trip.
I scooped some gunk out and rubbed my hands together. Pulling it through my short, dark, hair, I began to shape it. I took the hanging hair dryer off its hook and turned it on low. Mindlessly, I moved it back and forth using my other hand to pull my hair up and out, as the warm air blew through. It seemed to take forever, like it always did. Before it was completely dry, I grabbed the pump hair spray and swirled it around my hair hoping it would hold what looked good at the moment.
Down the hall and into my bedroom I passed the beckoning bed with its upturned sheets. The pillows looked as though they’d been tossed onto the bright and cheery comforter, now partially dragging on the floor.
My closet was stuffed and there was a pile of shoes cluttering the bottom, making it impossible to shut the door all the way. Shirts, dresses, skirts and pants hung, waiting to be chosen. The top shelf was full of sweatshirts, sweaters and tees in disarray. I was never one for changing out closets with the seasons. I used to have hope of some semblance of organization. That hope has passed.
I chose a favorite skirt. One that feels good. It’s the flimsy type that flairs out if I twirl around, with specks of orange, rust and brown throughout. This one negates the non-feminine look that lurks under the surface when I wear my hair short, especially now that I am nearing the thirty year mark.
I pulled a choral colored peasant blouse over my head. The scooped neck allowed for a necklace made of a brown suede leather strap with a couple of brown wood beads and a flattened, burnt-orange medallion of a rose, about an inch in diameter. The earth-toned, inch-long teardrop earrings, made by a good friend pulled the outfit together.
Now for shoes. Shoes can make or break your day. Not even a second guess. I chose the thick soled brown leather slip-on sandals with the cut out flower on top of each, leaving all the sheik, slinky pairs of sandals behind. I buy them and then I can’t seem to bring myself to put them on. They make me feel like I’m someone trying to impersonate an adult. On went the old favorites. They were a perfect fit. If only the perfect person could see me now. Nope. Not possible. That was before. This was my new life, my new old life. Just like hundreds of days in a row now.
Sitting in the driver’s seat of the white Kia with the sun roof cracked open, I pulled down the visor mirror to apply some cinnamon lipstick and caught sight of my dark brown eyes. They were pretty at first glance, but then on closer inspection, I could see that they were hollow.
I backed out onto the quiet street and turned left, heading in the direction of the interstate that would take me to the office I’d been employed at for eight years. There was a luscious ten mile stretch to begin the drive. The houses and cottages along the way were mostly still. A few early risers had been out and had their sprinklers going on their sacred flower gardens. There were many retired folks in the area, some vacation homes and a minority of working commuters like me.
At the intersection that crossed the old highway, I pulled a cigarette out of my crocheted purse and flicked on my lighter, just as I always did.
The radio was on low. The DJ was looking for the fifth caller to some inane contest where you could win some asinine tickets to the race track the following weekend. Oh what the hell. I pulled my cell phone out of my purse and dialed 555-10.09 and was the fourth caller. I had never in my life called to win anything. It had never occurred to me. Why did I that day? What would I have done with those tickets? I probably would have given them to my nephews who were far too young to drive and then gotten one of those “thanks a lot” looks from their mother, my sister.
My journey continued on and my world flew past, breathtaking as always, no matter the season. This happened to be the greenest time of the year. I was two miles from the I-system that would lead me to cubicle number 257 and suddenly I knew that I wouldn’t be going there. The difference was, everything was the same and I needed everything to be different. I was wearing a variation of the same ensemble that I always wore to the office. There was the other flimsy blue deal, the flowing green with the pure white scoop tank top, the gray and black with the flicks of pink and so on and so on and so on. All in all, everything was the same, except I had called the radio station for no apparent reason. Something was different.