The Burial

Crisp fall wind whips the length of my hair. I wore it in big, loose waves trying to be cute, and I’m sure now it’s notsomuch curly as it’s tangled odd angles of chocolate strands that have somehow grown twice in volume. It’s cold out, not unbearable, but enough to remind you that Texas can spoil you if you live there long enough to forget what a real fall is like here on the Right Coast.

The darkness hangs like a veil. It’s too late for the streets surrounding the hotel to be busy and the stillness is both soothing and unnerving. I am searching inside myself to see how I feel. It’s cold in there. I stand perfectly still, closing my eyes against the wind, and wonder what the fuck am I doing?
I’m driving, my right knee steering, my left shoulder holding one phone as I speak into it, both hands typing on the other phone on the dash. I am acutely aware of the butterflies dancing in my stomach as I whip through lanes of traffic, rushing despite the fact that I know that I don’t have to. I’m nervous. Anxious. I know these few seconds aren’t going to change much, but they seem so precious. I’m besieged by the feeling of needing to get there as soon as I can. A smile plays on the edge of my lips, dancing outwards, reaching as far up to my hairline as it can manage. In my mind, I am singing.

It would be easy to turn around and go upstairs. The sliding glass doors are only a few feet away. They would open automatically under my weight. I could walk the few feet to the steel elevator and be lifted to my floor, only having to lift a hand to press a button. Easy.
But I’ve never been one for easy.

I prefer over.

Mentally I am chastising myself. For this inevitable push and pull. For even making this decision. For standing outside waiting for closure to pull up at the curb. For blindly stepping where no maps are drawn. But I’m hardly listening to my internal scolding. I know me too well. I always do what I want, and hopefully it’s sometimes what I need anyway.

I open my eyes as the car pulls up. I steel myself for the expected onslaught of emotions that should rock me to the concrete.

They never come.

“Hey, mami.”
“What’s up?”

He regards me closely, his hazel eyes poking around in my chestnut ones. Whatever he finds there makes him step backwards off the curb, a few feet away from me. After a beat he regains his confident swagger, getting right up in my face, kissing me. It’s so goddamn presumptuous of him. He opens the car door and I slide in silently. We make small talk as we drive, like we’re strangers on a city bus, like we’ve just met at a cocktail party where we both know the host and no one else.

Laughter colors the humid summer air. Our clothes stick to our skin but between the liquor and the company we barely notice. I’m tucked under his left side as I always am, participating enough to keep eyes off me but mostly hanging back and observing. Watching how they interact with him, the way he fits seamlessly into us.

“This is it,” I say in my head. “This is our life. He is it.”

The distant strains of a second line rise up over our heads and I take a deep breath.

At his place, I’m moving around like I’m sightless, having been so willfully blind in this bedroom for so long. I’m very aware of ghosts. Those hanging in his trees, maybe staining his sheets, my own whispering in my ear, standing vigil in the corner. I’m uncomfortable here as I never have been. I wait for it to make me sad. It doesn’t come. I curl myself up in a tight ball in the chair where we first gave life to I love you.

We’re scissored up, one hand on my bare ass, the other firmly tangled roots of the hair at the nape of my neck. My skin is damp, most of me is, moisture pooling by the second under a barrage of kisses to my neck. My spine is on fire, the muscles in my thighs trembling around his broad waist. He introduces my burning back to the cool sheets, my hands grasped easily in one of his above my head. Rains kisses from my sweaty palms, down my arms, over my lips and chin. I struggle to keep breathing when his lips find the hollow between my breasts. Intimidated by his ferocity, I’m trying not to cry, too afraid of being too overwhelmed by the intensity of his touch.

He talks and I listen, barely contributing. I’m far too aware of the bodies. They’re everywhere, decaying with each of his professions of love, their mingled scents cloying, suffocating. I’m fading in and out, caught between the afterlife I hope to get to and the past life we shared, wandering the bleak, gray space between.

Is this La?”
“Yeah. Who is this?”
“Look, I need to talk to you about your man.”

It strikes me in a profound sort of way that I’m now merely an observer in this farce, no longer a participant as I was for so long, too long. Maybe all of it was a fictional tale we weaved to our specifications. He sounds so sincere. The kind words and apologies and promises, and it’s all so lost on me. He kisses me again, soft and sweet on my forehead.

I don’t believe him.

“This is it, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, I guess it is.”
“Please don’t call.”
“That’s gonna be hard.”
“I love you, you know.”
“Is love ever really enough?”

I’m shivering despite the heat, my insides giving off ice. He’s staring at me, sorrow weighing down the outer edges of his usually smiling eyes.

“This is it, isn’t it?”

My back is against the cold wall. I’m praying it will cool my flushed skin. My stomach is churning. The night air is silent except for the jarring vibration coming from the window sill. The noise comes with a light. Once, then silent. Then again. A third time in rapid succession. A quick glance over at the clock tells me its 4am. Once more, there’s the muffled clatter against the hard surface. I’m crying, trying to be quiet because I am the only one in this bed awake, but my eyes aren’t too blurry to make out the display


I launch myself out of bed and barely make it to the toilet before my insides turn out.

“Yeah,” I reply. “I guess it is.”

But of course I know now, as I didn’t then or was just too afraid to admit, that this is no “it” at all. This is nothing. Not anymore.

I fall asleep in the car, exhausted, completely beset by the nothing left to say. The sun is barely coming up on a new day as we reach the curb where I was standing just a few scant hours ago.

I squint against the morning sun, grabbing the last of my bags from him, my poker face firmly in check.
“This is it, isn’t it?” he asks, and the unmistakable sadness in his eyes is like a punch to the gut. My face betrays nothing.
“Yeah, I guess it is.”

We hug and kiss goodbye, barely lingering, and I turn sharply and maneuver my luggage through the crowd toward the airport entrance, the sun slowly climbing higher into its perch in the sky, starting to blind me as I walk. I don’t squint. I don’t look back.

He opens the door for me and I slide out, unceremoniously and without assistance. He gives me a long look, sweeps me over with his eyes, taking me all in.

“Call me?” he says. I can tell, because I used to know every single damn thing about the nature of this man, that he wants it to come out like a command but it’s much more like a question. I answer him with my silence. He nods, his ghosts in my ears again, their whispers reaching a fever pitch. He walks back to the driver side heavily, never moving his eyes from mine. He pulls away slowly like he’s the lead car in a funeral processional. A dirge plays in my head.

I knew everything about the nature of this man, except that he would break my heart

“Do you think we can get this right in our next life?”

I watch until the tail lights disappear and release the deep breath I’ve been holding for years. The ghosts go silent.

This is it. I am it.

I turn and walk away from the blood on the pavement, the scene of so many past deaths. The sun blinds me as it rises. I don’t squint. I don’t look back

This last shovelful of ceremonial dirt buries the life within the shiny silver coffin. I threw it in myself.

14 thoughts on “The Burial

  1. All you people with the one word answers… whaaaa?!?!?Diamonds you have no idea.Stace that is so perfectly put that I can’t believe I never thought of it my brillian self 🙂Joy hahahaha angry much?**blushing** thanks ChrisCnel you’re probably right. Now if only he had realized sooner.X hahaha dont be a Harry Potter groupie over lil ol meWife wtf is a guh? lol


  2. Girl, please…. you make me want to rush out and get in line TODAY for the inevitable book signing in a year or so. Jeez… if only I could put such coherent words to my foolishness.


  3. I don’t think you’ve understood a love gained, but by the very same token a love lost until you’ve asked this question:“Do you think we can get this right in our next life?”


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