Thursday, November 19, 2009

fiction about women

I wrote this in August. I mentioned it once here and once here. I've been scared to publish it because I think it's good but I'm worried that it's not. This story doesn't apply to me anymore. It might have been true at one point, but now it's taken its place in fiction. Anyways, here we go. Deep breath.

"It's the daydreaming that does it. I'm doing the usual thing -- imagining in tiny detail the entire course of the relationship, from first kiss, to bed, to moving in together, to getting married (in the past I have even organized the track listing of the party tapes), to how pretty she'll look when she's pregnant, to names of children -- until suddenly I realize that there's nothing left to actually, like, happen. I've done it all, lived through the whole relationship in my head. I've watched the film in fast forward; I know the whole plot, the ending, all the good bit."
- Nick Hornby "High Fidelity"


all i know how to write about are the women i’ve loved. there’ve been a lot. every woman i’ve ever seen i’ve fallen in love with. the ones i’ve met for 5 minutes or less or more, but not much more. There’s the woman i met for a day and then i loved her for a month. there’s the woman who came up behind me on the escalator, then i wrote an entire love poem where every other word was ‘love’ prefaced with ‘i’ and ending with everything you do. these women break my heart. they destroy me. it’s only the ones i’ve missed that tear me apart like this. you know, the missed opportunities. all i can do is write some kind of fiction about women, all the women i’ve loved inside my head.

what i really mean is there’s one woman i want to talk about right now. that’s it, right? it’s never women in general, not for anyone. there’s always someone specific in mind. well, there is here, for me.

it would make sense to start the story from when we met. that would be logical. but the real story starts when i was born, because this is my story and that’s when i begin. so i guess meeting people and women comes in somewhere in the middle. or ‘late start’ since the story’s not over. there’s no real start to anything actually. i mean this whole life is like a circle or something anyways. there’s no starting point. the important part is this: there’s this woman, and then there’s me.

if i knew how to explain it, i would. but i don’t, so i can’t. i’m making it up as i go along. i don’t know what i’m talking about, but no one really does. if they tell you they do they’re lying and the world is full of liars and believers, and you need one liar and one believer and that’s how you get the truth. are you listening to me right now? are you believing this? what did i just tell you? pay attention. this is about love which doesn’t exist except inside your head.

so this is some kind of story about something. this is my story within a story. it’s about a woman or women or love. (it’s about the love i created inside my head).

let’s make a list. the list is called “things about you” but it’s not about you, it’s about this woman i’ve been talking about, you know? the woman in the story. see if you can figure it out. i know it’s a boring name for a list but it’s late and i don’t think the name is very important right now. i mean, it doesn’t matter. the list is still the same.

things about you: a list
crooked thumbs
round eyes
small teeth

i could be describing anyone right now. if you know who i’m talking about maybe it’s obvious and you are probably thinking i’m crazy right now, you’re making a mental note, suddenly you think differently of me. that’s fine. i’m fine with that. either i’m in love with everybody or i’m in love with nobody.

so i’ve written stories in my head. stories about this one woman, this blonde with crooked thumbs, a distorted sense of perception, low low sweet n’ low, round eyes and small teeth; one of them is about how we fight all the time. this is the beginning of the story, i guess, if there was a beginning. the beginning is in the middle because we’re already fighting and i’m making it up.

it’s the middle of winter. i think winter is perfect for breathing close to someone when you’re outside and hiding your hands somewhere. see, this woman, i shout at her in the snow but she never shouts back and that’s very frustrating. and i tell her that. i tell her she’s a robot and she has no feelings. she tells me i have too many feelings. i just shout a lot. it’s okay to shout in the winter because the world gets bigger when it snows. all i need is one believer now to turn my lies into truths.

in this shouting scene she’s wearing a hat and i’m not. but i have a scarf on. we’re on the sidewalk near a main street across from my school but there’s no one around because it’s winter. the world is bigger so there’s more places to hide and that’s where the other people are. or maybe someone is walking by but they just keep going. i don’t know because i’m too busy shouting. she’s not answering me, really. you know why? because this is a one sided conversation because it’s not real because it’s happening in my head because i live there. and i can’t think for someone else. not even for this woman that i love but don’t know at all. we just go to a hotel and drink wine. red for her, white for me. i know that much.

on the way there it starts to snow. i can tell we’re not really mad at each other, we’re just mad at each other. there are red patches on her cheeks but it’s from the cold not because she was shouting. that was me. that’s why my face is red. i’m not wondering if she’s going to hold my hand. it’s like we’re pretending we’re not going to the same place. i know she is just waiting for me to apologize.

either everything is true or nothing is. how much of this are you believing?

inside the layers of clothing come off. i never really thought about it but i guess i’m wearing a jacket and a sweater and a shirt and probably an undershirt because it’s really cold. (i want to say more about the cold and this woman but i can’t because that would give it away. i’m only giving some things away, not little truths, just little lies. stuff that makes up a story, you know? it doesn’t matter because i’ve already classified this as fiction, turned this into something that exists on the fringes of life, the edges of my mind. and maybe it’s based on a real person (blonde with crooked thumbs, a distorted sense of perception, low low sweet n’ low, round eyes and small teeth) or maybe it’s not. whatever you want to believe, i guess. whatever you choose to think about me. who am i trying to convince?)

we undress each other and make peace – i mean love – and then i take a shower and we order chinese food. we eat chinese food in the boxes and drink cheap wine and time sort of fast forwards. i can just skip this part. let’s just say that we’re both quiet and she’s been quiet since she got here, since i shouted at her in the snow, and i know she’s going to say something soon. i can’t say what because i don’t know her very well even though i’ve known her for a year. it’s amazing what you can talk about when you don’t talk about anything. we lie in bed and hold each other and watch the news but i’m not really watching, i’m just looking. i’m looking at her and thinking and knowing that we’re probably going to fight again soon, except it’s just going to be me by myself. i’m always shouting at the wall and she’s always calm and quiet until she gets her word in and that’s it, i’m defeated.

we walk around in the fresh snow again outside the hotel. i’m wearing these shitty converse with holes in them and my feet are freezing already. this is based on real life, this is actually a fact. the one truth i’ve told is about my holey shoes. i guess it’s better than nothing. i already said this was fiction didn’t i? it’s all about love which only exists in my head, and barely

i’m making tracks in the ground, walking in a circle around this woman. she’s talking now, about worldly things. i touch her here and there, kiss her here and there. if we are puzzle pieces we don’t really fit together, but at least we’re in the right box, part of the same picture. we never tell each other lies because we don’t need to, instead we just say things and i don’t know if that’s worse.

i imagine our friends talking about us, saying we’re crazy for each other. they say that i’m crazy and i show it and she’s crazy but she won’t admit it and that’s why i’m always shouting. that’s why she’s never shouting. they say that we’re two extremes and i’m not talking about ‘opposites attracting’ because we have a lot in common (we also have nothing in common but that matters less), but we work because we need each other. it works on this paper because i wrote it, i made it, i’m the writer who turned fiction into fact. fiction into truth. this works if you believe me.

the truth (or...?) is that i can’t not be in love with anybody. right? either i’m in love with everybody or i’m in love with nobody and the latter can’t be true, it just can’t. i’m in love with every woman i know and i’m writing the same story over and over again. i’m rewriting my life over and over again.

we’re rolling in the snow and my jeans are wet. the snow is a good kind of cold, you know, that kind that you can hold in your hand and you won’t get shivers. i’m chasing her and shouting and i’m cold and hot and happy and warm. we lie in the snow. she’s wearing her hat, i’m wearing my scarf. some snow goes down my neck and i shake and giggle. the rest of the world is hiding, somewhere in the white spaces where we haven’t walked yet. i’m not wondering if she’s going to hold my hand, i know she’s just waiting for me to kiss her and i do. we lie on our backs and watch and feel the snow cover our faces and bodies and they’re just like white falling stars. tomorrow our tracks will be gone, replaced with something clean, a fresh new hope.

we go inside and make love – i mean peace – i mean tea – and we sleep and dream of space and snow and each other. and it’s warm inside these blankets and her body’s warm and the tv’s still on. i can hear it subconsciously. in the middle of the night i wake up and turn it off. i kiss her shoulder and bury deeper into her heart and into the sheets and it’s still snowing outside but not in our bed.

so here’s what i’ve learned: either everything is perfect or nothing is. and the answer is both at the same time because they’re the same thing, you know? everything is perfect, and nothing is. so she’s either everyone you know, or no one at all. believe what you will.


kimbit said...

This makes me happy because I am often scared of publishing stories about the women I've been in love with, as I have an irrational fear of alienating people, which is weird because the people who matter don't care that the stories are about lady love, but it feels weird and like they won't really understand and then I remember that everyone knows/loves love and what was I getting at here.
OH YEAH. This is good. =)
also: I love that snow feeling- like all places are hiding places. It feels like home.

Anonymous said...

Normally I wouldn't bother pointing out errors, but this one comes at what seems to be a pretty important line. "they say that we’re too extremes." I'm pretty sure you meant to put two, if not then I kinda feel like an asshole. Your writing never fails to remind me of the same girl, if only I weren't such a coward.

Anonymous said...

i love the line, "either everything is perfect or nothing is".

you have a way of translating feelings into words...something i'm very bad at, and you do it beautifully. thanks for posting this.

laura said...

this is still my favorite: "we go inside and make love – i mean peace – i mean tea."

i'm so happy you finally published it!

Meer said...

This reminds me of another story. I hope you won't be offended by that, but maybe when I tell you the story you will in fact realize that this is the highest compliment that I, personally, could give you.

Though to be fair I don't know you, so maybe you don't care about the weight of my compliments versus other people's to myself and themselves... respectively? That was a beast of a sentence. I digress.

It reminds me of J. D. Salinger. Well, it reminds me of The Catcher in the Rye, which is the only book I've read by him. But.

Also I liked it. Ten minutes well spent for me. Really, I'm not being nice. I'm not a fake-nice person, especially not online, where you can't even punch me in the face. I digress again.

saint modesto said...

kimbit: oh believe me, it's terrifying. i'm glad you like it.

anonymous: thanks! yeah i did mean "two". it's been fixed. sometimes i'm a coward too.

anonymous: thanks for reading it.

laura: glad you read it!

meer: i'm not offended that this reminds you of the catcher in the rye, since the catcher in the rye is a famous book and a pretty good one at that (i think so anyways). i'm glad you're not being fake-nice even though i probably wouldn't be able to tell anyway.

Sabmxo said...

you're so lucky to be able to feel this much.
even when it hurts, never give up.
those broken hearts just remind us that we're alive.
you have the most beautiful soul em, and you put everything into words... stringing them together- pure poetry. simply beautiful.