Monday, April 02, 2007

He could say that he had misinterpreted the situation.

It was only that something broke when he realized that she really meant it each time she said "Bless you" when he sneezed--that she really was worried that his heart might stop. And though he reviewed each moment, adding new weight to every memory until it became too heavy to carry, he never did manage to build a house out of those thoughts. Which was too bad, really, because what had actually happened would have shone like mica in the grey of everything he had built up around it, and he could have made a little hut visible from space. But something broke, is all, and he just couldn't decide if it was good or bad, or if he even cared to fix it. Sometimes broken was just as poetic as whole.

There was a spot along the road that he drove past most days where once he had pulled over and tried to save an unlucky dog. It was the only time he could honestly say that he had spontaneously tried to help any sort of creature in trouble, and it had gone badly. He knew that he had seen the thing twitch as he motored swiftly past, and wracked with the conviction that he couldn't just keep going this time he pulled over. The dog's lack of a visible injury heartened him, for a moment, so that he foolishly believed that it was just napping there on the side of the road; that it was whining softly in happiness rather than pain and fear. He gathered it up into the crook of his elbows and stood in the sun trying to remember where the nearest vet was when the thing suddenly stiffened and died. He nearly dropped it, revolted to find himself cuddling a corpse, but instead carried it off the shoulder of the road and into the dirt a little ways away. Anger flared along his cheekbones as he realized that there was no blood on his hands to prove the encounter, that not one spot remained on his shirt to validate his momentary kindness.

Driving down that stretch of road, he squinted his eyes against the sun and found himself suddenly homesick for the hollow of her throat.

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