we laid together
talking about the stars, talking about summers when our parents would take us camping.
she told me about the boys she met along the way, and I told her stories about girls. kisses, stars, arcades, night-swimming, churches, carnivals. how everyone seemed friendlier than in our own home-towns. how she used to count the days until school started again, and how I didn't.
her parents dragged her out west to camp out in Texas, Utah, Arizona.
I went to Carolina, Virginia, and Rhode Island. those highways, and back-roads, pork n beans, sleeping bags, rivers, mountains, and streams. flat tires, southern drawls, country music fading in and out of radio static.
I said we should go somewhere. right now!. we should take our sleeping bags and let's hop in my truck.
and she said, yeah, with the g.p.s, mp3 players, bbq, wifi, hifi, beer, wine, and fishing poles. Then drive right up to the hotel and.......she's kinda funny
and then touching me, through the darkness
saving me the trouble of hiding
she tells me I'm pretty, feels for my bruised knuckles-(another story). my hands are warm. then she asks,
"have you ever gotten your hands dirty?"
I reached out, touching her throat.
is this dirty
she enjoys the smell of smoke. camp- fire. the way her Dad made her hot-dogs. overcooked and a little black. just how she liked them. now she doesn't even eat meat. but they make those vegetarian ones. I try to make them the same. she says to me..."make them how i like Daddy.
I tell her about the lake I used to swim in. There was a rope-swing. I'd climb high using the wood pegs someone had nailed into the tree. Then swing out and drop into the murky water. I was afraid of alligators. would one be waiting for me on the bottom?. waiting to sink those teeth in into my flesh. thrash me around , tear me open, pull me under. I thought of all this while still in the air. waiting for the fall. willing myself to freeze time so I'd be suspended above the water. I thought about not letting go of the rope. Knowing if i did that, I'd swing back and hit the tree real hard. The other kids waiting a turn would laugh and call me names. I'd hit the tree with a thud and just slide down with my breath knocked out of me. Id fall into the shallow bank of dirty water anyway. I know. because I saw it happen to another kid. what was i more afraid of?. what the hell are we all afraid of? being laughed at or being bitten in half by a gator.
what you have to do is, find out on your own that the fall isn't so bad. sometime- you just have to. you hit the water and feel that rush. how it's cool and tingly on your skin. for however long it lasts. it's worth it. like that first sip of an ice cold beer. like playing hank williams after your girl-friend dumps you. it might hurt you a little bit, but in the end it's worth it.
is it? you have to let go off the rope and hope for the best. every-one is watching. you get the big splash and the sink to near bottom. It could be spectacular. It could be tragic. regardless. odds are you don't die. not yet. It's harder than you think to die. broken hearts don't kill you, being a fool, mistakes. on the outside, at least. you are okay.
you know how I dream of tornadoes?
I dream about alligators too.