I have gone by many names, some chosen, some inherited, some thrown at me in anger, in scorn, in friendship.
Names add nothing to who I am, who I choose to be, who I am seen to be by the those who throw around names as if they were magical incantations, elixirs with great power that fall at my feet like shattered icicles of my not caring.
I have to compliment you, after all you ignored me for four years in high school, condemned me to the outcasts, the geeks, the losers, the barely tolerated and then only when the Headmaster was watching.
I didn’t go to your parties, no one without an invitation ever dared, was left to the clubs no one wanted to join, but I have to say I was truly surprised, shocked almost when your letter came, reminding me of our great years of friendship, our camaraderie then, but regrettably I must decline to contribute to our class fund.
Linking things is a human need, tenuous forces barely holding across synapses easily broken or lost, never to be replaced.
Ithaca is forever joined with Galway City, and I still have not figured out how to get the two people together as together is obviously what they should be.
She sits at a small table in the Commons, staring, waiting perhaps for a writer or lover who may be both, to come down from Cornell and join her, while Oscar waits patiently on a marble bench, hat by his side, telling Eduard of the woman he expects to arrive, trying to determine how to tell her that her friendship means everything, but it can be nothing more than platonic.
In my world they meet, she listens, fights back tears and promises always to be there, friends frozen in time and bronze.
I know what you did not tell them, that much I could learn for myself, but what did you tell them? I know you were full figured, I think that is the acceptable term, once it was Reubenesque, but someone must have noticed something.
Maybe those at work, sitting at their terminals didn’t notice, you came and went, few friendships perhaps, but you were close to the family, they must have suspected, though you told the agency no one knew, certainly not your partner in that act.
It won’t change anything, best since you took the answer to your grave, the one I visited to greet you and bid you farewell, the least a son can do for the mother he never got the chance to know.
What do you say on the loss of a child? We sat in the lounge drinking a vile potion from a hollowed pineapple giggling insanely for no reason. We wandered the tunnels faces painted, clowns in bedlam. We lay together on a mattress on the floor and listened to Aqualung my arms around you both, but sleep came slowly and we talked until night ran from the encroaching sun. I can feel her soft blond hair and see her smile as we walked hand in hand in hand along the abandoned railbed, dreaming of what might be. As I struggle with sleep and with a new day I can hear the tape end snapping at the end of the ever spinning reel wanting only to hold your hand and stroke your hair.
First appeared in RE:AL The Journal of Liberal Arts Vol. 23, Issue 2, 1998