Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Return of the Short Story

Editor's Note:

I tried, in the beginning, to write in an strict, numerical order while compiling this ongoing short story in progress. Now, I think it may be easier if I document specific anecdotes first, then link them together later as they fit. For those inclined to read these segments, perhaps one can see the creative process at work.

I remember the happy times spent together. The night-long rainstorm we meandered through, in no hurry, while walking in downtown. Our hands brushed against long-forgotten markers and metal plaques. These denoted the construction of buildings or exact sites of historical events. Names of a forgotten age, local politicians lost to memory. Often these were obscured from discovery by newness. New additions, new expressways, new means of transportation.

You said to me: Touch, feel. I complied, reluctantly at first. What was the appeal? Then I understood you, surrendering, my comprehension growing with each stop.

By night’s end, we had arrived at the terminus. Peering over the railings, we spied where Northside meets Southside, watching a train hauling coal chugging steadily away from town. The division once meant much more than it does today. It may as well be its own living historical monument, active, but still a place where prior designation is more important than current value.

Speculation aside, simple pleasures are difficult to understate. Returning soaked to the apartment, I threw layer after layer of clothing to the hardwood floor in the foyer. Each created a heavy, slapping sound as it made contact with the ground. I probably should have bothered to wring out most of the rainwater into the old porcelain sink in the kitchen, but I was weary of the additional weight and tired from the journey. The sensation of complete liquid saturation only can be tolerated for a while. One eventually feels a strong inclination to escape, to push aside for later.

We huddled together under an itchy wool blanket that provided necessary warmth. Regarding a replacement, an additional expense or need always depleted our bank account, delaying the purchase of something better for the occasion. Some would have nagged us before departure, as we had impulsively chosen a day not especially hospitable to those who voluntarily eschew umbrellas. We had ignored periods of heavy rain, not merely a constant light drizzle.

I looked to my right, peering underneath the blanket. Her pale skin flushed scarlet, her legs pulled up underneath her, shivering.

It was totally worth it. I had to agree, though a compendium of old wives’ tales had me worried about particular maladies now in the process of gestation. She embraced me. The introduction of cold, clammy skin made me flinch. Still, I knew in time this momentary reflex of mine would subside. Warmth increases when two people huddle together. This isn't an especially profound truth, at least not on its surface. It’s an act that may save your life in the Arctic or spare your sanity in other situations. You see, these sorts of excursions of ours were frequent and instructive.

Never stop being spontaneous. Never push aside the simple joy of being present in the moment. Even the familiar holds interest if you stop rushing by it. Romance is present without dry clothes and a constant refrain of hackneyed parental warnings. I promise you this. Your feet will not freeze off. You will not catch your death of cold.

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