Nagoya Writes

January 6, 2008

Summer Cleaning by Copykat

Filed under: Issue: Dec 2006,Prose — usbengoshi @ 6:52 am

I woke up looking at the wall and rolled over towards the light, a slim beam was coming through the curtain. It touched just the bottom of the bed, highlighting the stripes on my blue and white covers. I laid there, my legs pulled up into my chest, looking at it for a while and thinking to myself: “look at all the dust floating around in there”. Perhaps it was time to clean the house a little. I stretched my back, arms up towards the headboard. Toes pointed straight out to the stopped clock on the table at the foot of the bed, “I’ve been meaning to put a new battery in that”. The top of my foot slightly passing through the spot of light on the covers, I felt the warmth, felt the tingle shoot up my leg. A little energy bubble to get up and moving on this lazy Saturday morning, which I knew I would spend recovering from a dull hangover. “I should have made that last train. July already. Damn it’s stuffy and hot in here.”

Sitting up, pulling my legs under me, and looking at the beam again, I let my eyes follow it up through the small opening in the curtain. I could see the green of the leaves in the full length window, down at the bottom floorboard, just under where the curtain doesn’t reach the floor. “I should have had special curtains made to fit these odd sized windows.” I sat up against the wall – neck crooked from the messy ponytail I still sported from last night, staring at the corner windows with the pale mauve curtains. I watched the green flit back and forth through the opening as I stretched my toes back out to the warm spot on the bed. Centering the beam right on the little scar over my middle toe and remembered when Joey stepped on my foot by accident, right at the bottom of the stairs when we were on our way to summer camp, “wonder what my brother is up to, I should give him a call.”

Getting up, I opened the curtains and could see the weeds growing out of control, I thought “I really need to tame those down.” The yellow flowers looked so calm in the sunlight coming down between the back of the house and the hedges. “I was going to buy a little fence to pull those in.” The long thin dead tree stump just outside the window stood as high as my chin, with some of the vines still wrapped around it, white all along the age lines of the bark. Dried out from the sun, it was dead when I moved in. Those vines were put there just about 3 months ago now. They were pretty overgrown and ragged, having lost that “Let’s throw these here for now to make it look alive” look and taking on more of a forgotten and neglected image in the harsh bright light that was shining through them onto the wood flooring, warming my toes.

When I pulled back the white sheer curtains, and I could clearly see the big spider’s web stretching high up over the whole small yard, with a butterfly teasing around under it’s trap, I remembered the sweat pouring down the middle of my back, the bee flying overhead, the sound of weeds being pulled and a plastic bag being shaken out for the roughage three months earlier. I felt the first heat of spring on my face that early April Saturday afternoon. I felt the sun creeping through my black t-shirt to my skin. The white gloves stained with the brown dirt were itchy on my hands. “I wore these on my birthday. That was a good climb. Artie handled it much better than I thought he would, another one I should call and find out what trouble he’s gotten into,” I thought. But this first day of spring in my little yard was much warmer. I wasn’t at the top of a mountain in August actually freezing, lips blue with the cold. I was wearing these convenience store gloves in my own garden now. The spring breeze lightly brushed the small of my back exposed just under the t-shirt, just above the top of my jeans. As I bent over to clip the grass growing up through the bricks I could just get a glimpse of his hand reaching down between the yellow flowers’ vines and around the dead tree stump. I felt the sun graze my face as I stretched to look into the vines to see what he’d found. “There’s a little purple tulip in here, somebody must have planted it years ago. I almost pulled it” he said leaning down. It was hard to see him, the glare of the light got in my eyes. “I should have put my sunglasses on,” I absently thought. He came around the yellow flowers and pulled back the vines, pointing between the stems, I traced his arm with my eyes, down to his wrist where the veins on his arm stood out from pulling at the stubborn vines. Down his fingers, his knuckles red with scratches from the thorns, “I should have given him the gloves sooner. He’s taken them off now though”. He pulled me in to his side with the other arm, the sweat on his forearm actually felt cool against mine. The heat from the sun and the sweat from the work had absorbed into his shirt, it was damp against my arm. He leaned into me and said, “There, can you see it? Look towards the ground, you’d never know it was there. It’s been hiding. Separated and protected in its own little pocket inside the vines.” These words echoed down some tunnel in my head as I concentrated on the warmth of his arm around me, and the muscle tension in his chest pressed against my back. I felt the blood rise to my cheeks and the pulse quicken in my breast. “I see it,” I said. But I was distracted by his closeness and the smell of his aftershave; I lost sight of the flower focusing only on the physical touch between us. I turned out of his embrace, caught my breath and lightly kissed his shoulder from behind, and a flash of this same shoulder on a bitterly cold January night came to me – muscles pulled tight, tense, cords defined along the neck pulling me up off the bed into his chest, only sweat between us and finally his entire length pressed against me, a hand in my hair, hot breath in my ear. My hand had reached up and circled his neck, and I pulled myself up closer, resting my lips on his shoulder – suspended in the pocket of his arms.

Drawing back the curtains to the patio, the gloves still sat on the dirty old plate from that spring afternoon. The grass now grew high between the bricks, “I haven’t cut them since”. The breeze was gone and July’s humid air hung heavy on the old vines now brown, displaced on the old dead stump. The butterfly flirted around the spider, and landed briefly to catch her breath before moving towards another web, she danced with the sunlight on her wings. I opened the screen and walked out to the end of the patio, tiptoeing on the edge near the corner window that I had peered out from a few minutes ago from my bedroom. I pulled back the vines and looked toward the ground but it wasn’t there. The petals were gone, the stem dried up in the summer heat. Thinking, “Still died from the heat even in its little pocket, wish I’d got a shot of it before it wilted. It’s been ages since it died.” I went back in, hit the air con switch, grabbed the phone, and started a strong pot of Arabian coffee to see me through the morning I was going to spend catching up and pulling dead weeds.

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