For Mary Esther: “The Fox”
They meet for the first time at an AA meeting. He sat in the third row, end seat close to the wall. She sat in the middle of the room, tears spilled down her face; she had a tissue crumpled in her fist and her lips quivered.
He watched her. She was well-dressed, gold jewelry splashed about her wrists, neck, hanging from her ears. He knew she came from another world, one he was not familiar with. She was a stranger in his world, a sheep amongst the wolves, yet she had the teeth of a fox. There were times he spoke about the hell he was resurrected from; times there were she spoke about the hell she was walking through.
Some connections begin slowly, electricity leaps from person to person before they are even aware something is taking place. His hormones did a slow firefly dance. He was steel, she was a magnet. She was a spider, he was the web.
Let’s start at the the beginning. Truthfully, both their recollections are as dark as a hurricane sky, but he did remember she asked him out for coffee.
The next thing he knew they were drinking coffee, eye to eye, knee to knee. If you were to ask him what they were talking about at that little round table, if you were to ask him anything specific, he would strain.
Holding back when every cell is moving towards the object can be difficult. One could say going into orbit around a point of light is so much easier, but an asteroid might say different. Luckily, we’re just talking about two people out for coffee on an otherwise normal day.
What made it more than normal was that, even though it was right in front of him, he has no memory of what it was. Looking at her, watching her lips move, listening to the music, the slight lisp which made her words all the more wonderful. What was she saying anyway?
He tries to piece together the conversation on that day. If only he could remember what it was about. But any group of sentences can be strung together to make a necklace of pearls that has nothing to do with the meaning of the individual words. So it was on that day.
Plans were made. They must have been, for sooner or later, they wound up at Revere Beach.
He knows they ate at Kelly’s Roast Beef on the boardwalk.
He remembers there were sand fleas, yet which trip to the beach was it when they were bitten; was it the first or on one of the many trips since then?
They were bitten the first time. Sand fleas? The teeth of a fox?
All he remembers was he took her into his arms, or was it her folding into him with the magic of not knowing whose arms touched first? But the ocean was roaring, smashing giant waves onto the beach as the salt spray soaked them, and then her breath in his lungs. Giant waves on Revere Beach? The storm clouds? Perhaps, on that day, both their perceptions were a bit altered.
There are times they talk about what happened on the beach. She smiles, looks into his eyes. He forgets what he asked. What he asked doesn’t matter anyhow, does it?