PAVANNE FOR A DEAD PRINCESS
I watched her sleep. Not out of tenderness, nor even desire but for a complete lack of anything else to do. A man out of options is always sad or dangerous, ironically never realizing that to at least choose either of those is an option in itself.
I continue to watch her. To turn on the light to read may wake her, would she be annoyed, want to talk? I watch her, the corners of her mouth twisted up, a crocodile's smile. I count to ten several times, if nothing else, I have now given myself the tiniest premise to go out.
A drink, a walk, a cat sleeping on a cloud. No, it is a trick of light, I should be going. I always look best in bar light, the odd yellows and greens which seem to exist nowhere else and which perhaps only Degas could do justice. Despite the late hour, I go through the door and tonight I am again beautiful.
Most everyone has gone home, biding their time in a work week which is slowly killing them, until they can come back here to forget. I had two days until my deadline, then I would rush around like mad to get the job done, finishing just in time to sweet talk Gretchen into typing up the article for me.
The juke box murmurs, people are leaving, alone or in pairs. I try to tell my fortune in the melting ice cubes abandoned to my glass. Finally, it is my turn too.
Outside I light a Fatima and throw the now empty box down on the curb. I think of her again.
Was it yesterday, we were out getting groceries before the end of the month bills sucked us dry? She had on the little black slippers which hurt my feet just looking at them and the yellow sweater with its sleeves too long.
Standing on her tip toes she balanced herself and smiled as some childhood dance class memory rushed by. It was during those brief moments that I thought she could have been a dancer, that we could have been happy.
The walk home seems to take forever, I think it was on account of the overly self conscious silence this hour always seems to produce.
Was I glad to see her, to whom did I lie?
Quietly, I undress. I dump my change into the snifter where her tips also go. The soft momentary tinkle; a piano whose keys are made up of coins.
It was this nocturne, played out upon the dresser which woke her. She stirred and leaned towards my side of the bed for a kiss. She hid all of her secrets within the cave of her mouth and someday I would write about that too.
Image above Pierrot Drinking Alone, by Wayne Wolfson
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