Life Is Finally Perfect for Me

By Taylor Koekkoek

  saw your baldhead approaching my stoop, like a glowing, burning, glistening meteor falling to earth. It made me clasp my hands together and smile dumbly, emit gurgling noises of joy with eyes sparkling like a child’s in front of a Christmas tree.

 

You told me, I was never going to leave you all alone.

 

I had forgotten. Or I’d stopped believing you. I imagined dying alone and leaving a body that would swell and discolor and fall apart before anyone found it. Absence makes the heart grow weak and spiteful.

 

I was angry with you. Maybe I hated you. Thought about fixing you like my cat in your sleep. But I was only upset. I didn’t really want to do that to you. I mean, I may have, if I were given an easy opportunity, but I think I always knew you never loved that woman, that your marriage could only fail, that you’d always come back to me.

 

I knew if I kept calling you, you’d remember you loved me. You were always so worried she’d wise up, like you couldn’t think about anything else. No you can’t just show up at my house; she can’t know about you. No you can’t keep sending letters, no more locks of your hair. I told you I’d take car of her. I thought I would have to make the choice for you, but here you are. My savior. My prince. I imagine my father might have been something like you.

 

You’ll notice I packed my bags, just as you asked two days ago at exactly 3:14 in the afternoon. You said to bring only the essentials, whatever I’d bring if I were leaving town for good: clothes and money and such. And I did. I brought a few more essentials too, like Paul, and his little kitty kennel, and a few months worth of food for him. Paul hardly purred when you left us.

 

You’re surprised to see Paul when I hold him up to nuzzle against your face. And then you say he can’t come with us today. But why, I ask? He has to. He’s part of this family. He’s like our baby. You wouldn’t leave a baby behind. I put him in his kennel and you lift it gently into the backseat.

 

I bought the ticket to Miami a week ago, right after you told me to. I printed out the boarding pass and haven’t set it down since. I’ve held it in my hands, or sometimes I kept it in my bra, tucked against my breasts. Sometimes I kept it rolled partway in my mouth, but took it out before it got soggy. You tell me you haven’t bought your ticket yet, only because you need to tie up loose ends at work before you leave and say goodbye to the little brats you had with that woman. It’s okay though. I’m a reasonable woman. I can wait one more week in Miami for you. I’ll decorate the condo. I’m going to make the living room vintage automobile themed because I know how much you love that sort of thing.

 

I remember how I squealed when you told me you wanted to have a picnic out at the lake.   The day has finally come. I’ve missed being in your car. You open the door for me, like the gentleman you are. The leather is warm from the sunlight and it sticks to my arms and thighs. It is a beautiful place to be. There is still the faint smell of that woman in here, from where she’s sat and leaned her head. I do my best to ignore it. Past is past and now you’re here. We drive away, my duplex shrinks smaller and smaller in the distance and I wish it could shrink away completely. I wish I could forget all my life I’ve spent without you. We turn a corner and my duplex is gone and it’s gone and it’s gone and the only home I have is sitting beside you.

 

The lake is an hour and forty-five minutes from the city. How did we get here so soon? It feels like I’ve only been in your car five minutes. We hardly even spoke on the way here. Maybe not at all. I can’t remember. It’s all a blur. All I remember is leaning my head to watch you sitting there, to watch you scratch your beautiful temple and rub your beautiful nose and to look over at me and smile shyly as if to tell me, You will never know how glad I am to be with you again. How often I imagined your face. How badly I wanted to hold your hand. But I do know, love. Of course I know.

 

And then we’re here. Exhale I tell myself. Green summer grass bends and flattens beneath my feet. There are no fishermen on the lake. No campers or picnickers. The grass thins and becomes the sandy shore where I’d like you to lie me down and run the backs of your boyish knuckles against my cheek. We can make love floating under the summer sky, like we did that weekend we met. Remember? Of course you do. It took my world up like a snowglobe.

 

Our rowboat is beached on the shore. You have two anchors in the boat, because you’re prepared. It confuses me that there is an extra length of rope and a bundle of zipties. When I ask you say you must have left them from the last time you came here fishing. As you row us out I tell you what I want to do to you at the lake’s center and in its privacy. You smile and look down at your feet. Your wonderful feet. Did I embarrass you, love? I didn’t mean to embarrass you. I just can’t help thinking about being intimate with you again. Didn’t thoughts of me keep you warm at night?

 

The center of the lake is still. Close your eyes, you say. I have a surprise. I’m so excited when you say this that you have to remind me to close my eyes a second time. I close them and can’t help bouncing in the rowboat. I hear you rummaging around, retrieving my surprise. I try not to think what I’m thinking. I don’t want to get my hopes up — a diamond ring! — Oops, I thought it. It has to be though, doesn’t it? It must be. You must have dropped it because I hear you moving the chain of the anchor around as you look for it, no doubt. My wonderful klutz. In the space of a moment the course of our lives flashes in my thoughts and I’m taking a bottle of vitamins from your hands as you struggle with it and I open it for you, place two capsules in your palm.

 

I feel the boat move. You must have stood up. Metal keeps clinking. Clearing a space to kneel? I feel like a little girl. My mother always told me I’d never get married, but here you are.

 

This is all I ever wanted, just to grow old with you, to watch the world change around us while we are preserved forever in each other, living quietly on the Atlantic coast, underneath palm trees, walking over cool sand on lazy mornings until we’re old and grey.

 

Life is finally perfect for me.

 

 

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Taylor Koekkoek is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He resides in Eugene, Oregon, where he is finishing a degree in English at the UNiversity of Oregon. His work has also appeared in Fogged Clarity.


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