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  • The story i will tell you is a story that i have told many times before. And it begins on a road where there are tobacco fields. In a place, where magnolias bloom their sickly licorice scent, in the evening, the sorority girls sit on the porch with their beaus, and on the weekends the boys in fraternity, with kegs of beer, in togas, you can hear them, their shiny laughter floating, through the sunken garden, on the way back to the dormitory, the ones like you, with arm loads of textbook, you walk in the company of your thoughts, your feverish ambition to make it out of this small southern town, your loneliness, you wear like an old favorite sweater, cozy and sour.

    The story i will tell you, i have never told anyone before. It ends in a a city where the buildings are so tall that even the light is stolen, and in the shadow of concrete, in the grayness of pigeons, beneath the earth, tunnels and trains, in the intestine of the city, you hold your face, shielded behind a book, you are trying not to weep, but what can you do? When your heart is like this? The scream of hulking metal, CANAL STREET, you missed your stop, but it doesn't matter, you will take it to the end, wherever it leads you, it doesn't matter, away, as far away, as you can go, which is never far enough.

    i think i was in love with the color red. The exact shade of his hair. Even his eyelashes. It was in a certain light, the shade of a fox. Once, on the way back from Norfolk, his head was on my lap. It had rain. And i could smell the earth. Our shirts. Our skin. We reeked of cigarettes from the bar.

    We would drive. He and I. We would drive along the back roads. The sound of the fuzzy radio. The tobacco fields. Maroon earth. The forest. A somnolent green. I told you once how he taught me to love country music. I told you once how he had a guitar. He couldn't play very well. But he could hum a tune. His humming it tugged something inside of me. Something delicate. Soft like spider silk.

    The story I will tell you is not a story, but a memory, it has no direction, like the wind, it can come suddenly, without warning, it can also leave you, just as suddenly

    At the bar. He is the center of attention. Admiring glances. Darting towards him, while you skulk in the corner, sulking.

    You tell him, you want to leave, he is being wooed, by a man who looks like a mannequin, how do you compete with such chiseled wood?

    This Big City is full of beautiful men, men whose faces gaze from billboards, faces that promise something better than you will ever be.

    You tell him, you will wait for him outside. He says, he will be there in five minutes.

    It was on the drive home from the Bar, the bar, full of sailors from the naval shipyard, men with crew cut hair, men who sometimes had the faint imprint of a wedding ring on their fingers, it was on that drive home, when you and he trespassed that boundary between friendship and romance, with just a touch, your hand on his head, as he laid on top of your lap.

    Later he would walk with you through the sunken garden back to your room. He would tell you about his home, a place off the coast of Virginia, where wild horses galloped, he will tell you about his grandfather, a taciturn man, who loved him, who carved toys out of wood, in that dilapidated house, salt weathered and creaky, he grew into manhood, with sepia photos of antebellum ancestors, an attic full of rat crap and cobweb, immaculate rooms that hosted no visitors, sometimes the electricity was off for lack of payment, and he remembers the light of candles and kerosene lamps, and that sea wind, the howling, the moon, a skull, and the loneliness, he understood it, you did not have to explain it to him, you both spoke the same language of twilight and fog.

    Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. He is still inside. You are outside. Waiting. And each second, you clench tighter. As if your heart is being crushed by a giant fist.

    When he finally comes out of the bar---you will hurl the words at him, like knives, your words come quick and fast. And when you see him stagger, you will realize what you have done. But by then, it would have been too late.

    There was that night, you and him, you drove in the rain, you could hear the sound of the thunder, the tickling of the windshield wiper, and at the stop sign, you remember how he turned to look at you, that expression, shy and sly at the same time, this is what joy feels like, this is what anger feels like, this is what desire feels like, and this, this is sorrow, this is why you write you want to remember all of it, all of him.
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