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Jett Superior laid this on you on || September 23, 2003 || 9:05 pm

“I usedta daints,” she said, her head trailing off away from the words.

“I usedta daints an’ they’d clear the flar far me.” I had heard this story before, but this time was different. This time it was being told as if it were an epitaph on a life hard-pressed to offer up any more moments of pure joy. All the other times she’d told me there had been this sense of glee: Baited breath and a twinkle in her green eyes, the excited flush of memory rising in patches across her cheekbones….

Now the breath struggled in and out of her and even the daily running stab she took at cosmetic enhancement couldn’t draw off the underlying pallor. She had been raven-haired, and even when I came along –despite the iron and snow dressing her tresses– there were traces of the shiny blue-black of it there in her hair’s thickness. Now there was only an ashen white mottled with dull grey; it was thin from a formidable combination of age and the running through of unbusy, distracted fingers.

“Ayuh, they’d clear that flar and the music would well up inside-a me, too much ta contain, too pahrful ta ignar.

“My laigs –they’s like stone then, stone on fahr, red-hot and ready ta move– couldn’t hold that music and it was like some sort of wilding, them takin’ over and m’body got no choice but ta folla, you know?

“My lips glowed scarlet from being bitten; the surge started at my laigs and ended there at my lips, the bottom one sucked in under a smile that I couldn’t deny by half, so why ebem try, fetch?

“Just daints, daints until they called the last, daints until my eyes shone like the dashboard lahts of the devil hissef, daints until everbody innat hall disappeared an’ it was just me an’ the music an’ the air.”

Normally there was an accompanying chuckle at this pause. Normally there was pleasure and pride in this memory, at this tale. This time, though — this time it was all heavy sighs and muted sorrow.

“You daints, gull?” This was a new question. Something about it made me uneasy.

I confessed that I used to dance, quite often, but never seemed to find the time any more.

“Pssshh,” she hissed at me, “time ain’t yourn, and it ain’t lost, neither. It’s goan stomp all through your life before you even know what’s happ’ned an’ you’ll be sittin’ up half-blind and none too pretty for it, jes’ like me.

“No, it ain’t lost at all, an’ you better grab holt ‘fore it makes its reckoning and then forgets ya.”

I didn’t know what to say to that. We sat –me in uneasy silence, her in unbidden truth– until it was time for me to go. I tried to smile (not that she could see it anyway, but she could certainly feel it, oh yes she could) as I rose, tendering my good-bye, sealing it with a kiss passed across her too-cool, papery cheek. I wanted to scream on the way home, so I did. I rolled the windows down and cut the air with high-pitched, extended yowls intermittently as I pushed my car to go faster and faster around the mountain curves. The evergreens swallowed up my invectives, the birds took to wing out of fright. I felt savagely calm as I pulled into my drive.

One hot shower, one eensy black dress, one ruby coat of lipstick, one pair of come-fuck-me boots later and I was out on the town, heading for any and every dance floor that would have me, blue-black hair shining, spilling over decollette, pasted in wisps and chunks to my neck. My legs, they were (hers) stones on fire, my eyes glittered primal, my teeth, bared at time, shone in the half-dark.

Come get me, I defied. Come get me now, come get me then, but I will live….just me in the music and the air, swallowed and forgetting until you claim me, until there is nothing but a story.

6 worked it out »

  1. Stacie Brewer 9.24.2003

    Uh… wow?

    Is it just me or does Jett kick ass? Jett is the shiz-nit! I haven’t read anything this good in a long time.

    I am a sweet Ga. Peach myself and I loved the way you portrayed the accent. Phonetics is awesome!

     
  2. Gary 9.24.2003

    I attended the funeral of the father of one of my co-workers. He had previously described his dad as the rock solid foundation of the family. Always thinking of his wife and kids and never thinking of himself.

    He had only gone on one family vacation in all the years my friend was living at home. He, his brother and their mother went on vacation almost every year but dad insisted on staying home and working. He always said that “when the boys are gone” he and his his wife would travel. He wanted to see Europe, Hawaii and New England but he also wanted to learn to snow ski and many other things that he had postponed until the boys were gone.

    The youngest moved out in May and in June they found the cancer and by the first week of September he was gone. He never saw Europe, Hawaii or New England and he never snow skied. At the funeral his oldest son told me that his father had been a great dad to him. He had worked so hard to make sure they had what was needed. Both sons went to college. Both now had good jobs and were beginning families of thier own. By all measures it had been a life worth celebrating but the thing that haunted me was the thought that my friend’s dad had died with his dreams still inside him. I made a promise to myself that day that I was going to begin to live my dreams now!

    Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t let life pass you by while you just dream. Live the dreams now. Travel now! Ski now! Take that vacation now! And as Jett has so beautifully written: Dance now! Don’t you dare die with your dreams still inside you.

     
  3. Leslie 9.24.2003

    When I get home, I am going to close my door to my room, turn up the radio really loud and daints!

     
  4. Patti 9.24.2003

    “Pssshh, time ain’t yourn, and it ain’t lost, neither. It’s goan stomp all through your life before you even know what’s happ’ned an’ you’ll be sittin’ up half-blind and none too pretty for it, jes’ like me.

    I swear ta gawd, wooo-man. I’m comin’ down there and we’re doing it up on the town – you, me, and the memories of she.

    (*mutter* making me cry on my keyboard in the middle of the afternoon. You. Oooh.)

     
  5. crazy girl 9.24.2003

    beautiful. thanks for the reminder. even after my own husband has faced his mortality three times now with his own scares, the latest of which being brain tumor removal in 2001, we continue to need good hard reminders. this was powerful.

     
  6. Jett 9.24.2003

    welcome to the wee land of mayhem and muffinassery, crazy girl. I hope you come again.

    thank you for your kind words. and you too, Brewer. and yourn, Patti, as one of the proj2 photos (kinda) inspired this…can you guess which?

     

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