Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Olympia, 1975

It was a '55 Chevy pickup truck, which made it twenty years old, then: the same age as you. You called it turquoise, but it had faded to robin's-egg blue, with a net of fine cracks in the paintwork. A bench seat. You drove it with your left hand, except to shift. Then you took your arm from around my shoulders, and the purring coughed to a higher note, and you put your arm back again.

We drove in the darkness of the woods of western Washington: there is not much darker than those woods, at night. But in the rain, you needed both hands, because the wipers were broken, and then you drove right handed, your left hand thrust out the broken window, moving the wipers by hand.

It's always nighttime, as I remember it, or early morning, in the fog. And that was how it was until the night of the snowfall.

Suddenly there was light, light rising from the ground, and a fresh three inches of snow, and more twinkling in the streetlights. As we rounded the curve of the parkway, you straightened the wheel but the truck continued to turn. It lifted its feet apologetically, and gave itself to the skid. You spun the wheel skillfully. Turn in the direction of the skid. Well, that's what they tell you, but the truck had heard a different song. In every dance, there comes a time of surrender. A time of trusting to your partner, letting go. And this time, thought the truck, was that time, and her partner was the snow.

So holding the snow's hand she let it twirl her, gracefully gliding over the dance floor, a long and breathless pirouette, right into the oncoming lane, across to the further curb, which we struck not fast, but hard, so that our bones rang with it. The truck thought about rolling over, but decided not to, and dropped back to all four paws with a thump.

And then it was simply still, and silent, and the snow fell.

Then the snow said to you privately, are you willing to give him up? And you said no, I'm not. And I looked at your face, in the faint upwelling light, knowing nothing of this, and thought, this is who I want to die with, when it comes to that.

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