For JoyPosted: July 28, 2015
jump up in the air
your shadow will follow you
the ground comes quickly
Sierra had been contemplating a collaboration with Mike since those five days in May when he wouldn’t leave her alone about it. “Your words, my pics, it’d be great!” The nostalgia for Mike had somehow crept up on her when she found a single diptych in the back of her portfolio.
Never get involved with a photographer again, she told herself, over and over. She blinked as she remembered a line that she hadn’t read in years: it was a splendid summer morning and it seemed as if nothing could go wrong. That one was from John Cheever, The Common Day.
She huffed. Mike hadn’t been that bad, at least, until the end. Had he? She’d had some good times with him and his old, crazy Irish Wolfhound. There was that time they’d spent the weekend at the lake last winter, two sunsets and one dawn, freezing their butts off while Mike spent ninety percent of his time trying to get just the right shot of a bunch of dead-looking trees. He’d forgotten to bring dog food, but Scooter was happy enough to subsist on premade pb&j’s.
But that summer morning kept coming back to haunt Sierra. Mike had shown up out of the blue, coming to collect a model, but she’d given him the wrong address. Sierra’s address. When she’d tried to explain the mistake to Mike, he’d given her some line. “I believe in luck. How else can you explain the success of those you dislike?” That had charmed the pants right off Sierra, and the next thing she knew, they were naked in her bed, discussing hot dogs and vegans or some other crazy combination of things.
That was almost five years ago, and everything was peaches and cream until Sierra finally read between the lines. For all that time, Mike had been telling her things, like “always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else,” and “you think you’ve flown before, but baby, you ain’t left the ground.” Just these weird little sayings that sounded like quotes, although Mike never, ever attributed any of them.
Sierra knew now that Mike was absolutely full of it. He had a problem, that was for sure; throughout their entire relationship, and probably ever single relationship he’d ever had, he’d been spending every spare moment at one strip club or another. Last night, when she’d tried to relax by drawing a bath, she thought of something as she was wading in through the bubbles. Mike probably didn’t even realize that he’d been giving himself away with his silly quotes.
The last straw had been when he’d actually brought one of them home. Sierra would never be able to read Peter Pan again; the stripper’s name had been Tinker Bell. She hoped Disney would sue the tramp one day. Mike’s excuse had been that he didn’t know Sierra was coming over that night. She hadn’t planned on it, she told him. She wished she hadn’t. And she snatched up her toothbrush and her iPad and left, slamming the door behind her. Mike called four times before Sierra answered to tell him to stop calling. “I’m at the IHOP, and my iPad and I be doin’ just fine.” She didn’t expect Mike to show, and he never did.
She’d sat there with her pancakes and her rage, waiting until it burned all the way down, which turned out to be a surprisingly short time. Sierra hadn’t realized how little she’d actually invested into the relationship until then.
She shook her head to snap herself out of her reverie, and reviewed the haiku she’d jotted on her notepad. Somehow, those seventeen syllables summed up her last relationship perfectly. She could imagine Mike driving tirelessly into the sun, his shadow chasing along behind him, headed for Vegas, where he could find all the strippers he’d ever wanted.
Sierra laughed, crumpled up her poem, and tossed it in the trash with the diptych.