whispered secrets

It had been months since I'd seen her, and I knew this would be our only half hour together for months more. I didn't know what I'd say. Thirty minutes. The length of a mindless television sitcom, if you included the commercials. Not enough for anything substantial.

She was there when I arrived, seated at a table for two. She smiled at me. I waved and sat down, and we talked.

We had thirty minutes. I felt like I should try to inject that time with meaning, with significance--we should get the most out of this little sliver of time. Instead we talked about the weather and the bands we just got into and the movies we were looking forward to. No deep infusions of meaning. No whispered secrets. And I regret only that I spent so much time planning for anything else.


making up stories

It was a few drinks in and, lightweight that I am, the whole of the night was already starting to blur. I met a lot of people, talked to them a little bit. Some part of me always knew I would never remember them. Not really. By morning, when I'd be in a cafe drinking coffee until the headache went away, there would be a some faces--I'd remember a pretty girl with a blue shirt she wore on one shoulder, whose name I never did quite catch, or a guy who talked too much and told stories that I never quite thought were true. I'd remember telling all those stories, and why I only ever tell them when I've been drinking. I'd drink coffee and smile at the waitress and leave her a poem, because--as the morning would so poignantly remind me--I only do things like that for people who are bound to forget me.


everything must go

I'm browsing a thrift store and a broken clock catches my eye. I run a hand along its face, wondering how many family dinners it's seen, ticking away inexorably. How many arguments had happened under its watch? How many emotional breakdowns? How many embraces, how many jokes, how many of those priceless moments? Did it ever remind those who looked at its face that time kept going regardless? Or was it forgotten until the day their father decided to sell it? I could picture them on that day: he is a kind man, reluctant to be rid of this timepiece even though it's broken, even though nobody really paid it much attention even when it worked. It seems like getting rid of it is getting rid of part of his life, however small. But it is broken and he does not have the time nor the energy to fix it anymore. Perhaps some new owner will be able to restore it to function and give it purpose again.

The shopkeeper notices me admiring the clock. It's a great deal, he tells me. Should be easy to fix--he shows me the broken part--I even have one of these you can have, they just wear out sometimes. Easy to replace, and it'll last for years. A genuine antique. It's a real deal.

I tell him I'm not interested and he keeps telling me what a bargain it is. If it was working it'd be worth hundreds, he says. I try to tell him no, that's not what I'm interested in. It's the stories--what's the story behind this clock? He doesn't seem to understand, but I buy it anyway.

I picture the mother worrying when the clock breaks, worrying that giving it to the thrift store isn't the right thing to do, worrying that the kids will be upset--the kids don't talk to them anymore, it seems, and she doesn't notice that it's been since the clock died. She's always worrying. I picture her worrying that the shopkeeper will just discard it, that they could have done something else, that they should make sure he at least sells it.

Now it's on my shelf and I'm picturing the kids talking in the room where the clock used to be. Their mood is somber but they aren't sure why. I install the new part without a problem and hear it tick. Whatever their stories are, the clock keeps going.


true stories

I can't help it. I'm drawn by this feverish and dream-like passion, like every simile which has ever mentioned moths and flames in close proximity together, like every conceit that compares a person to an addiction. It doesn't even feel real--and maybe it isn't. Everything you'd expect from a nightmare is there: dread, compulsion, a sense of the surreal. I should walk away, but I am filled with this sense that if I do, I'll miss something important. I can't explain what I think that could be, other than more lies.