Category Archives: Stories

Tuesday Evening

It is Tuesday evening and “Law and Order” is on. I got home from Vermont on Friday and went to a party for The Gathering on Saturday and led the community on Sunday. Yesterday and today I’ve worked at The Gathering and done some writing. We have a garage sale this weekend; there is a lot to get ready. I have been busy, but fortunately not stressed.

Brooke is on the couch next to me; she loves “Law and Order”.

It is a moment, even with the television on, when we both can slow and let time move through us. Too often, we move through time. I think about this and see how much my life is based on time: I write for certain amounts of time, get to The Gathering at a certain time to meet with people, eat lunch or dinner at set times because my body is conditioned to get hungry at those times. During most of the day I move through time. I watch it and spend it and try to use it wisely.

But this evening, time moves through me; it moves through us. The clock does not matter. We only listen to and watch a mystery story, and after we will read or talk. We will not pay much attention to when we go to sleep and we have nothing left to do this evening — no demands or responsibilities.

I love sitting next to my wife at times like this. I think of how I love her like a man trying to run with a limp: imperfectly, with grit, with all of myself. Her feet touch my arm and they are cool on my skin. For a moment, time moves through us.

Tonight we sit together on the couch. We watch a story. We let time move.

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Sundays and Love…

It was Sunday and I rose early.  I drank black coffee and ate oatmeal while I worked on my talk.  It was still in the morning and time slowed; I moved pieces around and the clock dawdled.  It was as though I could will the clock to hesitate, and I would glance over at the lime-green clock-numbers above the stove and I was calm.  But time seems to move that way in the morning.  It does not rush.  Maybe because, while the cobwebs of sleep are leisurely swept away, I do not rush.  

Church was the rush.  I knocked over the planter that Brooke put flowers in yesterday.  Already late, I scooped up fistfuls of dirt with my hands and gently placed the flowers back in the pot.  I reminded myself that we would talk about time today and that the demands on my time that I feel often aren’t necessary.  I told Brooke about the pot before I left.  Church, now, was making more coffee — this time enough for everyone — and starting some music and putting out our sign.  It was a talk that was not as good as I wanted it.  

Much more than this, though, it was people.  People talking about God and revering God.  God, in some mystical way, with these people.  With us.

After-church is the time that I watch television and hover semi-consciously between sleep and not-sleep.  I ate pizza and did this and Brooke ran errands.  There was a golf tournament on, and these are good for semi-consciousness.  I took full advantage.

Brooke was cleaning when I got up.  We have house-guests coming tomorrow and our house was not guest-worthy.  I helped Brooke clean, some.  I did dishes and swept the stairs and cleaned out a shelf in the refrigerator where something was leaking.  I didn’t always have the best attitude as I cleaned and I wonder why I sometimes don’t do more to show Brooke that I love her.

On my desk I have a picture frame and yesterday Brooke put a new picture in it.  It is her, from a few years ago.  She’s holding the camera, which you can barely tell if you look at her left shoulder, but I know it.  She’s in the hallway downstairs and light from the front room windows overflows behind her.  She is looking right into the camera.  Her eyes are smiling; they are deep.  She’s wearing a necklace and her head is just tilted in a way that is thoughtful.  She has this half-smile on her face.  It’s a real smile but not a teeth-smile.  It is alluring and inviting and contentedly happy.  This is the photo that I look at when I work.  I cannot look at this photo without smiling.

It is Sunday night now.  Brooke is dusting and I am at the computer.  She dusts my desk — where I am sitting — and says with a smirk, “I hope this isn’t distracting.”  I look laugh.  She does, too.  She is gone in a blink and I am smiling foolishly at the computer screen.

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Sunday

Maria left me on a Sunday.  We had made love in the morning, while listening to Van Morrison.  Maria loved Van Morrison.  After, we ate pancakes and our dog slept under the kitchen table.  He was a mutt, with gray around his mouth like a christening of age, and his legs sometimes shook while he slept.  Maria liked to say he dreamed of chasing rabbits.  I don’t know if he had ever even seen a rabbit.

I went to work that afternoon as I did every Sunday, and the sky was the same worn, dated gray of the crumbling asphalt that led me to the high school.  A wind charged out of the west and I could taste the rain in the air.

The gymnasium needed to be swept before school on Monday.  The floor really needed to be waxed and polished but it could go another week.  I gathered the empty styrofoam cups and candy wrappers from the bleachers.  I swept and mopped.  The rest of the school was still clean, but I took a walk around it to be sure.  I had walked these halls for the last sixteen years; twelve of them as a janitor.  My shoes padded softly on the tiled floors.  A bathroom next to the gym needed a fresh wastebasket liner, but there was nothing besides.  No teachers, no students, no one except me and my thoughts which echoed off the walls and down the halls and bounced back at me off the new glass doors.

I drove home through town; rain started falling in soft flecks on my windshield.  I waited at the one stoplight in town with no one else.  Maria’s car was gone when I turned onto our dirt drive, and Gus ran out to greet me.  I rubbed his ears and we went inside.  A note was on the table.  It said Maria was going back to live with her mom in Omaha, that she couldn’t take any more of this small town life or jobs that defined tedium.  Her clothes were gone, but nothing else.  Look me up, she said, if I ever change my mind and decide to leave.

I took a beer out of the fridge and walked out to the back porch.  Gus rolled around on the plastic, green carpet.  Rain tapped on the awning above us, and fed the corn in the field next door.  It would be a good crop this year.  Gus laid his head down on my feet.  Soon, his legs were shaking, and I watched the earth soak up the rain as the sky grew dark with the night.

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