In Her Looking
She stared. She looked and she stared. She was fervent. She was tangible. She was blatant.
He looked back at her.
Their eyes were together. Their eyes were meeting. Met. Looked. Stared.
They were at one another. And neither of them spoke.
She had green and he had brown and they looked inward and on. And there was nothing in the air. There was a hurricane of silence and nothing else. They stared.
Her hair was pulled into a ponytail with loose strands playing about her cheeks and she wasn't smiling. She was crying. She was crying invisible tears and a monsoon. She was lips that were straight and loving but there was no smile. And people in the world over cried knowing that she had no smiles for them. She had no smiling left because she was thinking beyond that.
He had eaten dinner with her. And he had ordered wine with her. And he had watched her open her mouth extra wide to eat and giggle. And she'd laughed with him. And he'd laughed with her. And when they parted this was how it was.
And he couldn't look any deeper. He looked into her eyes and saw her toes. Saw her painted and separated toes cool on wooden floors and brisk. And he saw her delicate knees and her chin pointed out and up and on.
And she looked back. And the hole in his middle grew. The black that he couldn't paint out. The bare canvas. The white that was ripping him inside in cutlets and ribbons. She spoke to that. She spoke to that with the brilliant green of her eyes and the way they stared and stared.
When he closed his eyes he saw a teeter-tooter. And his daughter was playing on it. She was seven or four or three again and she was wildly smiling and raising up and down. And the sky was blue and untainted. And the clouds were white and crossing. And he knew. And the wind blew her little girl hair in little girl smiles. And she went up and down. And he watched her and felt like a father proud and loved and loving.
And those images disappeared into her and those eyes looking back like she was in love with him for the first time. And he could only look back. He was struggling. And speaking was rebellious and stunted. And he couldn't. So he didn't. He just stood and stared. Stared and stood.
And she didn't say a word because of something else. But this wasn't his imagination and so he couldn't look inside of her head. He couldn't be her. He couldn't lift his eyelids and see her flagrant brown hair in strands and ponytail and light curls and the smile of teeth that punctured him and emptied him and dragged him across rocks on the bottom of echoing shores.
His daughter was ageless because she didn't exist. She should have but she didn't. She was a figment of him like the girl in the black sweater who taunted and tempted him with every pass of her long and slender fingers and her smooth and flawless legs and that flash of teeth. And he wanted to lean in and kiss her. He wanted to make her a part of him and his life and be the one that became two and the two that became three and backpack across foreign countries laughing at their own laughter. Spending dimes like origami cranes and consuming the crackle of homemade bread and the tongues of different plates in different languages. And kiss again and again under the arches and leaves of france and spain and london and irish tunneling rain.
And her stare was in him. And it said what he said. Green eyes that wanted it too. Green eyes that wanted to trek. That wanted to lean. That wanted to kiss. That wanted to tremble and hold hands and trip their slender fingers one into another and read hemingway along the rivers of paris and watch him paint it out and show at galleries and make money from what his heart said on blank canvases with red and flecks of gold like he'd never used before. Because now he felt so like and unlike himself.
This was the way it ended. They'd eaten dinner and talked and laughed. And it was dinner or lunch. And it was fall or spring. It was in and out like a picture on a broken television tube. It was here and there and losing in the sunlight of his mind. It was here and then gone. Gone and then back. So when they left one another they wanted to hug but didn't. They wanted to embrace but didn't. They smiled but didn't. Because they couldn't. They wanted to breath but the air was thick or heavy. And it wasn't winter because it wasn't cold. And it wasn't summer because it wasn't hot. But it could have been fall and it could have been spring because neither of them noticed. Neither of them could take notice. They were staring and locked and finding themselves in themselves and in each other and in silence. And there isn't anything beyond that.
And her mouth stayed flat and languid. But she smiled with her eyes. And his mouth wanted to creep up but he kept it. he resisted. In his mind it curled and tipped his hand but on his face he remained static. He couldn't be sure. He didn't know. This wasn't invisible. This wasn't in his head. And there was no reason to let her in. Except those eyes. Because they looked into him and he wept. He fell and wept. He tingled at a gaping hole that was growing and humid. And he was weeping. And their eyes met and stared. And there was nothing more to do.
The stars that night were bright and dull. Eating the blackness around him. And he saw his daughter imaginary and limp teetering and tottering on the edge of a painted yellow wooden seat and the thing kept going up and down and no one was on the other end. He was watching from a distance. From yards away. And she was sleeping her head bent down on the metal handle. And the other end was ghost empty and pulsing up and down. And that was how the night left him.
He couldn't sleep anymore.
And he didn't want to anymore.
"In Her Looking" is a portion of the recently completed novel "The Girl in the Black Sweater". Read more about it here.
words: J.A. Tyler, Colorado (aboutjatyler)
image: Peter Schwarz, Maine (Sitrah Ahra)