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Just An Old-Fashioned Love Song

by

Jenny Di Placidi

 
     
   

 

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You told me the way I remember things is wrong. It may be so. But the shades, the subtle shifts in the colors that coated everything and the way they change looking back, those changes mean something. There is something honest in remembering a thing wrong. It shows what was there, but not noticed, at the time.

___At the time it was summer. The radiators against the walls of the apartment were cool metal against our hot skin if we chanced to brush past them. The windows were open to the noises of the city outside and the air conditioner units in the windows lay silent in their broken state. Outside it seemed like, in spite of the heat, everyone was happy. Laughter rang out constantly. I felt, at times, it was directed at me, at us, at what we both knew wouldn’t last but refused to walk away from.
___The smell of bread always seemed to be coming up from the bakery underneath our apartment. The bakery ovens were large and hot and the floorboards seemed to smolder from the heat the ovens put out. My bare feet, when slapping across those scarred boards, almost burned.

___It may have been winter.
___The winter before that summer the radiators hummed with warmth. Their off-white shapes, coated with flaking chips of paint, sounded like large cats rumbling away under the windows. The comforter on the bed was huge and downy. Bright white, it covered us like a tent, letting the light through when it was over our heads but still shielded us from the cold. Rumpled after sex, it lay on the bed, holding the impressions of our bodies like snow angels.

___Later when the fall came I remember leaves, bright like fish fins, falling down and around. Short weeks later their brilliant splendor lay in lacy patterns of decay. They reminded me of something I couldn’t think of at the time, something, when coming home, was always hard in between us.

___That spring when gentle living things pushed up through sun-warmed soil all over the city, the only thing I felt grow was a cancer, deep within.

___It is hard to say where one thing left off and another began. Where our differences stopped being laughable, jokes we would find in each other’s eyes, lying side by side in our bed under the big window, and became the cause of silences.

___When I would laugh you wouldn’t. It started small. But like everything it spiraled down until it became deep, the source of everything, the blockage that was deep inside my heart but that neither of us knew was there. It stuck, like stale bread, in the throat.

___“Where were you?” you asked, as I came in. My arms were laden with shopping bags, shiny, matte, plastic, heavy paper.
___“Shopping.” I dropped the bags as you crossed the floor. They lay, like molted feathers, brilliant colors on the pale wood.
___“Oh really?”
___I raised one eyebrow, and looked at the bags.
___“Yes. Really.”

___But before it was nothing like that. It built up and fell, built and fell, like the rising and crashing bars of a symphony. It was apt, because it was symphonies you wrote, beautiful music from your fingertips that climbed up and down the yellowed ivory keys of your 1940 Steinway & Sons Piano. When I walked in through the door you jumped up, papers flying, scattered, sheets of music falling, spiraling, huge white snowflakes, down around us as we ran to one another.

___Just a love story. Yes, just a love story, just another old-fashioned love story. Three Dog Night was right -- just an old story.

___It is hard to say where it really ended. I remember things leaping inside me as I ran up steps in the heat, ran past sweating ovens, sweating men, sweating radiators, all to leap into your arms, to have you leap inside of me. And later I remember the steps seeming like a marathon, each footstep heavier than the next, pulling hard at me, pulling at my breath. And I know how hard it was for you to see me like that.

___“What did the doctor say?” you asked me.
___“Easy as pie,” I lied.
___“No problem?”
___“No problemo.” Without thinking I laid my hand on my stomach. The hard bump under my hand hadn’t been something I could have felt, could have noticed, until the doctor confirmed what I thought.
___“And you’ll be okay?”
Something flashed under the surface. “Don’t worry. You don’t have to feel obligated to stay.”

___And you didn’t. Which was what I wanted. Yeats said “things fall apart, the center cannot hold,” and it is, it was, it is true. Just an old song.

___I thought when you left it was winter. It seemed so cold inside that apartment. The radiator felt like ice when I walked by, everything was frozen. A thousand white comforters couldn’t hold the heat to me.

___It is funny now, that I look back, I see it all happened in two months. Just June and July. There couldn’t have been a changing of seasons. There was no fall, no winter, no spring. It only felt like a year of seasons, flooding away from me like the removal of a tumor or my heart, when you left the apartment over the bakery. When you left.

___The piano stands in a corner. Sheet music is not yellowed. It is white but it is unplayed, unheard, like the words that lay in between us, words impossible to say. You said it would be impossible to find anyone willing to move the piano out. But I remember hiring four huge men, I remember muscles pushing and pulling, air ripe with curses as they maneuvered it into place. You just couldn’t be bothered to wait long enough to take it with you. I thought you would, but then, it was me who remembered a whole year of seasons in which things came undone, me who remembered a whole year it took for you to leave me, it was me who remembered so wrong.


     
 

Jenny Di Placidi

Jenny Di Placidi (yes she spells it the old fashioned way) speaks English, Macedonian, German, a little Polish and Arabic. So, because of all that chances are she'll grow frustrated with America before too long and move to Europe, or most likely Eastern Europe, or even more precise: Macedonia. She's known to take her Margritias on the rocks with salt and isn't opposed to a tequila chaser from time-to-time. She's often been told that she looks like Liv Tyler which, surprisingly, has gotten no man closer than a smirk and a toss of her hair. Our Stories is her her first publication.

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