Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Scarf


by Renee Holland Davidson

I know I shouldn't have come here tonight. But I just couldn't resist her anymore. Every night she calls me, whispers that she loves me, says she needs me. She says it over and over again, pushing out the words in raspy breaths.

I still have her scarf, not ashamed to admit I'd kept it with me all this time. Even wore it around my neck at night, her scent of peaches and musk spicing my dreams. That last night we were together, she'd come running out of the house with that thing wrapped around her head like Doris Day in an old black and white flick. Jumped into the Mustang and flipped the top up before she even said hello. "Come on, Babe"--yeah, she'd called me "Babe"--"Come on, Babe, let's go for a ride."

That was three long months ago.

I stuffed the scarf in my pocket and headed for the lake. Rode with the top down even though the wind clawed at my ears like a hissing cat. Every once in a while, I caught the scent of wood burning in someone's fireplace, made me feel that much colder and alone. Started feeling sad and blue like one of those lonesome cowboys in a Hank Williams song.

I couldn't keep my eyes on the road; kept looking over to the empty passenger seat and thinking about her. Remembered about that last night, how she tore off her scarf to let the wind catch her hair. She shook her head, singing nonsense rhymes to the setting sun. Lord, she looked so beautiful. I couldn't help myself. I turned to her and told her that I loved her. She stared at me, saying nothing; her eyes grew big and wide, like a cartoon character that's about to fall over a cliff. For a second, I thought she was going to tell me that she loved me, too. For just a second, I was flying over the treetops, flashing on white picket fences and lazy mornings snuggled in bed. Then she closed her eyes and let loose with a high-pitched laugh. The wind whipped her hair wild and crazy while she laughed and laughed.

I hit the ground hard and fast--she was laughing at me! Laughing at me like I was insane.

And I guess I was. Insane to think that a pretty young thing like her could fall in love with me.

Don't know exactly what happened next. I slammed on the brakes, begged her to stop laughing. I tried to put the scarf back over her hair, but it slipped down around her neck, real pretty--like a red ribbon around a Christmas present. I tugged on the ends of the scarf, pulled her close to take a taste of those sweet lips. She was saying something, her lips were moving, but I couldn't make sense of the words. I kissed her lips, her nose, her forehead. And then I saw it--that look in her eyes--like she was some damned Salvation Army bell ringer offering a blanket to a tramp.

That's when I knew she would never be mine.

But I've come here tonight to forget all that crap. I'm standing at the edge of the lake, fingering the scarf in my pocket, trying to clear my mind. The wind's howling through the trees; the branches flailing around like shipwrecked survivors flagging down a rescue chopper. Bony fingers point at me. I close my eyes. I tell myself it's just my sleep-deprived brain playing tricks on me. The wind blows even harder; the howling turns to laughter. I clasp my hands over my ears as the scarf flies from my pocket, snatched by the wind.

I open my eyes; the wind quiets to a gentle rustle, like raspy whispers traveling from tree to tree. The scarf floats on the breeze, then slowly falls to the lake--a shimmering splotch of red that grows darker as the water swallows it bit by bit.

I follow. My legs move of their own accord; my brain barely registers the frigid water. The water climbs up my legs, my waist, my chest. I cannot stop. A flash of light hits my eyes as the setting sun breaks through the trees. I blink as the realization comes to me.

Now, I am hers.

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