fore/ward/telling

“I’d die right away in an apocalypse.” I tell Dave, pulling the pillows off the couch. “I’d see an animal acting strangely, and I’d wander off to help and explore. I don’t believe in violence. I can’t run. I’m the character in the movie that dies in the first four seconds.”

“Nah,” he says, thinking out loud as he stacks pillows into walls. “You’re the character that survives despite everything that says you shouldn’t. In the end, the film pans to a decimated world. The sun is rising, and the soldier-farmer-hero is rinsing the blood out of his shirt in the New World village established by eight characters who are all dead now. The scientist-soldier-hero is holding a precious surviving copy of The Light in the Attic, in her one remaining arm. You walk out of the tent, clean-faced with a ribbon in your hair. You have a tray full of Hostess snacks decorated with dried flowers. ‘Come on in’, you say, ‘It’s tea time.’ They look at each other, wipe the apocalypse from their faces, and follow you. Annnnd, credits.”

I’m laughing as we shake a blanket open over our pillow fort. Dave crawls inside and sets up a few flameless candles.

“Where did I get the ribbon?” I ask, crawling in after him with throw pillows and a patterned sheet.

“Oh that. Well, we’ve been watching you collect pieces for it throughout the entire movie. Every time someone you care for dies, you’ve been pulling a piece of fabric from their clothes.”

I’m intrigued. “That’s so morbid!”

“Yes it is, my little magpie.” He laughs at his own analysis, but then reaches over and tucks me under his arm. “But no one gets forgotten.”

“No one gets forgotten.” I repeat– a mantra, a promise. Then, distracted again, “What kind of tea was it? Did we scavenge for tea or did I make it myself?”

Dave is a picky eater, and makes a gagging sound. “God only knows. Remember the time you drank hot dandelion juice? If I were them, I wouldn’t ask.”

I sit up suddenly, catching an important missing piece of the story for the first time. “Wait. Where are you in this scenario? Oh no. Are you a part of my ribbon?”

His head is lying back on his arms, against the pillows. The light is dark in our house, outside the fort, and darker still outside our house. Our little candle flickers like it was programmed to, and the colors from our textiles dance merrily with the light all over the walls. Dave’s eyes are closed, and his face is at peace. His face is always at peace.

“You’re a storyteller, too. You know what happens to my character.”

I scoot closer, laying my head down on his stomach. He runs his fingers through my hair and I say, “Tell me.”

“In the middle of the movie, I realize Something Important has to be done, and has to be done by me. I remind you that you’re supposed to survive, and then I go do the thing. For a second, the audience thinks I might actually make it back, but then in a flash, it’s over.”

“But how?”

I’m tracing the Green Lantern pattern in his t-shirt and can hear his gentle and steady heartbeat and breath.

“The audience doesn’t know exactly. The scene cuts to your face, far away, back at base camp, and they know it’s the end for me.”

“That’s awful.” I hide my face against his body, shaking the idea away.

“I mean, the whole world is destroyed and you’re wearing a ribbon made from dead-people-clothes so…”

“No.” I stop him. “It’s awful.”

“It’s not so bad,” he argues, stroking my arm soothingly. “I did a good job while I was alive. I took care of you. And besides, no one gets forgotten.”

No one gets forgotten.” I repeat– a mantra, a promise. I can hear the resignation in my words when I ask, “Is anyone with you when it happens, at least?”

“Of course not.” He smiles and kisses my forehead. “A character like me dies alone.”

________________________________________________

In March, I started seriously thinking about writing a memoir, and this memory is what I thought would start it, because I wanted to capture the busy softness of my life before. I wanted to start it in a way that said it was more of a love story than a horror story, but horrible things definitely happen.

Then,

I fell down a flight of stairs, re-fractured my hip, tore some things, and have been recovering. I can’t sit or stand long enough to write consistently on a computer, and my hospital bills are apocalyptic, and I won’t be able to buy the time I need for the story for a long while.

But, I thought I maybe could write this part. And even though it’s more sliced twinkies on a makeshift tray than it is a charcuterie board with fancy cheeses, it’s an offering of love. An invite in.

The world is burning but I made some hot dandelion juice, and I like to think our blanket fort didn’t fall apart. It just grew so big that we’re all inside it now.

25 thoughts on “fore/ward/telling

  1. Beautiful, beautiful storytelling. I’m sad for the Dave in the story. Sadder for real Dave. Sadder for real you. I think apocalypse movies never really truly show how awful it is because they too, just don’t have the time to do it.

    Big love to you xx

    Liked by 6 people

  2. god I love your writing so much. Honestly, if I had the means, I would totally finance that. And I’ve never said that to anyone ever. You are that amazing. I hope you get to do this one day. I want to buy it and read it and weep and love.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yes. What Tara said. What Lizzi said. What we all said. You need to write that memoir. And even if all you ever wrote was this short snippet, it would be worth it. I love your writing and your stories and your heart.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ah Ra, can you tell me Princess Dino how I can grieve a love I never knew, a man I never even met… am I channeling you? I could definitely choose worse. I didn’t know about the fall… I must have looked away for a moment.
    That I could fold you into my life and take care of you… if you only were a kitten instead of a grown up dino with subjects of her own. sigh

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, like you said, the world is burning. I’m the one he told look after you. Hopefully, I’m not the one that dies on the way to you. Knowing Dave he would’ve made me into some badass with blade skills or something, though. 😆
    I got us, Ra. I got us. You just keep the dandelions pumpin’ & I’ll teach you all the scrappy stuff. 😂

    Aahh man…I miss these convos with you two. Half expecting him to pop in here & comment.
    *hugs*
    *Thud*
    & P.S. Write it. No time limits. Do it for you. 💓
    Ti amo

    Liked by 2 people

  6. We should all build pillow forts to retreat to. Though, that’s not quite right. We aren’t retreating. It isn’t defensive. It’s proactive. Build them and use them and find the magic of such things to recharge who we are on the memories of how we used to dream…
    You are loved. That’s no dream. Though, I suspect it was born of one.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Oh Ra I’m so sorry about your hip, and the horrendous hospital bills. Just writing this part is enough. Perhaps you’ll write many small parts like this, one by one, and then you’ll have your memoir even when you thought you couldn’t.
    Alison ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. i sincerely hope you write that memoir. I would read it in a heartbeat. Your words are sore and raw and whole and magic and eloquence all in one explosive package. They are beautiful. I always find the most beautiful words come from the most beautiful of broken hearts.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Grade A
    But next time more dinosaurs, monsters, CGI action and a frog…
    But maybe I’m missing the point!

    Honest this time… great little work that has some real charm and carries the theme of idol conversation and human interaction with class

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I had a comment all printed out – then they asked for my passwords and such and poof my comment is gone. So often I don’t have good replies to your posts. I have all this FEELING and want to express it a certain way. I feel like I can’t use your Thud. it’s not mine to use. Although you would say I could because that’s how you are. Sooooo.. here is all my feeling. it’s right here for you. that’s it. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You capture the beauty of relationship with someone who really knows you, and shows you who you are in the fun and playful way of inventing stories. Naturally it’s devastating to miss Dave. We all do, even those who haven’t met him, directly. You help keep him alive for us, and it seems like your beautiful relationship continues. It’s very difficult to comment on this beautiful writing in a way that says what I really want to say. I believe that the essence of who you are together will always be with all of us under the blanket in the fort. Your vision is big enough, and you will overcome everything (the burning world, hips, and then some) to bring us all snacks.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. So beautiful, and I have every faith that you will write the memoir when you’re ready to. This is such a beautiful beginning and I’m so looking forward to reading more. I’m so sorry about the hospital bills and the pain, sending you lots of love and hugs from the UK. Always there, especially on Instagram! ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I had no idea you had fallen? I’m so sorry. I did notice you haven’t been on facebook much, but then I haven’t really either. I love this. I am pretty sure I would love the book, and I look forward to when you are finally able to write it. Sending healing thoughts your way sweet Ra. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow, wow, wow. Your writing entrances me. The comments above say everything better than I can say. Ditto to it all. I don’t have a way with words so much but I hope you can feel the love coming your way. Love and healing light.

    Liked by 1 person

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