Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are dabble, lean, utter.

Twisting Fates

They’re sitting in ancient white Adirondack chairs, watching the world go by, sipping sweetened tea with lemon wedges from tall, sweaty glasses.

“Edwin, do you remember the nights we spent on the boardwalk doing the Lindy?”

Actually I don’t.

In this incarnation (dare I say reincarnation?), I am coming from my 6-year-old self, edgily looking for the restroom, since this is a watershed (ha ha) moment from my past where I wet myself while my father got piss-drunk at the bar. The night I lost hearing in my left ear; I should have seen that fist coming, maybe leaned a little.

And now there’s this elderly lady with blue hair jawing at me.

Then I realize that Edwin - Mr. Edwin Antwerp, 5701 Allegheny Way, Millville, NJ 08332 - has minutes to live.

I blink, and reset to Edwin’s present.

We’re having our tea in ruby colored glasses on the screened-in front porch of Edwin and Marilyn Antwerp’s white clapboard bungalow. It’s the only home the couple have ever owned; it is where they conceived and lost their only child, Marty; it is where they will both die.

Edwin, as it happens, will be leaving much sooner than Marilyn. I can feel the pressure building in his brain; I feel the blood vessel throbbing – the exact one that will burst, killing him instantly.

But through Edwin’s eyes, I see love that is pure in its brilliance. I feel the heat of passion that continues to burn for this women - in Edwin’s still thumping heart.

And I’m gone. I am now the me of the late 1980s, banging the downstairs neighbor while her button-down, silk-tie-wearing, abusive husband stays late at the office. All she wants is someone to hold her tight, tell her the baby weight will come off. Someone who whispers encouraging things into her milky-white ears and won’t hit her in those spots where the yellow-green of old bruises don’t show.

Hey, it’s the 80s. All I want to do is fuck.

And I am sucked into the bleak twist of thoughts that are the present for Janine Trescott, 18, Garland, Texas 75043.

Janine is rail-thin, awkward. Glasses too thick, too clunky, and there’s no money for contacts. The one boy to show interest rapes her in the bathroom of a Sonic Drive-In. Her mother slaps her black and blue, calls her a whore. For tempting the pastor’s son.

I look over the edge of a claw foot bathtub, no longer able to watch the surge of blood that pumps from her wrists and dissipates in the depth of the warm water in suspended swirls.

I want out.

Concentrate. Don’t utter a sound.

Janine’s tortured present makes the 132,493 jump I’ve made from the B-roll of my life into someone else’s current consciousness. No,  I don’t dabble in time travel, I am not a seer. Just a guy, sometimes a not very nice guy, who in such rapid succession is moving through time and space that I barely comprehend it.

It is my end, too (this I have come to understand), and like some cosmic roller coaster ride – one mother of a Texas Giant – I have seen through the eyes, felt the final emotions of those in the throws of their very own end.


It is all at once hopeful. It is horrific.

I trust those who jumped into the present me took something of value away. The love I feel for my wife, my three little girls.

Take it away.

Into the collective consciousness that is life.

And death.

To share.

And that’s why I wear this wry little smirk now. I wonder if that drunk driver bearing down on me even notices.

17 comments:

jaerose said...

Time travel. Life and death. It could have been a distant story but each character this man inhabits makes it immediate and real...I see him as a kind of protector and that makes me smile a little too..Jae

pia said...

This scared me. Though it was about somebody who goes into other people's consciousnesses and I don't know anybody who does or talks about it, it felt almost too real. Too scary about life and death--subjects that weigh too heavily on my mind
Wonderful writing as usual. Great job of torturing me :)

Ramesh Sood said...

I was almost lost.. beautifully created and crafted.. thanks.. for 3WW..enjoyed writing this week..

Michael Solender said...

This is a hoot.. love the pee references in the opening ppgs

gautami tripathy said...

Although it has its light moments, as Pia said it is scary too..

dead man and his shoe painting

Monica Manning said...

I'm somewhat breathless after reading that. Brilliant piece of work, Thom! It's obvious NY life suits you.

Angel said...

That was very cool. Would be awful to experience what the character is.

Kim Nelson said...

Grateful I can just be me! The twists, turns, leaps were a thrill, though. Thanks, Thom, for the ongoing inspiration.

R.S. Bohn said...

Absolutely one of your best. I found it sad, or just melancholy, but accepting of the reality of this existence. And it really hurt my heart at the end, despite the "wry smirk." Who will say goodbye to his wife and kids? Who will be there when his body goes?

VL Sheridan said...

Makes you wonder if it really is just a breeze blowing against you. Beautiful work.

mazzz in leeds said...

Very eerie, this. What a tremendous and horrible predicament!

Steve Green said...

This is very strong and hard-hitting writing, I was shocked and saddened by some of the observations, gritty reality.

Deanna Schrayer said...

"...took something of value away....Take it away." I love the wordplay here Thom, reminds me of Joyce Carol Oates.

Thought-provoking story.

lightverse said...

Wow. Just wow. It's certainly a scary piece, but what a fascinating read. This one will definitely get a re-read, but after I have time to digest the first read,

sharplittlepencil said...

Thom, you are really growing as a writer. This was haunting, one of those pieces that, were it read on NPR, I'd be having a "driveway moment."

From the time travel to the insertion of yourself into the lives of others... dodging that fist a little too late... that poor girl who, as receptacle of the ejaculation of the rapist, also takes on the total burden of guilt (thanks, mom and dad)... and the one-two punch at the end.

All I can say is, NYC was a great idea. Peace, Amy BL

faith said...

Wow, thought-provoking and haunting!

Matt Merritt said...

Awesome. I'm impressed that you could get so much depth into so many people in so little space. Really good stuff!