The words over at Three Word Wednesday are dabble, lean, utter.
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 that’s why I wear this wry little smirk now. I wonder if that drunk driver bearing down on me even notices.