We laugh and laugh, and nothing can ever be sad, no one can be lost, or dead, or far away: right now we are here, and nothing can mar our perfection, or steal the joy of this perfect moment.
How does it feel? I feels exactly like one of those dreams in which you suddenly realize that you have to take a test you haven't studied for and you aren't wearing any clothes. And you've left your wallet at home. When I am out there, in time, I am inverted, changed into a desperate version of myself. I become a thief, a vagrant, an animal who runs and hides. I startle old women and amaze children. I am a trick, an illusion of the highest order, so incredible that I am actually true.
Long ago, men went to sea, and women waited for them, standing on the edge of the water, scanning the horizon for the tiny ship. Now I wait for Henry. He vanishes unwillingly, without warning. I wait for him. Each moment that I wait feels like a year, an eternity. Each moment is as slow and transparent as glass. Through each moment I can see infinite moments lined up, waiting. Why has he gone where I cannot follow?
I wish for a moment that time would lift me out of this day, and into some more benign one. But then I feel guilty for wanting to avoid the sadness; dead people need us to remember them, even if it eats us, even if all we can do is say "I'm sorry" until it is as meaningless air.
I still feel like a castaway, th elast of a once numerous species. It was as though Robinson Crusoe discovered the telltale footprint on the beach and then realized that it was his own. Myself, small as a leaf, thin as water, begins to cry.
Think for a minute, darling: in fairy tales it's always the children who have the fine adventures. The mothers have to stay at home and wait for the children to fly in the window.
Outside it's a perfect spring night. We stand on the sidewalk in front of our apartment building, and Henry takes my hand, and I look at him, and I raise our joined hands and Henry twirls me around and soon we're dancing down Belle Plaine Avenue, no music but the sound of cars whoosing by and our own laughter, and the smell of cherry blossoms that fall like snow on the sidewalk as we dance underneath the tress.
I am suddenly comsumed by nostalgia for the little girl who was me, who loved the fields and believed in God, who spent winter days home sick from school reading Nancy Drew and sucking menthol cough drops, who could keep a secret.