Sunday, July 3, 2011

Maria and I sat at an outdoor café.

What if Roberto or Coral drove by and saw us? I couldn’t
remember but Maria must have asked for the meeting. I
couldn’t see her face for the sun. I tilted into the shade.
She looked troubled, thoughtful, as if about to confide
in me about her miserable marriage. Maybe she was
planning a book on her life and needed my editing
expertise. We would have coffee, I’d avail her of my
relationship wisdom, and we’d go our separate ways before
romantic tragedy ensued.

The waiter ignored us. Because we were mixed? Maria pulled
a book out of her purse and placed it on the table. I had to
read the title upside-down: The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Her
crossed hands looked so pale against the red tablecloth,
her skin transparent in the blaring sun. The veins and
muscles and bones of her hands made me look away. Why
wasn’t she saying anything? She stared at me with unblinking
eyes, very like her daughter Frida. I was too self-conscious
to swallow. I felt underwater.

"Flynn, why are you here?" A trick question. When she
touched the back of my hand I got a jolt and a blue spark
shot in the air.

"Would you stop the tears?" she said.

I touched my face to see if I was crying.

She shook her head. Her black hair, longer than I remembered,
swayed in the sunshine. "The project," she said.

"You're asking me to stop my tears project?"

She made a big fake pouty face and laughed.

"What’s wrong with you?" I said.

She continued to laugh behind her hand.

"Stop it!" I said. "You’re betraying everything you stand for!"

She took her hand away, blurted "What do I stand for!"
then covered her mouth again.

The light around our table blazed.

"Niceness!" I said.

I doubted this even was Maria. I closed my eyes. The whole
meeting was a trap. I opened my eyes. Morning was everywhere.
Mindful eyed me from the top of the dresser. The tears notes
lay scattered on Coral’s side of the bed. I put a hand on them
to steady myself.

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