Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ankle Deep

     "I miss her," Mike said as he reached across the table and scooped up the dice. He held them in his hand for a moment, inspecting the black dots as he jostled the two white cubes against each other, watching them change from 11 to 4, then to snake eyes. "Shit, man, she was so cool. Remember that night you first met her? When she was allowed to play on our poker night?" He gave the dice a good shake and released them onto the table.

     Andrew looked down at Mike's roll and pondered for a moment before replying, "Uh, yeah, I remember, you dick. You're talking about the night when one unknown chick cleaned house and went home with all of our money, right? Most of us haven't forgiven you for that, just so you know." Andrew let a feint smile appear as he picked up the pencil and jotted down the new score. "She really was something to watch, I've never seen anyone play poker like that before." He grabbed the dice in both hands and held them up near his face as he shook them aggressively and said, "I agree, she was a cool chick, although taking me for twenty bucks was very uncool." He smiled a full smile as he unleashed the dice and watched them bounce and tumble their way across the table and land with two sixes showing.

     "Booyah bitch! That's gonna be game, I think." Andrew slid the pad of paper closer and started doing the math.
     "I'm going to text her. Fuck, I just can't stop thinking about her!" Mike exclaimed as he watched his friend erase a few numbers and redo the tally. Andrew snapped the pencil down and looked up.
     "Shit, I still need six more points to win this. Now listen, bro, I know you loved her. You had a fun go for awhile, but it's my job to point out all the ways the two of you weren't compatible. You guys fought from day one, and ya'll broke up more times than the Apollo mission. She was a little crazy, you have to admit. And hey, didn't she hide the keys to your car in a mud puddle during that last break-up? I mean, come on man, who does that?"

Mike grabbed the dice and prepared for another roll. As he shook them in his right hand his cell phone vibrated on the table next to his elbow. Still shaking the dice, he picked up his phone and read the message that awaited him: "I'm sorry, baby... I love you." A tear welled in his eye as he set the phone down and let the dice go.
     "Yeah, she was a little crazy." He could feel his heart pounding excessively, his feet began to swell within his shoes. His armpits started to sweat as his brain began remembering all the things he loved about her. Like the way she used to look at him with absolute certainty, with love that was unquestionable, as if she knew something that he never possibly could. Or the way she used to sing him to sleep, whispering lyrics to their favorite songs while he dozed off into the unknown, keeping the beat on his chest with her fingers. Or the tears she would shed while listening to the stories of his abusive past, and how her arms would find refuge around his body.

     Mike jumped up from that table, almost knocking over the beer near him, "Dude, I gotta go!"
     Andrew looked over at his friend and replied, "Well shit man, go already. Don't let this silly little dice game keep you from what's important. I'll kick your ass next time." And at that, Mike grabbed his phone and car keys and headed out the door.

***********

There were a few more things that belonged to her. Two bras, some bath-time bubbly stuff, a pot and a pan and a few other kitchen utensils. He gathered up these things and placed them into a plastic Fred Myer's bag. He then stuffed the note he wrote into a waterproof zip-lock baggie, added a few rocks inside and tucked it into his pocket. He was all set, and off he went.

Mike arrived at her house late in the evening. Her mother's white Ford Taurus was parked in the driveway, as was her father's Econoline van. He pulled up close to the Taurus and left the engine running as he got out. He placed the bag of left-over memories on the front step to her house, and as he turned to go back to his car he reached into his pocket and removed the zip-locked baggie from his pocket. Inside the baggie was the letter he wrote, explaining his love for her, and his sorrow for how things had ended. He looked over at the mud puddle, where just a few days ago ago he fished out his car keys, and he tossed the letter in. He hopped back into his car and began his three point turn-around, and slowly exited out into the street.

Sometimes love is only ankle deep.

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