Doug’s “We left our watches…” reminded me of an old piece I wrote about five years ago called “The Bed,” that I’m posting below. I’ve renamed it “the anniversary.” It was written as a tribute to Faulkner and an imitation of his writing style.
A man and a woman stood at the foot of an old bed in a small, lousy, creaking hotel room, with hardwood floors and the smell of staleness and closedupness. It wasn’t a king bed, not even a queen. It was a double, deceitfully grand, and covered over in one of the proprietor’s chenille bed covers- over a mattress dipping down noticeably in the center.
“It won’t be much effort in us falling close together, you and me,” he said, touching her shoulder, and her eyes opened and closed with excitement and shame. His face had been dreamed up so often by her that now, it seemed different. Not the same.
The sheets were cold, but white; the pillows sadly pulpless, deflated by a long history of faceless faces buried in them. Its one redeeming quality, the room, was the window with its openandclose shutters and transparent yellow drapes that caught the west wind in summer and the cool and renewing salt of the ocean breeze in winter. An old confederate wicker-back chair sat there at the window at a sideward glance. Its placement revealing secrets of previous guests.
The woman smiled at the man, not feeling false or untrue, and began to undress. There wasn’t much time. And yet, they both, simultaneously and unknowingly, felt as if their relationship had lasted through those entire ten years. In the cool empty timelessness of the room they felt like an old married couple, seventy, maybe even eighty, still in love and lasting, here to revisit the antiquity of their past as proof that they’d outlasted time itself. “And we have lasted so long, you and I, haven’t we, dearest?” he asked.
The woman lay back on the bed and closed her eyes. She thought for a moment how permeable she’d been to the pain and suffering of her life, how at times she wanted to run away and lose herself in the abyss of unknowing. She thought of the sacrifices she had made for her family. And the sad resignation that there would always be a hopeless emptiness to her. But before she lost herself too deeply in these wounds, she opened her eyes, outstretched her arms and nodded, “Yes.” Through the musty thin air of the so long shut up hotel room, the man and the woman embraced. Their newlovesmells and happy breath and perfumed spiritscents swirled like a sweeping breeze through an open window. Here. Timeless. As the dust settled from their last visit, they once again stirred their hearts, falling impatiently, younglaughing, into the dip down curve of the old bed.