Sunday, January 2, 2011

An Ocean

477 – phrase

Sarah Van Name

When the lights dimmed for the first warning, I was already in my seat. Josh and Thomas were sitting beside me, fighting over Fruit Ninja on Josh’s iPhone. Above us the chandelier crystal sent mosquitoes of light flying over the room, and on the stage, techs tuned guitars and kicked aside cables. The guys were talking next to me, their voices muted and intimate, so I just looked out over the crowd. Beards and plaid flannel; people laughing at themselves. The lights dimmed and brightened again.

Thomas hadn’t wanted to come to the concert. “I don’t know any of the music,” he'd said, but Josh had convinced him somehow and now he was here and in as good spirits as I’d ever seen him. His voice was raised, something about Fruit Ninja, but as the lights dimmed for the final time, the projection screen on the stage turned purple, and Josh hushed him. Out of the corner of my eye I saw their hands move together and interlock.

The audience stood in unison when the band walked onstage, bathed in black and purple light. A low, sweet fuzz of guitar, the barely beginning of drums. The lead singer stepped up to the microphone.

“It’s a terrible love, and I’m walking with spiders,” he sang, and that was the moment when I should have exhaled, but I kept holding my breath. That’s how he sang. As if with each new phrase he were recalling an old goodbye. I mouthed the words along with him, and they made more and less sense on my tongue than ever before.

His voice, deep as a cello, moved through the air like clouds in a cold winter. I looked to my left. Thomas and Josh held each other, swaying as if moved by a gentle wind and peaceful. I held my own hands and wrapped my arms around my own waist, moving by myself. “It takes an ocean not to break,” sang the man on the stage, but I did – tears were blurring my vision before I realized anything, but I let them drip down my cheeks. I was holding myself too tight to let go.

A part of me wanted Josh to look over and offer a hug, give me something, some gesture of friendship. But he and Thomas were too much absorbed in each other.

When we left the auditorium, it was cold and I had no jacket. We walked across the street to the McDonald’s for hot chocolate, and I rubbed my arms.

“That was the saddest concert of my life,” I said into the air.

“Why?” Thomas called over his shoulder.

“I miss my boyfriend,” I told him. “He’s five hundred miles away.”

“At least you have someone,” he told me. “That’s no excuse.”

So, wrapped in my own terrible love, I stayed quiet and held myself close.

No comments:

Post a Comment