Thursday, August 7, 2014

Between the Cattails

He knew by the way she touched her hair. She couldn't keep her hands off it. Her need to play with it was constant and compulsory.

Grasping it. Cinching it. Tucking it. Twirling thicker and thicker tendrils around her fingers. Flipping the whole mass across a shoulder. The itch to groom was so naked and obvious it seemed like a parody of a Buzzfeed article: 20 Signs She's Into You

It was also effective. He was mesmerized. Entranced. Emboldened, even. 

They were young, and new, and this couldn't be love. But that didn't stop them from experiencing the most excruciating sweetness in the other's presence, as their mundane conversation became the lines to a play being writ on the fly. They felt foolish. They felt stunned. Between bursts of words, they kicked a small ball back and forth, some part of them understanding that this was the privilege and the risk of youth: to kick a ball that was a stand-in for something else, too large and mysterious to name. 

For an hour, they kicked the ball by a pond choked with lily pads, until they said goodbye. 

And later, as their heads sank onto their respective pillows, the day assumed a permanent shine in their minds, forming a shape as celestial as any sphere.  

The way he'd flipped the ball between his toes and insole, a gesture as quick and nimble as a warbler's flashing cut between cattails. 

The way she laughed in the face of the wind, looking like the heroine of a nineteenth-century novel he'd been forced to read for school last year, liking it more than he'd let on.

How he'd looked down from time to time, keeping the ball too long underfoot, as if needing that time to catch his breath. 

The whiteness of her underarm as she'd lifted her hand to her hair, one more time--again.  

So that later--many hundreds or thousands of nights removed from that day--they would lie in beds separated by hundreds or thousands of miles, next to people they hadn't even known that summer, and felt, with an ache so profound it threatened to smother, that memory was the fourth dimension, a construction so nearly perfect, if always incomplete. 

Thinking that time was a thicket of hair, passing through unknowing fingers, as they slid into their different dreams.  


the walking man said...

if this wasn't such a love story I would really like it Sarah. Paced so finely, tuned to an old mans memories of the one who said yes, finally, the week before he was to be married. God knows his regret of courage when he needed it most.

don't make this any longer or shorter it is perfect as it is. I still see her twirling my heart around her finger in her raven black hair, one more time again. The regret fades but never the memory.

Sarah Hina said...

I'm happy this struck a chord for you, Mark.

I love those moments when the ordinary is transcended by the mood/melody/muchness of it all. They somehow stay pure and true, despite the fog of memory. Precious in their imperfections.

Wendy said...

Really love this. Such great detail that you captured. And all that yearning, like fireflies trapped in a jar. Fine work.

Catvibe said...

I love the way you captured the innocence of that first feeling of adoration of another. Before it 'means' anything. Sweet and innocent. Don't you wish you could go back sometimes?

Sarah Hina said...

Wendy, what a perfect description for yearning. Thank you!

Cat, maybe sometimes. It was also excruciating, though. The unknowingness of it all. Certainly feels safer from a distance.

But yeah.

It's good to see you here again! Blogger revival!

Aniket Thakkar said...

Whoa, Wendy and Cat, both made an appearance.
Blogger reunion indeed!

I have to admit, this is the best piece that I've read of yours in quite a while. Including the stuff, you've sent over mail.

This is something special. May be because, everyone can connect to it on some level. And tonight, when I'll hit the pillow, I know my mind is going to wander off to places, it's not visited in a long time.

Now I'll have to shift some things, to make this the centrepiece in The best works of Sarah Hina anthology.

Sarah Hina said...

I liked writing this one. It was a softer transition to writing prose again, since it was more of a reflective piece. God help me if I ever have to write a straight-on, linear piece of fiction again.

A centerpiece in the anthology? Well, damn. Better keep writing them, I guess.

(Truthfully, I wrote this with you in mind, because I knew it had been ages since I wrote a flash piece. SO THERE.)

Aniket Thakkar said...

You say the best things.

But thanks to you, I've been depressed for a whole day now, thinking about that girl I had played ball with growing up. We don't even talk anymore.

Hope you're happy now, Heena.

Sarah Hina said...

Talk to her in your own flash piece.

You got to write that ache out, my young apprentice.