Always or Never
She put the ring on. Then off. Always? Never? If always, would it wear well? If never, might she regret it?
She flexed, twisted, then snapped her knuckles, making a kind of wrong bony sound. A sound that always set her grandmother off, causing her to thrust out arthritic fingers, knuckles swollen and bulging, joints forced off at unnatural angles, showing how she’d end up if she kept doing that.
Least of her worries.
Always? Never? Which? Which would be best? In the long run? Because this wasn’t one of those things you could just keep changing. Like a pair of shoes. Because you’re tired of them or they’ve gotten old or you’ve come across something better. But how can you know? How do you commit? Whose judgment do you trust? Her own? Spider’s?
She put the ring on again. Listened to what it said to her, the way it made her feel inside, feel about her and Spider. What it would be saying to others. Everyone would judge them on this. People did. She did. Oh, you say to yourself. Ah ha. I see. I get it. -- And then, if your own life and orientation is different, you know it. Somehow.
I mean, it’s how we decide, isn’t it? On first impressions? Stuff that tells you right away, their lives are filled with this and that while your life is filled with these and those. A signal. A sign. Says, hey, they’re not my people. I can’t get past this.
Though if things happen to work in some funny way, it’s possible. Like her, with Suzanne. In spite of Suzanne’s ring. Because she’d wanted to, with Suzanne. Was curious enough to risk exploring. Despite the ring. Which she hated. But she had to admit -- it’s a risk, not a given.
She wasn’t getting anywhere. She had to decide before meeting with Spider later. But, really? Choose? Which? -- Always? Never? This was going to be for the foreseeable future. Would tag her - them - in the minds of other people. Choose wrong and some folks might never look further, never even try, just hang up, walk away.
Okay, so then, what about it? Choose the never possibility? “You won’t regret it,” one of her inner voices shot back, “‘cause if you pick always, you’ll never walk alone. Again. Ever. You - a devout loner.” Yah, she thought in return, never say never. Words I never said, she thought.
So? Choose, already. Never? Always? She sighed, twisted and snapped her knuckles, poked at her coffee cup, gazed out the window. The geraniums, planted with such hope in early spring, all dried and dusty. Everything, dried and dusty. It never rains in Southern California, she thought. Not in August, even early August and it was only the twelfth. The twelfth of never she thought. Oh, God, okay, gotta consider never. I’ll never love again. Erggh. Depressing.\
Alright then. Always. The answer came fast, another restless and contentious member of the congregation of selves living in her head: ”If you want us permanently nuts, consider, briefly: Always. Always mine. Always on my mind. Always and forever.” -- It waited, and, getting no response, demanded: “Well? How about them apples?!?
She couldn’t. Could not stand it. Grabbing up the phone she set it on, “Never on Sundays.” That was it. Ringtone, Ringback and Hold for the new business, Jessica’s and Spider’s Tanning Salon and Mud Bath Beautique.
Live with it, Spider, she thought. We said we would never be open on Sundays. The words are all in Greek, so it’s hard to take offense. And besides, the music is pretty.