Why Not?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: November 20, 2019

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Submitted: November 20, 2019

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Not once did I ever think the world was mine to walk. There are roads, sidewalks, parks, and even plots of land that, with a cost, allow me to stay. To be. Some people call this home, others call this alone. Well, maybe with a wife, a few kids, a dog named Spot, and a place to call my own, the word “alone” would never come to mind. Maybe if that plot of land was perched along a mountain or over-looked a glimmering sea, the word “alone” would never find me. Perhaps behind a white-picket-fence or the dashboard of a new Range-Rover, I could love again, and know again, and hope the world isn’t so bad. Perhaps in my dreams, but what do I know?

I admit that I am wrong about most things, most people, and I end up drowning in my preconceived notions and stale ideologies. I guess that explains my dreams. Then the caffeine rush wears off, my thoughts are awake and running around like toddlers on a sugar high. Then I crash, hard. That’s when the bitter sting of loneliness sets in like emotional arthritis.

I might just be dramatic, and perhaps I should just do something about this predicament. Sleep usually does the trick, and I don’t mind my dreams however strange they may be. One time I had a dream that shook me to my core, and I woke up in a puddle of sweat with eyes wide open. I instinctively reached over my covers for something. A warm German Shepherd would have been nice, or perhaps a white-picket wife named Kate. Instead, my fingers felt the cold vibration of a cracked iPhone fighting against the suffocating mattress.

My blurry-eyed gaze caught the caller ID. I wiped a layer of sweat off my brow and took the call with my phone nestled against my neck.

“Goddamn.” The muffled voice said through the deafening speaker, “I’ve been calling you for, like, an hour now.”

“It’s two in the morning,” I replied while battling a yawn. “This better be some sort of emergency.”

I heard a half-hearted laugh fall through the other side.

“What makes you think I’d call you for an emergency?”

My hand was surprisingly swift in ending the phone call. It even made me smile to return to the comfort of my pillow. I had my moment, but the midnight caller– we’ll call him Lucas– was relentless.

“What?”

“I can’t be at home.” He said flatly.

“So it is an emergency,” I replied with a swell of amusement.

“Relax,” Lucas said stiffly, “I’m not being hunted or anything.” He was lacking his upbeat humor. “I just need to crash at your apartment for a night.”

As much as I was inclined to say no, given his audacity to disturb these glazed gentle hours of the night, it was almost too much effort to decline. This wasn’t the first time Lucas weaseled his way into my rented plot of land, given his highly dysfunctional relationships and nomadic lifestyle. He was a playboy without the money, status, or for that matter, strikingly good looks. But he was charming, kind, and had an unhealthy use of manipulation for any vulnerable female that crossed his path. But even Lucas needed friends, so there I was.

“Key’s under the mat. Lock up and you can sleep on the couch.” My voice longed for sleep. “I’ll talk to you in the morning.”

Though it was only mere seconds after my parting words that I heard a click and the crunching sound of my front door. Footsteps followed after and walked until they reached my bedroom door. At two-twenty in the morning, Lucas’ head dipped past the doorframe and smiled with a short “Thanks.”

I almost laughed, almost yelled, because I live with absurdities which seem to come and go as they please. It seemed that all my friends were just the same. They want me when they need me, but then they vanish once the happy ending falls into their hands. Not a dog, not a woman, but Lucas was in my house that night. So this is life, the way it goes. Why not?

So often my dreams remind me of the absurd and miserable reality I have the privilege of living. A reality where sex is a commodity, kindness is a rarity, and the measure of self-worth is found in the aesthetic confines of an Instagram post. There are horrible people out there, and then there are some good ones. Some.

But who’s to say what I am? Who’s to say what good and bad are? Some say that God tells us so, others say that we just don’t know– but we do know. Somedays I think that God can’t stand us. Somedays I wonder if fire will ever fall like rain. I’d like to taste that rain. What do I know? I’m just trying to get by.

I know that politics at the dinner table will inevitably make someone brood in anger, I know that cigarettes will eventually kill me, money will never fill me, and words are only words when actions fall behind. It all seems so absurd, this life that’s never enough. So I think, ponder, and dance around the question: Why not?

The reality of the morning always makes my dreams so bittersweet. The joys or thrills of a relived memory or a faraway fantasy are met with a stampede of thought, and my soft and warm pillow pulls harder than gravity as I try to start the day.

Coffee. That was my motivation, the only one that I needed to get up. Half of me expected to walk out to a French press waiting by a peach scone and half a grapefruit. Though my hopes were crushed when I walked into my kitchen to see a half-naked man lying on my sofa with one hairy leg outstretched upon the coffee table, my favorite wool blanket draped over his other leg, and an open flask resting on his rested chest. He reeked of bourbon.

“Lucas,” I said with my morning grog. His silent answer led me to wiggle his bare and bony shoulder. “Hey, get up.”

He moaned, groaned, and eventually let out a slew of vowels and undefined syllables until he eventually said a recognizable word.

“Can’t.”

He licked his liquor dried lips and managed to reach for his bag, pull out a lone cigarette, and began his search for a lighter.

I could only imagine he was here for a couple of reasons, all of which are comprised of some element of despair. My obligation was not to his health, not to his comfort, but oddly enough I still found myself at his service.

I found the lighter and lit his cigarette before returning to my kitchen to make my long-desired cup of coffee.

“I came home an hour early last night and found her in my bed, under my sheets, with another girl,” He said flatly, “You remember Skylar?” I met him with uncertainty. “You know, that blonde barista you used to hit on at Sweet Llama?”

“You’re thinking of Dave,” I corrected as I made my way to the sofas with my mug and French press in hand. “I’ve only been to Sweet Llama once.”

“Well, anyway,” Lucas continued, “she’s been meeting with her, in my apartment, for the past couple weeks or so.” He drew from his cigarette and let the out smoke through his nostrils. “I’m just thrilled that she’s been exploring her sexuality while I’m away at work, trying my best to afford a better future for us. I usually get my coffee from Skylar before I go to work too, and here she has been screwing and stealing the love of my life this whole time.”

“Do you want some coffee?” I asked in attempt to comfort the man. He was swift to ignore.

“I don’t know what I did wrong.” He said as he shook his head. “Lola never mentioned anything, never told me something was wrong.” His voice faded like the smoke. “Nothing.”

I searched for sympathy or any measure of. I wanted to scream at Lucas, my aloof and ignorant friend, who rarely saw the bigger picture. If it’s not liquor, it’s women, and everything else comes after. Though who am I to blame? To question his pursuit of happiness? Why not let him be? So it goes.

“You two were together for how long?” I asked rhetorically, “A little less than three months?”

Lucas smiled as he brushed off reality. His mouth curled as he bit his bottom lip while watching the thin plumes of smoke. I could tell my words stung, but he would forget them as soon as his ignorance kicked in.

“You don’t get it,” He explained with a new posture, “what we had was real, passionate love. She was the girl of my dreams, the one I’ve been looking for all these years.”

I sipped the freshly brewed coffee and waited for a dramatic monologue to burst out of the sad romantic’s mouth. But instead, he just waited for my sweet sympathy in the form of kind words and “It’s-gonna-be-okay” sentences. I half expected Lucas to cry, to yell, or anything that resembled frustration when one’s heart is broken to irrecoverable pieces. Rather, he finished his cigarette and laid back down with a deep sigh.

I never imagined myself like this. Twenty-something years old and alone, in between jobs, and staring at a half-naked alcoholic on my couch on a Saturday morning. Perhaps I had Lucas to thank because I felt a sudden desire to leave, go, and escape somewhere. Anywhere but here. If smoking doesn’t kill me, apathy will. I pulled out my phone and checked the weather, hoping to see sunny and beautiful, seventy-two degrees in November. Though my intuitions were wrong as usual, as my dry eyes contemplated the image of a helpless, simple cloud with “43” beneath it. Forty-percent chance of rain.

Yet the longer I stared at the sad sap on the sofa the more I wanted to bolt. I could only think about some sort of freedom, a chance to be better. Why not?

“I’m off,” I said as I threw my one brown pea coat on with a knitted blue beanie. I slid my cold toes into my wool slippers and opened the door.

I waited for a final word from Lucas, but all I saw was his deadbeat hand wagging in my direction with another lit cigarette. Believe it or not, I didn’t wait to see if there was more to come. So I slipped out into the world.

November’s cold hand fell upon my coffee-warm cheeks as the brisk wind sank into my lungs with a reluctant invitation. The stairs beneath my tattered slippers creaked and crinkled as I made my way down to the pothole-ridden, cement wasteland we call a parking lot. To my delight, my landlord’s beloved German Shephard was wandering about the lot, playing with his saliva-stained tennis ball.

“Alobar!” I yelled across the lot as I sank to a dog-level crouch. The restless good boy galivanted towards me with a wet wagging tongue. The old German Shephard nearly tackled, and before I knew it, I felt the warm sliding slobber of his tongue along my vulnerable cheek. “Come here, boy!” I said with my best dog-speak voice, and I playfully wrestled him to the ground. I wanted to play with Alobar the rest of the day, even if it meant more licks and handling his mutilated, slobber-glazed tennis ball. I stayed for a few minutes before I felt the call of the ocean.

“I gotta go Alobar,” I said to the dog as I nestled against his warm cinnamon fur. His strained whimper begged for another minute of play, another throw, another tug, but I waved bye to him and went on my way. I hate goodbyes.

Walking was a new feeling, awkward in a way, as I rarely ever stepped outside to walk, escape, and just be. My sheltered feet felt every bump and crack as my thin slippers surrendered to the veteran ground. With the beach being so nearby, the summer breeze usually carried masses into my town, but November stillness left the streets desolate and numb. So I found my wool slippers leading my frigid self to the white sands, and I watched.

The crashing white caps bathed the shoreline, as they fell upon the defenseless sand, merciless before it died back into the waters. I could almost feel the sand, sinking and wet inside me. I could feel the sand beneath the waves, tossing and turning with every ebb and flow, and I felt myself yearning to be pulled in. I wanted the tide to take me away from the shoreline, from the white so white sand, back into the untouched depths beyond man’s curse. Yet to my surprise I felt the gentle pitter-patter of November rain upon my shoulder, and I saw the droplets sink into my slippers.

It didn’t take long before I found shelter, as I fought through the thick sand until my shoes were filled. Harder and harder the rain fell, and my slippers carried me to a small and out-of-season shack. Though as I shivered with my cold arms tight within my jacket, I saw the shack’s springing door fling wide open as a figure emerged from the entrance. She was miserably drenched.

“Guess we picked the wrong day to play in the sand.” The woman laughed underneath her drooping hood. She looked up for a moment and caught my stare. “Guess we’ll wait it out.”

I smiled and nodded as I watched the sea of rain, falling as it pleased. So I waited with my eyes fixed on the chaos of nature at work. There was a moment when I glanced over at the stranger, a beautiful one at that, but I feared she glare. Strangers seem to be the greatest uncertainty about this world.

“We’d probably be better off if we didn’t wait for everything to be so perfect.” The woman said as she caught my not-so-subtle glance. She smiled again, though this time I could tell it was because of me. “Sorry, I don’t want to ruin your rain-watching experience. There’s no sight like cold November rain on a neglected beach.”

I couldn’t help but smile this time, as I felt my silence as discomfort for both of us now.

“Yeah,” I said quickly behind a grin. “No sight like it.”

She laughed as she pulled back her hood, unveiling her smooth auburn hair and dark evergreen eyes. Her voice was slightly raspy and filled with freedom and sweet sincerity. I found it hard to not stare, admire, and blush at her violet beauty. Why must I fall in love so easily, so hard?

Her faded leather boots clicked and clacked against the floorboards as she walked towards me. She had a sway about her, an alluring aura that rolled like a melody, and her alto voice flowed like a river, curling along nostalgic banks.

“You really know how to talk to a girl,” Her voice cut through the silence. She held out a hand, “Avah.”

“Calvin,” I said flatly as I shook her small hand with a gentle nod and blush. Though I couldn’t help but blurt a rushed “I love your name.” An immediate rose blush fell over her smile and I tried my best to fix my slip. “Sorry, I just really like the name, not you­– I mean, I like you, just, I didn’t­– “

“Don’t forget to breathe!” Avah rushed in with eyes wide open, her evergreen stare falling on my vulnerable state. “And thanks,” She continued, “I always hated the name. You would be surprised how many times I asked my parents if I could change it to a better one.” She paused. “Like Serena, or Jessica, or maybe Jolene.”

“I guess you want to take someone’s man.” I referenced as my shy head hung against my chest. I immediately regretted it. “Sorry, that was stupid.”

Avah shot me a blank look as I couldn’t bear to look into her eyes. I should have known that she wasn’t like the strangers I feared, the uncertain ones, as she then did something that stained my memory for all space and time. Before I could react, I felt the sugar touch of her lips against my cheek, as she kissed me, and left me numb and amazed.

“Why not?” she said swiftly.

She said it. The stranger, the beautiful woman, her voice.

Why not? Why not?

The thought played over and over again in my head, and her kiss, as short as it was, lingered on my cheek like an April blossom. I raised my head and looked at her, but this time really saw her, the beauty, and the absurdity of it all. Of life, how brilliant each moment is. Especially these moments where dreams meet reality, and reality knows my name. These absurd, ridiculous moments, where time kisses the soft lips of memory and stains the tidal waters within us. I am loved by these waters.

“Looks like your rain is finally stopping,” Avah said as she gazed out the window. She looked at me and my confused posture. “I guess the time wasn’t perfect.”

“It was nice.”

“Nice?” She said as she raised a curious brow. “Neighbors are nice, Calvin. Weather is nice, green grass is nice.” She looked at me again, with her eyes speaking to mine. “That was probably the strangest thing you’ve encountered in the past five years and you use the word ‘nice’ to describe that?”

I felt myself fluster inside as I searched for the words to respond, the phrasing to make it all right.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean that,” I began, “I was just­ shocked. I was amazed.” Though I could tell my words were failing her.

The rain had indeed stopped and there we were: two strangers inside a neglected shack, on a beach, in November. Speak Calvin, say something. Anything!

“You’re cute, Calvin.” She said with her gentle alto voice. “I don’t just kiss anyone.”

“Thanks,” I said with a blank, shy smile.

She let out a sigh, but this time she smiled as she flared her nostrils. “I’m going to guess you’re not a poet.” She said as she pursed her lips. “Or maybe you need some paper.”

“Can I take you out?” I said quickly as I had given up on any ounce of charm that I might have. “Tomorrow, I’ll pick you up at six.”

“Why the sudden change of heart?” Avah pressed as a suspicious eye awaited my answer.

I thought, but thinking has done me very few favors today, so I said the only thing that wasn’t thought, but life.

“Why not?”

I felt it then. This “alone” feeling that infected my sleepless dreams now met with a question that made it all so ridiculous. It was all absurd. A kiss without a white-picket-fence, a dog named Alobar and a half-naked friend asleep on my couch. I stood there in the neglected shack and forgot and forgot until the sound of white-capped waters played a melody, an accompany, to this memory where she made me unlonely, again and again. I wondered what God thought of us, why he made the raindrops fall and the waters crash. I wondered if God hated us at all or if we simply hated ourselves. My gaze drifted towards the waters, and then back to Avah. I came face to face with absurdity and although I did not understand it, I loved it completely, even if I was still learning how.


© Copyright 2020 Garrett Stoecker. All rights reserved.

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