Mary Grimm

Anyone Else

I dreamed that I visited you in the house where you lived with your male lover who is dead. You left us there together saying that the police could be called in an emergency. He opened the windows to let in the rain and we went shopping for chocolate and wine. In the long night, I wandered from room to room looking for the white cat that you had when we were young. I found a box of ribbons, a picture of the Buddha, and your favorite socks, all of which I mailed to you when I woke up in the morning.

In the long ago we met on one side of the city and you followed me home, our cars chasing each other across the river in the twilight. I forgot to put my lights on but we arrived unscathed and drank a beer in celebration. Your hair was long and curly and you were married then but it didn’t hold you back. Tell me one thing, I said, and you said you couldn’t.

All one summer, we left letters for each other in a sycamore tree halfway between our houses. The hole in the trunk was just above our heads, reached by stretching on tiptoes. Sometimes I saw you running away as I approached the tree but I pretended I didn’t. The letters said nothing of consequence. Your mother forgot to make dinner sometimes that year, and later she died of forgetting to eat.

Once we sat and watched planes fly overhead in formation, so many that the air shivered with their noise. We were each with our date beside us, identical in their purpose and their khaki pants. I tried to live up to the high standard of your personal magnetism but was aware that I failed, even if graded on the curve.

On opposite sides of the continent we joked that our thought waves met in the middle. I imagined them searching, clashing, combining in a tangle of bright colors. Tell me one thing, my thought wave said in a flash of blue, and you said, redly, that you might some day, given enough time.

I knew that your mother was silent and long suffering, your father the same, their language left in another country, war-ravaged, bombed, and buried.

When you married your female lover I wore a gray dress with a white collar and one of your drunken friends asked if I was a nun. I said that I was because I thought it was funny and he tried to seduce me. In your honor I let him succeed.

Once you told me the long story of how you had a child although you hadn’t intended to, because no one did then if they wanted to have a life. (Everyone believed they would have a second life where you could get around to things like that.) You went to the edge of the world to have it and then you left it there. In a good home is what they always say, but who is to judge the goodness of a home?

When you died (although you are still living) I wrote you a letter on a sheet of paper torn from one of my old school notebooks. I said that we would see each other sometime, in a bar, unexpectedly. You would be in a booth with a lover whose gender couldn’t be told. You would know to meet me in the alley where we would stand, leaning on opposite walls. Grass would grow between the bricks under our feet. Your hair would be short and curly. You would refuse as always to tell me the one thing, but we’ll laugh together, our hands over our mouths, while the late-day slanting sun shines down on us.