No. 2 – another afternoon with anna

23 Dec

“In my dreams I’m always in prison,” she said. “Behind bars or kidnapped…in a hospital, or something.” Her eyes looked even more blue in the soft light that was streaming through the cafe window, seemingly with the express purpose of making Anna more beautiful. She was a sad girl, but only because she had never discovered there was any other way of being. There are more like her out there in the world, floating about in sighs, an entire army’s worth of sad people. They are the gray the wild world needs to balance out the Technicolor.

In those days I thought it was my purpose in life to bring roses to her funeral. Or maybe a jazz band the way they do in the French Quarter, filling the streets with music to celebrate someone being gone. Anna wasn’t gone yet, though. I could still hold her, still feel the way her heart beat–a frantic little mouse’s heart thrumming against my chest when I pressed her to me. Sometimes a good holding was all I could offer her.

“Not so tight, I feel trapped,” she had often said. Tears also made her eyes more beautiful, a blue found only in the Caribbean. Just before the first tear fell, the salty water covering her pupils like glass magnified the divine color and the tiny kaleidoscopic patterns I liked to believe I was the only one who had ever noticed before.

“You’re so beautiful,” I had said. I didn’t know what else to say. Anna scoffed and placed her little cup of espresso back into it’s tiny saucer. She smiled as much as she could, seeming somewhat embarrassed at the admission that she could express any emotion that gave way to a smile.

“I used to worry about being beautiful,” she said. “Now I worry about being brilliant.” Anna waved her hand toward a pile of six notebooks she carried everywhere she went. The covers were all different, some with flowers on them and some worn around the edges. Anna wrote pages and pages of things I wasn’t allowed to read until she felt they were finished, but never seemed to get around to being finished. I was always kept wondering, appeased only with her spoken words. Still, I was curious.

I was in love with her. She knew it as much as a girl like her could know the way anyone felt about her. Our love affair was full of just enough and almost where other affairs I’d had before her were full of words more absolute. Perhaps that was why I was drawn to Anna. She didn’t give me everything all at once, I had to wait, knowing what she would give me was beyond anything I could have imagined. She was worth the almost and worth the enough for now and worth the waiting and the wondering of afternoons in coffee shops or between the sheets of small hotels we hadn’t used before. I was even beginning to think I’d leave my wife for Anna if she asked me to. My secret worst fear was that she would never ask.

“Do you know I’m in love with you?” I said from beneath the clouds of my daydream. Anna looked out the window and five people passed by before she answered me: An old woman with a plaid headscarf, a young couple holding hands, a little girl with a red balloon and a man who was probably the little girl’s father running to catch up with her. In the span of her silence, I wondered to myself if we would ever be able to balance our romance with the fact that I was her therapist. Anna’s eyes narrowed, as though she could hear my thoughts. She turned her gaze back toward me.

“More importantly,” she said “what do you think about these prison dreams I’ve been having?”


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