Fade Into You
The stars trailed off behind us as we blazed through the cool desert night in my old convertible the summer before you died. We rushed towards the silver black horizon holding hands and trying not to look at each other. I was taking you away from nothing, really. We were headed towards nothing and running from nothing into a future of nothingness that didn’t matter anymore because we had three months, tops. The doctor whose name I can’t remember told you that your breast cancer was terminal and we’d decided to just go. As if the interstate was the cure for grief and loss and infertility and ductal carcinoma and all the other random cruelties that two people married for a three-year eternity could suffer. The sand slid by in the peripheral as you squeezed me a little tighter when Mazzy Star’s gravel slick voice on the radio made you remember our honeymoon in New Orleans. Walking through St. Peter Street Cemetery at 3 am. The smell of lemon verbena and old bones. I gazed bloodshot down at your small, thin hand with its golden band in mine and I pressed the gas pedal a little tighter to the floor. I watched the needle climb way past illegal and looked long over at your midnight hair flowing back towards yesterday. I raised your pale left hand to my lips and tasted the salt of your skin mixed with my tears, coming now like long-awaited rain. I saw your smile flash in the dim light of the waning moon. Your eyes said, “It’s going to be okay”.
Ten years have passed. I’m remarried. At her request, my old convertible is rusting now in a junkyard somewhere near Dallas. We have a daughter and a son on the way. My new wife is everything you weren’t. She’s a bottle blonde, a great mother, a good cook, and a sorry lay. In my more introspective moments I have no idea who she is. I still tell myself, inside myself, in your voice that “it’s going to be okay”. I never believe me the way I believed in you. Some say that true love comes once in a lifetime. Whoever “they” are, I believe them, because I died that night in the Arizona desert as the linear perspective mile markers slipped away in the taillights towards yesterday. I live now because you wouldn’t respect a quitter. The smell of verbena and the grave lingers under the scent of my morning coffee. I go to work in our Dodge minivan, come home, kiss the kid and hug my wife, do my long-term service commitment to God, country and family values, and then I go upstairs after dark and slip on my old headphones. Mazzy Star isn’t on the radio anymore, but she’s still got the only slot in my single disc player. The world is a cruel and different place without true love, but round midnight I slide into my leather chair, press the gas pedal a little tighter to the floor and fade into you.