On this morning the lake was absolutely silent and there was a thin fog that hung above as though a heavy breath had been whispered over the water that spread like glass save for the thin ripples of Walter Vassar’s oars that kissed the glass like water and shattered it instantaneously. This morning was not unlike any other April morning. At this hour the neighbors slept quietly with their occasional lovers and their distant spouses. They would not wake for another hour. The fires from the stone chimneys had died to smolders and the soft scent clung to the shores of the lake. All the while Walter pulled the oars faster and closer to his muscular chest, wrapped in wool, he rowed.
It had been so long since he had known the briskness of the morning air. He had become accustomed to it, yet this morning he was very aware of the nature of the lake and it’s soft skin and its ripples like cold eyes that watched him and resented him for disturbing its silent rest. He knew he was waking it up.
The ripples of his rested oars stared at him as he let them rest just above the water. It was at this moment he thought of who may be behind the lake and the cold and the glass eyes that stared at him, just as he had each day for the last four days. He wondered if it was that breather who had left the heavy breath that hung above the water. He wondered if it was that same breath that had blown up his own lungs and Davi’s and if had been that same breath that had let Davi’s lungs not fill and that same breath that let Rosie bleed out, and that same breath that had taken the last of Walters courage to not follow them.
Walter pulled the oars toward himself harder again. He knew it best not to think to long. Nothing good would come from thinking too long.
She folded his laundry. He folded her sister. Bare assed and full of ecstasy with the old Sanyo fan that sat next to the bed running he told her he did not lover her any longer. They made love for the last time that night, he went to work the next day, she went to the station where she would have taken the train to Chicago. She fell onto the tracks with all the graciousness he never afforded her.
This is the story of David Lowe.
If you’ve ever gone through a breakup you have been on exactly one of two ends of the situation, and if you believe that you have somehow escaped one of these two roles you are either lying to yourself or you were not really in a relationship to begin with.
The first side is the side most of us want to be on, and breakup veterans can tell you this is always the case. This first side, and the best side, is the side where you have done the dumping, it was you who called it quits, it was you who had them move out or moved your stuff out, it was you who was the asshole and who will take the blame. You’re okay with this though, you have power and are empowered by the role. You are happy, you are able to move on, you are not me.
For the rest of us, perhaps the most of us that you hear about, there is the second role in the breakup: the sap. Now, the sap is viewed in most mass media and pop culture flicks as the sad and loveable ignorant fuck that had their hearts ripped out their chests by half hearted or no-hearted barracudas who went off and slept with either a. a drummer in an indie band that has so much free time to sculpt his abs that he can coolly and confidently wear no shirt for hours on end all the way until autumn, OR b. decided that you were just no longer the right fit due to a lack of initiative and or a lack or romantic love felt by said barracuda. In my case it was both.
“I hadn’t seen them in forever, and perhaps ever. I mean people change in ten years. Who was I in college? Drunk? That skinny kid, full of bloodlust? Half awake? You ever look back at yourself, maybe after 5 years, and think: ‘Five years ago I was an asshole.’”
Jim put a cigarette in his mouth and looked across the room. Jasmine was naked on the couch. He looked down at his feet. He was naked except for a pair of off-white briefs that looked deflated. His toes had pink dividers so they didn’t touch. He hadn’t put anything on his nails, but had been curious about how they felt. He liked them and so he had spent the evening fucking Jasmine with the toe dividers in. Jasmine didn’t come. She never did. She wasn’t paid to. She was paid to sit there, and be there.
Jasmine, who really does not matter, worked for Grapevine Escorts, which was really a phone number in south-Denver that offered New York priced girls with less experience and taste, but out this far west there really was nothing better. They were at least educated, which is why Jim would even want her around.
Jim does matter. James Andrew Hull. Accountant. A good one at that, worked at Hawthorne & Hubert, until last week, when the IT guy, bastard, ratted him out for a large stash of porn on his work computer.
“What was I supposed to do? You know how much of a pain in the ass it is to upload to an external hard-drive? Do you?” he said this to Jasmine. She shook her head and then snorted a line of coke off of a DVD case on the bed.
“Do you?” he asked again.
“No.” she shook her head and her tits bounced a little bit. They distracted James.
“Give it here,” he said taking the DVD case and tapping out another pile of coke and arranging it into a neat line with his American Apparel membership card.
“I wonder if I’ll tell them about it?”
“Who?” asked Jasmine touching her tits.
“At the dinner. David’s always an asshole about this kind of stuff.”
“Don’t tell them then.”
He kissed her on the mouth and then turned the TV on. She left sometime around 2am.
By: Dylan Lenz
The tulips in the corner
with soft pedals, with
light peach flights, and
And the vase,
the one that used to hold
of your interest
aging floral arrangements.
By: Dylan Lenz
The English Oak above me was courageous to plant itself so near the slope that broke near its roots, but it was mighty and held fast and grew deep. I was tired and my back was sore so I sat down and made my notes and I ate the food I had packed when the air was still cold before the sun rose. I looked up and in its shade I was content.
After a time I stood. I walked around the tree and I saw a beaver’s lodge in the water but I could not see the animal itself. A forsythias bloomed down the path and it made the air sweet. A light wind blew.
I found the lowest branch and it was easy to climb so I made my way upwards. Looking out over the lake and the woods and the dwindling orchards, I could see a storm coming in. The wind was brisk now, but it was warm so I knew I should make my way home before the rain began. The sound of nails being driven made me uneasy and Lydia was waiting for me, but I lingered and I was afraid because it all seemed so fleeting.
From the perspective of a Yellow-rumped warbler.
The promises of a colorful autumn and colorless winter would have kept me north, but the lipless whispers of my mother disenchanted the majesty of such a notion.
I had envisioned myself sitting before some branch, midday, looking on the stubborn maple as it lost the last of its leaves. I would watch while the last of its fellows departed the rough skin, then ponder the metaphysical world that filled my mind.
I would wonder if God were present, or just a pleasant ideal put on a shelf until tragedy struck or confidence waned. I would think of my father’s unchallenged conviction, while he fluttered in a fury for us to leave at first frost.
Perhaps below I could listen to the murmuring questions of Sara’s daughter, as the man and child would rake the fallen blades of the mighty maple, standing above , now devoid its former glory, nonetheless present.
It is just the same I should keep pondering such, fall is coming and with it the first frost. I will fly south for winter and along the way I too will curse my branches for not letting us decide when we should fall.
By: Dylan Lenz
I came to it because the gold had caught my eye,
I knew it made the air sweet.
I stayed to watch the birds wash in the shallows.
I came for flowers to give to her,
I drank tea and ate honey,
I found fallen feathers,
I knew the sun set sometime.
I did not recall when.
I had lost time.
I felt the air grow cold.
I longed for her to return.
I slept and then awoke to crickets.
I returned to the house with empty hands.
I left because Lydia called me.
BY: Dylan Lenz
Adelina was still soft though she had hardened since the war had made its way through Palermo and her father had died and her brother had gone off to join the Americans as they made their way north. There had been many offers from many soldiers and there were many nights when she had grown lonesome. Since her husband had died early on in the war, she was inclined to dismiss her upbringing because the idea of God and sovereignty seemed too hard to believe at this time in this place with these people who did not care for her and only cared for her beauty. She had resolved to have no man. She had resolved it though the American’s were persistent in the hospital although most of them were in no shape to make love, especially to Adelina.
McGregor had come to Palermo to help with the reconstruction effort and his shoulders were strong and broad and his back was straight and he stood taller than the other men though there were a few that were greater than his height. His skin was dark from the sun and his hair had lightened since he arrived. He had been wounded while transporting supplies to the front and was taken to the hospital with shrapnel in his left knee and torso. The surgeon could not remove it all so he walked with a limp but was recovering well.
McGregor spoke seldomly but was always surrounded by the other men because they respected him and he sat straight up in his bed, which gave the men a confidence, and Adelina knew they needed confidence. When McGregor spoke he talked at length and was well versed in many topics, but never spoke about the war or about the efforts or the politics of his country. When asked for his opinion he gave it but refused to warrant it further. He smoked cigars and drank scotch that one of the men he had hired from Palermo had brought him. He shared it with the men. He slept with his rifle next to his bed, loaded, and though it made the nurses uneasy they trusted McGregor who would occasionally smile at them and look deep into their eyes when they passed with a bravery the other men had lost.
Adelina was the best of the nurses. She was thin and attractive in a way that was only seen as such in the city, being replaced with fuller cheeks and wider hips the further you went. McGregor loved her when he first saw her, though he never mentioned it and never let himself actually believe it.
The first time they touched McGregor was attempting to change his own dressings but he couldn’t reach far enough around his back and Billings a GI from Chicago was asleep and only Adelina was on call. Her skin was soft and her touch was delicate and she moved with ease and precision. McGregor held her hand firmly. He kissed her. Adelina did not move.
McGregor led her to the rooftop so they could lookout over the city and see what was left and so they could make love or talk more at length so that he could know Adelina. They did not talk and they did not look out upon the city but instead they held one another like they had not been held in a long time. They kissed and McGregor found that though Adeline had hardened during the war her skin was still soft.
Despite his injuries McGregor was strong and he made love with a skill that he had adapted from summers spent at a lake in Minnesota when he was a younger man. His grip was firm and was confident and he let Adelina know what to do and they were happy for a while.
In the weeks that followed they made love a number of times on the rooftop until Billings made mentioned it to the other men and they called after Adelina as she made her rounds. McGregor put an end to it when he broke Billing’s teeth. A couple days later Billings forgave him because McGregor was brave and handsome and because he was well liked with the other men. The apology was public and Billings shook McGregor’s hand while he stood at a window that looked over the main entrance to the hospital where the freshly wounded would come to be treated and saved.
It was later that week that McGregor’s rifle sounded in the night and Adelina came from one of the other wards with a few of the night nurses to see McGregor shot. Sanderson pointed at Billings who was in his bed. Billings looked at the ceiling.
In the early morning hours the other men of the ward woke quietly and the ones with the strength stood up. They held Billings down and beat him while a towel was stuffed in his mouth and Billings cried out but only Adelina could hear him and she simply turned to look out at the city. When the guards came to take Billings he was dead but they asked no questions and the men said nothing. Adelina left the hospital and made her way to the cathedral and she remembered McGregor.