Exercises in Memoir or A Tarantula and a Bong by Elise Bonza Geither
published in Volume 10, Issue 1 on June 1st, 2003I'm not lying when I tell you his name was Ken Wolf. He was a senior theater major, had a single with a loft, a bong, and a tarantula. He had blue eyes, faded so they looked like reversed mirrors in his head.
First time: I was sitting under the blue lights of the student-run bar smoking clove cigarettes. I was in that uncaring mood; classes hadn't even started. I could sit here and get drunk as hell. I could lose myself in remembering last year: beer and boys, my soft legs and feet tangled up in chairs and beds, one special boy I thought I loved. I was still sad over him. I still wondered if I had gotten pregnant if he would have married me.
Ken came into the bar. He recognized me from last year. He'd been a friend of my boy. Ken bought me a beer. He bought me two and we just kind of looked at each other. The music thumped up and down in my belly. Ken leaned forward and said, "he wanted to marry you. But he asked us and we told him no. But he wanted to."
My eyes filled with sugar-water. The tears ran down my face in rivulets. I held in a sob until I couldn't any more and it broke out of my throat like the cracking of glass on glass. Ken leaned back in his chair.
Other kids came in and one guy started to rub my shoulders and say, "C'mon, c'mon. You're just drunk." I tried to say, "No, you don't understand. He wanted to." But I couldn't get the words past my throat.
The music slowed down and Ken pulled me up by my arm and dragged me to the dance floor. I buried my face in his jean-jacket shoulder and he gripped me. Really held on like we were both in trouble, I'd like to say "drowning" but that sounds stupid.
At that moment I didn't know about us, about my dreams of being a super hero girl and flying just to show Ken Wolf that he needed me. I didn't know he'd leave me for a girl we'd nicknamed "Death" because of her black hair and pale, China-plate skin. I didn't know that he'd say, "I wish I could tell you I was falling in love with you," and then I'd tell my mom, "He is falling in love with me." I didn't know how much he loved his room, his pot, his TV.
At that moment, I was attached to him. We were like two small animals or one-celled creatures, like a flower and its petals. I was filled with pink lights. I WAS a super hero girl and we were flying up into the night sky. I could smell the summer night flowers and a tang of stale beer. I felt his fingers grip my waist. I wrapped my arms around him and squeezed harder. The tears stopped. I closed my eyes and watched the blue sparks from us shatter into the cold air.