Sticks and Bones

The first part of a chronicle of a crush-turned-obsession. I'm sorry, Julie.

To experience this in natural reading order go to A Bright, Ironic Hell: The Straight Read .

Also, try Satellite Dance and Crystal Delusions--Parts 2 and 3, respectively--complete.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Prologue to an Epilogue (Part 1 of 2)

When I opened my Hotmail Thursday and saw that "t.c. sinatras" had commented on my blog, my heart stopped for a moment before beginning to beat harder than ever. I could only stare. I actually thought that if I didn't open it it would go away and that if I did it would explode. It didn't go away. I opened it, and it exploded. First, the comment that prompted it:
Anna said...
What would happen if you couldn't keep [the pretense] up? Would she completely obliterate you? Not sure I like Julie anymore... ..not that I'm sure I was ever a big fan...
I was on the desk with Sofiya.
t.c.sinatras said...
Hmmm, not sure if you like Julie.....that would imply that you know me and you don't. Neither does Dion. You only know what you read about me in this blog and that's one person's perspective. Remember, there are two sides to every story. I have made it clear to Dion what my feelings were. Never have I tried to mislead him or play games. I have tried to respect his feelings but when everything you say and do, or not say and do for that matter, is publicly displayed, criticized, analyzed and second-guessed, it's hard to maintain that respect as I feel my feelings and privacy have not been respected. The result is that I no longer wish to speak to Dion at all. It seems to be a case of damned if I do or damned if I don't. How would you feel Anna, if you were in my position? Perhaps, before you judge me or anyone else, you should consider their position.

My heart pounded in my ears. I wanted to talk to James. Lunch was my next hour. I couldn't encounter Julie. I could go upstairs and write James before coming down to eat. Julie would have left the breakroom by then. I was otherwise a wide-eyed, trembling blank till the top of the hour. I wasn't picky about the computer. I immediately forwarded James Julie's comment with a brief note then read Unrequited Love Blog's "Forced Finality" because of the apparent parallel. (I could already hear the bell tolling for A Bright, Ironic Hell.) I invited the author to read the catalytic post. I didn't finish the comment.

Julie pulled out the chair beside me, spun it to face me, and sat. "I put a comment on your blog," she said. She looked smug and defiant. Her lipstick was deep pink, a tiny crescent of bare lip exposed on the upper border.

"I saw it," I said.

The mask crumbled.

"I've been angry--I'm very angry...that you don't want to talk to me anymore."

I stared into her moist eyes. My mind made no effort to formulate words in response. I was not going to interrupt her.

She stood suddenly, pushed the chair to the desk, and said, "I'm just tired of all this, Dion."

"I am, too," I said quietly.

She turned and left.

I logged off the computer, message unsent, and strode slowly to the back window behind non-fiction. My mind was anything but a blank but anything but coherent. I wandered to the stairwell and plopped down on the heating unit on the top landing. I knew Maddox would be up soon. When I first confided in him about this mess, he did the same in me about a similar situation he'd been in. I knew he understood. He came up, and I told him what had happened, what I had to do, and how he might help.

I was on holds the next hour, Julie was backup. When she went to the back to pack branch mail, I took several deep breaths and followed. She was kneeling on the floor in front of the Tuckahoe bin.

"Julie, can we talk after work tonight?"

"Um, let me think." The only sound for a moment was the thudding of my heart. "Yes," she said. "Sure."

"Okay." I turned and left. I told Stacey, my ride in, that I would be travelling with Maddox. I told her why. She said she would have waited for Julie and me to finish our talk to take me home. I told her I thought she'd had enough of this particular drama and that I'd rather not involve anyone the least bit close to Julie. I then told Maddox we were on but that I'd have to give him the details after work, when I would straighten them out with Julie on the way to her car.

"So," I said then when I reached her side, "where should we do this?"

"What? Oh, I don't know," she said, deflating. "I didn't really think about it."

I wasn't much help, and I flashed back to when I forced Julie to set the time for our "date" at Stir Crazy. I didn't want to suggest Starbuck's but couldn't think of anywhere else. A light rain fell. Her hair twinkled with tiny beads of moisture under the parking lot lights.

"Starbuck's?" she said, her tone matching my silent hesitation. "I could use a tea anyway."

James dropped me off, said he'd be in the grocery store parking lot, a discreet distance away.

Starbuck's was closed. We sat at a table outside. It had already stopped raining.

Ij won't try to transcribe our conversation. I am no reporter and can have little objectivity. I was a participant, not an observer. I can't even promise that responses will match there triggers. Time has left in my memory barely more than an aura of the conversation. There was little light and no indulgence for even my smallest attempts at humor, no smiles for either of us. Stripped of pretense or hope, what was left was the disproportion of both to the importance of what I'd been doing, a sharp outline of my prideful foolishness, and, across the table from me, the weary face of the damage I'd wrought.

"Look," I started. "I'm sorry I upset you. You have to know this is the opposite of what I want. It's not that I don't want to talk to you. I just don't know how."

"I'm just tired of it, Dion. I have enough to deal with with my mother and everything. I don't need the notes, the comments, the picture on your bike. I swore I would never comment on your blog, but when I read what that girl said, I blew up. It was the just last straw. I was furious. I was furious all day long."

I told Julie I would end the blog, but that I would liker her to have the last word, that she could write whatever she wanted and I wouldn't change a word.

"No, I won't do that, because I really don't want to, because that's been the problem all along, that it's so public. I'm not asking you to stop writing the blog. Write about something else. Just don't make me the object of it anymore."

"Well, that's why it has to end. You were the whole point of it. Your comment was the nail in the coffin."

"I'll write you something if it will help."

"It might, but. ..."

The silences filled the gaps like smoke under a door. I was the only one threatened by them, knowing that within every one was Julie's opportunity to end the conversation.

"I know my assurances aren't worth much at this point."

"What's done is done."

"Yeah, but what's done was done badly. So much for getting back to normal."

"I can't say it will ever get back to that. It's damaged."

"I thought that with all we had in common we might have had a conversation, but we never did."

The slight curl of one side of her mouth was all she bothered to muster. I had to let her go, let her go home.

I said, "Is there anything else you need to say?"

She met my eyes for a long moment before saying, "No. I don't think so."

"Okay." I let the silence offer her the opportunity to excuse herself. She said she was expecting a phone call from a friend and must get home to meet it. On our separate ways, as I passed behind her, a sympathetic reflex nearly raised my hand to pat her shoulder, but I knew it would not be understood.

"Goodnight," I said to her back, but she didn't seem to have heard me. Halfway to her car, without turning, she said, "See you tomorrow."

On the way home Maddox talked about anything but what was most on my mind. It was his way of being discreet. He wouldn't be reluctant to hear me out, but I would have to introduce the subject. I didn't.


Expat From Hell said...

I'm sorry, Dion, but I am just RIVETED by this dialogue. I think Julie needs to understand the point of blogging: it's YOUR perspective. Anna (and I, for that matter) enjoy reading them because of the articulation and wonderful prose of YOUR perspective. The Julie of your world may or may not be actually Julie herself. She needs to understand that. Frankly, if she started her own blog about her problems with that guy Dion at the library, I just might follow that one, too! But, you are the gifted writer here, my friend. The jury is still out on her. She needs to do a little better with her commenting. Thanks for doing this. Remember, you are an INSPIRATION!


Dion Burn said...

Though I have always been well within my rights and invaded no one's privacy but my own, Julie's comment provoked a consideration of responsibility. Though I could poke all the usual,logical holes in her argument, I have to consider the emotional impact it makes on Julie. It is hardly up to her to accept my point of view if, rational as it is, it has hurt her. Emotions have reason beyond reasonm, and if anyone should have learned that by now, it's me. I will elaborate with my next (last) post. I'm struggling. Bear with me.

Deboshree said...

My dear Dion...
So it comes to an end huh?
All through the conversation I hoped that she might turn and say something..anything to show a reciprocation for your feelings.

But I guess some things are meant to be. There must be a reason behind this too. It won't show itself now but someday you might understand why all this happened.

I know you are struggling.It must be extremely painful and I say this coz I have gone through the same thing. I hope time heals you my dear friend. me and all your followers a favour..don't stop writing Dion. Start a new blog if possible..if not now..then later..but come back. I would love to know Dion-The writer, the person, his thoughts and his experiences.


Dion Burn said...

Debroshee, thank you. I will start another blog, but I can't think too hard on that while I try to do the closing of this one justice. By then, perhaps, I'll have a new route planned out. I will keep you posted.

Anonymous said...

Please don't stop writing altogether. I just today found your blog and I am in tears because I understand.

Dion Burn said...

Thank you for your comment. I'm touched by your reaction. I won't stop writing, but I don't know yet what to write next. I hope you'll follow me there.

Expat From Hell said...

Yes, I am in with the rest of these dear commenters: please do not stop the blogging. You remain terrific in my eyes.