portion of the artwork for Melissa Goode's story

I will not show my love in turquoise
Melissa Goode

On the flight to Chicago, a woman three seats down cries, more on than off, for the entire four and a half hours. The flight attendant gives her tissues. I feel it as if it is me, the relief of spending, ridding, getting something done—a box of Kleenex, cried through.

#

The flight lands after midnight. At baggage claim, people stand or slump. On my noise-canceling headphones, Pearl Jam sing “Black,” and suitcases sail around and around the carousel and people move slowly as if underwater, they yawn languorously, mouths wide open. Eddie hits a low note that pushes me in the throat. The words keen and sharp are not enough.

#

The transfer bus travels through the sleeping outskirt suburbs of Chicago, toward the city, and Cat Power sings to me about losing stars from the sky.

You used to collect me from O’Hare in your old Toyota and drive me back to your apartment on West Evergreen Avenue. You made me hot chocolate on the stove in a little red milk pan. Last time, while you warmed the milk, you said, let me look after you.

#

This word: exquisite.

#

My black dress hangs in the Holiday Inn wardrobe on a fixed coat hanger. The diamond earrings you bought me for my birthday are small, discreet. In the mirror, I lift my hair and the diamonds catch the lemon-yellow light cast by the nightstand lamp. They shine.

Who found you?

#

Last time, you told me you didn’t have nightmares when I was in your bed. You left the nightstand lamp on and we were painted with light, our skin gleamed. You came and your eyes turned black and you laughed, quiet, the end of your laugh. You slept and I ran my hand slowly from the nape of your neck, down every bead of your vertebrae, one after the other.

We talked about me moving to Chicago in the summer.

I think of your spine now. I do. One long seized line on the underside of you. I think of your green-black eyes, your mouth, your lungs, your dick, your heart, your hands.

I didn’t know you couldn’t wait.

#

Your mom sent a group email about your celebration. There were no names—we were all bcc’ed and the irony wasn’t lost on me. She asked we wear something in your favorite color, turquoise. I almost responded—WTF? That was not his favorite color and it is a goddamn funeral and I am wearing black and I will not pop or splash or show my love in fucking turquoise.

#

I eat a Snickers from the minibar knowing it will give me nightmares, big, vivid dreams making me wake, racing, running.

#

A man has his fingers cut off, one by one. He is crying, not screaming.

#

I part the heavy drapes and peer at the navy night sky and the sodium orange street lamps below, their light floating and dissipating on the November-cold air. Reflected in the glass is the angry, green alarm clock beside the bed, the red glowing sign above the door—EXIT, and me mouthing Hello to you in your hometown.

#

Maybe you told your mom you liked the word, turquoise. It is not a word to be rushed. It splits itself in two.

#

You said you would die in L.A. You couldn’t move there to be with me. You didn’t say you would die here, too.

#

Eddie Vedder holds my hand as we walk through a forest. His hand warms my whole body, through and through. He sings “Forever Young”—somehow he knows I watch his cover again and again on YouTube, from the Boston ’06 concert.

“I love that song,” I say.

“The fucking rights, man,” he says. “I can’t sing a note without someone wanting a cut.”

He slows, breathing harder. He tells me he’s been taking punches and his heart is getting heavier and heavier so that he can hardly move.

We sit down on the ground and lean against the trunk of a cedar. We talk about you. He sings your favorite song, “Black,” and his voice soars when he sings the words—all I’ll be.

#

5:48 a.m. Suitcases trundle down the hall outside my hotel room. Someone says, hurry up or we’ll miss it! Another says, please, please, shut the fuck up.

#

I go to the mall near the hotel and find a turquoise scarf in Anthropologie. I hold it for a full minute, but leave the store without buying it.

To your mom I could say it was never about color, but flavor. Honey and salt. Honey straight from the jar with a spoon, salt straight from the packet with a licked, wet finger pressed to the tongue.

Or I could say I am sorry like every other person there, although some of us are more culpable than others.

#

An Uber takes me to St. Mary of the Angels Church. On the way, there is an accident and the traffic is stopped.

The driver says, “This changes things. I will find another way.” He searches the GPS.

One side of my brain yells—hurry up or we’ll miss it! The other half yells back—please, please, shut the fuck up, please let me not get there.

#

I cannot help it. Here it comes again, your face crumbling in my hands. Ashes to ashes, I know, dust to fucking dust. Here is your gaze pinning me to the wall, not letting me get away.

#

Afterward, on West Evergreen, outside the apartment building where you used to live. Three stories up are the windows to your front room, your bedroom. The drapes are still the same. Wine-red, too short, they let in light around the edges, streetlight or daylight, and you held me in your hand and said into my hair, I believe in you.


Table of Contents | Return to Story Directory



FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 51 | Spring/Summer 2018