Tuesday, April 19, 2005

the Cliffs

Last weekend we drove past the cliffs in Huntington Beach and I remembered the last time that we went there and how fucking miserable I was. Both in the sense that I wasn't having any fun at all but also that I was so blinded to my lousy predicament overall that I just plodded along, thinking that it was somehow going to get better.

We went to the cliffs at Taisha's request. Not her request, so much as her insistance. That's how it was it was with her. It was a demand or a fit - those were the only 2 moods that she had. Even the demands seldom elevated her past 'accepting' and I never saw her pleased. God how I hated that fucking girl.

It was either that night or one similar to it (they're all a smudge, barely discernable, really) the contest heated up again. I knew that I was poised to take last place - that was my role here - but I detested it just the same. We had the unfortunate fate of sharing a curfew and a geographical separation of houses about 40 miles. That meant that when it was getting late and we should have started heading home, she would pout and cry and pretend that she had a second personality (you can't make this stuff up) and insist that we all stay with her in the car until her curfew (my curfew) came and went. The clock would crawl past 1am, then tick toward 1:15am before she could even consider getting out. That time was like a swamp, oppressive with heat and hatred and thick with miasma. She refused to talk, and likewise we would play the part of igoring her while never letting on that we were bored or angry. D wouldn't allow it. Once she convinced herself that her parents were rife with misery over her tardiness, she would step out of the car and loudly slam the door. She'd yell back to us, something about the Other Her, and slam the doors to her house, first letting the screen screech and slam, then the heavy wooden door took its turn. Once we followed the processions of slams inside the house and determined that she was safely in her bedroom, we would drive away.

I was already 15 minutes late for my curfew and for me that meant trouble, but the only reason to race the clock was for D. She'd be calling his house in less than 40 minutes, which was never enough time to get home, and waking up his family. More than once these late night phone calls entailed frantic pleadings with his mother to call the police, Surely he's been in a terrible accident! So off we went toward my out-of-the-way house. D was already chewing down the nubs of his fingernails. K would gun his gigantic Oldsmobile toward my canyon destination, hoping that through some small gift of fate, I would be able to sneak in undetected.

We all knew it was fruitless. Just like the nights, weeks, and months before. When I walked in I heaved a heavy sigh and there was my mother on the couch. Her bangs were spiked up like a rooster's comb and her mascara was streaked down her right cheek. Tonight she was out of energy. None left to fight with me, she instead handed over the baby that was sleeping on her chest, Here you take him. I can't keep fucking doing this Mia.

Her upset was palatable. Her tiredness evident. She thrust her hands out and found her way back to her room by feeling the walls. The door closed quietly, no need for her to wake up everyone else. At least she had the manners to move quietly in the middle of the night. I knew she was angry. She probably wasn't even sleeping. Anger has a way of invoking a sudden rush of energy, just when you need sleep the most. But still, I knew I was safe. Tonight there would not be an argument. He wouldn't get up to add to the caucophone taking place in our cramped deep woods living room that night. The house was still, including the baby slumbering in my arms. He made gently sucking motions with his pouty lips and when he dreamed his little legs would burst out, like they suddenly remembered the dance routine and his diaper would crinkle just so. I placed my hand on the small of his back and tapped lightly, to calm myself as much as to soothe him. A few blinks later and the sun was crawling over the hills. The early sounds of the forest started to collect themselves outside of our window. I cradled the small baby close to my chest and headed for bed. I tucked him in warmly next to me and listened to his lips spittle and suck. His breathing eventually became mine and we slept soundly together, escaping the inevitable for just one more night.

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