I Don’t Want to Share This

Dear sir,

I saw you there. I know we didn’t talk much because we were both wrapped up in our own nightmares, but I wanted to tell you about a vague memory I have — probably one of the earliest burned in my brain. It must have been around 1973 because I was at prime lesson-learning age for a boy. My friend Tommy was over, and we decided to play marbles. You looked a lot younger than me. So in case you don’t know, those are spherical objects you must manipulate with your hands for entertainment because they have no electronics embedded inside. I know, sounds primitive.

The problem was that I’d been given a taw (big marble) by my grandfather and Tommy wanted to use it. Back off, pal! My little self had no intention of sharing that new marble — it was way too special for me to be touched by someone else’s grubby mitts. This didn’t set well with Tommy, and a fight ensued that spilled over into the hall and eventually into the kitchen where my mother was cooking. My mother did not appreciate my selfishness.

Knowing I was in trouble, I closed my hand over the marble and shoved my fist in my pocket. An inquisition began during which Tommy truthfully laid out everything. For my part, wrong or not, I was stubborn enough to keep my clenched fist in my pocket and the two of them weren’t strong enough to wrangle it out. Frustrated, Tommy left and my mother gave me one more chance to give her the marble. I refused. My course was set. I had not yet been convinced of the propriety of sharing. When my father came home, I was enlightened — not only about sharing, but about respecting my mother. I am fairly certain I ate my dinner standing up that evening.

I have been married long enough that I share pretty well now. I do grimace if anyone wants to use one of my tools or even set foot in my shop. But most of the time I get over it. I also have an issue with the console of my truck. I really don’t want to share that space even with my wife’s little lipstick tube. I don’t know why.

This may sound rude, especially coming from a stranger, but I have something I don’t want to share with you. I will hold this tightly in my closed palm and do everything I can to keep you from seeing or touching it. I don’t want to share it with you. In fact, I would lock it in a vault, hire security and do nearly anything to keep you from it — because it is simply unbearable.

I don’t want to share this with you.

I don’t want you to know what it is to yearn for the return of something you can’t have.

I don’t want you to live in the past because the present only brings pain and regret.

I don’t want you to lie hour after hour staring at a dark ceiling because you can’t turn off your mind long enough to sleep.

I don’t want you to look into the tear-stained eyes of your wife wondering if she will ever smile again.

I would do anything to keep this from you.

I don’t want you to have to tell your precious child that they are going to die and watch as they process the information.

I don’t want you to say goodbye, that you will see them again someday in another place. Likewise, I don’t want you to yearn for the hastening of that day because this life without them is too hard.

I don’t want you to smell the dirt of your child’s freshly dug grave.

I don’t want to share this burden of guilt as a father and husband — guilt like a thick winter coat buttoned and zipped so tightly you cannot remove it whether it is justified or not.

I don’t want to share this with you.

I will buy you a thousand marbles and even give you the special taw I withheld. I don’t even know you, and I would do anything in my power to keep this away from you — to not share this thing…

 

 

But if we must share it, we will shoulder it together and do everything within our power to keep our fists in our pockets so that no one else gets to see… Deal?

 

Artwork: “Game of Marbles” by Karl Witkowski –

The Turn of a Doorknob

I’m sitting in the dark.

I’m sitting in a wonderful place – a place I love. No, it isn’t home, but it has that hearth-warm, glowing feel. When I am here, memories pour over me like surf on the sand nearby and make my heart smile.

And the sun is rising outside, pasting orange and gold on a singular blue backdrop. The pastel sky is cloudless thus far. I can hear the static pounding of waves just over the hum of the ceiling fan revolving haphazardly out of balance. I type. I’m on my second pot of coffee. I write stories in the growing light because I don’t sleep anymore.

I wait.

I wait to hear the doorknob turn.

Finally, the doorknob turns, the door creaks opens and I hear the slap of little, bare feet on the hard tile beating a cadence. The marching gets louder and louder until a sleepy-eyed beauty is beside my chair waiting patiently for me to move my laptop. When I do, she piles in with me, her soft hair nuzzled against the pocket of my neck. Even though she is getting big, she fits. She always fits. She fills the void perfectly.

She doesn’t talk. She just soaks up my presence, my hereness… our hereness.

I kiss her head while we snuggle. And the murky world outside with its pain and chaos fades away because I have this thing… this perfect thing – right here. Right here.

 

Only the doorknob doesn’t turn.

No matter how much I will it to turn and no matter how many times my brain hears the phantom click that marks its beginning, it never turns. Never.

I am alone.

And I sit typing, because I don’t sleep.

And the pain and chaos is inside – inside this room and inside of my weary mind because the doorknob never turns.

What I wouldn’t give to hear it click just one more time. Just one more time.

 

Just one more hug.

Just one more kiss.

Just one more smile.

Just one more I Love You.

 

I would mortgage everything for just one more. Only I can’t. I won’t hear the pounding of those little feet ever again, so I pound on this keyboard while a soft rain begins to fall outside my window.

And waves of memories hit me, engulf me, and then recede back with the tide. I reach for each one and beg them not to go. But no matter how tightly I hold my hands they slip through the cracks of my fingers. I build a castle with sand and make them my moat. We built sand castles together… here… back when it was good.

I remember how good. I remember she was here. Kylie was here – in this place.

And I love this place – even when it rains outside and even when it pours inside me. Because she is here. If I close my eyes and remember hard enough, I still can feel her hereness. Since I can’t have just one more, this will have to be enough.

 

And I will never stop listening for the turn of a doorknob.

 

Beach Kylie

 

 

Doorknob Photo Credit: Josh Vaughn via Flickr under the Creative Common License