Copyright Ken Brady. No reproduction without express permission from the author.
(Originally published in DAILY CABAL, 2008)
I guess it’s fitting that it happens at the corner of Church and State. Sometimes the universe adopts the laws of man. Sometimes the stuff you carry around with you makes its way out into the world and affects others, too. Sometimes it’s that big.
I see her there just as I walk near the intersection. Even though her hair’s pulled back, covered, and she no longer wears makeup, I recognize her. I remember wavy black curls and burgundy lips, huge gleaming white teeth everyone always said made her look so predatory, so wild. I remember seeing her for the first time, after my inaugural address, aiming those teeth at me while I mopped sweat from my brow and cameras clicked around me.
“I was good, wasn’t I?” I would have said. I would have tooted my own horn, but she beat me to it.
“You were incredible,” she’d said. “What else can you do?”
“What else do you want?” I’d said.
“If you can do anything half as well as you can speak, I’ll be yours forever,” she’d said.
It was a whirlwind romance to say the least. When it reached full gale-force, and things were whipping around and around, it was like a vortex that sucked everything and everyone else in. Like the pictures you see of a piece of straw driven through a telephone pole by a tornado. I’d used that image on my campaign posters. Hit fast, hit strong, I’d said. But anything hurts when it hits you that fast, that strong. You don’t always recover from it.
Something opened up between us then.
Or stayed open. The vortex of all that passion, all those promises. Maybe it comes down to creating a pit of expectations that are so big the whole world couldn’t fill in the hole. Or maybe, when it comes down to it, I couldn’t really do anything half as well as I could speak.
I thought leaving her wasn’t a big deal. It didn’t hurt. Seeing her now I remember it didn’t hurt because I never actually did it; she left me. She went off to find herself, to find something bigger than herself. I wasn’t nearly enough.
Now I can’t get too close without causing a bigger rift. There, downtown, only blocks from the Capitol building, only blocks from St. Luke’s Cathedral, the street signs loom large and press down on me. She turns her body toward me and all that energy we both have bottled up, all the remorse and hurt and longing, will lash out and tear the street, the city, the world, the universe apart. Me in my grey power suit and her in her black and white habit. The contrast is day and night. The universe notices. The law is the law, and the universe won’t let anyone off on a technicality. One of us has to go.
The ground opens up and I slip away into the unknown.