a story of consciousness

“I want the dressings on the windows to be right before we get married,” Joan said.

He studied her. She wore a loose white blouse. Her hair, cut to her ears, was brown. He thought of a girl he knew in college that read every day in front of his dorm. He asked her why she looked like a quaker, and she’d called it “peasant style.”

“Marriage,” he said. “That’s a religious word.”

Joan had grown up with psychedelic parents that took her to get ice cream sandwiches at gas stations by accident. Postmodern theory could change her mind about sexuality. She needed more stimulus to believe that spongy innards of ceiling and the sounds of a vending machine could be beautiful.

“I want to get married,” she said. “I know that you find it silly.”

Their pauses were heavy like dawn. She liked Emerson, she liked Emerson almost as much as the girls Roger spent time with in college did. She felt her natural calling, therefore, to repay her mother.

Their silences were also punctuated by their educations. Privilege brought them together. They had each dabbled in transcendentalism. He read The Second Sex. He said he felt like he could be a woman too, which was why he felt there was little difference who cooked each night. They argued about that. In truth, she liked to cook because the slat of eggs on slate.

Joan tried her hand at poetry and ceramics and realized on one pungent lump of clay, she preferred that squelsh elsewhere. She had “everything good is on the highway” tattooed on her shoulder blade. She survived a car accident at 22 and committed her life to making art again.

“I want to get married I just want to, you know, transcend.”

Her eyes lit up.

“Transcend — my mother?”

“Yes.”

“I find that confusing.”

“I know.”

This silence sounded like Van Morrison, which brought them glee. They hated Van Morrison, they affirmed that they loved to hate him because other people loved him and loved to hate him. They each knew the other preferred acoustic jazz, which their friends called “your therapy music.”

They played it on drives when they passed a gas station and felt knowing.

They knew each other’s narratives and the feelings that spun them.

They both knew their intentions were too plain to allow their mirage to continue.

“Why do we have to be so self-conscious?”

She grinned.

“Damn,” she said.

“I know.”

“I want to be….”

“I know.”

“I want to love her more than you and you more than her and have the love be what matters.”

“Right…”

“I want the love to be what matters…”

“Right…….”

“I want the love to be what matters.”

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