Cathy is driving up from North Carolina today. She must have borrowed a car from whoever. With a name like Cathy and you remember how she was but you wouldn’t think she’d get as far as she does, talking up like she can, but you maybe haven’t seen her since she dropped the weight. I think it must help. I wonder when the last time you saw her even was, was it? That swim meet her brother was in, the one Joe managed because Coach had that operation, us in the gallery screaming words that echoed all easy. It was huffing, being up there too long. Chlorine rises. Well, I don’t know.
If you could just do me a favor, just listen to the message she left.
The funny thing is who gave her my number? Plus she starts off with that joke. Can I be honest, but, the first thing I thought with that number registered-missed and then I went to listen to it was, I mean I was calculating, I thought for sure you had signed me up for some service. For a joke. I mean you know about my minutes. So that’s just something I thought you’d do, but then she spills out all over it.
1. That voice
2. Still just more than I can
3. You weren’t there the night I drove her around so
4. She had this tape from a guy on the Internet and was singing
5. I don’t know why she was always getting things from guys on the Internet, but
6. All turned up and just the white lines and the tree lines and ditches right and left
7. Us supposed to be just driving her home but there was something about
8. Wanting to drive
9. well it’s hard to
The funny thing is, like a year ago it was? You know how her brother’s still in town. Works for this moving company and I had to get some help for Mom. We pushed this dresser up the stairs together. He had it on runners but we still tore the paint. I could tell he felt bad so when he said let’s go to the bar I said fine, even though, he wanted to go to the one that’s been closed more than open. I didn’t even know anymore–with the chicken wing special they’re always advertising? Anyway he bought me a drink and I said, how’s Cathy?
“She always liked you,” is what he said. Not at first, at first he just said, “She’s fine.” But then later after a few, “She always liked you, but Christ she never would have done anything, so don’t worry.” I said I didn’t or wouldn’t but I don’t know why I said that, would it matter if I had or did? Then he asked about Annie, was she good, which just shows how long it had been since we’d talked.
11. She never touched anyone that I was ever aware of, so it would have been on me to start, and on me nothing ever happened about everything, which Annie would have been able to tell her, just: lay the trap, I was born for that, but you should have heard those songs and how they fit; do I dare disturb side A? in a minute there is side B.
So between this message and that drink, I don’t know. The last time I saw her was different. Christmas, actually, just the day before. She was in the food court on the phone. One of the big ones. I guess you don’t need to hear the model. I waved because even though it was hard to recognize her, the laugh gave her away. Straight across the food court, I know it’s the worst, I mean why don’t I just say her eyes crinkling neck shoulderblade eyes smell, but I never knew about those things. Only knew the laugh and hated it, to be honest. You remember. Her whole body, and all of us scrambling to disassociate from the joke, because, forbid all it be revealed we made her scream and roll like that. It was too much, all too much, all too now a beacon across the food court.
People say about the weight that it’s good, I mean her brother said so. To me though it looks like structural damage. Something around the eyes too. I shook her hand and she apologized for feeling cold. Would have hugged her but she talked so fast, like she was trying to prevent it. Shopping Christmas Christmas Christmas last minute North Carolina malls just not the same same same last minute. Then over my shoulder like she had to go, and I’m forming my first question to some empty now small-Cathy-shaped space. Had to go, meet her ride. Didn’t have a car which is why I figure now she’s bothered to borrow. Got to have autonomy here.
I haven’t called her back. She’s got her brother. It should be fine. I mean I could still call her, this is fact it isn’t really a decision. She left the message but I shouldn’t even be here. You either. None of us here should be here. Just the people who raised us and the rest of us should be in North Carolina ourselves, not waiting for the gone to return, not having drinks at the chicken wing special. Christmas, it should be, and Thanksgiving and Memorial Day. They come back and leave messages. Like that’s okay. Honestly, I don’t want to return them ever, not on all their assumptions. Maybe I’m out of town for good, who knows, they shouldn’t just think what they think about me. So I haven’t called her back. She’s got her brother.
Did you hear her laugh, though, on the message? After the joke she does it.
I’ll pay, by the way. I’m sure it’s my turn. I know but it’s something I’m trying. So long as you don’t want the rest I can get this.