I’m fifty years ago, at a party, drinking a martini and smoking a cigarette. I’m wearing my suit and tie and idly listening to little pieces of three different conversations. Wasn’t West Side Story a wonderful movie? How about the new president and his promise to have a man on the moon by decade’s end? Is there going to be a problem with this place suddenly appearing in the newspapers, this Vietnam wherever it is? People are dancing and the room is thick and warm. My martini is wonderfully cold and bitter. Someone puts a different record on the phonograph. They turn the music up loud.
I’m there and also here with you half a century later at the edge of a vast and darkened field. Rain has come and gone and we smell wet grass and a hint of autumn. If the clouds clear we’ll see the first of the evening stars. The wind blows itself out and the night grows still. A few minutes ago something unpleasant happened between us and we came out to the field because a little fresh air might wash the anger from our souls. I can’t tell if anything has gotten better. Maybe I’ve calmed down, but the truth is I am confused.
You’re here with me and the field stretches out ahead and those clouds aren’t getting any thinner and a drop of rain just hit my cheek and everything about us is vague and uncertain. The field is a continuation of the argument started back at the house. You hate how my mind forever wanders to somewhere far away. You want to know why I can’t change that about myself and the answer is there on my lips and at the same time is not.
Joel Best has published in venues such as Atticus Online, decomP, Crack the Spine and Blaze Vox. He lives in upstate New York with his wife and son.
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