Thursday, April 10, 2008

Wasted Miracles 4

Here's more Wasted Miracles

He checked his answering machine. A high school girl’s voice telling him he'd won a trip to the Bahamas; a few words from Joe the Cop, just checking in, see you in the morning; then Catherine’s voice saying she really wanted to but it was impossible, she couldn't come by tonight. He knew that already. If they were to steal an hour or two together, she would have shown up for the eight-thirty. She hadn’t.
He pulled the leg machine out of the closet, found the big plates scattered in the corners of two rooms. The landlord had come to inspect the place one day and turned pale when he'd seen ten 45-pounders stacked carefully in a corner, had told him it was insane to put that much weight in just one spot, the floor would cave in, didn't he know better?
Colin slid eight plates on the machine, lay on his back, positioned his feet, closed his eyes, exhaled, pushed. Soon the rhythm became automatic. He stopped long enough to add two plates, then two more, changed the position of his feet slightly, turning his toes outward. He truly hated this. Tomorrow he'd wake up with shooting pains in his legs and knees, he'd hobble around for an hour and stay in the shower until the tips of his fingers crinkled, just to get the knots out of his muscles. But tonight he would sleep—if not well--very deeply, which was, after all, why he punished his body in the first place--to find that dark and airless refuge where for a few hours he could lose himself.
Catherine Stilwell woke with a start, the wisps of a dream vanishing fast. It was still dark outside, the streetlamps threw jagged shadows across the room. On the table next to her bed the radio she never turned off hummed something classical very softly. She moved her head, saw and heard the indistinct outline of Lars breathing next to her. She sat up, yawned, shifted the covers on her side so as not to disturb him, swung her legs, got out of the bed. Lars stirred, sighed, turned over.
In the kitchen the clock said it was just after two in the morning and she wondered why during the past few weeks she kept waking up at such an odd hour. It must mean something, have a significance that at the moment escaped her. She opened the door of the fridge, glanced past the chilled bottle of vodka Lars kept there as if on display. She knew he rarely touched it, he almost never drank. It was simply a mean, petty thing, having that bottle. There were no other words for it. Or, as Josie once said, "Dad's such a dick!"
Next to the vodka she found an open can of ginger ale. She poured it in a glass, added ice, went to sit in the bay window alcove. Josie wasn't home yet, she could sense it, had been able to ever since the child had disappeared for a terrifying hour almost 15 years ago. It was two in the morning and Josie wasn't home.
Catherine closed her eyes, remembered her daughter as a little girl when both of them could spend hours exploring the wonders of a single question. She wished she could talk to the woman Josie had become, wished the god she prayed to several times a day were a bit more attentive.

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