A new year always makes me feel like I have to get rid of old stuff. To that end, I’ve been chipping away at the calendars, planner pages, notes and bits of writing I’ve kept for decades. Today, I came across this piece, which I remember (vaguely) writing as an exercise recommended in “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg. It was one of those “Just write!” things. There are elements of it that I like, so I’m saving it here in cyberspace.
The black overcoat was much too big for him, but he wore it like it was made for him and maybe even paid for from a wad of bills that could have lined his pockets. He wasn’t handsome, either. But he made you think that he was.
I saw him for the first time when I was 20. So, he would have been … 28, I guess. He seemed so much older. I don’t know if it was the grey interspersed with the black velvet on his head — yes, black velvet. His hair didn’t shine. It reflected no light. It actually sucked up the light and made it disappear. And it was beautiful: so thick, you could get lost in it. But that would be OK, because that would mean being enveloped in that smell: of the rain and oranges and a hot cup of coffee on a cold morning and a soft flannel robe and everything that was good in your life. It made you feel safe, that smell.
The first time he kissed me, I knew that everything would be alright. And it was. It couldn’t have been otherwise. Even if it had, I wouldn’t have believed it. He put his arms around me and wrapped me in his world.
And even as he lay dying in the street, with a bullet in his chest and a gun in his own hand, he assured me that everything would be alright. It was. Until the policeman kicked open that black overcoat and exposed a lining of shredded red taffeta.