borderline obscene

Words Regarding Pictures By Cyle Talley

Dear ________________,
The moment I saw her, I was attracted, though I couldn’t quite say why. She’s beautiful, of course, but that wasn’t it. It took all of breakfast and several cups of coffee and seeing her move. Now I know why.
She looks just like you.
Her jeans are cuffed because she’s short and they’re too long and her hair is tied messily and high on the back of her head and she half smiles nervously- as though her real smile is too untamed for her to trust to let loose- when she asks me if I’d like more coffee. Her eyes are glacial blue and her nose is small and her hips flare more dramatically than one would expect for someone her height; her arms show just the slightest hint of a curve, despite her best efforts to tone them.
I swear it, she is your doppelgänger.
Her skin is darker than yours, as is her hair. Where you are freckled and light and vaguely blonde, she is olive and almond. But she grimaces when she is concentrating like you did, and moves like leaves swaying in the breeze. She shares your style, favoring function over fashion.
Though that’s not to say that she is not fashionable. Just simple.
Her accent is not yours, though. Yours a light lilt, unmistakably Southern. A long vowel that lit your freckled cheeks pink when it, in a flurry of passionate words or because you had recently spoken to your family, mistakenly came out. Hers struck me as more wooden initially. Perhaps South American. Not a lilt, but a full fledged hard flap of wings. Where yours is a butterfly, hers is an albatross.
I couldn’t help myself. I asked her where she was from.
Her cheeks lit pink as she refilled my water glass and she told me: Slovakia. Which makes much more sense, now that I think of it. Her accent. Her hair and skin. She’s got that dark, exotic, Baltic thing.
She asked me where i was from, too. Said she couldn’t place the manners and the flannel shirt. She said she couldn’t place my accent. It’s funny to think that I have an accent here. She half-grinned when I told her that I was from the States and shook her head.
She wanted specifics- just like you.
To some degree, _____________, I am here because of you. Traveling now because I refused then. Though I know that you don’t know where I am or what I’m doing and that you probably don’t much care. But here I am, on the opposite side of the world, in a cafe on the underside of the planet, having Christmas in the summer, because- to whatever degree- of you.
Which is why it’s so funny that she and I should meet. I swear to God and everything holy that she looks just like you. I’ll be damned if I can help stealing small glances whenever possible. I cannot. And so I do it unrepentantly.
Even when she looks up and catches me. Her cheeks light pink and so do mine.
What I’m trying to say is that it’s been some time now and I’m still in love with you and the thought of you and the idea of you and I cannot believe that you’re married. As I understand it, you’re stuck living in the Midwest- or somewhere equally awful- because your new husband has a lucrative job within his family’s company. The idea of you languishing there while I am here- wrapping up a transatlantic journey in which I camped and hiked and hosteled my way through New Zealand- is impossibly funny.
And now I am sitting here, in a cafe in their most populated city, knowing (somewhat smugly, I’ll admit) that you should’ve have chosen me. Because I could’ve made you happy and I would’ve known you better and  loved you more selflessly and we could have adventured and gone and seen and experienced places and people and things that neither of us ever imagined. But you didn’t choose me. And I’m unsure if life- for either of us- is the better for it.
Perhaps I’ll ask her and perhaps she’ll be able to tell me.
Brittany from Minnesota

If you have a half of an hour to spare, please feel free to read my newest long-form essay.

Many thanks,

"I’ve had it. I’m out. Done. Finished. Finito," she craned her neck back and her hair tumbled over her shoulders and she exhaled lasciviously, leaning back in the chair. Her long bare legs stretched out before her and the barely buttoned chambray shirt maintained some charade of decency. The smoke that had found a momentary home deep in her lungs now released and swirling toward the ceiling. "Because it’s bad for you. Did you read the thing?"
"Mmm?" the friend looked up from where she lay on the bed, the top of the novel’s spine tipping and touching the marked and scarred and worn wooden floor like a conductor’s baton calling the orchestra to attention. The pages fluttered as if the musicians were trying to find the right spot from which to begin.
"Did you see the article?" she said to the plaster ceiling, her neck impossibly long and pale. "The skin on smoker’s faces- it goes slack sooner, so I’m done. I’m giving it up. Gotta stay pretty, right?"
"Mmm," the friend, still laying on the bed, lifted her knees and felt like she was thirteen again and at a slumber party. Truth or dare was coming, or some baring of souls. She pointed her toes and kicked her bare legs back and forth. She couldn’t help but catch a faint whiff of her adolescent bedsheets, the deja vu almost nauseating. "How do you mean?"
"Staying pretty is pretty self explanatory."
"No, the other thing. The article."
"Oh, something about blood vessels bursting or- no, no- the elastic fibers. Yeah, the elastic fibers snapping or bursting."
"So you’re quitting?"
"Yeah, probably," she slouched further back in the rickety chair, its legs uneven, and rocked back and forth. The legs clicked in time on the metronomic floor and the cigarette dangled in her slack hand. She exhaled heavily again. "Why do all of the good things have to be bad?" She sat up straight in the chair. She leaned forward, elbows on her knees and stared at the cigarette in her hand. "So what do you think? Do you want to be quit?"
The cigarette did not answer. The friend kicked her feet gently a few more times for good measure.
"What are you doing?" She was drawing in the sand, you see. I couldn’t tell what she was drawing, only that the lines were long and she had to walk the long thin stick she found to make them. She used both hands, holding the stick like a baseball bat and carefully guiding it along.
"Creating my masterpiece, of course. Shut up."
I looked into the ocean as the tide rolled in and rolled back out again.
She once showed me a video of Pablo Picasso staring directly into the camera. He just stood there for awhile and it was disconcerting because I felt as though he was watching me; studying my movements, my reactions to him watching me. This went on for a few minutes and then he pulled a felt tip marker out of his pocket and he began to draw on a pane of glass that I hadn’t realized was there. Simple lines at first. Lines that went nowhere and then suddenly went somewhere.
"You see?" she had said, pulling a strand of red hair back behind her ear. "It’s as though he sees something that we aren’t seeing- that he’s not drawing something original, but tracing something that only he can see."
Picasso continued to draw- trace- as I turned my head to look at her. She smiled, childlike and awestruck, following the flick of his pen.
That’s what it felt like to watch her drawing in the sand. She was clearly seeing something- and I hadn’t a clue what.
I kept trying to make it out. Kept trying to see what she was doing, but the lines were so long and my eyes just couldn’t keep up with where they started and stopped, where they interwove and dispersed. And all the while, she kept her eyes down, her brow furrowed and her hands wrapped around that stick, directing its every flick and sway.
The ocean crashed and pulled and swept in the background where we couldn’t hear it.
"Okay," she said and she walked toward the sea. "Follow me."
She threw the stick like a javelin into the surf, turned with a flourish and presented her masterpiece to me, thin pale arms outstretched with palms turned up toward the gray skies. I stood next to her, our backs to the sea and our bare heels being licked by the foam of the waves. She had been writing in cursive upside down. Now I could see it.
It said, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

"A skeleton key?!" the young woman says.
"In those days, such things weren’t as in vogue as they are now," the old woman sits, blowing gently on a steaming mug. "Old things were bad things, meant to be thrown away."
"What did it look like inside, Gram?" the young woman leans forward, resting her chin in her hands and her elbows on the table.
"Very white, very spartan. I still feel badly for that poor, lonely dining table- it sat in the middle of a nearly unfurnished room with only a single chair and barely enough room for one person and their elbows-” the old woman shoos her granddaughter’s elbows off of the table and straightens the tablecloth. The young woman blushes slightly. The old woman smiles.
The grandmother leans back, picking up her teacup and holding it close to her chest. She wears a brooch in the shape of a flower with a lone pearl at its center. Her blouse- pale pink, silk and perfect- is buttoned to her neck. Its long black collar floats gently along her frail collar bone. She wears no makeup and doesn’t need to. Her complexion, even at her advanced age, is rosy and looking forward to many more years. Her hair flies in the face of her peers, long and still thick, though silver and tied into a bun.
This woman, at least twice the age of most in this small cafe, has become its center since they first arrived. Elegant, demure and unfailingly self-depreciating- much like the pearl brooch she wears. Beautiful, but slow to notice itself and even slower to lord that beauty over another. The granddaughter reflexively sits up straight, running her hands across the front of her blouse and down her leggings, smoothing them as she does.
The granddaughter looks nothing like her mother’s mother, despite her best and continuous efforts. On a good day, the young woman will admit that she inherited her grandmother’s effortless complexion- she too, rarely wears makeup of any kind- and even, perhaps, the old woman’s excellent taste, but today is not a good day and so she tells herself that she looks nothing like the ageless beauty across from her. The young woman concentrates only on her mother’s voice ringing in her ears “You take after your father’s side of the family, Lovey. You know, ‘curvy’.”
The granddaughter traces her grandmother’s features with her eyes- the angles of her high cheekbones, her slender fingers- the granddaughter again feels that old, familiar pang of jealously. She, of course, realizes that it is absurd to be jealous of a seventy year old woman and reflexively adjusts her scarf.
"It’s a beautiful scarf, Lovey," the old woman reaches those long, slender fingers across the table and running them across its length.
"Thank you, Gram," the young woman blushes lightly. She lets the light scarf flutter to rest atop her peasant blouse’s gentle half moon neckline. The blouse’s pansy field print is impossibly feminine and contrasts the scarf’s deep indigo to emphasize the young woman’s bright, icy eyes.
Eyes that now drop to study the linen tablecloth.
"Where did you find it?"
"I can’t recall," she reaches for her own teacup and sips.
"And that blouse! It absolutely-"
The young woman ceases to hear her grandmother compliment her keen fashion sense as she sees the door of the cafe open from over the old woman’s shoulder. A woman- tall, blonde and slender- sashays across the entryway, her thick hair cascading behind her with each step. She staggers her dangerously long legs over one another, emphasizing her figure’s natural advantages. Her clothing- a long, artsy frock cinched at the waist with a thin chocolate belt, paired with caramel leggings that end, after those mercilessly long legs, in gorgeous ankle length Spanish leather boots- is tasteful, much to the disappointment of the granddaughter. As the woman places her order with a gangly teenaged barista who hangs on the woman’s every word, she plays absentmindedly with a pendant that dangles from a long silver chain. She touches it to her lips and the barista and granddaughter look on in awe.
The grandmother, seeing her granddaughter stare, casts a nonchalant glance over her shoulder and, seeing the woman, looks back to her granddaughter. The grandmother suddenly sees her as a newborn, as a toddler, as a child. As a teenager and as the woman that she is bound to become, the mother she is bound to become and the grandmother she will someday be.
The grandmother traces her granddaughter’s features with her eyes- her high cheekbones and long neck, her full lips and eyelashes long enough to graze the young woman’s perfect eyebrows with each blink of those gorgeous, glacial eyes.
"Would you look at her?” the grandmother says, sighing.
The granddaughter breaks her gaze and quickly lowers her eyes to the gold lining on the lip of her teacup. She begins to blush and is unable to help it. Reflexively, she sits up straight, running her hands across the front of her blouse and down her leggings, smoothing them as she does. Her hands go to her cheekbones and her fingers trace the line of her jaw down until they meet at her chin.
"She’s quite beautiful, isn’t she?" The grandmother leans forward, resting her chin in her hands and her elbows on the table.
"She really is," the granddaughter sighs.
"We’re not talking about the same person, Lovey," the grandmother smiles.
"The gorgeous, well-dressed blonde woman at the counter?"
"The gorgeous, well-dressed brunette sitting across from me."
Both women smile. One, with pride and one, in disbelief.
The granddaughter looks down at the table. She raises only her eyes and can see her grandmother- the ageless beauty- still beaming. The granddaughter composes herself, breathing deeply.
"Gram!" she shouts suddenly as she throws a hand across the table. "Elbows!" the young woman shoos her grandmother’s elbows off of the table and straightens the tablecloth. The old woman blushes slightly. Both woman smile. 
"So," the young woman says, as the tall, blonde woman leaves the cafe, drink in hand. "A skeleton key unlocked the door to your first apartment?"

"Hold it there, Shawn," the tall, slender man tells his son. The tall, slender man holds the kite high above his head full of dark, curly hair and walks backward as his son, who has an identical head full of identically dark, curly hair stands as still as a lighthouse as the wind blows the the hair of both about.
"On my count, I want you to pull hard on the string and take two steps back, okay?" the tall, slender man says loudly. His voice booms across the open city park field and he holds one hand to his brow to shield his bright, green eyes from the sun.
"Mm-hmm," the boy nods. He steadies his gaze and plants his feet firmly, shoulder width apart. His reedy, willow branch of a body stands at the ready.
"Did you hear me, Shawn?" the tall, slender man shouts against the wind.
"Yes," the boy says. He has a thin voice that matches his build. Light, airy, delicate to the point of femininity.  The tall, slender man shakes his head and the boy looks at the ground.
"This is going to be great, Shawn. You’ll see."
The boy says nothing. He stares at his father, watching his tailored wool gray slacks and wingtip shoes make their impossibly long backward strides. He watches his father, his back erect, his hands strong and true. The boy looks down at his own.
"1-" the father says.
The boy sees skeletal, spindly fingers. “Painter’s hands,” his mother said when he was little. His classmates call them death’s. They poke him in the ribs, they laugh at how small he is and how easily he is knocked around the playground.
"2-" the father says.
The boy thinks of Elliot, the boy in his class who, at twice his size, drop kicked a soccer ball into the back of his head yesterday. That’s why, the boy assumes, his father is out with him in this field.
"3-" the father shouts, taking a hop-step backward and throwing the kite into the sky. The kite falls listlessly to the ground and the boy, realizing what has happened, feels his face light on fire.
The tall, slender man doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t yell, he doesn’t scream and he doesn’t berate his son as the boy has heard Elliot’s father do. He simply looks across the field at the boy and looks down at the kite. The boy feels as though gasoline has just been poured on his cheeks. He would’ve preferred his father just shout at him, tell him what a disappointment he is as a son. The boy looks at the ground. He feels a tug on the string in his hand and he looks up to see his father once again holding the kite above his head.
"This is going to be great, Shawn. You’ll see."
The boy cannot for the life of him see what is so appealing about a kite. Lots of things fly. Airplanes, rockets, birds, Superman. The boy even saw a hovercraft once at the science museum. Compared to these things, a kite does not hold much weight. It’s just some purple paper, framed by some wood and tied to a string which is then wrapped around a cardboard spindle. 
A kite doesn’t even fly without wind.
The tall, slender man retraces his long, sure backward steps, holding the kite above his head. His wristwatch gleams in the sun. The boy loves his father’s wristwatch- its precision, its consistency, its familiar sound. He does not ever touch the wristwatch, but he often stares at it. When he’s been caught doing so, his father asks if he’d like to hold it, to wear it. It has been offered several times, casually and easily, his father unfurling the clasp with such nonchalance and elegance that the boy becomes stunned and frozen. He cannot imagine being trusted with such a priceless treasure and indeed, would never want to be held responsible for what would, inevitably, occur to it in his hands and so, he refuses.
"On my count, Shawn. I’ll count to three and you’ll need to pull back to give the kite loft. Remember? We talked about this on the way over. You’ve got to pull to create the loft the kite needs to soar."
The boy stares at his father. Of course he remembered what he’d been told. How could he not? Was it possible to ignore a man so surely a genius? Was it possible to ignore a man so clearly in command of himself and everyone around him? Even if it were possible- why would anyone ever want to ignore such a man?
"Remember, Shawn- loft."
The boy watches as his father scans the field, waiting for the wind to pick up a bit more. The boy recalls the last time he saw this look- when his father came to visit his fifth grade classroom to speak to his classmates for “Bring Your Parent To School Day”. He remembers how satisfying it was, after being called a liar so often, to see the looks on their faces when his father addressed them all, professionally, though with a certain casual flair saying, “Good morning, boys and girls. I’m Shawn’s father and I’m a theoretical physicist.”
The wind picks up a bit.
"1-" the father says.
All of the students sat stunned. They looked and listened in awe as they watched the tall, slender man talk as much with his hands as with his big, booming radio voice about the laboratory in which he worked and who he worked with and the sorts of things they spent their days thinking about. The boy remembers how his father had drawn rotations of planets on the whiteboard in green- both Shawn and his father’s favorite color- and their rotations and axes in blue and how, despite the students not understanding a word of what the tall, slender man was saying to them, sat in rapt attention, hanging on every word and gesture. Even the pretty young teacher sat rapt by the boy’s father. The boy wonders how it must feel to command the attention of people so easily. He remembers visiting his father’s office one day and seeing scientist after scientist come in to see his father, to ask him questions and to listen to his answers. The boy thought it amazing to see such clearly intelligent men and women come to see his father and consult his intelligence but was terribly embarrassed when they attempted to speak to the boy himself. Each scientist came and wanted to talk to the boy, but he could think of nothing to say and thought it better not to prove to his father’s colleagues that the son paled in light of the father.
"2-" the father says.
The boy thought that his father coming to his school might make things better. That his peers, upon seeing his father and his father’s clear quality, might begin to regard he himself a bit better than they had before. But the boy was wrong. The ridicule came more frequently, if anything. And, to make matters worse, it came tinged with the venom of comparison. “Be a man like your dad, Scrawny Shawny!” came the taunts from the boys. “Your dad looks like a movie star, Shawn. What happened to you?” echoed the girls. Even the teacher had slipped one day. The lesson on long division seemed to be going so well and the boy felt in command, felt confident in his ability to handle the material and so, when the teacher asked for a volunteer, Shawn raised his spindly hand.
"Shawn!" the teacher had said. "This is quite a surprise! Please come up to the board."
The boy had stepped lightly through the rows of desks and even managed to avoid Elliot’s stupid, big foot as it tried to trip him, arriving at the board unscathed.
"Shawn, would you please show us how many times 183 can be divided by 17?" And, if you would, please solve to four decimal places?"
The boy had nodded. He took the green marker from the teacher and felt his face go red when her hand brushed his.
"Ooooooo!" a few of the girls’ voices sang out.
The boy wrote on the board in his best penmanship and made quick work of the problem, much to his teacher and peers’ surprise. He stepped away from the board and handed the marker back to the teacher.
"183 can be divided by 17 10.764 times, miss," he had said lightly, though confidently.
The teacher shook her head and smiled sadly.
"I’m sorry, Shawn. Very close. That is the correct answer, but you only solved to three decimal places. Imagine if your father had done such a careless thing in his work!”
The class erupted in laughter.
"3-" the father shouts, taking a hop-step backward and throwing the kite into the sky. The kite floats for a brief moment in the strong wind. It flexes like a five-year old flexing in the mirror after his bath might, before again falling listlessly to the ground.
The field of the city park is silent.
The boy does not look up. He cannot. He will not. He knows that if he does, it will be just like the time when his father tried to teach him to play catch and the boy, despite his best efforts and attempts, could not manage to get the baseball to land with a loud THWACK sound in the basket of his mitt as his father had shown him. His father had told him that he was doing wonderfully, had praised his natural ability, but the boy had grown listless after so many failed attempts to do it as his father had done. Just as it had been with hiking before baseball and the boy’s inability to skip a stone at the lake at the top of the trail. Just as it had been when his father had tried to teach him to spit sunflower seeds at the baseball game or shown him how to tie a knot.
The wind howls now and the boy continues to stare at his stupid white tennis shoes that don’t look anything like his father’s wingtips or perfectly polished grand piano black dress shoes. The boy’s shoulders drop and he feels his stupid left eye form a stupid small tear.
He sees two large wingtip shoes come alongside his own stupid white tennis shoes. The boy feels his father’s strong and true hands grasp his own stupid skeletal ones. Together, they hold the spindle of the kite that the boy can’t seem to fly. The boy feels his father’s chin rest on the top of his stupid, curly haired head. The head that can’t do long division and can’t think of anything to say when people talk to him. The boy feels his father get down on one knee and lean his long, slender body into the boy’s. The body that holds the stupid, airy, feminine voice that endlessly embarrasses him. The boy feels his chest begin to hyperventilate.
The boy doesn’t want to, but he knows that he is crying.
"Shawn," the boy’s father whispers. "This is going to be great. I promise. You’ll see."
No, the boy shakes his head to say. It won’t.
"Take a deep breath," the boy can feel his father’s voice vibrating his whole body. "Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to do this together, okay? And you’re not going to think about anything else. You’re going to look at me the whole time. I’m going to hold the kite and then you’re going to start to run backward. You’ll have to be the one to start, though, and you can go whenever you want. When you start running, so will I-“
"But you’ll be faster than me," the boy says, his voice quaking.
"No, I won’t. Do you know why?" the tall, slender man says.
The boy shakes his head and his dark, curly hair waves across his forehead. The father smiles. He runs his large hand through the boy’s hair, cradling the back of the boy’s head. The man wipes the tears from his son’s face.
"Because we’re going to do it together."
The tall, slender man stands up and throws his shoulders back, walking toward the kite still fluttering on the ground in the breeze. He reaches down for the kite and as he stands up straight again, he sees in the corner of his eye, his son throwing his shoulders back, whispering to himself. The tall, slender man quickly hides his beaming smile behind the kite. He feels a slight tug on the cord and lowers the kite, his face straight, his countenance once again stone.
"Are you ready?" the man asks his son. The wind has picked up again. The boy nods, nearly imperceptibly, his countenance stone as well. The man cannot help it. He smiles. The boy cannot hide his shock and so, he turns to run. The wind begins to howl as the two pick up speed across the field. They careen and the wind whistles through their eardrums. The man cannot help but think of all of the times he laid in bed with his wife. Her touch, her breath on his neck as they fell asleep. He remembers her voice, so soft, airy and delicate. He remembers being at her bedside in the hospital as her heart gave him its final moments.
"He’s just like you," she whispered, almost imperceptibly. "His hair, his hands. Our boy is just like you."
"No," he had replied, his breath being crushed by a chest that could not hold everything he wanted to say to her, his great love. "He’s just like you. His voice, his heart. He’s better than me. You’re better than me.”
She smiled. She closed her eyes.
The tall, slender man releases the kite and it erupts into the wind- sailing, soaring. It is ebullient, careening into the sun. He watches his son as the boy gives the kite more and more slack and it rises higher and higher. The tall, slender man lives in a perpetual state of shock and awe at his son’s preternatural ability in seemingly everything- math, science, sports, art and now, kite-flying. The boy has stopped running and the wind blows his curly hair about as his bright green eyes, stare into the cloudless sky.
The father and his son make eye contact and the father, his own curly hair whipping about, smiles broadly, unable to hide his joy. The son, still holding the kite string, releases one hand and waves his father over, gesturing to him to hold the kite.
The boy watches as his father comes toward him, his stride impossibly long. The tall, slender man gets down on one knee behind his son, and takes the kite and his son’s long, slender hands into his own.
"You’re doing it, Shawn," the man’s deep voice resonating in his son’s chest.
"We’re doing it," the boy says quietly. They both look up into the sky and watch as the kite tails from side to side. The tall, slender man breathes deeply, his son’s scent resonating in his nostrils. The boy smells just like her. Better than him, better than life itself. The royal purple kite continues to rise into the wind and the tall, slender man remembers, as his son leans backward into his chest, that it was his wife’s favorite color.
The wind whispers in their eardrums and resonates in the field.
The father begins to unwind the string from the spindle. The boy, preternaturally, understanding. Together, they reach the last wind. The father pinches the string just above the spindle and the boy lets the spindle fall to the ground. He pinches over the top of his father’s fingers. 
"1-" the father says.
"2-" the boy says.
Together, they let go.
"I’m really sorry," she says.
"I can’t believe it," He rests his face in his hands, his elbows resting on the small cafe table. People around him continue their conversations about all manner and ilk of things without stopping to acknowledge his heart- freshly broken, shocked and awed. He looks around. At an adjacent table, two young women discuss their boyfriend’s various faults, cackling loudly. At another, he can see a small group of teenagers awkwardly flirt with one another- boys trying on various forms of masculinity, while the girls try desperately to differentiate themselves from one another without, of course, being too weird.
"If it helps, I really couldn’t believe it when I heard it either," she says. "I’m really sorry," She grimaces at him. She is good at consoling because she does what her brother is unable to do- she wears her emotions on her face and, as he looks up at his sister, he sees the strange blend of sympathy, of discouragement and of utter, bleak confusion.
"She’s getting married,” he says.
“Anna is getting married,” he says again, stretching the sides of his face and then scrunching them together.
"Are you trying to see if it’s more believable the more you say it?" 
He pauses. The moment seems glacial.
"I thought I had gotten over her. My Anna,” he says finally. He waits another moment. He bites his lip. “Not my Anna anymore.”
His sister’s eyes go glassy with tears and she bites her lip. He averts his eyes quickly, looking at the table. He begins to trace the wood grain with his finger.
"What are you going to do?" she dabs the corner of her left eye, composing herself.
"What is there to do?"
"Do you want to go after her?"
"I don’t know."
"Do you want to call her?"
"I don’t know."
"What about a text?"
"What do you want me to say, Linds?" he says, somehow both ferociously and barely audibly. "Yes. Yes, yes and yes. I do. All of those things. I want to drive to her place- recklessly, may I add- and pound on the door and demand to see her. I want to scream and shout and curse and berate her. I want to shake her by the shoulders and beg to know how a person can say that they love you, that they cannot imagine life without you, that they cannot conceive of being with another man and then tell you- in a fucking email- that they’re sorry, that they were wrong and that, though they meant what they said when they said it, they don’t actually love you and need you and want to be with you and that they’re confused and sorry and sorry and sorry.” He drifts off.
"She said that?"
He stares up at the ceiling. He considers the light fixture.
"I really thought she was coming back, Linds. I did," he chuckles. "I still can’t believe that she hasn’t. I thought for sure that she was going to come to her senses and realize that I was the right one all along. So I told her to go ahead, to leave me and “us” for a while and travel and see the world and take it all in. I told her to take each moment by the balls and see everything she could. Because I knew deep, deep in my bones that she was coming back, regardless of where she went and who she met and what she saw. I knew that she would come back and that, no matter what was said and what hurts we inflicted on each other, that after enough time had passed, she was going to show up unexpectedly and we’d look at each other and all would be forgiven without a word and we would start over again.”
His shoulders slump, he sighs heavily. “I guess I just wonder how much of the woman in my head is real and how much of her is an ideal that I’ve created while holding on so tightly,” He breathes in deeply. He pauses. The moment seems glacial. 
"That’s why I don’t think I’m going to do anything."
They lean back in their respective chairs. The din of the cafe grows louder while their table, somehow, stays exempt from the noise. 
"Perhaps it’s time you say it, then."
"Why? What good would that do?"
"Let me rephrase that. Perhaps it’s time you acknowledge it- that you loved her, that you love her."
"You can."
"Aaron, you really can."
"But I don’t think I want to."
"You do."
He looks around. The women are still laughing about their boyfriends and how inept they are. The teenagers are still flirting, still hoping, still fumbling with childish hands their social graces. He looks at his sister. She, as ever, is wearing her emotions on her face. She is wearing his emotions on her face, acknowledging his broken heart. Acknowledging that he is lost, profoundly hurt and still, despite everything, deeply in love.
"Say it," she says. "Say it."
The moment seems glacial.
She pulled her coat closer and breathed the bitter cold as he linked her arm in his own, pulling her into the crook of his waist. Their footprints inaudible in the falling snow, they said nothing to one another, having already said everything that they could say, and simply listened to the quiet enveloping them. She rested her head on his shoulder and sighed.
"I don’t want it to be this way," she said.
"Neither do I."
"You don’t?"
"You really think that I do? Why would I?"
"We could start over," she looked up at him, his strong jaw set firm as he stared straight ahead. The lampposts along the path threw shadows that danced across his brow. "We could. Here, watch."
She stopped. She took her arm from his and turned him by the waist to face him. She took a step back, adjusted her coat and extended her hand.
"Hello, I’m Sarah," she smiled.
"What are you doing?"
"Introducing myself. We’re starting over."
"We can’t. We’ve already-"
"It’s terrifically rude of you to refuse a handshake." She shoved her mittened hand further forward. "Now you say, ‘Hullo, my name is James.’" She mimicked his deep voice.
This, they both knew, was how he liked her best. Playful, shrewd and determined to get her own way. She thrust her hand forward again and he suddenly felt very fondly toward her, remembering in an instant all of the moments he had felt this way toward her before and why he had felt this way about her in the first place. He knew that he ought not to feel this way toward her. That, if he were to allow himself this feeling and, if he were to play along and start over and try again, they would only end up here again. Not, perhaps, on this exact path that extended throughout the city, and not, perhaps, on this particular sort of bitter winter day, but here nonetheless. It was the feeling that mattered and he found himself all at once in love and out of love with her.
She saw this though flit across his face and he lowered his eyes. He put his hands in the pockets of his wool coat.
"James," she said, still holding out her hand. "James, look at me."
Dear Reader, Peruser and Purveyor-
Historically, this blog has featured a photograph captioned with a snippet of a lyric from various artists and musicians. Thanks to those of you who have enjoyed, followed and commented on such things.
With the new year, I’ve decided that I will be trying something a bit different in an effort to make good on a New Year’s Resolution that I’ve set for myself: to write more. Mark Twain used to spend everyday from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon in a small cabin separate from his home smoking cigars and writing, writing, writing. Similarly, Hemingway wrote from five in the morning until noon. The thread amongst all creative people is habituation and so, I am taking a lesson from them and will be writing every day this year, thereby establishing a habit.
This blog will continue to feature photography that I find interesting, beautiful or striking that will then be used as a writing prompt. Sometimes the photography will directly affect and inform the writing while, at other times, it will not at all. The point is to be writing. Every day. No matter what.
I hope that this will prove enjoyable to you, though I will not assume anything. I, as ever, greatly appreciate your reading, considering and reblogging. Longer form writings and essays may still be found at: CYLETALLEY.COM
Many happy returns,Cyle 
- Carson McCullers, from the excellent tumblr site, Little Texts
"…I’d rather be lonely, I’d rather be free. I’m as sure as the moon rolls around the sea…"
"…you can bring me flowers, baby, when I’m dead and gone…"