A Poorly Written Story About Love, And Birds
It’s been quite a long time since I’ve written a story in order to impress a girl. So I hope you’ll forgive me if I’m a little rusty. Sometimes I confuse things, you see- what seems romantic in a moment, later, a fugue of changing-things, rippling, it ends up strange and lifeless. Somehow cold, unappealing. A tangle of tentacles served to you on a platter, my eyes bright with anticipation at the offering, your stomach churns. ‘Does he expect me to eat this?’ You think to yourself, and the moment is lost to the awkward, the halting. At least, that is what I have experienced before. In giving words to girls. I never choose the right ones to impress, to enchant, to entice. Only to alienate.
Case in point: you can never really be sure that you are the girl to whom this fiction is addressed. Of course, I could throw in details to assure you of this, (the color of your hair, your favorite band, that one quirk you display when you are unexpectedly complimented. You know the one.) yet even this is no guarantee. I could have revised this, after all. In fact, it’s almost certain that I have revised this, have given myself ample time to slide those details into a work previously deigned worthy of another. If I was better at romantic gestures, I would leave this unsightly yet unavoidable fact alone. Leave you to ponder it for a brief moment before your heart swells with the observational note, (oh yes, I do notice than one quirk, I find it lovely,) and allows you to brush the callous thought aside. I wouldn’t do that, I must care for you, you alone, I wouldn’t assign some other girl’s poem to your particular eye color. This is proof that I care.
It is no such thing, of course, no matter what you manage to convince yourself. Which is what I mean when I say I am no good at wooing through fiction. Romance should always be earnest, at least, in the moment, entirely honest, straight from the heart and straight on till morning. It is very rarely beautiful, resounding, poetic. When I feel particularly entranced by you, it does not spur my mind to sonnets and chimes, swirling descriptive prose to undress and redress your beauty. Rather, it is blunt, honest, fumbling. A blurted “You Look Pretty” is more heartfelt than an Epic Poem In Your Honor. The lines aren’t blurred. I mean it. But when I write, it’s all filtered. It isn’t earnest, it’s measured and conditioned and exaggerated and reaching.
After all, fiction is lies.
Most of what men say to impress women is lies, too. I don’t like that. I bring up honest ugly things that girls don’t like to think about when being romanced. I like to think I’m taking a stand. Perhaps it is a personal flaw.
I’ve written much about me, my approach, my words, but only because I feel you need to climb in my head for a moment. Feel around, kick the tires, shake your head and marvel at the cobwebs. Run your fingers over the dust of mixed metaphors and chuckle. This is what I’m working with, you see. My wordsmith’s bench is sullied from lack of use. So consider this my excuse for providing you a lackluster offering.
As for the story itself, nothing too complicated. The best stories are always the simple ones. Set yourself in a small town, temperate climate, the pleasant tang of a coastline in your nostrils. (They say that the smell of the ocean, that majestic scent, is mostly dying seaweed. Another romantic illusion peeled away to reveal broken things.) There are houses, a few faded and yellow-bricked, but mostly white wooden cottages. Touristy place in the summer, lot of bed and breakfasts. Award-winning Creole restaurant started a few years ago, an unexpected and delightful addition to local charm. The local Rotary Club chapter has a charity chicken supper every July. You know the place. Set yourself on an old tree stump just off the main road, by a streetlamp, down by where the mouth of the creek, (oh, and there’s a creek,) empties into the coast. Twilight hangs along the edges of the horizon there, clinging to the skirts of the water. Here’s where the story happens.
Two birds are flying in the night.
You are not sure what type of bird flies in the night, at least in the climate. At first, you mistook them for bats, but they are too big, and now you’ve caught them flying near the streetlamp and know that they are birds, little birds, flitting and acrobatic. Pretty in their way, though in darting and disappearing you can’t make out their shapes or colors properly. Pretty in the way that children’s smiles are pretty: here, undeniably and wonderfully here, and then gone. To be replaced by new ones. Shadow-pretty.
Two birds are flying there, in the night, and they are dancing. You can’t trust your eyes in this. It’s dark. But somehow you know. There are two birds, and they are in love. They have a nest somewhere, or they will. That is why they fly and dip and weave and dart. They are in love, and they have come to the coast to dance. You have never been more sure of anything before in your life.
It’s cold, and you forgot a sweater. But you don’t want to leave them. You want to stay forever. This is a magic night, filled with dancing birds, worth a few shivers, wrap your arms around yourself and hum, but not too loud.
A good moment, not perfect, and if only if only there was somebody there. Another set of arms around you instead of your own. Maybe he too would see the birds and know that they are dancing. Maybe he would pull you up and make you dance with him under the streetlamp, in silence, awkward in halting steps while you laugh and complain. Where is the music? But you don’t need music, not really, and neither do the birds, and all the while you dance in your mind and the moon peeks a sliver from behind a cloud and something moves in a bush somewhere.
If I were good at romantic stories, that would happen. And that would be me, and you would swoon. Such is life. (But perhaps you forget, this particular situation has never happened to you. At least, not like this, as I’ve invented it for you. It’s stage furniture, a place to dwell for just a moment.)
Two birds are flying in the night. And they are dancing. That’s what matters.
The stump has suddenly gotten hard beneath you, (strange how that happens,) and it’s cold and prolonging the end never quite stops it. So you leave the birds to their dance and return home, or to your grandparent’s place, or one of those white-cottaged bed and breakfasts, or wherever it is you are required to dwell when you exit the stage. The night will go on there without you, just as it has, and the birds will keep dancing, as long as there is someone who understands how it is they dance.
Not much of a story, nothing in the way of conflict, but not everything is a battle. Sometimes being around to notice things is enough to tip the balance. You may relate this story to your grandparents over breakfast, and they will smile and nod and feign interest. It’s that type of story.
These types of stories never really end, you see. There’s nothing really to resolve, it’s more of a statement of fact. This is. I sincerely doubt that it ever really ends, by its nature the story is a constantly revising love note, moments and eye colors and little quirks all melting and morphing together until everything is two birds dancing, and even those drift off into twilight, darting, dear, again. And changed.