Serendipitous Soul: A Serial Story — Part 5

by DRM

Part V:
Greetings (This is Uncle Sam)

I take the long way to the train station most days so I can drive past the place where the tornado touched down two springs ago. It was like someone made up the whole thing when we heard about it. We don’t get tornadoes. But one day a tornado touched down and wreaked havoc over a 10 mile stretch like an out-of-control gyroscope.

It hit just a mile down the road.

The inward-folding power of the winds ripped one hundred and fifty trees out of the ground on this one plot. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. The devastation was absolute.

The stumps are clear now. The open space is covered with grass. New trees sprout along the borders.

*

There is a right way, a wrong way and there’s your way, my grandfather told me one time. The trick is to figure out your way, because that’s the only way you’re going to be able to get right.

*

These some of the checkpoints I use: Park at the back lot and walk at a steady four-stroke beat to the station platform; Stop at eleven every morning and be quiet for ten minutes; Eat dinner by eight every evening and drink two glasses of filtered water; Wash my socks separately and sort them right away; Get into bed and say out loud something that made me smile.

My therapist wants me to experience the feeling of satisfaction that comes from controlling my environment. This will reassure me and stifle my impulses.

*

I don’t think I’m making a lot of progress when it comes to my kids. After I drop them at Miriam’s I want to cry.

*

Faith called me one day while I was at work.

– Can you meet at Mulligans around three?

She was at the end of the bar. It was like I’d seen her there just a few days before. She looked the same.

She smiled when I walked to her.

– Adam. How are you?

– Good.

– I’m so sorry everything was so tough.

– Yeah. You can’t imagine.

– I’m sorry.

She sipped at a coke.

– Adam, I need you.

*

– What did you say?

– I asked her why.

– Why did you do that, do you think?

– I wanted to know.

– Know what?

– I’m not sure.

– That’s an important question. How did you feel when she asked?

– I felt excited.

– Why?

– It isn’t really clear.

– Because you could resolve things with her?

– No. Not that. No. I was excited because now I could hurt her too.

*

After the tornado I found a jagged chunk of birch tree discarded at the side of the road.

A white stone the size of my knuckle was embedded in the fresh meat of the tree.

I keep the branch on my desk at home as a way to remember the storm, to remember that the most unnatural things are possible and the things that get broken can’t ever be fixed.

*

– Where were you when I needed you, Faith?

– You didn’t need me, Adam. Your marriage was ending. What did you expect me to do? Hold you while you left your wife? You had to deal with your own stuff.

– But you were part of it.

– Grow up, Adam. I wasn’t part of your marriage breaking up. I wasn’t part of anything.

– That’s right. You didn’t want to be part of anything.

– We didn’t have anything that could turn into something. We liked being around each other. I like you. But it couldn’t be more than that. You didn’t want that.

– How do you know what I wanted?

– I don’t. But I knew that you didn’t know.

– Then why did you sleep with me?

*

– Why did she say she needed you?

– I don’t know. She left then.

– How did you feel?

– I don’t know.

– Have you tried to get in touch with her?

– Yes. She doesn’t answer.

– If you could ask her one more question, what would it be?

– Why did you only sleep with me one time?

– Does that matter?

– Yes.

This story is the second part of a five-part serial that will be published here each Friday for the next month. It is a writing exercise. The plot is inspired by the first five songs that shuffled on my iPod. Each installment is exactly 750 words. You can find Part One here, Part Two here, Part Three here and Part Four here.  The entire manuscript is available on Scribd here.