As they walked, she spoke and collected items she saw along the trail. A kind of reverse Hansel and Gretel: instead of finding her way back by dropping bread crumbs, she wanted to become lost, and collected markers which would have shown their way home. Finally, she asked if he would read a draft of something she wrote. He disliked reading friend’s work (it was all too intimate: entering another’s mind), but he said for her he would. He lay down on the soft grass, entranced by her voice. She told a story as she placed the objects she had found (an acorn, a feather, a stone, a dead butterfly, a ribbon) in a shallow hole next to where he lay. After a while, he sat up and glanced at the objects in the hole. He said, it’s like a witch’s ingle. She laughed gently, and began to loosely tie his hands with the ribbon as she finished her story. He watched her dark eyes focus on the task, becoming lost in their intensity. When she was done, she said to him, now you’re supposed to untie yourself, and become free. He said, one would first have to want to be free. With nothing more to say, she walked away leaving him in the woods.
We were lost in the city, a post-apocalyptic Disneyland, searching for a car. We had driven to town for a birthday party. Her birthday, a blue car. My hair was long and tousled, like it was in my thirties, not like now. The party had been in a building, like a school, but under construction, or in decay. There was a moment when we had kissed, or when she had kissed me, or almost kissed, which kept playing back in my head. Why had I turned away? Several times we passed a house which was being gutted. A large tree, like a live oak, had grown throughout the house’s framework. She clambered up the tree, to reach the second floor of the house. A large bare-chested man with a handle-bar mustache and tattoos, like a circus strongman from the 1890’s, came out and tried to sell us the house for 340,000 dollars. He said the house was only two stories, although it looked like four. We left to find the car. This went on for hours, or minutes. We would split up, return together again, push the car’s door lock key hoping to see lights flash. When we had left it for the party, the car was the only one on the street, now in the early morning light, the streets were crowded. It started to rain. A man running a uniform store overheard us talking about the house and said that we might as well buy a noose right now if we were going to buy that house. He started to tell us a story, but his assistant interrupted to show us a chef’s hat like they used to wear at diner’s or fast food restaurants, like Burger Chef in the late 60’s. Near the shore fisherman were unloading their catch from big nets. Along with the assorted fish, body parts, like arms and legs, stuck casually from the nets. She kissed me again, or tried to kiss me again, or was that the same kiss? Why did I turn away? At the party, a poet we both liked was reading her poems. No one was listening. Since the floor was being redone, broken tiles were strewn about like crackers. She looked around the crowd and wondered if there would be anyone we knew there. People I had known from work, or school, whom I had never socialized with talked together in small disconnected groups. Everyone seemed uncomfortable, and for some reason that was my responsibility. My brother-in-law, Jim, stood in the corner whispering judgmental comments, and combing his mustache. I left, but could still see them as if through a glass store front window display. The streets were empty and slick with rain. The blue car was nearby, but we had somewhere else to go. Home? An apartment? It was a white building, near where she had kissed me, or tried to kiss me. Why did I turn away? She followed me to my hotel room, commenting on the large leather chair and the open curtains as she entered. When I stepped out for a moment, she started to write a note on a pad next to the bed. She stopped and said it did not matter, when I came back into the room, interrupting her process. She said the room was over-priced. We left to find her friend and have a drink. It was emblematic somehow of the whole affair, unconsummated and vague.