The U Turn 02:15
She had, to her satisfaction, the other side of the story. What the handsome blonde lady had told her—the indignation that it had left Goldy with, and the motivation to make her confrontation.
For all the old man's consternation about finishing "School," his young woman had barely made it. She had help from her reluctant mother, but of course her own father was enraged. And he, he had abandoned her. Abandoned them. Gold wanted to wave the Standard in his chiseled tan face—that twofaced flag of Hypocrisy. She at least had saved herself and her accidents till after high school, immediately after, but nevertheless, after.
Gold thought for sure Silver would be horrified; ask "Did she graduate?" and "How did she manage alone afterwards?" Silver did ask. She just didn't bother to ask her—meaning Goldy. She couldn't of course ask the blonde woman or contact her, without Gold's aid. She didn't know her name. Even to the end.
The blonde was friendly, natural, and kindly enough to endure Gold's unexpected arrival, as an almost daughter. She hugged her and her youthful pain, and she answered her questions with mastered emotion. She had now a son to be proud of, a blessing. It was for her all in the past, an "affair." Her heart was learned, but content. It was a heated relationship, with fiery passion of lust and spite. The kind of love where there is argument, jealousy, and rumors. "Friends" of friends. Perhaps she was too pretty, and he too handsome. No one likes to see a pair have it all.
They had met in the Art Lyceum. They'd been an item since her first year. He was one year older, and graduated before she gave birth. She said, he disappeared from their lives. They had had a row. She couldn't explain it except to say he refused to take responsibility. Perhaps she said he was still a boy not a man.
They'd both loved the name Matteo. And Matteo it was, a healthy and talented boy, artistically gifted in music and visual arts. Gold recalled the old man's ardent statements that he only wanted girls. It had made her feel good at the time. Valued.
Indignation rose in her. She knew he had taken off to America. He'd always said it was for a job offer. There was no offer on arrival. Odd. Now she knew why—there must have been no offer. He was running from a past he wanted to discard. She judged him harshly, and felt she was seeing him finally in an honest light. Why could not Silver also see him, as a cad? So much imagination, and she failed in basic sight.
The U Turn 02:14
Goldy had waited for the repercussions. She had expected some reverb. Admonitions from the old man. Defense. Defeat. She expected disappointment from Silvie. Disillusionment. Detachment.
Instead, seeing the old man's distress, Silver flatly told her to leave after Gold's triumphant gloat over the expose of pictures. She had had an effect, but not the hardening she intended. Silver glared at her with ice grey extinguished eyes, and told her that the thin lines of her plotting would not hold together here. She had no purchase.
What she wouldn't have given to be third party, privy to the discussion afterward. Had she been there she would not have to imagine. Silver was of course understanding. The moment called for listening, and she listened. A stress headache was forming under the skull. She sensed the distress he must be in, fearing condemnation, worse loss of respect. The old man suggested a night walk. They waited till dark. The sky was pink. Low hanging clouds reflected the warm glow of the nightlife in the nearby town.
Snow underfoot, they walked awhile in silence.
Then he began, "I was addicted to her. We were... addicted to each other."
He sighed. Again they walked wordlessly for awhile. Pictures must have been scrolling his mind like candid video. He tried again, "I just didn't believe the child was mine."
The U Turn 02:13
Goldy looked out at him expectantly.
He looked at Gold. What else could he say? That his woman was an anomaly from the moment she passed into viewing to when she passed away? I felt like we were clutching at something surreal, sometimes even when tightly held in both hands we were, still, out of grasp. Not that he doubted the commitment. Only disbelief hung over the situation like an L.F Baumian curtain. Like any man, he too had wanted to play wizard.
And she rose into his abode, suddenly all too physical, like a picture postcard folded into a paper airplane—stomped her little foot confronting him over dangerous potentially abusive mental warfare—and then apologized, grandly asking if was ok to continue? cuz she just wanted to make sure everything was ok.
It was okay.
He could watch that mouth carry on all day, whatever the fuck she was saying. The curvature of her ass on the way out even made him smile as she trailed away— like a little mouse he would have pulled back if he could by the tail, into his pocket. She looked back at him sweetly, attentively, misguidedly.
He shook his head.
Would Goldy understand? Probably not. Tinder.
So, he said: "Yeah. we met online."
The U Turn 02:12
There was a spoon on the table. Not the child's because that one was on the far corner conspicuously orange and squat. This one was randomly in the center, as if pulled out blindly in haste and used because the motion had already been given up to putting it back. It was a dessert spoon. Vintage, with just a little bit of that tarnish on the side.
She could see Silver picking it out, checking its weight and balance, the length of the arm versus the curved scoop. Feels about right. For Silvie even things had their personality and purposefulness. Goldy understood but as an afterthought, not as second nature. She'd been granted an easy resonance with surroundings, and Gold had always seen it as a direct contrast, conflicting as she herself too often did with her environment.
The effortlessness was illustrated lastingly in her long-term by that single telephone conversation in Hamberg with the handsome young man in the photograph. The picture taken only a year before confrontation. The call placed a year and a half later. Skype, but the camera refused suddenly to work. Goldy had given the phone over to her quickly, perhaps too quickly, and that maybe was the source of misunderstanding— really the voices too distinct to be mistaken in vibration. She watched, biting her lower lip, barely breathing, taking in the exchange. They chatted with the ease of ones who have known each other eons, reconnecting in a heartbeat. They'd probably recognize each other in the Terminal. And then, surprise:
With disappointment and her visible grief, he was saying, "...wonderful, Lovely, now do put Silvie on the line! I can't wait to talk to her."
"I am Silvie," listening to the shattering of newly found silence on his side of the dark. Goldy took the phone back, and they laughed it off.
It was like that. The two never spoke again, and Silver had no grudges, not against him, or her, nor the "accident." That was not the way in, the necessary humid wedge, by which tarnishing begins. Silver would keep the old man's memory polished. No, there was something else, there is always something else—divisive.
Goldy did not intend to stir up trouble, but she was intent on finding what it was that didn't quite yet make sense.
The U Turn 02:11
Back to the table, and the water. The reflections included for Goldy some of the old man's frequent expressions. The well-known included among these that silent waters run deep, but also the more obscure like holding water in one's teeth, to not spill anything, idiomatically.
This was a complete stranger to her. Pleasant, mysterious. She was annoyed. It wasn't his fault and she'd give him a chance, but being treated this way was so nontraditonal. Everyone knows a new person is introduced, meaning vetted, not hoarded to one's self. Goldy huffed out a breath, into the stale un-familial subway air. She knew the old man was the one who weighed in on Silver, and he was dead. And if he wasn't, Silver wouldn't have called her up to say: This is the date. We really do hope you can make it.
Of course she would make it. Curiosity would have eaten her. Besides she still felt some responsibility, having razed her. That's what Silver would have joked. Raised her. And to be sure she'd bring the old lady, because curiosity would have eaten them both for lunch and dinner.
If she was to know anything of this man, this distraught man across the table, she would have to learn on her own. Having cut her trust, Silver had kept her life private. Or if she shared in intimate detail, it was elsewhere. Maybe here in these pages, Stan said she wrote. About what? the binders were big, full. I don't know, more than is here. Gold couldn't help but wonder, had she written about the past...
He didn't know that publisher had called. That's wonderful. He felt she deserved the recognition, genuinely. Who was the Agent?
The U Turn 02:10
Goldy pulled the photos up on her lap. Printouts this time because she didn't want to waste think time scrolling again for more online. There were enough puzzle pieces here to make sense of at least a substantial part of the picture, and everything else was after all speculation.
The man was tall. His face a bit leaner than the old man's, longer as if, much like the woman's in the pictures. She was older, yet young, blonde, brown eyed. Pleasant enough but she recalled smugly that Silver had formerly said, out of context, that this is an unsettling combination to her, almost unnatural. Dark beads in a light halo.
The old man smiled vaguely (having already said, Ahh... this is how we look now).
Goldy had observed it at their first meeting, how one eye was darker than the other, and the woman (used to it) pretended not to take notice.
Goldy herself being immensely proud of her own pristine forest green. She had no way of knowing that the old man was particularly fond of the irregularity. "Luminous," he told Silvie on another walk to nowhere around the house; "remember always, symmetry is the esthetic of the stupid."
Silver pushed aside judgement. The old man was, concerning himself, all about Perfection.
She remembered the gasp. Strutting into the mansion with clunking heavy heeled leather boots, after what the old man called, "a summons." Gold had told Silver that she had to show her something. Show them. Something Life changing, and Silver understood, as much as the old man regretted, it was something to do with skewing perceptions. Silver's.
Silver had leaned over the laptop that then rested in the lap of the old man; Gold sitting heavily to the left on that small black couch, awaiting full effect. She had gasped, seeing the handsome young man, and said, "Where you married before?"
That's not him, that's not him. Gold involuntarily shook her head. She couldn't believe how foolhardy Silver could be. Must she play stupid?
The U Turn 02:09
Time for a check in?
Or is there a problem?
mm yes and no
U mentioned shoelaces.
Interesting. That was a bit while back.
yeah and I've been thinking it over...
...it'd take some... nerve... psychologically.
It's not like you actually have to tie them! Just get the shoes on!!
i know but i might
well if you start heading to the post office it makes sense to have something to send and maybe actually postage... right?
But these are digital times.
Velcro is a screen that sticks to itself...?
It's an option.
I guess i miss the old walk... in the daily stream of consciousness...
Is U the Agent in this segment?
Hah... we'll see.
The U Turn 02:08
The Agent. She rested her forehead against the coolness of the windowpane. That was an oddity in itself to mull over. The call from the middle of nowhere, at night, knowing that Silver had gone. Her husband, in follow up, understanding: of course, take anything you like... "We have our memories," too overwhelmed with the loss to look through things. Hugging the little one close and trying to frame the void with gentle words. Heaven, angels; prayers and tears, because they would be seen, and it's ok.
What is death?
Goldy herself would not cry. She'd seen death. She was bedside manner. When the old man was passing, she snapped Silver out of daze, "He's not there! Don't you understand? He's already not here." And she offered him a banana, which he reached out for like a little child spying candy, and taking a spoonful eagerly from her hand, immediately making a sour face: "I-don-wan-it!"
Goldy shed a single tear at Grammy's wake, but for the old man to be cremated, or Gramps who outlived them both, she had nothing. She had hardened. We all go. In the hands of God. No sense blowing your nose and trumpeting weakness.
True, Silvie had a certain place within her being, different. In a sentimental moment, when she had sufficiently pissed everyone but Silver off (with her need to be first), Gold had said softly: "This is your song." It startled Silver. As for inspiration and taking courage, for her it was always the other-way-around.
It might have appeared to go unnoticed
But I've got it all here in my heart
I want you to know, I know the truth, of course I know it
I would be nothing without you
Did you ever know that you're my hero?
You're everything I wish I could be
I could fly higher than an eagle
For you are the wind beneath my wings
She had packed up everything the Agent had asked for, as best as she could. And then she sat down— across from Stanley. Declining coffee or tea, the two waters between them and reflections of Silver.
The U Turn 02:07
Goldy swallowed hard, saying what she should into the cell. Catch number three, with child not her own, was officially Hubby. At some point a woman must also take Responsibility. Polite society calls it propriety. Two doors down from the Proprietary.
When Gold had announced the engagement, Silver immediately saw the specters of him-n-her together in some intimate moment, fully dressed— her allowing his touches like a reticent pet seeking what entreaties he would make. As might be expected, it took over two years to secure all the necessary accoutrements of a proper wedding. Silver could not help but wonder what it meant, as a show of Love. She wouldn't attend, though she wished them well.
"All's good so far, thanks. I've got an hour to gather my thoughts. I'm not sure I'm doing the right thing... of course...
Thanks for thinking about me. Miss you, too, Dear. I will. Love you, too, bye."
An hour to wrap her mind around the disparate existences that had amount to this heap of writing. Not hers, but a body of work that must have some meaning. After all, the publishers had called her. The agent said she was likely the only person, as closest living relation, to be able to give it context. So many loose ends...!
They were interested. Very interested in the back story. She argued, with push-back, questioned privacy. It's not a book. It's not memoirs. It's, it's... she didn't want to say delusions...
"No, it's The Next—a shaving of reality from the edge of fantasy. An unpremeditated act of literacy, of literature. You understand? Loosely scripted. Like a, a paper form of reality TV. There's undervalued potential here."
To make some money, she understood.
Goldy was invested, of course. She felt she owed it to Silvie, or the old man, or to somebody who might not be known yet. Maybe to her boys, or her daughter—as an example. She had ridiculed the effort, but still it was there, page after page, of relentless effort. The trouble was she couldn't quite figure out the "characters," if you will.
U. Silver wrote constantly as if to One, yet it could not be!? any reasonable person could see that... no? She rubbed the inner corners of her eyebrows between thumb and index of her right hand. Silver always had a gift for inventing more work.
The U Turn 02:06
No, it was quite certain. She wasn't adopted. That wasn't it at all. It wasn't the big stick that Gold was dangling over her.
She didn't know, but perhaps she hoped; the old man grieved the living loss of Gold.
"I worry about you, " he let out on one of those long cold walks up and down the hall or was it beyond the garden... no matter. It was the heavy sadness in the landscape and shadow of his body that set the scene in her memory. All Biblical in proportion:
"You are the other child in the prodigal son," and Silver understood how much he would like to bring Goldy back, to shine.
"It's fine." The silence that followed cemented something between them. Gold would forever be ignorant. When she came back, it was too late for her, for Silvie, for the old man.
Silver would be cold, and the old man would pass away a year later, broken.
When Goldy returned, she brought pictures. Recent photographs, exposing (she thought) a sordid past... Stumbling, on a trip to Europe, into an aunt...
"Oh, you're here finally!! then I must show you around..."
Photos, figures, faces in particular, say so much without need of words. Picture after picture. And when the old man saw them he breath out, more to himself than to Gold or Silver, "Ahhh... that is what we look like..."
The words escaping from a cavernous internal prison; lean, hunger stricken, and blinking back from lack of sun.
The emotion was evident. Not at all like in these hole punched letters— that amounted to a sea of typography, with only vague mental images and no real way to picture the addressee. Not a single clear photograph. Gold thought Silver might as well be penning a protagonist into her frivolous existence. Sanity hanging on a metallic thread, bleeding black and blue words on a page.
If Silver were standing in front of her now, still there would be no satisfactory answer:
"We are all children, growing older. What are appearances? We'll be revealed only in the mirror of death. Final proofs. 100%."
So as to the question of Love, which hung over the head of the old man, as much as over Gold and Silver, she hesitated to ask. Gold in heart of hearts was honest enough, at least with herself, to confess that she liked to be wanted.
Even if it meant she was only fucked.