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July 30, 2010 / douglasnyback


This one is an epic one from my New York Days.  Holds a very special place in my heart.  There’s a story here.  It’s long.


A Short Story By:  Douglas W. Nyback

Georgia is a woman.

Right now the lights in my room are playing tricks on me because there are no lights.  There’s lightning outside, and it’s flashing abrasively against the cashmere glow of my laptop as I type these words.

These ones, right here.

This lightning has no respect for how it makes the ladybugs on the stationary beside my mouse pad dance causing me think I’m being overrun by an infestation of earwigs.  This lightning has no respect for how it’s thunderous after effect isn’t what’s keeping me awake.  This lightning only holds respect for the clouds that created it, and the rain it illuminates; crafting a spectacle so divine we have to be asleep to enjoy it.

Oh, and Georgia is a woman.

How I met Georgia isn’t as important as how I can’t sleep since I lost Georgia.  If Georgia were a Portuguese Waterdog she would have run away by now but at least I would have gotten some love and affection first.  Maybe even a little tongue.

She was so perfect way back when.  Back when she was in my life and I didn’t quite appreciate it until she wasn’t.  The way she had a bachelors degree in something requiring a fair load of intelligence but worked part time at Banana Republic and the Broadway Gift Shop where she met me.

After our first shift together we both checked when the other was working next.

She tried so hard to get rid of her twang.

Here where she’s not, my knuckles look painfully articulate as they punch the keys to the tune of four square inches of pattering rain fall.  Here I left the window open because believe it or not she and I are breathing the same air, but it’s so humid I might as well be swimming in my bedroom.  Maybe if the rain keeps up sooner or later I’ll be able to taste her.

The thing I’ll always remember is Fifth Avenue.

The Plaza Hotel had been shut down; I looked up at it, lost in the bitterness of such a magnificent slice of history reduced to becoming a filing cabinet for ghosts, nothing left but the aftertaste of rich deeds done to fill cheap needs.

Hers was the scent that brought me back to the world.  That mix of shampoo, peaches and the daily sweat.

Hers is the scent I remember to escape.

Her brown hair was perfect so I knew she hadn’t washed it in at least four days, it only got that way when the right mix of product, dirt, Manhattan grime and natural oil got caught in between perfectly split ends and ended up making a masterpiece by mistake.  Her hair framed a face so remarkably distinctive it made me feel like home every time I gazed upon it.  Her eyebrows, groomed to perfection with just enough left over to make it seem like they hadn’t been, her nose, upturned and prone to wrinkles when she laughed.  Eyes with bags that no makeup could cover, but with irises so deep you’d swear you were walking in a forest every time you looked into them.  And lips.  She had lips.

“Where are we going?”  She asked me.

“Let’s just walk.”

And walk we did.

Those mannequin hands of Tiffany’s laid severed in window frames, caught on the verge of freedom, just an inch away from a clean theft.  The glorious rings it takes a year to save for begged for the freedom of matrimony as the dead hands that carried them ached over the materialism of their burden.  As the eerie light of the urban window display melded with the thick summer smog of Manhattan I couldn’t help but wonder if the glass in front of me existed or I’d fallen into a diamond swimming pool.

She said, “I can’t wait to get married.”

Like this shouldn’t have been a red flag.

“I can wait.”

She just smiled up at me, flashing both upper and lower teeth in a grin she knew to be totally adorable.  This was the kind of grin that seemed to say, “You’d marry me if it came down to it.”  A smile like that makes a man melt.  It made me melt.  Every piece of me wanted to take her into my arms.

Oh.  She had a boyfriend.

Has a boyfriend.

I tried desperately to maintain a smooth gait in order to pass St. Patrick’s Cathedral moderately free of sin.  But the problem with late night churches and someone you’re secretly on the brink of love with is the stairs.  There’s something about them that beckons, it screams with layered malice and the hope of redemption.  These stairs want you to sit, spend the time, take a look in her eyes and find that last stones throw to true love.  These religious exteriors can only deal in love.  Love and judgment.

Boy did I fit that bill.

There with moderately ancient spires above us and the hope of God behind thick doors I asked her what a good friend should ask her, “How’s your guy…what’s his name again?”

“Tyler.”  She said.

“Right, so how is he?”

I swear to God all women know the instant a guy is attracted to them.  They can smell it.  This wasn’t an accidental miniature monologue:

“Before I left Georgia all my friends said that we wouldn’t make it.  I laughed at them.  I remember laughing.  All those useless warnings…”

At a time like this all you can do is smile and nod.

So I smiled knowingly, and I nodded convincingly.

Here now, my desk is different, and the paint around my room has changed because this short story took too much of a toll on me to keep going one and a half pages in.  I let it sit collecting digital dust on my laptop, stuck in the limbo of the unfinished projects of my My Documents file.  This poor bastard short story.  This poor bastard me.  Beside me is a different glass of whisky with two chunks of the same sub zero H2O, outside it’s not raining anymore, nowadays the leaves are falling with enough venom to keep the clouds at bay.  Now the wind blows cold, and my memories of Georgia are getting just a little frosted over, like the windows of a summer house as it turns to winter and you don’t quite realize it until old Jackie Frost kisses the sills.

I suppose a lot’s changed since I lost her, back those months ago.  Certainly lots has changed since I actually said goodbye to her, way back when in Manhattan.  Maybe my skin’s thicker now.  Maybe she’s stuck underneath all my new layers.

She had a birthday recently.  I was glad to know she’d made it another year.

But way back then, back on Fifth Avenue while I was smiling and nodding she went ahead and continued:

“…But now…” She said, “Now I don’t quite know.  Now I’m starting to think that maybe they were right.  Now there’s so much more weighing down on me that I wonder if he’s something I need to keep on my mind.  Keep boiling on my backburner.”

I asked, “Like what?”

She looked at me and gave me a little grin that asked if I really wanted to know?  Her eyes warned that it was going to sound silly to me.

I pressed, “Come on.  Shoot.”

Finally, “Pressure.  It’s pressure.”

She paused and her petite shoulders slumped under the weight of it all and my heart broke just a bit.  A chip I never got back.

“Back home everybody’s got money invested in me.  All these people that funded my move out here, people that gave me start up money.  Hours of prayers, thousands of hopes, hundreds of hugs, kisses galore.  All these church going Southern Baptists with the faith that God will guide me where I need to go…”

She sighed.

“I just don’t know if I’m going to have the strength to go where I need to.  Being an actress here is hard. Hell, staying alive here is hard.”

There was something she wasn’t saying and I knew it.  Two choices.  Keep going and find that little piece of her that closes that stones throw distance, or let it go at that and allow the bygones to flow over.

“What else?”

This time when she looked at me she didn’t smile.

“The thing I know is that deep down they all want me to come back.  They want me to fail.  If I succeed it means their lives weren’t everything they could be.  So more and more, piece by piece in conversations I’m getting asked when I’m going to move home, and how much longer can a woman wait for her big break?  And the answer is I don’t know…”

This is where I chimed in, “You don’t seem like the giving up type.”

And she’s not.

Which is why I’m sitting here at my different desk, listening to different music, drinking different whisky with similar ice.  It’s why maybe she was the true one for me and I let her go because she “isn’t the giving up type.”

We got up from those stairs.  We made our way south to Grand Central Station.  The way the street lamps lit her up was almost violent as I took her in my arms and I wanted to kiss her so bad, but I settled for a too-long-hug instead.

If I’d known we were on an embrace countdown I would have held on longer.

And here at my new desk I’ve shed my tears for her already.  They’ve spilled into whatever gutters they’ve needed to and I still can’t get her off of my mind.  My window is still open because I’m still breathing the same air she is.

And I fell in love with her, but it was too late.

Because she’s not the giving up type.

And she wouldn’t give up on him.

So she gave up on me.

And I can’t blame her.

But a piece of me will always belong to her on Fifth Avenue.

Because Georgia is a woman, but she was never mine.


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