Valeria


Jun 8, 2006


The Bottom Line The Bottom Line didn't even remember a welcome-home banner for me.

(What in the hell? She's back again?)

Valeria Valeria you were the love of a young boy's
life and when you disappeared from it the rest of his days
started to just crumple, like a piece of paper in your tiny china-white hand, like extra fabric on a too-long shirt when you sat on it just right. And you didn’t leave quietly, Valeria. You left in a cacophony of hangovers and clink-clink ice cubes in a glass and the crisp quenching of a scented candle with tap water and…oh, there are lots of sounds a young boy could associate with your drama queen exit, Valeria. But the one that sticks in his head the most is the screeching of your tires, and then the happy scream as a yellow taxicab went staggering off into the sunrise.

That was cold, Valeria. You didn’t say goodbye.

Yes you did, I forgot, you wrote a message in steam on the shower door and by the time he went in to wash his face it was already fading and his bleary eyes could barely read the rest. ‘Leaving’ was still there. So was ‘sorry.’ ‘Love,’ however, was notably absent. You said it enough times while you were together to pull him through a split, but one last time would have been wonderful. One last time would have been the methadone to wean him off the heroin. Now he’s doing it cold turkey, Valeria, and it’s because you were stingy with steam on a shower door.

Valeria Valeria with the wild mane of red hair and the big easy smile. That beautiful red hair, criss-crossed copper wires boinging out of your head like electrified power lines. What did you do to your hair to give it such ferocious presence? Every time you entered a room, Valeria, even if his back was to you, he could tell you were there. The smell would change because of your hair, become all brown sugar and mint juleps, and the light would change because of your huge, wide smile. Huge, wide, and full of incredible light contours that, even now, seem physically impossible for just one smile. That was always you, though. Valeria full of light, and then full of dark.

Valeria, why did you draw the curtains on m—on him? And why did you pull your hair into a tight bun and pull your lips into a tight line and refuse to smile? When he put his arms around you, why did you stiffen and shove him away? Why did you close every door and block every window and wear your sunglasses in your gloomy artificial deathbed? What happened to your red dresses and peacock-feather hats and fushcia eye shadow…what happened to the Valeria he loved, and when did she become Valeria barely-living?

And did it have something to do with the strange pills you put in your bourbon?

By the time you up and left, Valeria, your cocktails had become the whole S-M-T-W-T-F-S old-folks’ medicine cabinet and your bedroom had become a pharmacopoeia. Everywhere, little pill canisters, of all varieties. This for infections and that for headaches. Here for depression and there for sleeping. Amber bottles half-empty by the sink, little Dixie cups everywhere with droplets of thick codeine syrup congealed in them, and of course, everywhere you stepped, a different colored pill crunched under your foot. You would lie down and pills would be the stucco behind your head. One green here. One blue there. One red behind you. One white in front.

Valeria Valeria a thousand times. All I wanted to do was help. All he wanted to do was help.

All anyone ever wanted to do was love you, Valeria. Full of light or dark or endless pills, all I wanted was to love you.

(Yea? Nay? No opinion? Something?)

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