The last time I saw her she was wearing a bikini on the beach. There was barely a hint of a paunch that stretched her skin taut. She looked more threadbare then. In the sun. The pacific ocean bearing witness. I remember her hopefulness, I remember my reservation. I remember our mutual friend, beautiful in the sunshine, surrounded by children, red-gold hair framing her in sunset flames. It is hard not to reach for one's empty womb at times like these.
Her fragility, now, in the sunshine, with dust kicking up and the golden-grass hills rolling behind us. There is a rusted out truck from the 1950s, with rounded edges and the hint of its one-time utility. It stands like a monument to failed endeavors, or, at least, that is how I choose to interpret this scene. The colors are muted, antiqued, faded like cotton-dyed cloth that is whipped about on the clothesline.
She smiles and I wonder how the pain can end. How. When a child is gone. When there is no recourse for your actions. She was so damn hopeful, I think, and it puts my own pain into perspective. Her child was born, healthy, beautiful, strong, girl. She gave her child away. To protect her. To carve out a secret safe space, beyond the limits of his threats, his anger, his unrelenting rage. It makes sense at the same time it doesn't make sense at all.
She fled to another land, for a while, I am told. She doesn't tell me these things, but I know them about her. I think back to my other time, when I walked those vast open plains, olive trees and low-hanging oaks, much like the California landscape that lays itself before us. I remember other stories of mothers who let go of their daughters, for love, jailed, for foolishness, lost, forever. I want to tell them, now that those daughters are mothers, now that the distance of years makes such a trespass less offensive.
I offer her food, a soup that I made in an attempt to soothe myself, to soothe the demons that flare up about me. I see them. Always have. I don't want to be happy, I think, because happiness is too much of a burden. I am drawn to sadness. You have too much energy, too much joyfulness, too much. It was just too much for me, I think. I had to step off the roller-coaster at its lowest point, dizzy and delirious. I'm sorry.
I look at her and want to reach across that ocean of pain and offer her something, more than soup, to apologize for doubting. Not that my doubts had any effect on the outcome, rather to apologize for being right. What starts badly, invariably ends badly. Isn't that what you said to me? Badly for some, worse for others. And for others still, it simply never ends.
My womb aches for her. My heart hurts for her. And for me. And for you, though you don't know it. Can't know it. Your happiness is deafening.