Standing in her living room I was oddly uncomfortable. The room was clean. Tidy, and reminiscent of the way model homes were decorated and eerily uninhabited. Those homes that possessed no soul. No rhythm or heartbeat. Without the echo of footsteps on wooden floors and the parade of laughing children on staircases.
She invited me to sit. I lowered my body in unison with my purse onto the brocade tapestry. And then, thinking twice about setting my purse on the sofa pulled it back into my lap. I glanced at my shoes near the front door, a longing in the eyelets peering at me. I wiggled my toes in stockinged feet grateful that I had the fore-notion to cover peeling polish and crooked knuckles.
Balancing the tiniest cup of coffee on a china saucer I watched a cube of sugar slowly dissolve. Who uses sugar cubes any more? She laughed and talked about nothing. My eyes dancing back and forth from her lips, moving up and down, a silly pucker and phony high-pitched baby voice, to the bare walls and coffee table. A candle that had never been lit and a vase of silk flowers.
She must do chores all day. I thought about my own home, stacks of books on shelves and tables and in corners. A fine layer of dust on the blinds and bits of thread and this or that screaming their existence against the dark colored carpet that I hated from the time that we moved in but had been too lazy to do anything about. My sewing machine, I remembered, had been left on the window seat in the kitchenette, out of its case, the spools of thread on their sides threatening to fall and unravel on the linoleum. My heavy ceramic coffee mug, on the table, a ring of sugary sweet caffeine drying inside, a line of it down the outside of the cup lending itself to a unique ellipse on a white paper napkin next to a novel, its pages dog eared and stained from reading and rereading pages that pulsed with their own life.
This home, with its dainty scent of rose petals and pine cleaners did not echo the open arms of her mistress. But she was proper. Far from the wild haired, open mouthed stare of my front room, not used for sitting in delicate conversation, loud music blaring, booty shaking and off-key singing, door slamming cadence. Frying bacon and dirty diapers and smokey burning the second time from the bottom of the stove where the berry pie boiled over. Dirty dishes left for later, when living stopped waiting for something brilliant to happen. Birds that ruffle feathers and dogs that shake loose hairs into the air as they lay in panels of light from curtain-less windows, proof of life when humans, doing human things are absent.
Interrupting her chatter, I asked, because I longed to see and hear the passion in her voice. I wanted to see her heart, raw and naked in the room. Spilling over in color-filled words onto the area rug. If she could just let her hair spill over her shoulders and dance with carefree abandon. Awakening sleeping beasts. Allowing her hands to touch and feel textures and temperatures as they explode in sparkling flashes of light. But she just kept on talking, everything in its place. Everything just so. Proper and in order.