tongue tied to lips
a sanctuary of restlessness
your hands, on fire
a body too weak
my interest peaked.
your pull and push
a lustful haze
Is the sky the limit
When we're on the sixth floor?
The bleeding sun into the gauzy sky
and each window separates
The depth between pixals and prison.
Long Island Sounds like flat soda
Across painted tin-foil
too distant to run my fingers across
but close enough to see the light
She grasped at the largest bag, a faded blue duffle that was ripping at the seams, and looked up toward the cabin. It seemed older now-- brittle and flakey, like the skin of an elderly nun who cared much more about her presence than her appearance. The thick pine showed it's knotted and bruised shoulders, elbows, and knees. Cassidy remembered how it had knelt there since before she could read books. Those were times where she read leaves instead, and counted the years of a murdered tree, and sat on what was left.
The bag was more awkward than heavy, and Cassidy steadied her body and threw it across her shoulder, leaning down to pick up her purse. God knew, she was not letting some money-hungry bear steal the last of her cash. She waddled up the whethered stairs and propped the screen door open, leaning against it as she fiddled with her keychain.
It was cleaner than Cassidy had expected. There was a slight musty smell, and a few tumbleweeds of dust floated underneath the table as she let the door swing closed. Cassidy knew her father had been renting the cabin out here and there for some extra money. At least that was what he had said. Cassidy knew it wasnt about the money-- he just didnt want the place to go to waste. To be forgotten.
After unpacking the car completely, Cassidy plopped herself at the kitchen table. She looked at her phone and at the service bars dropping like flies. Then a light, a buzz, and Aarons face on the screen. Cassidy squinted her eyes, scrunched her eyebrows, and picked up the phone.
"Oh, well, look who it is!" She exclaimed, ready for war.
"Listen, Cass, I'm sorry. I know..." Aaron had already dropped his shield.
"You know? You know that I had to carry every damn bag inside, and the pots and pans that I told you would be better off in a large tuperware? But, no, you told me they would be more compact if they were loose!" Cassidy had her sword to his throat.
"I'm just going to tell you. Please don't be mad. But..." Aaron's hands were in the air, holding a white flag. "I have to work over night."
Cassidy was silent on the other end, gripping her fists, clenching her teeth, and, sucking in her lips.
"Sweetie, I know, I know. I told you I would be there, and I already told Ben and Sarah and Rose and they are cool to leave in the morning with me. They would meet you up there, but you know their car sitch and it would just be better if we all went together in the morning." Aaron could sense the silence and needed to come out of this battle with more than a white flag.
"...Sweetie... I know you're mad, but I told you I wouldnt leave you there alone, and..." His voice crackled and crumbled and dissapeared.
Cassidy slammed the phone into the table, and stood up, arms stiff against the table. Her hair fell strait around her face as she breathed deep, whispering to herself that she shouldnt have expected any different.
A car door slammed. Cassidy looked around for a weapon. She creeped over to the fireplace across the room and grabbed a long, iron, fire-poker. She snuck around the corner and then slid her body against the wall, trying to get closer to the window. There were clunking noises, and Cassidy peered out to see the shadow of what looked like a tall man.
She had told her father that she and her friends had booked the cabin for the week and didn't think it could be some mistaken customer. She prepared herself for a break in. It was one of the nicer cabins in the area, after all. Cassidy thought about the TV and the sound system, and even considered it being a homeless woods-person looking for food. Maybe it was Big Foot.
The figure creeped closer and finally poked through the screen door, easing his way inside.
"Get the fuck out!" Cassidy screamed as she preppared to swing.
"Whoa! Whoa!" he shouted, his palms out flat
"oh...my god. Jake! I thought..." she stumbled. "I'm sorry, I thought..." she gasped and then laughed.
"Wow. Okay, it's okay. Aaron didn't tell you I was coming?"
"No, I. I mean, we broke uh... I mean, the cell reception is really bad up here, and the phone call broke off."
Jake's eye brow's lifted. "Yeah, I guess the rest of the crew isn't going to make it," he paused. "Bummer."
"Yeah, I mean, whatever. I can't say I didn't expect it. His work always comes first. I can't remember the last time we..." Cassidy put her foot in her mouth. "I mean, he's just never around, you know?"
"Hey, Rose isn't here either." Jake shrugged
"Yeah, I noticed. I guess she's going up with Aaron, Ben, and Sarah tomorrow. She didnt want to stay the night with you?"
"You know how she is. Has to be with Sarah every moment. She's not a big fan of cabin's anyway, so an excuse for an extra night in the temperpedic mattress was all she needed." Jake chuckled and scrunched his mouth slightly.
"Well... thanks. At least I don't have to be up here alone." Cassidy smiled.
Cassidy walked back to the fireplace to put down the poker. The mantal was eye level with her five-foot-two frame and it looked like a brick temple, honoring the charred wood inside. The bricks were faded and the edges had been dulled from years of hard winters. On the mantal was an ebony statue of a woman laying down, belly up, and arching upward. It was made of some smooth stone and had very little detail. She had always liked the simplicity and beauty of the statue, though she thought it never quite fit.
"We're going to have to get some firewood from out back," Cassidy shouted back to Jake.
Jake was in the kitchen filling the fridge with beer. Cassidy leaned back to stare, just for a moment, focusing in on his large hands as they moved each bottle. He was dexterous, even fluid in his movements and his frame was strong and tall. Jake closed the refridgerator feeling Cassidy's stare.
"What's up?" Jake asked. "I didnt hear what you said back there."
"Oh, I was just saying we should bring some firewood in and get a fire started. It's going to get pretty cold tonight." Cassidy tilted her head. "Wine too?"
Jake had just moved a bottle of Cabernet Savignon to the counter. There was a picture of a cabin with a tall pine tree and crescent moon on it, and in large cursive, it read "Woodsy" with a smaller description underneath: "An earthy blend of smokey cedar and dried fig"
"I thought I remembered you liking Cabernet." he smirked.
"I guess it wont be such a bad night after all." Cassidy walked toward the door, grabbing her jacket. "Well? How about that firewood?"
Jake followed Cassidy outside and around the back of the cabin. The trees littered the ground, shedding their skins like amber snakes. Jake noticed how, despite this, the pines stood erect and full, as if they were the Gods of the land-- the others bowing down to them, afraid of their pine-needle-wrath and tall, swaying bodies. He painted the picture in his mind and stored it there--folded it up like a piece of loose-leaf paper, saving it for a time he would need it.
Jake grew up surrounded by busy street walkers with traffic-light-heads and concrete hearts. You could almost see metal gleaming in his eyes from when they built the bridges. He was all wheels.
He had grown up in the same neighborhood as Aaron, and could remember trick-or-treating as kids, dressed up like Ninja Turtles-- that feeling that their bags were never full enough-- the nights that lasted forever and ended at ten p.m.
Cassidy pulled the tarp to the side, revealing the chunks of broken trees. The wood was faded, much like the cabin's exterior--weathered and worn. Old enough to tell stories. She pulled a log off the top and threw it to Jake. His eyes widened as he caught it and then smiled.
"Here, take a few." Cassidy said, throwing another. "We're going to need to get that fire going if you wanna keep warm tonight. There might be electricity, but the heater shit the bed years ago."
Cassidy piled three large pieces of wood on her arms and against her chest. Her white tank top was smudged with dirt, and the weight of the logs had pulled it lower, accentuating the fullness of her breasts. Jake watched her as she picked up one smaller branch off the ground and placed it on top, balancing herself just enough to make it work. Cassidy smiled, then squinted her eyes.
"Ah!" Jake screamed, throwing his wood on the ground and brushing himself off.
"What? What? What happened?" Cassidy asked.
"Oh...nothing. I, uh. I thought I felt something move."
Cassidy laughed, walking towards the front. "Come on!" she called back.
Cassidy placed her pile in the box next to the fireplace and Jake followed, taking her lead.
"Sorry about that," Jake mumbled "I just dont like spiders." he paused and looked at Cassidy, standing there with her hand on her hip. "One time, when I was driving to the garage, a spider dropped straight down from the ceiling of my car. I freaked out a little and flung it to the other side of the car. But then another one dropped. And another one. They were coming from everywhere. So I pulled over the car and got out as fast as I could. I don't know what happened. It must have been a nest that hatched or something. It was like the Twilight Zone or somethin'."
"Man, that sucks. I mean, I wouldn't want to deal with that either. But they aren't so bad, you know? They eat mosquitos, and those are a real bitch. In fact, I've never been bitten by a spider, but mosquitos-- they'll get you twenty times in a row!"
"I guess that's true." Jake nodded.
"Don't worry. I'll save you from the spiders," Cassidy said, flexing her arms like Wonder Woman.
"What's that?" Jake asked, looking towards the kitchen.
There was a faint buzzing sounds coming from under the table.
"Oh, must be my phone. It must have fallen off the table," she said, leaving the room.
Cassidy flipped open the phone revealing four missed calls. It buzzed again, lighting up, flashing Aarons huge smiling face across the screen. Cassidy looked at the phone and then to Jake. She looked at the phone again and groaned as she clicked and placed the phone against her head.
"Hi, honey. How are things?" Aaron said causciously.
"Everything is great." she said.
"Listen, I'm so sorry. I know it's your birthday weekend, and I totally ruined everything but," Aaron hands were making big circle gestures in the air, and Cassidy knew it.
"But, what? But, you just don't give a shit?" Cassidy retorted. "Because it seems that way to me. Listen, this isn't the first time this has happened. Maybe you're forgetting, but Christmas? Valentines Day? Oh, our four-year-anniversary?"
"Listen, sweetie,"Aaron pleaded
"No, Aaron," Cassidy paused. "This. This is it. I'm done. I'm tired of it all. Really. I'm done."
"Baby, you're not thinking clearly, you're mad. You're just mad. I told you I would make it all up to you, and I will."
"Oh yeah? When? Next year? In ten years? In our next life? I'm tired of waiting around for you. Please don't bother coming up this weekend. I don't even feel like staying here anymore. I'm going home tomorrow," she decided.
The other end of the line was silent. Aaron was wrong and he knew Cassidy wasn't going to budge this time. He had left her there, at The Red Rooster Restaurant downtown, with a bottle of wine and an empty seat on their anniversary, just the month before, and with his knees on the ground, begged Cassidy for just one more change. Promised that work wouldn't get in the way any more. He broke the promise.
"I'm sorry, Cassidy" he muttered as Cassidy closed her phone, pressing her palms against her forehead, trying to rub the disapointment out of her brain.
Jake tip-toed into the kitchen and popped the bottle of wine open, pouring an extra large glass.
"Sounds like you need this," Jake said, extending his arm.
Cassidy took a large gulp, locking here eyes on Jakes.
"Good?" Jake asked
"Couldn't be better," she took another swig.
"If you want to talk about it, you know..." Jake bit his lip
"What's there to talk about? I saw it coming. I'm sure you did too. You know how he is. Ever since that promotion he's just no where to be found. I mean, he even stopped playing with you and the guys."
"Yeah, those were good times." Jake said, walking over and pouring a glass for himself. "He's one hell of a drummer."
"And a Hell of a boyfriend too." Cassidy moved her bangs to the side. Her eyes were wide and the color of bourbon. They seemed to catch everything inside them and never let it go. "It's cool, in all honesty," she continued, "things just havent been the same lately...well, for a long time, actually. I just felt like I kept making excuses, you know? The fire was just gone."
Jake sipped his wine and sat at the table across from Cassidy. "You know what, Cass?" he paddled on the table and then got up, walking over to the bedroom where he found his backpack and the beds already made.
Jake came back with a CD and a fresh pack of playing cards.
"It's still your birthday." he smiled. "Look, Aaron doesnt know what he's got..." he paused, "had. He doesnt know what he had. You just gotta forget about him and have yourself a birthday."
Cassidy pulled her hair into a ponytail. It was barely shoulder length, and was the color of fresh maple syrup. She sighed and put her hand on her cheek, feeling the warmth of her own frustration.
Jake smirked and looked down at the table.
"What?" Cassidy snapped.
"Oh, uh, nothing." Jake muttered "Its just... did Aaron ever tell you how hot you look when you're pissed?"
Cassidy laughed. "You're such an asshole."
Cassidy looked down at the floor and answered the question in her head. No. Aaron had never told her she looked hot before in any way. Cute-- yeah, sure. But hot? It just wasnt how he thought of her.
Jakes eyes burnt into hers just long enough for Cassidy to feel the sensation seep through her veins and leave goosebumps on her forearms. It lasted an hour, or maybe just thirty seconds before Jake broke his stare and got up to face the sink.
"Hey--what are all of these pots and pans for anyway?"
They were strewn across the countertops, homeless, stained, and warped. Cassidy remembered calling her father the week before the trip, and going down the list.
"Pillows, towels, dish soap... what about pots and pans?"
"You're going to want to bring your own, honey. We had an incident last month." Cassidy's father explained
"Incident? What do you mean incident?"
"Well, the last group that was up there, thought it would be a good idea to build a fire and cook the food in the pans right over it. Most of the pans melted. I guess they took the rest home or dumped them. We only found a few of the warped ones out behind the wood pile." he finished
"What idiots. Okay, I guess I can bring my own. I have a big tuperware container I can throw them in."
"Are you going to make your famous chili? Your mom was going to make it for you for your birthday, but since you're going up there for the week..." he trailed off. "Maybe your friends will make it for you."
Cassidy remembered hearing his attempted smile through the receiver.
Cassidy realized she was zoning out when Jake turned around.
"Oh- the pots and pans. I was thinking we could make some chili, or soup or something. I brought stuff for grilled cheese too. What do you think?"
"I could go for that," Jake said. "Moving all that wood built up an appitite." Jake strethed his arms back in the air revealing a tattoo on his lower ribs. Cassidy squinted to try and discern the image, but his shirt dropped down and she looked away instead.
"Yeah, grilled cheese sounds good to me. I don't feel much like cooking anyway." Cassidy said as she got up and walked towards the fridge. "Chedder okay?"
"My fav." Jake announced. "Mind if I start some music?"
Cassidy nodded as she grabbed the loaf of bread. "Go for it."
As Jake pushed the CD into the ancient player and pressed "play," he thought back to the first time he'd seen Cassidy. He was leading a cover of "Break on Through" by The Doors on his keyboard, as she walked into Castle Iron. It was a Wednesday and the show was pushed back to ten and the crowd was slim but full of regulars. Old Ted, with his tattered beanie and a double of whiskey was sitting on the bar stool close to the stage, and Avery, the bartender had her boobs pushed up to her neck and those daisy-dukes on, even though it was October. The whole place smelt like stain remover and Guinness.