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Virginia Harabin

Surprise Me

Okay, okay so it wasn't at all clear what you wanted, or what I wanted, or really so much whether anybody wanted anything. Except another drink of course. At that time all the drinks in the world seemed like they might be enough. So I wanted more drinking opportunities, and I wanted to answer that lovelike thing I felt, looking at you like you were a mirror that couldn't see me.

I know you were worried about my lover, in spite of my denying him and acting like he was just somebody hanging around. Here you were -- decently not wanting to compete with him for my attention. You said, Well what about North Star there, you seem to love him or to be in love with him or he loves you -- something is going on in those sheets of yours? --but all you got from me was a distracted, "Him? No, he's just gravity but you should go ahead and float." I see now that was unhelpful.

I remember the chair in the corner of your bedroom and looking at you through the eighteen whirling eyes I had then. I'm sure I had also a thousand cigarettes and tumblers full of scotch, and what a fearful island I was, what a shardy demoiselle. So maybe it was me who thought it would be a good idea if somebody seduced somebody else but when we got to your bed we both had bras. I thought perhaps that made me a guy but you put a stop to that. You said: No, you're being a vixen. Then you gathered up your blankets and carpets and wall hangings and whatnot and vanished (I take it) to the couch.

Last time I saw you we sat in my kitchen in Providence and all around me were the drawings of my own head I was making at the time. Art project, I called it. And too late it dawned on me that you could see them too because I had put them on the wall for godsakes and not in a tunnel at the bottom of the sea where they belonged. Must have been like Kurtz in there with all those damaged heads, their worried mouths and desperate hair all over. You tactfully ignored them but you soon got the hell out of my neighborhood in that yellow Saab you'd just bought. Watching you leave I was thinking "I bet that car goes really fast."

All these years, but certainty can be good, and I had certainty to spare that I'd seen the last of you. I was only looking at the insides of my eyelids then, but I have thought since of your sweet heavy hair and your milky neck and now you call to tell me that you think I gave you something.

A revision now, a new kind past, so much harder to invent than all the things that have not yet happened.


Virginia Harabin is a socialist activist who lives in Washington, D.C.

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