Bedford, Take Two
By D. Quentin Paquette
Since the early morning, I’ve been sitting by the front window. Winter light makes it through leafless trees to light the page. Branch patterns sway and the light shimmers. Long shadows stretch out across the wood floor, angling acutely across the boards. The chair on the other side of the window is empty. There’s a coaster there as yet unburdened. On my side, the coaster holds a coffee cup just refilled, exhaling a steam made visible by the brightness and angle of the light.
I got up early to try and open it up again. At least two hours have gone by, and I’m still where I was when I started. I know it’s a good story, full enough of meaning to really be something. I could tell that when it first occurred to me. Maybe it’s too full, and I can’t get into it. I look again at what I have so far. I can only see some of the foundation. Just a bunch of lines with gaps in between, and not much cutting across to connect them:
It hadn’t been planned, the solution came to them too late. The circumstances seemed unfavorable. Many of their circumstances appear that way from the outside.
Not enough time left to do much, but too much time left to do nothing, and still impossible to part again. Not ever, until the very last possible moment has passed.
The world inside the car supersedes that outside, and a turn gets missed.
The valley and the car are in twilight shadow. The mountains above still in light.
The colors of the sky, on a indigo background, are apparent also in the trees under a viridian wash.
As the Earth tries to reproduce something of the heavens.
Turning back now, taking a different road of the same name.
The mountain to the East has a bright light at the crest. It’s growing, drawing their attention.
As it clears the treeline, it takes the shape of the moon.
Knowing that it was for this moment that they had been brought to this point.
The moon continues to rise, the full-bellied Moon, Harvest Moon. Lighting the meadow before them, and the creek bed, and the mountainside. Until the way ahead is brightly lit and behind them deep in shadow.
Just pushing harder is never the answer. Maybe I should try going away to something else, coming back to look again later. Maybe I should work on the puzzle.
I’m going back and forth between notebook and puzzle. I keep staring at the same page in the notebook. I’m only managing a few letters at a time in the puzzle. I can only seem to get the down answers and a couple of the long across ones, but haven’t been able to figure out the theme. It’s starting to take on the same shape as the story.
The story again. How to make a story out of such scenes? Is it possible to describe something so singular? Can I write it without even knowing myself what it all mean? A few ideas present themselves, but each already contain their own failure. I turn each of them in my head, but none of them fit the problem.
I close my eyes and let my head fall back and the sunlight warm the top of my head.
I hear the footsteps approach, and listen to the lifting of the paper from the coffee table. Then a hand shades my head and runs through my hair.
“20 across is monkeybusiness, and let’s see, um, 32 across is takeyourhandsoffme, and 25 across is,… twoblackeyes.”
Oh, sure, I see it now, it hadn’t registered before.
“What else you have you been doing all this morning?”
Working on Bedford again, still can’t capture it.
“What’s wrong with the way it is?”
It’s not right, it’s too vague, too observed, I want to be able to get in there and walk around.
“Maybe you’re not at the right scale. Any coffee left?”
Actually, I just made some more.
“I’ll be right back.”
I watch you walk back in with your coffee, sit in the other chair, and smile. What? What is it?
“Tell me about Bedford.”
“High class, right?”
That was exactly the kind of dinner I wanted tonight. I was just thinking we’ll have to be sure to always stop here when we come through together.
“I was thinking the same thing. That will be so good. It seems such a long way off sometimes.”
Here we are right now…
“I know, what do you want to do now?”
Not sure. What time do you have to go back?
“Let’s say 8:30, that way I’ll be sure to leave by 9:30.”
9:30? You sure? That doesn’t get you back until midnight.
“Oh yeah, you’re right. I’ll just go back right now then. Great seeing you again.”
Wait, that’s not what I meant…
“Relax, I’m kidding. I’m not worried about getting back late, I just don’t want to have to think about leaving again.”
I take you to the passenger side door, unlock and open it. Okay, how about leaving your car here and let’s just see what’s around.
Or, we could just go over and hang aroundzz in the Sheetz parking lotzz.
“Oh yeah, you really know how to show a girl a good time.”
It’s been good before.
“Okay now that you’re driving, where are we going?”
I still don’t know, head into town maybe?
“We should go to one of the parks, see the sign?”
Yeah that might be good.
“Well you missed the turn.”
Oh, you really meant it, okay…
“Why are you turning in here?”
Just turning around here, although we could ask…
“They might not even charge us…”
Maybe next time, now where was that sign?
“There, Shawnee, 10 miles.”
Okay, maybe a walk around the lake, maybe there’s even a covered bridge. Might be dark by the time we get there though… What?
“Look at you. You’re really here.”
And you. How’d this occur to you anyway?
“To me? I thought this was our idea.”
Well, I had thought about driving the whole way up…
“I was talking to S about it, and she asked if I thought you were already on your way to surprise me. I told her it was possible, that if I didn’t have that appointment tomorrow I would’ve driven down to surprise you. Walk right in to work, ask to see you… But your driving up goes beyond the impractical.”
I’ve been known to choose the impractical. It was better than asking you to drive; that would’ve just felt selfish to me.
“Are you completely oblivious?”
No, I know, just,…
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