Iowa Writes

ALEX RYAN BAUER
In the Lace


     "Have I changed since I met you?"
     Sarah and I sit on the apartment floor. Ian, outside, smokes a cigarette. Sarah keeps pulling the worn afghan over our heads, and underneath the hazy light of the living room shines through tears in the dark blue knit and lands on her face like leopard print.
     "Have I changed since I met you?" She asks, and the music rushes in like the score in a Godard film, taking over the entire moment. It is an old song, but it sounds fresh and green like spring smells. The echo and reverb swell and suddenly the waves of a vast sonic ocean are lapping around the warm barrier of the blanket. The words are the most miserable poem I never wrote. This is why events unnerve me; they find it all, a different story...
     I look at Sarah and she has changed, and she stares back with those great big Bambi eyes like she never broke a law in her life.
     "You've changed," I say. "For the better." I am being honest. I think.
     "But every time we see each other it's like nothing has change at all."
     I can't remember if that line was my own or if I stole it from a movie.
     A grainy guitar line dances through the room, light and prophetic over a quick bass. The stereo speakers vibrate. Underneath the blanket the light from the living room seems to illuminate more than just matter. I want to kiss Sarah but she's my best friend's girlfriend and prettier than any girl who'd ever kiss me back.
     I can see the shape of Ian outside the window, smoke drifting out of his mouth like Jean-Paul Belmondo and I am reminded that Sarah only loves me because Ian does, and that soon the song will be over and Ian's cigarette will be finished.

     "Have I changed since I met you?"
     Sarah and I sit on the apartment floor. Ian, outside, smokes a cigarette. Sarah keeps pulling the worn afghan over our heads, and underneath the hazy light of the living room shines through tears in the dark blue knit and lands on her face like leopard print.
     "Have I changed since I met you?" She asks, and the music rushes in like the score in a Godard film, taking over the entire moment. It is an old song, but it sounds fresh and green like spring smells. The echo and reverb swell and suddenly the waves of a vast sonic ocean are lapping around the warm barrier of the blanket. The words are the most miserable poem I never wrote. This is why events unnerve me; they find it all, a different story...
     I look at Sarah and she has changed, and she stares back with those great big Bambi eyes like she never broke a law in her life.
     "You've changed," I say. "For the better." I am being honest. I think.
     "But every time we see each other it's like nothing has change at all."
     I can't remember if that line was my own or if I stole it from a movie.
     A grainy guitar line dances through the room, light and prophetic over a quick bass. The stereo speakers vibrate. Underneath the blanket the light from the living room seems to illuminate more than just matter. I want to kiss Sarah but she's my best friend's girlfriend and prettier than any girl who'd ever kiss me back.
     I can see the shape of Ian outside the window, smoke drifting out of his mouth like Jean-Paul Belmondo and I am reminded that Sarah only loves me because Ian does, and that soon the song will be over and Ian's cigarette will be finished.
     Sarah's hands look small and childlike. When I press mine softly against hers, she laughs because my middle finger is an inch longer than her own.
     It happens after my last sip of Heineken. The city all of a sudden stretches out below like a giant web of lights - all kinds of lights - orange, blue, white, red. Stoplights and go-lights, car headlights, streetlights like a million tiny lanterns burning through the dark of the November night. It is as if the metropolis is composed of lace, a delicate brilliance somehow disguising all that steel and concrete, the hard pavement, the people.
     Flying over the island, I can see out the plane window and down, down into the field of a baseball stadium. It glows clean with green-green grass.
     The bright grid of the city disappears from under the plane. There is nothing in the air. In it, traveling at six hundred miles per hour, I am weightless.
     For a moment the feeling persists. And then the plane lands. I am in the lace. Sarah is there visiting friends and going to photoshoots in Brooklyn. Somewhere back in the Midwest, Ian is drinking malt liquor from a convenience store and listening to Joy Division songs on repeat.
     Sarah exhales smoke as we walk by the Whole Foods in Union Square. She is wearing a black leather jacket and a black Chanel t-shirt. Strolling towards Chelsea, she sees a big black dog on the sidewalk. It paces back and forth and jumps up and down in a fit of excitement. We move closer and realize it is only a garbage bag.
     It's December, and Iowa looks bleak after all the lights of the city. It's Christmastime and Ian is visiting from Madison. We drink Raki, and when I sip the milk-white liquor, the sweet taste of anise follows a subtle burn.         
     "How did you find New York?"
     I want to answer him. I want to tell him that I may or may not be in love with Sarah, that I've never been more miserable than I have been since leaving her and the skyscrapers and the subway to return to the Midwest. Since leaving those places in the city with lights, those without, those places where the sunlight is like dust. But I can see in Ian's eyes that he probably already knows all this. I just tell him what I tell everyone: "New York looks just like it does in the movies."

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


ALEX RYAN BAUER

Alex Ryan Bauer is a French and Comparative Literature major. He is from Audubon, Iowa, home of Albert, the world's largest bull. In 2006 he attended the University of Iowa's Young Writers' Studio where he fell in unrequited love with a girl from Malibu. Alex enjoys hip-hop, Hemingway, and reality television. He has written for Dejour Magazine.

This page was first displayed
on July 22, 2011

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