If it had not been for the art show, I never would have met Claire.
I would have never talked to her. I would not have seen her had
she passed me on the street.
I saw her standing in front of a painting. She was hardly noticeable
except for the fact that she was wearing combat boots with her
long, black dress. The crowd was a bit pretentious that evening
and it didn’t quite fit. Her head cocked as she stared at the painting.
Her tightly curled red hair flopped to one side, her glass of wine held
so carelessly that I thought it would spill on the floor. She looked
like a small woodland creature surveying the land before darting out
of it’s hole to grab a freshly fallen nut off the ground. Curious as to
what this one was thinking, I walked over and stood next to her. She
didn’t budge. “What do you see?” I asked.
“Well,” she spoke without moving her head. “It’s very abstract, so
I’m sure interpretations are up for grabs. I see monkeys playing
baseball!” She laughed and asked me what I thought. I suggested
that I needed another glass of wine. The painting was mine.
As we talked, she spoke to me as if I were a cousin or an old friend.
The comfort was refreshing. It only became strikingly apparent
when others came up to chat. Kiss, kiss and hugs and darlings. She
must have found me somewhat transparent in my tiredness of it all.
As beautiful women would stand in front of her to speak to me, she
stood behind them gawking at me and mimicking their behaviors.
I found it difficult to keep a straight face.
When it came time for Claire to leave, I asked her for her phone
number. “You’re kidding?” she grinned. “You want my number? I’m a
Pisces. Do you know what that means?” I shrugged. “It means that I
live in an emotional world of my own design. I love everyone with all
my heart until I don’t. If you do me wrong, I will bury you under my
house with the rest of my boyfriends.” She laughed and gave me her
number. Then, she fluttered out the door like Cinderella, but did not
leave her shoe behind.
Over the next few months, I got to know Claire. Her lightness, her
darkness and everything in between. She had a way of making
everyone happy. She seemed to hug perfect strangers with her smile
as she walked down the street. Claire had a way of making me very
happy. What others did not see was the childish demon that came
out in her when her disappointment in the world brought her to a
screeching halt. I learned to ride out the moments of destruction.
I witnessed her pain and found truth in the fact that her heart had
reason to be crushed.
I loved Claire as much as I feared her. She often joked about the
buried bodies under her house. Sometimes, I became a little weary
at the sight of her chopping vegetables. She would turn around with
knife in hand to kiss me on the cheek. When she noticed the fear on
my face she would laugh without hesitation and set the knife down.
“You, my love, have no reason to fear me,” she would say. I believed
her, sort of.
I wanted Claire to be my wife. It was more a feeling of knowing that
if I walked away from her, the despair of the loss would leave me empty
for an eternity. I wasn’t even sure that she was willing to make this
commitment to me. Still, my mind feared the unknown. I had one thing
left to do before I could ask to share my life with her.
One day, while Claire was gone, I grabbed a flashlight and some
garden gloves. I crawled beneath the porch and began to search
under the house. I was unsure of what I might find, but I was
determined to find it. The dankness of this adventure was terrible.
I brushed off the cobwebs as I went along. I ran my fingers across
the dirt for signs of anything. I searched every inch. I found nothing,
but I pressed on until the end.
In the farthest, darkest corner of the house, I found an envelope. It
was propped up against the back wall. It read simply “Charlie.” My
mind went into shock. She knew I was here. She would be waiting
for me with an ice pick when I crawled back out. My life flashed before
me as I laid with my back on the dirt floor. I opened the envelope slowly.
As I read the words in the letter, my eyes filled with tears. I knew
everything I would ever need to know. It read, “Only you would dare
to search so deep into my world. Marry me.”