But she won't buy any of it so I keep driving and practicing what I will say when I call her and she answers the phone: Hey Blondie.
At a red light, at a deserted intersection with the sun coming up, I decide you will be a cowboy and I'll be Jane. You won't have a hat but you'll have that rugged way about you, so anybody can see you're a cowboy even before they look down and spot your pointy boots. And you will have those hands, thick from feeding hay and throwing rope. Your voice will be deliberate and thinking where the words roll together, putting an accent on your accent. And I'll make you have that courtesy wink, the gentleman one-eyed blink, where you make it known I'm a lady and you are a man and you're thanking the world for both.
But Val knows me too well and she knows that that isn't good enough for me -- an accent, a pair of boots and a winking eye. So I'll give you a farmhouse, the weather-beaten, creaking kind. There will be mud on your truck and brownish snow at the welcome gate where you will climb out and shoo the cows with a Go On and a whistle and they will Moo in protest and move out of the way of the truck and its muddy sides and hay-smelling bed. And Val will encourage me on, saying, Yeah you like that dirt and animal perfume. And I will say, Yeah but wait, it's not just that. He's a cowboy who cooks in a pot with spices and knows the right type and how much in order to make it more than warm, more like inviting, a soup that's warm and inviting. And I will describe you standing there, testing the flavor, stirring our pot of soup, and me leaning on your counter, elbows on the green tile, embracing a mug of hot chocolate, smiling.
She knows better. She will ask, suspicious, Where's this place? And I'll stutter and stumble and she'll know I'm yanking her Nordstrom shoelaces. So maybe I will make you an architect, somebody she'll like. Me, I'll be your bride. I'll telephone and say, Meet my husband Paul; would you like to come over? I'll butter some garlic bread and we'll have a spaghetti feast.
Val will knock on our stained glass double-door. She will hug my pale dress and admire my leather shoes and I'll show her to our shiny table decorated with our shiny silver forks and napkin rings. Dining together, twirling noodles, Val, Paul and me. The cordless phone will ring and my husband will say, Excuse me, Darling. I'll reply, Sure, Sweetie. Then Val will put down her cloth napkin and turn to me, declaring, He's so handsome.
And I'll put the china away, the wineglasses too, and make my way up the steps to his private work place. And he will be all serious, stressed, with his tie dangling over the chair, back bent over house plans. The pen stays in his hand but the eraser drops and he kisses his wife, me, there in his private place by the drafting table with its paper litter and dusty eraser flecks.
Val will laugh again. Where did you find such a man? You're married? It's been two days! I haven't spoken to you in two days and you're married? Oh, yeah, and I'm Mary Poppins.
Then I'll be stuck again.
It's no use. I'm home now. No more driving time. I have to face the facts, tell her the truth. I'm a slut. I think his name is Tim but maybe it's Tom, oh God -- it-hasn't-even-been- twenty-four-hours-and-I- can't-even-remember. I really am a slut. Maybe it's Jim....
Triumphantly she'll say, Way to go ho.
But she is not home. The phone rings in my hand, desperate and sad, calling her name: Val, Val pick up. But she doesn't. Which means she's tired and her feet hurt from working late and the phone's ringer is unplugged, and her friend is having a crisis and she can't hear it. I'm alone. The world will know. Townspeople will point: There she goes. I might as well walk around naked, flashing them all. But it's cold. I might get freezer burn and my nipples will fall off and more people will point: There goes that slut with no nipples.
Cursing, yelling at the phone, I don't hear the snow begin to fall again. Yet somehow, in a flash, outside my window I see little baby flakes rocking in the wind. Twirling and spinning, dancing and swinging, down-skipping to their own music -- a soft gentle dance.
In the end, it's my story. You are who I want you to be.
So I make you a swan with silky white feathers, who cradled me under a wing. Life partners, you and me, orange bills, webbed feet, gliding on a blue pond, our necks curved, half-heart shapes. Myself, I'll believe: That we were more than a couple of hours, several hundred breaths.