Flight by Kelly Vivanco

Keep Art Alive :: “Flight” :: Art by Kelly Vivanco

Thought of you as my mountain top,
thought of you as my peak,
thought of you as everything, 
I’ve had but couldn’t keep.”

She was not from our town, though she was known already, talked about as a reference point, a historical landmark, but never as an actual girl. She was the stuff of earth bound legend, not mythical or comic book literate, but urban and just out of reach. She was well-traveled, wore vintage prescription glasses with the lenses swapped out for clear glass. She had dated a bassist from a well-known rock band, and had gone off with him on tour, travelling at his side, until it all went sour between them. It was then that she had hit the road alone, hitchhiking across the country, making a stop off to us. Her sister lived in town and was part of our group. She was as plain as the rest of us, remarkable only for her pale blue eyes and rumored sexual proclivities shared with a few boys from the fringe of our circle of friends. We had heard the stories about her far away sister, but the real version was something more all-together, and as she walked into the din of the local bar everyone turned to stare, the smoky room going uncharacteristically silent.

I stared from behind my overgrown bangs, half-wanting to go to her and lead her right back out the way she came in. But, the other half of me was swirling around in the connected pool of awe with the rest of the room, drifting and falling fast. She had a sense of the world that floated off of her, blowing out of her mouth as she exhaled a long drag from a clove cigarette, twisting from the curled tendrils of her dark hair, and swimming in her own pale blue eyes, a match in hue to her sisters, but larger in scope and size. She was looking for her sister, she said, as she strode up to the bar, sliding into the stool next to me. After an ordered gin and tonic, with “three ice cubes please“, she leaned in close, almost too close, and in a hushed tone asked if I knew her. My response was clumsy, my words stuttered and static clung to the back of my throat, as I tried to explain that I knew of her, had heard of her, had heard the stories, not that I believed every one, but no, that I did not know her. She laughed then, a full body shimmer and shake of a laugh, leaning in impossibly closer still, her breath warm on my skin as she whispered “I meant my sister, do you know her?”

The blush of embarrassment bled across my skin, the heat flushing from the inside out, making me feel woozy and out of balance. I held on to the corner of the bar to steady myself, forcing a smile as I tried to fish a pack of Marlboro Reds out of my jacket pocket. She watched me, following every moment with the slight movement of those pale blue eyes. I tried to hide the way my hands shook, tried to breathe in and out, tried not to lock my own eyes with hers. She laughed again, softer this time, kinder, and said “have one of mine.” She gave me a light to go along with it, and a boost of something akin to confidence that I had never quite felt before. When the bartender brought her three cubed drink to her she tossed it back in one elongated move, slamming it back to the bar, empty sans the ice. I turned to her then, facing her head on, and took her hand into mine, trying to ignore how I still shuttered and shook. I said nothing to her, never asking if she wanted to go with me, never asking her anything at all. I just led her out the back, past the hall that led to the bathrooms, and the door with the sign that was meant to say office,with the faded out e and i, pushing open an alarmed door that screamed “in case of fire”.

And she was that, a case of fire caged within a cool exterior, like the burning blue in the interior of a candle’s flame, beautiful, brilliant and hot to the touch, but short-lived. She became a part of my story that night, a page in my history, both rumored and true, with some words forever left cherished and unspoken. She left with me the memory of her lips on my skin, her fake vintage glasses, and a pale blue eyed story to keep as my own. She left a bit of the world with me, too, that still echoed inside long after she left our little nowhere town. I could not tell you what I gave her in return, another tale to tell of another lover left behind? Or, maybe I meant something more, a memory that is triggered sometimes from a song played on an old corner jukebox in a forgettable dive bar in some other nowhere town, one that reminds her of a brown eyed girl who once was hers, a girl who belonged to someone else except for that one night, a girl whose name she has long forgotten, but whose cool touch still lingers on the fringes of her memory, living on in that space that became their momentarily shared history.

It was good what we did yesterday,
and I’d do it once again.”

Pale Blue Eyes :: Velvet Underground

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