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Excerpt from the Book
And there entered thoughts she did not want to recognize, thoughts she wished she was incapable of having.
It’s not a question of loving someone, but of being with someone. There are times that Michael irritates me. Not anything he does or anything he is. It’s simply because he’s there, and in my way. When I don’t want to be bothered with anything except the work I must do, the work I want to do. She heard the word “must”, was aware of the emphasis she placed upon it, an almost clandestine emphasis, as if her thoughts feared their own content. I’m irrational. Michael would understand and leave if I said I needed to work.
But he wouldn’t leave forever, couldn’t understand if I wanted to be alone for long periods of time, alone with myself, my thoughts and the products of those thoughts, if I wanted to worry about no one or anything except myself. Just rise in the morning, begin my work and sleep at night with the taste of that work still on my tongue, have the work sleep with me, stay with me in my dreams, images and sounds that feed the work, enlarge it, and I able to see creation happening, the thing coming to be because of me, moving through me so that I am forever and indelibly stamped on its face.
I’m sorry”, he said, “sorry for everything”.
“I want to be Jimmy’s father”.
“You can. I won’t ever keep you from seeing him...as long...as long as...”
He finished the words for her. “As long as I’m not drinking”.
He didn’t know what else to say.
I want to lie down on the bed next to her and she doesn’t want to hear that. Does she? I can’t fail. I’m failing.
When he reached for her, she settled into his arms like the missing piece of a puzzle.
I don’t know how this is happening, how I am holding her and she lets me, is not moving away. I can’t tell her I love her.
He was a drowning man watching his lifeboat move away. With each tick of the clock he felt more desperate. He could not stop the movement of its hands, could not stop the night. He would have to move away from her. Would have to go. Francine pulled herself from his arms. She’s sorry for that moment. “I really don’t drink anymore”, he repeated, knew it was stupid the minute he heard himself say it.
“I’m glad. You’re a good man”.
“You must be kidding.” He laughed. But then he thought about Gina’swedding. He was getting better in the goodness department. “I’m trying”, he said, and then, like water in a runaway flood, the words he knew he shouldn’t say rushed from him. “I want us to be together again.”
She turned away.
Francine. Francine. You loved me. I know you did.
He had the terrible feeling that he was one of those men who was going to have only one woman in his life.