Between the Lines


Between the Lines


            Are we living, dying, doing both?  Hell, who knows.  I don’t know.  If I knew, I wouldn’t be up here on this balcony overlooking streets that are bursting with traffic that is energized and moving and empowered with a sense of purpose and a place to go.  And I wouldn’t be up here poised ill at ease and thinking all too frankly about life, studying the road below that is going in both directions, shining like liquid glass after this brand-new hard rain.  Objectively, it’s reflecting an overcast sky, one moving overhead and clouding up fast.  Symbolically, I feel it deep inside my bones and silently rising.


            And my oh my, but the air is tasty outside.  It’s fresh and it’s cool and it’s clean.  All the grime has been washed out of it.  All the muck has been hurried away, sent off in swift little rivers swelling over curbs and rushing down drains.  God has done the laundry for us today and made everything fresh and shiny and new.  And I am touched by it, truly, I am touched by it--in utter awe of it all.  Still, I stayed inside, watching it from underneath a roof, eyeballing it with a quiet reverence.


            Tomorrow it might be clear.  Tomorrow it might snow.  Tomorrow the spin cycle might be set on.  It's anybody's guess really, and only God can say for sure; God is in control and its springtime.  Anything can happen, even a miracle.  Yes, even a miracle is possible: today, tomorrow, or maybe even the next.  One can never be sure about these things.  Miracles are funny that way.


            On the street below, a pretty girl is walking along briskly, wet heels tapping down the sidewalk.  Abruptly, she stops under my balcony and turns--a quick, grand pirouette, flawlessly executed on a drenched-up world stage; a dance move perfectly timed to the sound of late afternoon traffic and the whistle of a commuter train.  With the parting of a cloud, a beam of light glosses across her hair.  It’s sun-bleached, blond, and frosted, brusque, and cute.  Elegantly, she hails a taxi.  The taxi door opens and she is whisked away, nameless, and speechless forever.  The only thing that remains is a transitory and fleeting image of her: one of short wet hair, a pretty face, cleavage, and a quick, white flash of thigh grinning up through her raincoat.


            For a moment, her image dwells in my mind, vividly.  I wonder who she is, what she’s like, what she loves, what she thinks about.  I wonder about the size and the heft and the feel of her breasts; the contour of her belly and the intriguing way that her hips sway as she walks around.  I wonder what she wants from life and I wonder what her imagination would do with me if she had me.  I wonder what she smells like, tastes like, feels like.  I wonder what type of woman she is.  Heaven, or Hell?  And I wonder if she would fancy the taste of me, my heaven, my hell—fancy all the flavors that I have to offer. 


When I’m left alone, I wonder about so many things.


            But the notion is impossible to hold onto for long.  Her details slip away, desert me like the darting remnants of a lucid dream, fly off in snippets into oblivion, lost to the silent mists of time and the ticking time bomb inside my head.


            My woman will be home soon: tall, lanky, bouncy.  She'll walk up the stairs as if walking down a runway, the whole world watching, popping off flash bulbs, the entire planet mesmerized with how skillfully she models the newest fad in rainwear.  And how beautiful she is!  And how red her hair is.  And oh, how runny her make-up is!  And she'll saunter up the staircase, so damp and so tired and so lovely and so done with the weather, hair trapped in long, wet curls dripping down her back, eyeliner streaking, completely gorgeous in a gothic sort of way, and furious.


 I’ve seen that look before.  Many times.


            And she'll be wet, wet like a cat caught out in the rain.  And she’ll be vexed by it.  But she'll dry off and she’ll want sex--She always wants sex.  She’ll want sex after she’s bathed, perfumed, and touched up her makeup.  She’ll want sex after she’s cooked up a real fine dinner and rubbed my shoulders and asked me how my day was. 


She’s my perfect girl.


And I’ll tell her.  It won’t take long.  My day was quiet.  Writing is a quiet and peaceful act except for those who know how to read between the lines.


Donald Dean Mace


Donald Dean Mace is a frequent contributor to Ariel Chart, has been submitted for the “Pushcart” award for poetry, been a guest on the podcast "Strength to Be Human," hosted by Mark Antony Rossi, was featured in an NPR radio broadcast in regard to poetry, and has been published in college journals and local newspapers.  He is currently working on a novel. 


  1. Don, I certainly enjoy your writing. You bring your reader right into your world. You have a way of capturing a moment. Rose

  2. This short story is relatable and so eloquently written. I look forward to reading your novel.

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