Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you? – Leonard Cohen
She sat quietly. The radio sang old songs to her. Songs that moved in her. Melodies from the hot summer of 1952. He had met her right after returning from World War II. Scarred skin. Torn within. He was dark flashing eyes and teeth. A smile that didn’t end. Wet mouth parted in welcome. “My name is David…” Her last memory of any words. He was perfection in shoes. She would watch him that summer. His long fingers moved and pointed as he tried to explain the world outside of the San Fernando Valley. “What did you say?” She shyly asked. He’d look at her. Laughter on his lips. “Haven’t you been listening? You… my daydreamer.” He called her that often. “Daydreamer.” It was true. As fitting a nickname as could be fashioned. She thought things she’d never thought. Home. Family. Cooking meals for him… She felt herself tighten in her stomach. Warmth. Summer moved to winter and they still held court together in the cafes around town. Cold beer bottles in plastic buckets of ice and tacos were a regular date night. They didn’t have much and needed less. They’d end the night in the car holding hands. Radio. Droning. A love song to quicken the flame that seemed to burn so bright. Sometimes, his hands moved across her skin in frenzied motion. Mouth open. Fingers clenched. They’d soon love and she let it go… her naivete and youthful flower.
He married her then. Van Nuys was their first home. Their dusty radio still held forth. His past in Europe during the war was a closed passage for him with no door visible for her. She didn’t pry. When he’d wake up and stare into the long cold night, she’d touch his arm softly. She’d hum the old tunes… he’d calm and quiet himself once again. Decades moved as they always will. The Buddha said, “The trouble is, you think you have time.” Their time was quickly rendered unmanageable with the arrival of three children in succession, his new job in the steelworks in Los Angeles and the new home they bought. It had a huge pool in the backyard and the children spent most days splashing and avoiding the San Fernando Valley heat. It was paradise. She watched the children through the back window. They swam. Friends were over. “My, they are growing up fast…” She mumbled to herself and stirred the iced mint tea in the big plastic pitcher. She stepped out onto the backporch and squinted into the sun. She called out for her husband to join them by the pool. “David”.
The woman awoke in the living room. The house was still. She rubbed her eyes and moved a stray strand of hair from her cheek. Somewhere, the faint sound of music reached her. Pulling herself up from the chair, she slowly moved into the kitchen. Dreaming. She had been… there were no more children in the home. Her beloved David had gone to join the Lord several years ago. She put a tea pot on the stove and looked out into the backyard.
The pool sat empty. It was cracked and sun-blistered. It was too expensive to keep filled and there was a leak in the pipes somewhere. The yard was overgrown. She couldn’t keep up with it anymore. After making tea, she sat back in the living room. She read the Bible. Prayer. The radio still haunted her. The songs took her back. They always did. She figured it was this way for most people. It isn’t necessarily the music or lyrics that hold the meaning, it is the people we assign to those songs and the times we are transported to that make them special. She sat in her chair and waited. It is what she did. “David” she murmured.
Thank you to Eloise for the time together. Thank you to Rick Stine. Ruling it. Thank you to my real friends and for helping me with what I do. Thanks to MRZ for the images. Skate- Ozzie