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Danny Manning

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Featured Book
The Path, Vol. 2 No. 2
by Mary Nickum

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Tight Veils And White Whales
By Danny Manning
Friday, July 11, 2008

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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Recent stories by Danny Manning
· The Dangerous Summer
· Jonathon Kyle Vincent
· Still Life; or, The One-Handed Violinist
· Cheers, Mandy
· Astronaut
· Live Your Life
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           >> View all 10

I fell in love.
She left me.
I followed her.
And then all I knew was falling...


It’s funny that when I look at her, I see a woman of pure confidence. My first impression of her is that of someone who can withstand the enormous blows of our hurricane society. My first glimpse of her pounds into my own confidence like the giant logs they used to use to break down castle doors in the good, old days. She’s intimidating. She intimidates me, when really – there’s no need for that. We’re both heavy breathing machines, two of many that live and die every day. We both clap our hands at the good times. We both blush during the right times, and we’re both products of the God that made us. Our only difference is that I believe in mine, and I subject It to conscious observation. But I’m still way into her. Whether she’s ever said a single prayer or not, that just doesn’t bother me right now.

We live while we age, and we age till the end. While we both escape many deaths, we each of us have our own tearing towards us. Although we cannot see it, we can hear it whistling down the street where the road curves left. We can shrug this whistle aside though, and bask in the ignorance that it will never catch us; that we can run fast and live forever. But the ignorance is beautiful, for it is in this time that we can live with our hands and bite with our teeth in malicious, yet passionate romance.

Our first impressions resemble absolute confidence, but I know I get embarrassed, and I know she pouts at the mirror sometimes. So while this game is abrasive, and oh, so fun, it exists only as long as we bathe in the ignorance. For when we gain awful knowledge, I want nothing, and nothing but the comfort of her vulnerability. Her torso is a pillow, and her forearms are my blankets. And her breath is the world. Her breath is the world to me.

Imagine if tonight I went to sleep, and tomorrow when I woke up, I was somewhere completely new. A place governed by gold strings and white wings and the pallor of everything beautiful. Her amazing confidence and attractive inaccessibility would be absent. I will sleep tonight, but I’m still breathing today, and regardless of where I’ll wake, I want nothing more right now than to touch her, and feel planet Earth in short gasps from her mouth. I don’t know if I love her, but I want her. I want her.


That damn girl. She had me in way deeper than I wanted to go. I was in over my head, and though I think I loved every minute of it, I still sought closure. Closure. She was bound to do me in. I just knew it. “Come on, babe,” I spoke softly into the receiver. “This isn’t fair.”

The long and thoughtful silence that ensued burned and irritated me. The voice of an awful, beautiful blonde finally picked up the silence and pushed it softly away. “Look, I told you I’ll be back. I’m just going to check it out.”
“When? When will you be back?”

She sighed. “I can’t say for sure. I promise you I will be, though.”

“Am I just supposed to wait?”

“…I guess so.”

My mind was rolling like tides over the subject in my head, washing it with violence towards the shores of my brain. The white walls of my room found me pulling on my chin. “Look, sweetie,” I said. My voice emphasized sarcasm in all of its glory. “I’m not someone you can trust. How are you going to be able to just walk on a plane, expecting to fly into another life?”

“You are not my life,” she interjected. “You are not even close.”

“But baby,” I paused. “I… I want to be.” My earnestness caught even me off guard. Silence. She said nothing, while the chords of my throat slapped against each other in some attempt to create enough sound that would do justice. “I am home,” I said. “You can’t just leave me here.”

“Well… I am,” she remarked, her frown flowing full force through the receiver.

“At least take me with you. At least let me go with you.” And then I couldn’t hear anything. I stared on. The walls of my room were so white. It was the loudest silence I’ve ever heard.

Finally, she muttered “Gate B11 at 9:30 A.M. tomorrow,” and then she hung up, and all I could do was sit and swear at myself.

Our troubled relationship had been kicking on for over a year now. We flickered on and off, and shared a relationship like that of the moon and its sky. It seemed as though every full moon watched me hold my head in my hands, and every black sky saw me holding her torso in my arms.

It was funny how far away we were from what would be called a ‘normal, healthy relationship.’ I dreaded my family gatherings, because when my parents asked me if I was seeing anyone, all I could ever do was bite my lips and say “Well… That depends.” Her smile melted me, but often times she spoke, and I could only shake my head and bite down. Yeah. It was one of those relationships. How fruitlessly wonderful it was to blister on down a road that seemingly had no end, and seemed to conceal every pothole and trench. That damn girl. Who knows if I ever loved her?


The next morning brought me unease. My baby, my darling, as I called her, was slipping from out my hands. It was the first thought in my head when the digital alarm clock adorning my dresser shouted 7:30 at me. I groaned, for the fact that it was already 7:30. The time from the night had already passed me by. There were a full six hours I could have used to rectify things, but I instead took them sleeping; dozing under the beautiful pallor of a fresh, full moon. I took them with my hands, snatching them right from out my basket.

Objects in my room slowly began to materialize beneath my groggy vision. I was so tired, so tired, so tired. But my time was running out, and it pushed me ever forward. Great, I thought to myself with the cynical sarcasm that had so become me. It was nearly dark outside. I hated waking up to overcast skies. Overcast skies were meant for nothing and nothing but sleep and unconsciousness. I considered it an achievement to kick off my sheets.

“Baby,” I groaned out loud, though she was in the room, and my eyes sank ever lower. I whispered, “How can you be doing this?”

The chilled air outside swirled and wrapped about me, making crystals of my breath, and follies of my endeavors. My skin crawled, having full absence of comfort. Things just weren’t the way they used to be. On my way to the airport, the road stretched forever in front of me. Adversely, my memories stretched forever in back of me, and my mind flew back to collect them all for me.

I remembered our first kiss last New Year’s. We met at a party, and danced forever and ever on the lights of the city. Beautiful music wafted through from the speakers of the living room and reached us on that moonlit balcony. Beautiful music flew from her body, and reached me on those winter clouds. The eternity of man, reaching backward toward the past and reaching forward toward the future, stood still to gather round us and count slowly down from ten. The December air swirled and wrapped about us, making crystals of our breath and cement of our ambitions. We caught each other’s eyes, and I’m sure I felt eternity sitting quietly in that moment. With all of humanity shouting towards the sky, I could barely hear her whisper “Hold me closer.”

“Three! Two! One!” And my mouth met hers. We were both of us engrossed in something so passionate, and yet so superficial. It was beautiful, and it was romantic. It was the height of everything, and I know she felt the same way. We exploded into January, and it felt real. It felt so real. I’ll live forever in that moment. I’ll live forever on that balcony.

Just like that I was at the airport. The infinite clouds seeped into me as I strode through the sliding doors, trying to avoid them. My heart raced much more quickly than my feet, which carried me with very forced composure to my love, as I called her. Soft though my eyes were, my beams of compassion were shot down by her darts of demand.

“You’re late,” she said, and I nodded, biting down very hard. Her blue gaze looked away from mine, and made for the gate. She swore, and then said with soft intensity, “Come on. We’ll miss our flight.” I sighed at the beautiful, blonde menace that I wanted to, for reasons beyond me, hold very close and never let go. And as she turned around and walked away from me, my eyes followed her narrow back, seeking to paralyze her. I looked with careful intensity at her, hoping she might just understand my frustrated desperation. “What a mess,” I said out loud.

Was it weird that I felt so demeaned as I followed her? Was it strange that her new aura of confidence destroyed mine? What is particularly odd that my frustrated feelings for her pushed me on more powerfully than my incredible desire to go home? I couldn’t stand the way the attendant looked at me when she tore my ticket. I felt like stealing that smile from her face and locking it up forever.


“I just need something new,” she had said. “I need something new in my life.” The diner coffee burned in my mouth when she had said this. I need something new, she said. What is it about humans and their absolute unwillingness to settle; to find a lasting comfort and remain there? I need something new, she said. She was rolling over the idea of relocation to New York to start over as she put it, as if her previous attempt to start over in California had failed; like her vigorous endeavor toward adventure had fallen short when she got involved with me. What made her so confident that she would succeed somewhere new? I had told her I was the best guy there was, and she seemed to react to my distress. She realized how upset it made me, so she told me she was only considering it. It was a possibility, she had said, and she would wait to see how things evolved. My fighting chance had floundered. Here I was at the airport at nine in the morning, going with someone who didn’t love me to scope out the possibility of something new. I hated it.

My body followed hers closely. I looked beyond at the passengers: children beneath buckles, slouching in their chairs, and chubby husbands wearing shorts instead of slacks. They sat uncomfortable in their chairs, alongside their frustrated wives, as they called them; all the grown-up citizens of America that had fallen short, and married into a beautiful, boring commitment. My tongue licked at the distaste in my mouth.

Simultaneously, my nose was caught between the silver, processed air of the plane, and the watermelon conditioner of my baby’s hair. The more she walked away from me, the more I felt inclined to grab her by the arm and say “Hey! Stop running from me.” But I didn’t. Instead I said internally, please take the window seat, darling. Please take the window seat. I want you to have it, so you can peer out at the city beneath us. It’s a breathtaking view. It’s a breathtaking view. It’s a breathtaking view, and I breathed in deeply. Q27 and Q28: two solitary seats, one of which possessed a window.

“This is us,” she said. I hesitated; stammered.

“You want the window?”

Putting one hand on her face, she replied, “Nah, you take it. I don’t like the window, it makes me sick.”

Oh no, I groaned within. You take the window seat, baby. You’ll enjoy it. You’ll enjoy it, and I’ll take care of you. “Okay,” I said. “Sure.” I want you to have the window. I want you to have the window.

My hands, which were folded in my lap, and my chest, which was swollen and anxious disappeared beneath my eyelids. Falling short of sleep, I counted my heartbeat, and pushed my stomach out of my throat.

Oh, how I felt for the continuous, gray clouds that had to carry us through space. My heart pumped red blood through my veins, and my great, glass pane allowed perspective towards the monster: a mass of swollen clouds that painted the sky the color of nostalgia. They were just a shade darker than that of a wedding veil. God, it made my chest hurt. There is nothing so strenuous as the false comfort of leaning back in your narrow chair, when the pressure builds in your ears and beats at your chest. It was worsened when my awful psyche whispered our destination to me.

I shook my head, and got lost in the breeze outside. My chin lifted towards heaven, as the cool wind licked at my face. The clouds tasted sweet, and the sky smelled like an endless glass of your favorite drink. As the air flew by me, it sounded like subtle whispers of words you’d want to hear in your bed at night. You’re going home I said to the overcast winter. You’re going home, and she’s coming with you

And then all I knew was falling. I swore out loud, but I could only feel my mouth move. The words washed like a current through a tsunami of disaster. Gravity reached icy hands into me, and plucked the needles from my heart. I kept washing my words against the metal that fell through the air. I kept licking curses against the screaming citizens around me. The hydraulics had given. Damn this new technology. All the advancements that our geniuses have made throughout the years couldn’t save me now. And damn that yellow mask. Plastic veils never saved anyone’s life before. You know, it’s funny how hard we as humans try to live forever, and caution ourselves to the dangers of this world. It’s funny how easily we as humans can destroy ourselves, too. And all I knew was panic.

My knuckles moved in such a motion that made me dizzy, towards the beauty of her hands beside me. My eyes indulged their pallor, but the message never reached my brain. Heads jolted in the aisles, and that was what I knew. Her hands wrapped around mine, clinging to me like it was our first night in love. She was clinging to me like all the desires for something passionate were swirling around us. But instead, all the desperation of hopeless men surrounded us. We were in love. I had one last moment to breathe in deep, and then said “Come on,” and pulled her with me out of our seats.

We blew down the aisles, holding bittersweet desperation and sweat in our hands. I cried out loud, and realized my face was wet. I couldn’t believe this was happening. When we faced each other, and caught eyes, a pipe in her face burst, and it was all sadness. Crimson drained into her cheeks, and water poured out of her eyes. “My love, my love, my love,” but she couldn’t hear me. The whole plane was consumed by the terror of death. I wanted to marry her. If I was going to dance my way into heaven, I wanted to do the tango with God’s best work. She had the hair of angels, and it floated towards heaven. I shook my head and bit my lips, telling God that He couldn’t have her. I wanted her here with me.

They say that when your end is yelling in your face, your whole life flashes before your eyes. All the things you’ve ever done, and all the events that have created you dance like whispers in your mind. For me, it was all the things that I had never completed; all the great times I would never have. I saw myself with white teeth, laughing at a blue sky. I saw my hair blowing in the breeze of a great city. I saw my fingers leading my bride’s eyes towards the constellations in the sky.

I saw my hands lightly draped over those of my beautiful, blonde wife in the narrow seats of a commercial airliner. I heard someone in the seat behind us say, “Wow, you can tell you all are newlyweds. Where you going?” I saw my love’s rosy lips part in a smile at me, before I heard myself say, “We’re going on our honeymoon. I’m taking my wife to California to see the Chinese Theatre. We’ve never been, but we’re dying to go. I’ve heard that Judy Garland has small hands, and I wanna see if the rumors are true .”

But all of these things dissipated in the wake of reality. All I really saw was two people, standing in the middle of a doomed aisle. I saw two people, half in love and holding each other, lost in the gravity. And then I saw her desperate and wandering glass eyes lock into mine.

The eternity of man, reaching backward toward the past and reaching forward toward the future, stood still to gather round us, and scream at the inevitable. The silver air swirled and wrapped about us, making tension of our breath and anxiety of our ending. I looked into her deep, blue eyes. They were the color of every ocean that I’ve ever wanted to swim in. I looked into her deep, blue eyes, and I’m sure I felt eternity sitting quietly in that moment.

We didn’t have the blast of jazz floating through to us from speakers in the living room. We didn’t have the lights of the city to hold our feet as we danced. Instead, all we had was the awful, overcast sky telling us how it was all over. All we had were eccentric yellow masks, beating through the air. With a hundred humans yelling towards their death, I could barely hear her whisper “Hold me closer.” My mouth met hers, and it was so real. It was so real. I’ll live forever in that moment. I’ll live forever on that airplane.


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