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Danny Manning

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Member Since: Jul, 2008

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Clouds
By Danny Manning
Friday, July 11, 2008

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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Here's Your Sure-Fire Cure For Hangover.

 

“Oh man,” I said with a sigh, and looked on. It was Thursday night, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Another dark-haired, fair-skinned girl who didn’t have a name or a smile worth remembering sat between my arms. I took in deep breaths of disappointment and rolled distaste around in my mouth. Her good-looking eyes peered into mine, and when I stared back, I swallowed a vacancy that settled in my chest. Boredom became my body, and I could do nothing but shake my head.

Whatever happened to all the women that Fitzgerald wrote about? I’d like to fall in love with Macia Meadow. I want to marry Judy Jones. I want to dance with Daisy and dive with Ardita. Where are all these beautiful girls that kick in yellow dresses and take their heels off to dance? I want to find one. I want to hold her hair and kiss her with passion. I want to fall asleep with her. I want a girl that loves to dance and smiles at everything. I want to see her shoulders, and breathe her in.

I’m so tired of these girls that have low brows and high noses. These girls walk in the door, and they’re not looking for fun as much as they’re looking for that wall to lean against; that driving contentment that gives a little and takes a lot. If the twenties were superficial, then today is just pathetic. These girls already bare their shoulders, and it makes my fists flaccid. What am I to fight for?

I want to live the life of romance, and take deep breaths of the ever-calling adventure. I want to grab life and live it in all of its relentless ecstasy, and I want to do it with a fist full of beautiful, blue eyes and blonde hair. I want to fight, man. I want to fight with one hand, and hold my bride’s hand in my other. I want to knock back glasses and kick my feet forever to the tune of infinity. I want to tear fire across the lights of Manhattan. I want to blow storms across the shores of Long Beach, and I want to hold a crimson torso while everything that is deeply romantic and amazing is breathed onto me in warm breaths. I tell ya, they just don’t make romance like they used to.

“Kiss me,” she said to the pure reluctance holding her, and I did. Just like that, the ticking hands of a blunt clock spun around another night of false excitement and fleeting contentment.

I want to fall in love, I thought to myself. It must be incredible.

 

These past nights have been warm and uninteresting; plastic and uncomfortable. I’ve damned myself to an existence full of dark girls that lean against walls and then pick themselves up. It’s amusing how I bathe in the carelessness that these girls flaunt around like jewelry. These aren’t girls – they’re snowflakes. They are beautiful to look at, but they’re cold to hang on to, and they are oh so fleeting. I sometimes wonder if they actually have real lives to live

My best friend and I were renting a house downtown, inside of a fairly secluded piece of neighborhood. We had some good times, and we enjoyed ourselves plenty, but the lease was coming to a close, and we were considering different plans. We played music and shared drinks every weekend with each other, and I liked that. It seemed, though, that we also shared theses things with the same female flesh and shallow behavior night after night. I needed a change.

“One more party,” he told me with a glint in his eyes; the kind of shine that boasts unwavering anticipation. Ships lost at sea could have found their way home from his glass gaze. His stare penetrated me, and a sea of sighs replaced all of the excitement that would usually have come pouring out of me. My head cocked back as my lips pummeled would-be-words.

“Look, man… I just don’t know if I want to do that…”

His fixation split open, while his head and voice snapped.

“What?” We stared at each other for a long moment, his mouth open, and mine tightly shut. “How… How can you do this?” he asked me from a state of disbelief. “This is our last chance to do something great, and you don’t want to?” I could hardly say anything.

“Listen, man, it’s nothing personal, but I just…” He leaned his head in. “I just need a change.”

Here he sighed a deep sigh, and rubbed his flat face with his fingers. “I- I can’t even…” He looked up. “I’m speechless.”

“Look, just because I don’t want to come, doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time without me,” I reassured.

“Uh, yeah… It does. Doesn’t all this mean anything to you? Haven’t we had some great times and made some great memories? Why on earth would you discourage that?”

I cringed. Damn the man, he pulled the memory card on me.

“Fine… I’ll be there,” I said, and his face lit up. It certainly wasn’t him that I discouraged, and it wasn’t necessarily the environment either. It was everyone else. Different faces and different laughs still embodied the same, singular dimension: drink to get drunk, and live for nothing and nothing but a series of shallow desires.

Guilty? Sure, I’ve been there. But I wasn’t now, and I never wanted to be again. We all die someday, and I want to seize my moments. I want to seize my moments. This life is amazing, and so much more than fluid in a glass. I want to fall in love, and this house was the worst place to do it. I breathed deep as the man patted me on the back, and we walked out into the sunlight.

 

I’m such a sucker for blue eyes and silver skies, and not the other way around. White clouds rest in blue skies, and you can watch them pass. And as you watch them pass above you, you can simultaneously hear clocks ticking behind you. Watching white clouds slip past the sky is like watching time slip past your body. It’s dreadful, and the dull, pretty eyes that often accompany them compounds the discomfort. No, but with cloudy skies, time stands still. Overcast days and nights are beautiful. And lonely.

Jay Gatsby lost Daisy Buchanan to a terrible man with silver eyes. Jay and Daisy lost their perfect romance to a warm, blue sky. And yet, everything leading up to that was beautiful. Those people made it perfect. They made it perfect all by themselves.

That’s why we smoke. Even in the daunting silence of a blue sky, we can burn paper and make our own silver clouds. We can breathe in the bittersweet pleasure of something temporary, and exhale something comfortable to bask in. Daisy Buchanan was beautiful: blue eyes and blonde hair. Daisy was a smoker, and she created a perfect environment for herself to live in… But Daisy was lonely, and her clouds were temporary. Mine, however, aren’t. I’m going to live forever in the blissful ignorance that I will. That way I can always watch the world through my own blue eyes, and I can always lay with my blonde-haired, pale-skinned prize beneath something beautiful. That is, if I can ever wrap my hands around one… Maybe I’ll go to Baltimore.

 

That night, as the party droned on in the typical fashion, I found myself floating around the different rooms. When I walked into one, gangster boom beats slammed against me, and when I walked into another, loud men yelling washed against me. It was a while before I realized how hard I had my hands clinched.

On the patio outside, my feet scoffed against the pavement. I was a ghost, here among many others. Or maybe it’s that I was real. Perhaps I was the only one who was very real. With my hands in my pockets, all I seemed to be aware of were the circles forming beneath my eyes. Well, that, along with the faint music floating out to me. I coughed. A lot.

And then I saw her. As I approached the great sycamore in the back, the beauty of the stars pushed against me. They drove at me from a foldout chair in our backyard. Pale, blonde, and beautiful, this girl cocked her head back to let the smoke out.

“Oh God,” I said. She had the kind of pristine beauty that you could find in rain-draped cityscapes. Paved across her was the simple pleasure of seeing a never-ending street reflecting burning lampposts and consistent stoplights. The pleasure of perfection seized my chest; seized my hands. “Let’s dance,” I said.

She stared out at me from her cloud of smoke: the Cloud 9 that she herself breathed out, then lived on. Smoky rings of paradise left her loose lips, but unfortunately disappeared before they reached me; the timeless and never-ending paradise of simple pleasures that she found herself on, never reached me.

“Okay,” she said, as she continued to stare on at me from the swirling cloud of ghosts and jokes that surrounded her. Everything seeped in, both to me and to her, until all the laughing and the drinking from the world outside of ours fused together to make that moment.

Later on, I would end up taking her to the late-diner to share tea and pancakes with her. I would take her to the booth overlooking the street to share laughs and stories with her. They would bring us the wrong order at first, and I would long to put my hand on top of the one she had lying against the table.

Later on, we would lock eyes without saying anything in a frame of time that may only be recognized as long, long after the check came, and I would see with perfect precision our future together. We would fall in love. Madly in love, and we’d get married, but all too soon. Rushing into it, we’d have the time of our lives for several years, living fast and drinking much. Long nights of city lights, and many days, simply lying awake. But then that new smell of romance would fade quickly away: we’d struggle to get by, and get on each other’s nerves. She’d be mean, and I’d be mean, and we’d quarrel and argue. I would sleep on the couch and sob and breathe, pushing my palms into my eyes, and saying out loud, “What happened to us?”

Later on, I would snap out of it, pay for her tea, and walk out with her, never touching her, but always wanting to.

But that… That would be later on. I still had right now.

Her walk to me was slow and sensual, and her dress moved like the sea across her body. Perhaps we really would fall in love. Perhaps I would propose to her at a fancy restaurant. Perhaps we would honeymoon in Paris, I thought to myself. But all of that was so far beyond the reality of that moment. I didn’t need engagement rings beneath napkins. I had tired eyes, and she had glass ones. I didn’t need the Eiffel tower in my window. I had her hips between my hands. I didn’t need Cloud 9 or Baltimore. I had that dance. I had the slow sway of two bodies against all the music that was romantic enough for me to believe in. I had that dance, and I put my head on her shoulder. I was so tired.

“Oh man,” I said with a sigh, and looked on. I don’t think she ever heard me.

 


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