A little apology to a woman who's long, long gone.

(Rough draft of a quick fiction.)

I have to leave for work; I only have a few minutes to tell you how I remember vomiting together. I held your neck as you leaned into the toilet and puked triscuits and clear vodka. I cleaned you up and held you until you couldn't stand to be touched, and you threw off the bedclothes in a sweep, opening your skin to the air, the areolae contracted, the nipples stiff, but sweat in your navel, a whole body cascading down to your toes in big curves of cold and hot.

The next day we made love behind the sculpture at the hairpin turn, at the top of a crooked hill, still sick from the night before. I didn't see the edge in the snow, and I nearly slipped into the valley, right over. You pulled me back, grunting. And right about then your father fell, splash, off his own cliff.

You didn't tell me. Your mother called when you were out. I asked about your dad, and she said, "he's gone." She told me he had taken the Volvo and driven to some other state, to complete a chat-room romance. He had planned it, and told her it was a fishing trip. Then he called two days later, and after some fishing lies, he blurted out the truth.

The night after your mother called, your father called. You were at work again. He asked me if you were upset. I said I couldn't tell. "Have her call me," he said, and gave me a number. "Or send email." We talked for a minute about computers, my job.

I gave you the message when you came home. You were 19, and looked down to the floor.

I said, "do you want to tell me?"

You sat on the brown couch and we held hands. After a while, you got up to turn on the ceiling fan. I waited. Finally, you said "no, I don't." Then you told me anyway, and we went to a movie with Uma Thurman, and stopped for a beer after.

Later, in bed, you put your arm on me. You always ran too hot, with the regulator up, and I lifted it off. You slid it back across my chest, and I pulled it off again, and then we built that little action into our first real fight.

I'm still not sure why I pushed your hand away. But I'm writing this as an apology. I should never have shoved you off that night, regardless of the heat.




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

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Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

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