The Pick 2014

Vestal Review Issue 45 Winter 2014

 

Dawn, Again

by Cameron Yow

 

Another place, another time, she could be, she would be Eve.  In fact, by evening, she will love me and I will call her Desiree, or Jennifer, maybe even Susan.  But one location, one moment at a time. In a restaurant somewhat west of Eden, this is the moment just before the moment time stands still.  For now, I’ll call her Dawn.

The coffee at the Stratford Station Grill is the best in town.  Nothing exotic, without even a hint of vanilla bean, it is, nevertheless, a warm, comforting companion to a man searching only for the solution to today’s Word Jumble.

I am savoring my fourth cup of procrastination when this goddess, posing this morning as my waitress, approaches.  Standing beside me, her elbow and eyebrow arched in the same forty-five degree invitation, Dawn asks, “One more?”

“You’ll ruin me,” I say, echoing a futile protest from an ancient script.

But Dawn knows our lines, responds with a heart surgeon’s precision: “That’s not possible.”

She likes me and I am no longer alone.  Call it alchemy, call it chicanery, call it the chemistry before chocolate, but only a woman has the innate power to conjure promise where there should be none, for no reason other than that she likes the who I am.  I pray she will ask no more of me than a single rib.

Dawn grips my psyche with the same carnal certainty with which she holds the handle of the coffee pot and this is the moment time stands still.  I blink and Dawn is this morning’s incarnation of every woman I have ever loved…

…She is Sarah, opening my heart with my first kiss, leaving, leaving me alone to sort its debris, never looking back…

…She is Ariel, twirling her wedding band around her finger, declining my marriage proposal, imploring, “Why can’t I just be a good memory?”

…She is Barbra, loving bondage, preferring pretzels, separating sex from love to keep herself sane, whispering so her husband won’t hear, “Goodbye, my love…”

… She is “Kerri92173,” making the quixotic seem routine, loving me in every language on CD-Rom, pulsing passions too long repressed at 72 wpm in a spectral palette of erotica, kneeling before me begging my forgiveness wearing only pigtails, mid-thigh white stockings, a font shaded in the emerald promise of her eyes, leaving me with a nondescript black and white 10 pt. Times Roman promise to love me forever, my computer screen grey and barren, an aborted womb.

Call me crazy.  I will believe Dawn when she says she loves me.  Perhaps it’s the inflection of her voice, the arch of her eyebrow.  She holds the pot the same way Ariel would clutch my tie, as Eve would caress a snake.

Can I make this mistake again?

“One more?”

Call me Adam.  I surrender and let her pour.

A rejuvenating, cure-all elixir extracted, once upon a time, from some forbidden fruit, the coffee at the Stratford Station Grill is the best in town.

 

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The protagonist is a flawed man, an Adam for our turbulent times, who is looking for his equally flawed Eve.   Stratford Station Grill is his rough approximation of the Garden of Eden, and his Eve is a waitress of many names and many bodies and many places. I loved the way the modern and the ancient intersect in Cameron’s writing, creating a vividly layered story of love and desire.

Mark Budman