SWORDFERN
Rooted, I used to think.

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Monday, Dec. 17, 2007 @ 11:21 am
Robert



Wind warning.

From morning until evening, I drive a carriage. Chris is out front wearing one antler. He is lighter than the other horses, and he is faster. He is meaner than the others too, but I do not think so, and for this, he loves me.

At stop signs, he brings his head around to look at me, the driver who does not assume the worst.

The wind funnels down Niagra Street. My face is red, windburned. The muscles in my thighs shiver, deep, rippling shivers, that move like rolling, west coast ocean waves up my legs. I am wearing every piece of wool clothing that I own; my belt barely fastens over the three pairs of pants that I am wearing.

I am alone: no other companies showed up today. I am the only carriage on the street. I line up reservations back-to-back. I sell gift certificates, answer questions. I drive Santa across town.

Santa. He came by early in the day to meet me, wearing khakis. A little part in me died, despite never truly believing in Santa's existence. He came back later with a big, heavy, red sack. Chris with one antler and I took Santa to the hotel. Children screaming at the door. Santa did not tip me.

I pick up a wealthy couple, expensive grey haircuts, and take them down the twinkling city streets, back into the quiet alleys of James Bay. I pull Chris back to a stop in front of a beautiful heritage bed and breakfast. I wink at the man. He presents his wife with a ring, every massive diamond reflecting the colours of the stained glass windows. Fire in the darkness.

I am cold but in a good mood. I am smiling, on time, and polite. At the end of my tours, the people push crumpled green twenties into my woolen hand. I shove the money into my zipped pocket, wondering if it was one twenty or two. Generousity at Christmas time.

I return to the stand to give Chris his dinner. He drinks an entire bucket of water. Robert is at the stand, waiting to give me a warm-up break, to watch the horse for me. He is tall, wearing a long outback slicker. His eyes.

Alone with Robert. I've been waiting for this.

We stand on that corner, illumitated by the 3330 lights on the Parliment Buildings. I dig into him, asking him question upon question. I cannot help myself; I want to know more about him.

Robert is good. I can tell. I've watched the way he handles the horses, loads them into the trailer. Genuine care. He rides his bicycle across the city. He is tall, gentle, and deep. And Robert is a little lost, which draws me to him. It is no surprise that I love him already.

He moves too close to me. I can no longer think. I look away from him, because his eyes are frightening, looking deep inside of me. Penetrating. Am I special to him?

I want to say something. I want to tell him that, in another life, I would kiss him. That he fascinates me, that we'd love recklessly and honestly.

I don't want this moment to end. I have forgotten about the cold. I want him to wrap me up inside of his long coat.

And then our manager arrives. She takes him away, to talk with him. I don't know how he can be in trouble. She doesn't know how giving, honest, and true he is. I hate her for taking that moment from me.

Robert does not return. I have to leave for my last reservation of the night. I am suddenly cold, so very cold. I miss him.

It is late when I finally drive Chris with one antler back to the pit. I unharness him alone. Shovel the manure from the catcher. Scrub alfalfa from his bit. Fill bucket after bucket of water. Fold the blankets, put them on the shelves in the trailer. I cash out, count my tips. $145. I think about Robert.

I replay the street corner moment again and again. Try to figure out if I imagined everything, the chemistry. I try to decide if it is OK to keep falling in love with these other, beautiful people. My heart is too large for only one love.

I bury my face in Chris' neck. He is soft, clean, and horsey. So giving. I hug him.

Maybe I am hugging Robert.






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