We’re delighted to welcome Xavier Axelson to the blog today. Xavier has visited before but has kindly returned to let us know about his new book Earthly Concerns.
How could I just go over, and if I did, would I just be stumbling back into the pit of snakes I had just narrowly escaped the first time? I thought this and a hundred other dangerous thoughts until I saw him begin to stand up. I waved him down, then went over and sat down.
Apparently, I thought the best course of action was to dive right in, avoid any further uncomfortable thoughts from belching up from the cesspool that I was creating in my skull.
“Tell me everything,” I blurted, trying to avoid looking into his eyes.
“You look good, all hot and cute,” he said, trying to maintain his smile, but the weight of his sadness was too intense. Instead, he managed a pained grimace.
“Thanks.” I wanted to say more, return the compliment, but found I couldn’t; he was a keen listener and would be able to detect any false sentiment I might throw out. I stared down at the menu and tried to ignore my heart, which had once again taken up its incessant thrumming.
“Thanks for coming,” he said.
I didn’t look up, but could feel him staring at me.
When the waitress came over, we ordered. Without the menu to stare at, I looked up and past him.
“Anson.” He said my name like it was some sort of invocation.
Did he believe he was dreaming? I could only imagine the nightmare of not knowing where your child is and if she would ever come back.
“Tell me everything,” I repeated, my voice steady. I lowered my eyes and faced him; and seeing his sadness, I swallowed hard.
“It’s unreal,” he said, this time looking away from me, his eyes glistening. “I’m not sure I know what’s happened.”
The waitress arrived with two small cups of clear broth with some vegetables in them and refilled our waters.
“I’m sorry,” I said, my eyes riveted on him. I couldn’t believe I was sitting across from him in the same place I had met him once before; the day he wanted to return a t-shirt I had left at his place after one of our interludes.
Even now, looking beaten and tormented, the man somehow managed to provoke me in ways other men hadn’t. I saw him as beautiful and felt my stomach lurch. I looked at his brown eyes that I remembered looking gold in the sun, and his oddly handsome face. Not a traditionally good looking face, but handsome in a bookish, learned way. I felt my body begin to respond.
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