Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My 3–Minute Submission to NPR


by Dee Newman

I was about to take a photo of The Marshall Ford Swing Band at the Bicentennial Amphitheater in Nashville when someone in the crowd bumped me from behind. Ironically, at that very moment the band began to play and sing Irving Berlin’s ‘Marie’.

It had been a long hot day. The humidity had raised the heat index to nearly 100 degrees. And though the setting of the sun had brought little relief, the 73rd National Folk Festival at the Bicentennial Capitol Mall had attracted the largest audience in the Festival’s long history.

Turning to confront the clumsy oaf who had just ruined my shot of the band, I encountered, instead, a very attractive woman. Despite the fact that it had been more than thirty years since I last saw her, as our eyes met, I recognized Marie, immediately.

For awhile we just stood there, staring at one another as a stream of memories rushed through my mind like a swollen river overflowing its banks. And then, without saying a word she grabbed my hand and lead me up the stairs through and beyond the crowd until we found a bench in a quiet, secluded area of the park.

At first, it was difficult for either one of us to say anything. Finally, I asked, “Where have you been Marie?”

“When I left here,” she said, “I moved to San Francisco. Within a year or so I met Roger. We lived together for nearly twenty years in a small house in Corte Madera, north of the city in Marin County. After Roger died I accepted a position as a family therapist in Butte, Montana, and have been there ever since.”

“What brings you back to Nashville,” I asked?

“The Festival,” she said, “As you probably know for the past three years Butte has hosted it. Last year I worked as a volunteer and when I heard that Nashville had been selected as the next host city, I immediately began to make plans to come back for a visit.”

“Where are you staying?”

“With Cynthia – Cynthia Forester, my ex-sister-in-law.”

“Cynthia? I haven’t seen Cynthia in years. I didn’t know she still lived here.”

“Yes, I know. Cynthia told me that she saw you at the Greenhills Mall a couple years ago and that you walked right past her without saying a word.”

“Where is her brother, Dan, your ex? Have you two stayed in touch?”

“No, not really. When we divorced he married Joan and moved to Chevy Chase, outside of DC. They have two kids, both in college.”

“Marie, I am so glad you came back. I have wanted to apologize to you for so long.”

“Apologize? For what?”

“For being insensitive . . . for breaking my promise . . . for being so impetuous – so young and wild and free . . . for taking advantage of you. You were in need of compassion and comfort – certainly not some unrestrained and exhausting affair.”

“Shhhhhh,” she said, placing the tips of her fingers to my lips. Alan, there is nothing for you to apologize for.” And then, she kissed me.

I awoke the next morning singing to myself –
Marie, the dawn is breaking,
Marie, you'll soon be waking
to find, our hearts are aching
tears, will fall, as we recall
the moon, in all its splendor,
a kiss, so very tender,
oh "will you surrender"
to me, my Marie

I would like to thank Irwin, Dan and Jack for their editorial suggestions and revisions.

If you would like to submit a story to the NPR ThreeMinuteFiction contest click here.


Shrinky said...

Oh my, what a sweetly poignant piece, and such a beautiful read. I enjoyed this immensely, do keep writing Dee, you have a gift for it.

mythopolis said...

Way to go, Dee! I think the piece has evolved a bit since my first draft reading of it....glad you submitted it. And thanks for letting me know about this project. Now, let's get ready to do the next round in November!!

I think the story is an interesting contemplation of how it is to bump into someone from the past. With casual friends, it gets into recalling 'the good old days'. But with lovers, those days are not discussed so spontaneously. But you know you remember it, and know she does too. When Alan touches on the subject, Marie shushs him saying its not really necessary...

Stickup Artist said...

OH, those moments so pregnant with meaning, feeling, all the senses alive with the rush of all the sweet to terrible memories. You have captured that instance just the way I remember it in my own life and both dread and hope for it again — Maybe this week, maybe in 10 years, it is always as if it were yesterday...