“The trouble was, I didn't go on home. I was kneeling there in the cool, wet grass, lookin' at that darkened house, knowin' he was inside, all asleep. I bet he was breathin' real slow and deep, and maybe even dreamin'.
Dreams can almost hurt if you ain't in 'em. You know what I mean?
I started thinking that I was in a dream that Peter Switchback was having...I tried to imagine bein' in his dream, and we were sittin' at a table outside of some cafe or something in the city – a kinda' place I ain't never been, mind you, but I seen it on TV. We were sittin' there and talkin' and laughin' and people knew we were together, 'cause they'd look at us and smile, and when I seen that, my heart just felt so good. Like sometimes how you feel like there ain't no one out there for you and your heart kinda' hurts, but then something happens to make it not hurt so bad, and that was how I felt when I thought of myself laughin' with Peter. And I imagined myself taking the ribbon from my hair and putting it around his wrist, and he laughed and there as I knelt there in the grass, I reached up and took the real ribbon right out of my real hair – this was not in any dream, but I really done it. And I looked at that silky blue ribbon and remembered why I always wore that kind, and it was on account of him. I knew that his favorite color was blue, and he was always in beautiful suits and jackets and even fancy ties most days, and all so often in all different shades of blue – prints and paisleys, solids and whatnot and he just done always looked so good in that so I took to always wearin' a blue ribbon in my hair. The one day he came to the store and as I was helpin' him check out he said he liked my ribbon and I felt my heart race like it was gonna' explode and I think I just stood there with my mouth open and he said “blue stands for fidelity.” I was speechless and I think I said “oh” or somethin' and then he looked right through me and said “and it brings out your eyes.” He walked out of the store and I think I just about died.
So I had my long, silky blue ribbon in my hands and I knew I wanted to give it to him right then, but I was not on your life gonna' do such a thing. But my legs got the best of me and I got up and started walkin' to the house through that cool, wet grass. I didn't know what I was gonna' do when I got there, but I guess my heart didn't care too much. I got to the edge of the driveway and something sharp in the gravel hurt my foot and I almost cried out, but I didn't and in another step I was on the blacktop drive – still almost warm from the day. I got to the front door and walked up on the single concrete step and stood there for the longest time, not knowin' what to do.
Part of me wanted to ring that doorbell and wake Peter up, but I knew I couldn't do that, so I just looked at the door. He had the strangest decoration as a knocker – it gave me the creeps, to tell the truth. It was like a crest or a seal or something and it had a skull and crossbones on it, with a bunch of words in Latin. I reached up to touch the skull's forehead, and I found it smooth and cold and dry, and I saw that the words were all cut out of thin metal and were just attached to the rest of the knocker. I took my long blue ribbon and found a way to drape it over and behind the word “junxit”, and I tied it in a loop. I stepped back and that was when I heard a car comin' down the lane.
I turned to see headlights a few hundred yards off, and I dashed off the porch back to the field where I come from before. I heard the garage door opener start workin' and I knew it was Peter. He hadn't been sleepin' in his bed at all while I was imaginin' us together in a dream – he had been out, and all at once I imagined him out on a date with some girl up in Cotton City or maybe all the way in Birmingham, and I was rushin' through that open field, getting' all out of breath and not seein' right 'cause my eyes were wet and I was shakin' from fear and my hair was blowin' around. I musta' looked half crazy.
I think I ran almost all the way home, and never stopped to go back and look for my shoes, and that was bad, 'cause I had done more than just prick myself on somethin' in the edge of his driveway. And if Peter had been in Cotton City that night, well, I got to go too – my roommate Denise drove me to the emergency room and it took a few stitches to close up my foot. I spent the next few days limpin' around the store with my foot wrapped and I was scared to no end, thinkin' I musta' bled on Peter's step and he would think I was all crazy and he could put two and two together 'cause he ain't dumb. I thought right.
A box showed up on my porch a couple days later, all wrapped in blue paper, and inside there was a beautiful blue silk scarf and a handwritten note on Peter Switchback's personal stationery.
“Virtus junxit. And I hope you heal quickly.”
I had no idea what those two words meant, but I collapsed to the kitchen floor and cried like a baby.