late light filtering through the lindens

Had Liza been talking this whole time? He turned and faced her as they merged onto the FDR Drive, and she looked beautiful, her arms raised to pull her light brown hair into a ponytail; he watched her chest rise and fall as she breathed, saw the thin gold necklace she always wore against her perfect collarbone. Then without transition he was looking at the skyline of lower Manhattan, the buildings growing larger and more detailed as the taxi approached, though he was not aware of moving. Then he was aware of moving at an impossibly smooth rate, and there was the Brooklyn bridge, cablework sparkling, Liza was cursing at the little touch screen television in the taxi, which she couldn’t seem to turn off, and he reached out a hand to help her and experienced contact with the glass as a marvel, like encountering solidified, sensate air. Then he was smoothing her hair back and she was laughing at this uncharacteristic intimacy, something he’d done only a few times in their six years. Now the view again, and it occurred to him with the force of revelation:
I won’t remember this. This is the most beautiful view of the city I have ever seen, the most perfect experience of touch and speed, I’ve never felt so close to Liza, and I won’t remember it; the drugs will erase it. And then, glowing with the aura of imminent disappearance, it really was the most beautiful view, experience. He wanted badly to describe this situation to Liza but couldn’t; his tongue was still numb; he couldn’t even ask her to remind him of what the drugs could erase.

While he was distantly aware that Liza would tease him for it later, that he was being ridiculous, he felt tears start in his eyes as they merged onto the bridge and he watched the play of late October sunlight on the water. That he would form no memory of what he observed and could not record it in any language lent it a fullness, made it briefly identical to itself, and he was deeply moved to think this experience of presence depended upon its obliteration. Then he was in his apartment; Liza gave him a couple of pills, put him to bed, and left.

 

-Ben Lerner, 10:04

 

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