The Sunlight Dialogues by John Gardner
Riding horses in a back pasture, gone wild. Woods. Inside, on a hill, a house as black as dinosaur bones. Grass grows up through the driveway’s broken asphalt, but there is a car. This is the house of the oldest Judge in the world. The Judge has company.
John Gardner’s Prologue to The Sunlight Dialogues immediately drew me in. His first sentence, “Riding horses in a back pasture, gone wild” caught me up and I saw land no longer cultivated. His description, “grass grows up through the driveway,” gave me a picture of a driveway beaten down by weeds, and I laughed when he wrote, “but there is a car.”
My setting from Turn The Light On, WC:854 FCA
Puffy, dark clouds clustered together hiding the moon when Della opened the door to her apartment. She placed her keys on the large wooden key holder that hung on the left side of the wall without thinking about turning on her lights. Even though it was early October, it was extremely warm and she kicked off her shoes and carried them in her hands. That the hallway was dark didn’t bother her; she walked down it as lightning blitz across the sky; her shoes in one hand; her purse strap hanging over her shoulder.
Approaching her kitchen door, she stopped and noticed that the wind coming through her opened kitchen window had blown her letters that were on the kitchen table to the floor; the pictures and what-nots hanging on the wall were rattling their dissatisfaction, so she entered and closed the window and hurriedly picked up the fallen letters and laid them back on the table before going to her living room.
In her living room, the wind was tossing the thin translucent drapes hanging from the drapery rods high, lifting and tying them as it blew them in different directions. Her repressed anger matched the approaching storm, and she hurled her shoes off into the darkness; her purse followed. She heard the content fall to the carpet but didn’t make any effort to turn the light on to gather them. Confused and hurting, she walked to the large window to look up at the dark, angry sky.
Suddenly, she sensed a presence, and goose bumps broke out on her arms. She felt she was no longer alone.
You're here; somewhere, in my living room, she thought. It’s got to be you.
Infuriated at him for daring to enter her apartment; for leading her on for one whole year; in her anger, her stubborn spirit reared its head.
Two can play your game; I’ll just let you wait until I get ready to confront you. She stood before the huge glass window and the wind tossed the sheer drapes to and fro trying to envelope her; she felt no fear.
I was right then. You're back in town, so, why weren't you at the restaurant?
A feeling of relief ran through her body, and tears gathered in her eyes, and she brushed them away with her hands as they ran down her face. She had missed him––her stranger without a name. He had never left her for two months. She shuddered at the intimacy, at the emotional entwinement to a stranger, an assassin she didn't even know by name––her stranger.
He sat in the darkest corner of her living room, watching her. Observing her brought healing to his war-ridden soul. He desired to reach out and enfold her in his arms, but he didn't. Instead, he sat; basking in the tranquility her presence gave him. This was the intimacy he had been searching for, and he relished the fact that she was his. Like a mammoth in heat, within him raged a pressing need to cover her with his body as he lay in her arms.
Her tears forced him to act. As the lightening flashed across the room, he saw her brushing tears away from her cheeks. He’d never seen her cry, and surprisingly, it pained him. What little emotional balance he had left disappeared; he wanted to comfort her.
"Did you enjoy your meal?"
"No.” She said.
“Why weren't you there?" she asked.
"I had to de-brief."
"Oh. When did you land?"
"Four hours ago."
"Have you eaten?"
"No. I was waiting for you so we could eat together."
"I'm tired. I’ve had a long day."
"Why?" he asked, even though, he knew from CeCe, her live-in maid, that she’d been horrified at his occupation.
"Because I found out what you were. The newsflash this morning accidentally caught my attention, and I recognized you."
"By your eyes," she almost screamed.
"I've been walking around in a daze, asking myself how I could let myself play such a stupid game and get emotionally attach to a trained killer."
"You haven't been playing a game."
"What is it then, if not a game?"
"It's a courtship that’s about to end.”
Her heart began to beat swiftly; they were surrounded by darkness; she couldn’t see his face; she had no idea what he meant.
So, it's over, she thought and a sadness of great dimension overcame her and poked at her heart.
"Why is it about to end?" She asked, quietly.
"I need you."
"Oh, I see," she said, and joy banished away the sadness. "So, you want to sleep with me? Is that the reason you've followed me a whole year and showered me with gifts?"
"I do admit I want you in my bed on a permanent basis."
"And what if I don't want to sleep in your bed on a permanent basis? Would you force me?"
"No, I've never had to force anyone, and I won't have to force you either."
"At least you don't lack self-confidence," she said with a trace of sarcasm.