I sit by the window looking outside. The dawn has barely broken, and a fine mist is suspended just above the lake’s surface. The silence of the morning has an eerie feel to it. The sun yet to show itself, hidden by the foreboding still-dark clouds.
Having barely slept my eyes are sore. Puffy bags have formed under my lower lids. A small price to pay for a night without bad dreams. It has been four days since arriving at the cabin and I have yet to see another soul.
I venture outside and down the slope to the water’s edge. Mist still visible providing a light blanket of cover. Shedding the confinement of clothing I slip into the cold water. Allowing it to consume me and in the tender gray, I swim undisturbed. The water washes away the nightmares that had consumed me.
He never listened. Oh, he heard, but was incapable of listening to her.
In the beginning she loved his intelligence and sweetness. There was something deliciously romantic about his thoughtful gestures. He cast a spell on her, capturing her in his jeweled web. Making sure she was good and stuck in place. She could neither come nor go. The quirkiness of his personality once refreshing and keeping her always on her toes, now suffocating. Trapped by his weirdness that quickly lost its appeal. Squeezing the breath from her lungs and energy from her body.
What she mistakenly took for romance was actually a predator luring his prey. Now his web constricts and chokes her until she is no more. To her, death is quite romantic. She speaks no more but he didn’t listen to her anyway. If he couldn’t have her, then nobody would.
Every Sunday without fail, mother and I would walk to the station and catch the morning train to the coast to see my grandmother.
Mother would tend to grandmother’s garden, caring for roses, mowing grass and trimming bushes. I amused myself as best I could for an eight-year old but mostly I learned about flowers. Names like Peony, Hollyhock, and Delphinium. The term “bedding plants” made the child I was, giggle. But pretty blue Lobelia was prefect next to the white Alyssum.
Exhausted we’d return in the early evening with armfuls of her beautiful blooms.
I did not always want to go. I know now my mother was escaping from her unhappy life and needed the diversion. She is no longer here and I think I’d like, too, to plant the sweet alyssum that smells like honey and peace reminding me always of her.
Time of no consequence on this summer afternoon. Reclining comfortably on the cool grass, my back against the shady oak. Around me gossamer wings of dragonflies work overtime returning my incredulous stare.
Birdsong fills the air as buttercups wave in the breeze. My mind wanders wherever it wishes and I remember childhood family walks through these fields. Being the youngest I’d sit atop my father’s shoulders. My siblings carrying the makings of a picnic our mother would set on a tartan blanket. After, we would play hide and seek and make daisy chains to wear. Happy as larks we would run until exhausted and collapse in a heap under a tree.
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings. Unrecognizable at first but then as I stir it becomes clearer. The beautiful sound of a summer lark completing my reverie.
She had known pain. Living with her like a constant companion. Sometimes nudging, often poking. Always reminding her of its presence.
The hurt ever-present. Over time festering in her heart, she would lance it like a boil. Easing out the poison stopping it traveling to her very soul. Concentrating on this familiar task helped her through another day.
The pain reminded her she was alive. Without it, dead. To the observer, she was a hamster on a wheel continuously moving, going nowhere, caught in a vicious cycle. That is how I remembered her.
Now returning to that place I see her vacant look gone. Replaced with shining eyes I’d never noticed before. Knowing instinctively what happened to the pain she carried. She’d had it sliced away, leaving a scar, and she wore it proudly on her face in the form of a crooked smile.
The church clock struck again. We’d waited more than an hour.
“Why’s this taking so long?”, said Ma wearily .
“It’s ok”, I replied, knowing the question was rhetorical.
Ma was still guilty about the explosion that left me blind since I was five. It was May Day and the village was celebrating. Da left his cigarette burning while he stepped outside to watch. Pretending I was a grown up, puffing on it, I choked so hard I dropped it near the gas stove. I don’t remember much else until I woke in the hospital.
Since then Ma has taken me to every faith healer that she could find.
Each time I say “For how can I be sure I shall see again?”
“The world on the first of May will be brighter that day because you’ll be able to see it.” she replies.
With anxiety at a high level I’m pacing the room unable to calm down. Everything was fine until the call from James. Why did I answer? He aggravated me more than usual.
I have to get out of here and walk before I blow a gasket.
I’m halfway down the street before realizing I had no coat. Shivering, I wandered. Lonely as a cloud nine, because they are few and far between, well at least to me. I really can’t remember the last time I was happy with James. He is probably the most high maintenance man I have ever known. I feel like I am constantly babying him. Ugh!
The night time streets are empty and I am grateful for the solitude. I’ll walk until I can cool off and then head home with a clearer head.
They sat on the stairs waiting, shoulders touching. Listening to him intently, and loving the warmth of his body next to hers. It was serendipitous she’d locked herself out of the apartment as he was coming home from work. She smiled, remembering.
“You ok?” He had said as he stood outside his door watching her struggle with her door.
“Yes, fine” she had responded, not wanting him to see how frustrated she was.
“You’re locked out, aren’t you?” He said with a smile on his face. “I’ll call a locksmith for you.”
“Not necessary” she said. Embarrassed at her own incompetence. This was not how it was supposed to be. She’d had a much better idea in her head how it would be when they finally met.
But she thought, “It is a moon wrapped up in brown paper.” Sometimes blessings come in disguise.
She looked over the top of her glasses, perched on the end of her nose. There he was standing in front of French Literature. Her heart skipped remembering the last time he had stopped by the desk for assistance.
Sighing, she turned her attention back to cataloging the pile of books that were in front of her. Busying herself she hadn’t noticed he’d moved across the library floor and was now standing in front of her.
“You look as if you need a break.” he said in a bright, cheerful manner.
Startled she dropped the book she was holding.
“Excuse me?” she said looking up smiling as she realized it was him
“Would you like to have lunch with me?” he asked.
“Yes!” she answered, maybe too quickly.
“Great!“ he said. “Oh, and bring no book, for this one day we’ll give to idleness.”.
Ingrid is hosting Monday Prosery at D’Verse Poets and has prompted us with the line: “And bring no book, for this one day we’ll give to idleness.” from from Wordsworth’s ‘Lines Written at a small distance from my House…‘ We are to use the line in our piece of Flash Fiction (Prosery). The rule is that Prosery should be no more than 144 words, excluding the title.
As a child she remembered climbing on the rubble of what was once terraced houses. Sometimes discovering staircases standing alone, still intact but minus the bannister
A treasure trove of others belongings could still be found in the heap of bricks. Books, sometimes photos with singed edges, a toy, or a tin of buttons.
Looking back, understanding a child’s innocence of the horrors that had barely preceded her, she wondered “What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow out of this stony rubbish?”. A debris of once loved abodes full of life becoming a playground wonderland.
Then rising from the ashes to become concrete and glass, a new way of living for many in incomprehensible heights above a broken city bombed from recognition.
She stared up at a tower block born from that wreckage now decaying from neglect. What goes around, comes around.