The Purple Majesty
The Purple Majesty
The ineffable draw of the mountains—romantic and fascinating—is a contemptuous portrayal of the volatility of interminable magnificence.
I stood in the foothills as I just stared, rapt and engrossed by the mountain. The clouds laced the moon with wisps of white and gray, but the hauntingly beautiful purple glow from the mountain would never falter. I understood that our very existence like our breath which is given to us belonged to the earth. It is but a thread on a loom, interwoven but tousled in ways we can’t yet appreciate.
As I stood there breathing in the malodorous earth, I had to admit that I rather enjoyed the hug. The warm cuddle that was provided by the thick substantial air. The earth, (which mother says died giving birth to us) seemed alive, telling ruptured tales that surge like a waterfall staining red everything it touches with the perfume of a lie. A cool zephyr of air blew a thatch of reddish-blonde hair into my peripheral proving that mother—once again—was wrong. The earth is alive and always will be. I stood there until it appeared slowly and without warning—the rolling fog—as thick as meringue, all but erasing any grain of the purple majesty.
I walked into the house to a choking solitude. Mother always did have a taste for color palettes. Everywhere I looked were creams against grays, white and ecru. There were random splashes of lavender, pops of the most royal of blues and a dashing of red. Our very existence revolves around the purple majesty, but I just would not listen, not until it was too late. Mother reminded me daily of our bond with the purple majesty by mimicking the colors on the walls of our house to match that which lied just outside the door.
The sun began to rise and burn off the haze. The fog retreated and the roosters began to wake the world with their cacophony cries. I slowly creaked open the door to be sure that the fog was gone; it was. I stepped out into the early morning sun and felt myself rise into radiant, swirling shades of ruby and rose. The sky was streaked with cinnamon ablaze. Dashes of nutmeg spread wide in the valleys that were highlighted with all the colors of flora.
In the purple majesty, catastrophe would habitually take shape off in the distance, and with the changing of the seasons: mudslides, fires, bark beetles and blizzards. Those events— “gifts” from the mountain—have their own way of cascading. But in the wake of the ruin, on the tail end of a new day, comes the renaissance. At least that is what mother told me. Instilled in me is more like it. But mother is gone now, one week ago today.
Mother and I were having one of our illustrious wiles where we were both confident that we held the answers to all, and the other party only spoke in farce.
“Mother, I promise you that the fog is no friend…it kills. We give thanks to the purple majesty and offer gifts for our protection. We learned it in school.” I warmly but poignantly explained.
“Do you know how absurd that sounds, Callen?” She began to ask. “It’s not real…none of it.” We had this same incongruity more times than I cared to recall and mother, fueled by arrogance and nothing else, sought to prove me wrong. “Callen, I did not raise you to be so insolent…to doubt my words. I’ll prove it. If I am right, I’ll tell all and we can leave the lies of the mountain behind. But if you’re right and I do not return when the fog clears, you’ll have to live with the remorse.” She said as I cowered into my feelings. With my arrogance working my emotions, I shook her hand and sealed her words and sealed her fate.
She stepped out into the fog that night and became a ghost within as she was shrouded in cover the shade of haze. There was a moment of stillness, eerie stillness and then there were bright flashes of light which began to strobe to the sounds of mothers’ blood curdling screams. Her screams grew weak as I listened from the other side of the front door, squeezing the doorknob but too afraid to twist it open. Her lexis became indistinct as if something held her voice. I made out the word “Live” before that all too familiar stillness returned to ridicule me.
When the fog lifted, I ran outside. I was feverish and afraid, looking for a trail of anything to explain what my eyes could not hear. A footprint in the mud, a spot or spray of blood; I searched high and low to no prevail. I sealed mothers’ fate that day by being mulish and insolent, two things I vowed never to be again.
Sometimes when I close my eyes, I can still see and hear mother. Her larger-than-life amber eyes with flecks of hazel and the way she would drag certain inflections with the words “Love” and “beautiful”. Although I was right and mother was not, I needn’t crow nor boast for mother would remain a part of the purple majesty and not with me. I must live with our last words. With our last handshake. Whatever this is, compunction, survivors’ guilt or regret, I must live with it; however, I vowed to be ready for whatever came next.
The morning that mother vanished, I saw Miss Rickards, the lonely old spinster, and she saw me. In my eyes she saw everything and wholly understood as we just stared at each other for a moment too long.
“Shame…” She faintly began to say, “…She was one of the good ones.”
I sat on the ground with my knees to my chest, rocking back and forth.
“Give it a week, you’ll be over her.” She acrimoniously said. I could see it decorated across her face; she also lost someone to the fog. A husband? A brother? Whoever it was, she saw them every day when she would peer into the looking glass. Looking back at her from the looking glass for so many years was the raw reminder of her pain and anguish. It had caused bitter roots to break apart her earth and put its signature on her face in the form of rumpled skin.
“SHUT UP! JUST YOU SHUT UP!” I shouted as I attempted to throw a clump of mud at her. It flew just to the right of her and instead splattered on her window overlooking her beautiful garden. She shrugged her shoulders and understood my sodden heart as she filled a wicker basket with lavender, rosemary, sage and basil.
“For the mountain…” She said as she left the basket at my feet and walked into her house.
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