At Waters Edge
The ashes from the fire left black dust in the cracks of my hands, staining them like forensic ink. I sat at the water’s edge on bended knee, dirge, blinded by regret. Her words bounced back and forth between both ears like echolocation.
“Forcing love is like plucking a blossom from the bush and insisting that it grow.”
I gave her everything and she gave me nothing. Misery and heartburn from her torrid vocabulary filled me with ire. I was chasing her shade up the mountainside while she was riding the sun.
“As the sun sets, so too shall my soul.” I bellowed stridently. It was a decree to my pain and suffering. The coq uettish legitimacy of giving it your all just to have them take it all and having nothing to show for it in the end.
As my knees sank into the mire at the edge of the water I looked at the steel cobalt surface. I saw my manifestation, but a charlatan—someone I did not recognize anymore but used to know well—was staring back at me.
“Why do we hug our scars more than our healing?” I asked the man in the water as a placid zephyr rippled the lapping surge. “I should get her back…make her feel this pain.” I sulked, emotively.
Mother would know just what to say to pacify my broken spirit. Why did she have to die, I wondered to myself. Even now, her face has claimed the blue. It is everywhere that I look.
“Love is not a sport of vengeance. You can’t just throw it like a stone…” I whispered to myself.
I could see it more clearly. I could smell it like Sulphur and taste it like brimstone. The necromancy of her language: I never loved you, forewarned of something far more baleful than her impious ways—the game she played with my heart—self destruction. My copper wires were about to cross, and I was at my wits end, but as I knelt at the edge of the water, a different type of feeling rushed over me like warm liquid being poured over cold hands.
I found the golden apple in the garden, and through the flora a wicked serpent was waiting for my limitation. Somewhere close by but also extremely far away, Satan showed his sharp fangs in the form of a smile. His happiness—my happiness—touched me all the way down to the marrow in my bones. I must forgive and I must not forget.
“Forgive not forget, forgive not forget…” I repeated as tears fell and distorted the man in the reflection at the waters edge. She didn’t love me, never did. But I loved her, and I Didn’t understand why our hearts played such cruel tricks on us. I figured that if I were a beating heart in a chest, sure I would get bored from time to time, but I would never play with love, for when you play with love it is always a losing game. You never know you have lost until you lost sight of love.
“You hear that Jenny…you win…YOU WIN!” I shouted as I punched my reflection, making him—me—disappear. “Please come back…you’re all I have.” I cried.
When I was but a small child, I was faced with a life shifting quandary. Spot, my black and tan, died from parvo. I wept. My father sat me down and calmly but snappishly scolded me.
“You’re going to be a man one day, son. Men don’t cry. They kneel beside a lake or a river and banish their harms to the water. Leave it there and come back a man.”
The self-indulgent pleasures that I always believed spoke to my obligation to life was merely a charade, blind ambition at the most.
“Screw you, Dad!” I shouted until my throat was raw and my voice was loutish. Being emotional isn’t fulsome nor is it frail. I, however, do feel frail. I feel like a damn fool for loving love and tipping the emotional scale beyond the fine line. Somewhere between raison d’être and hysteria.
I investigated my reflections’ reflection and saw me. The eyes—my eyes—were shadowed with mauve but were painful to touch. They hurt to see, but I did both touch and see.
I screamed another blood curdling shriek into the wind as I sank deeper into the earth. My head felt the way of a deflated balloon that was once filled with helium. Once large and light has now become empty and shapeless.
If we don’t talk about the things that we’re terrified of, it becomes the things that we want to eradicate in the end. Love, I’m talking about love.
Her continuous melancholy was abbreviated to a chemical dysfunction of time. My harmony, my happiness, was caused by the thrill of being alive with the promise of a new day. Nothing more and nothing less.
“She wishes I would just die…” I told myself. “…But I will not depart this life as I’ve lived.” I proclaimed. There was not just a trivial change in the barometric pressure in the air, but in the barometric pressure inside me that I could slightly sense.
The more I purged my lexis into the air, the better I felt. This must be why therapists have you scream into a pillow. With nobody around to see me, to umpire me, I purged pompously and explicitly. Mother used to tell me that one of the imperatives of demise is to make the living see. I wanted her to see. I wanted her to feel. I wanted her to hurt. I wanted her back.
I dozed off and awoke with my face now layered with mud, splashed with wet and dry patches. The water’s edge was encircled by thick eddies of mist, but the sky was a perfect summer blue, lit to excellence by a nourishing sun. Time seemed to deepen like an abrasion; the type that has a coupled smell and taste—a handful of pennies in your mouth. I felt as if I were healing from the outside in. My heart closely resembled an envelope that was torn open; not carefully opened with a letter opener that left a small enough incision enough room for love and memories to move about without restraint. The flourish of the bruise over my heart but under my skin was tender but already showing signs of healing. The wet line of my teeth seemed sharpened as if by stone—her words—but still were perfectly straight.
“I’m better.” I told myself as I stood up, took one last look at the man at the waters edge, acknowledged his existence and made my way through the thicket to an idling car.
I exhaled deeply and profoundly and wiped away the remaining water staining the skin around my eyes.
“Home please.” I simply said.
“Is that any ways to greet your father?” The driver asked as he pressed the cherry of a mahogany cigar against the side of the car.
“Sorry. Home please, dad.”
“So, how did it go in there?” He asked as he began to drive.
“Well,” I began to say as I paused, “ I am coming out of the forest a better man. I left it all in there.”
“Was I right or was I right?” He asked in a bamboozling sort of way.
“Seems like a trick question,” I said as I shook my head, “but you were right.” I told him. He didn’t counter but conceitedly wore my words like a badge of honor.
“I am officially over her, dad.” I quietly but proudly said as I grabbed my phone out of the glove compartment. I had fourteen missed calls and seventeen unopened text messages, but only one voice mail. There was a certain illogicality to the numbers fourteen, seventeen and one, but there was an otherworldly feeling to the voicemail. I held down the number zero and called my voice mail as I peered out the window.
“Hey Eli, its me. Umm, Jenny. I tried to send you a message on Facebook, but you blocked me?” She said as if it were a question. “Anyways…umm, listen…” Every word that she spoke was met with a pause, for a vivid effect no doubt. “I went on a date today…umm…never mind it’s not important. Look, I’ve been totally blind. No one will ever treat me the way that you do, you spoil me. Umm, listen, I want you back. Please call me. I promise I have changed. Just call me. I love you.”
I unhurriedly pulled the phone away from my ear as a quarter of a smile no bigger than a sliver appeared at the corner of my mouth.
“Uh-oh I know that look.” Dad said through fretful teeth.
“That was Jenny.”
“Oh?” He responded.
“She said she’s sorry and she wants to get back together. It’ll be different this time; she said she loves me. It’ll be different this time.” I repeated.
“I’m happy for you, son.” He tersely said. In the silence, there were undeclared words and truths that he wanted to spill like an ink well. The badge of honor he so proudly wore flew out the window and became one with the wind.
“Can you speed up? Sheesh.” I rudely asked as I leaned over and looked gallingly at the speedometer. He silently responded by pressing down on the gas pedal, accelerating fast enough to chase away his unspoken discontent in me, his son.
He looked in the mirror and caught a glance of me while I stared blankly at the unread text messages on my phone, a smile like that of the Mona Lisa was plastered across my visage. He saw a glimpse of himself in the mistake that I was about to make.
“Apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.” He garbled quietly under his breath.
“What’s that, dad?”
“Nothing son, I’m really proud of you.”