The Art of Living

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6: The Rage of the Sun

And then anger took him like a cobra strikes at her prey. It seethed through him, making the frame of bones that held him to the real world shake and shudder. The blood pumping through his veins simmered, and his skin was on fire. The flames within him licked at his heart, making it beat that much faster.

The anger died down and was replaced by an intense feeling of disappointment. He felt rejected, by himself. He remembered all the trophies he had not won, all the articles he had not published, all the women he had not wooed, and most of all, he remembered the day he lost his wife.

It had been a beautiful day, one of those perfect times of rain, when the clouds let loose a great torrent of cool water, and the Professor and his wife had been on holiday. The holiday was originally not a holiday, it had to be said, for Quicksilver had woken up differently that Monday. Something in his wife’s eyes had changed, some glint here and there that told him of Paradise, and he was gone. The phone call to the Principal’s office had been short and sweet- for no Principal ever told a veteran teacher he couldn’t take a day off. On instinct, the Professor had called in sick. He loathed his instinct ever since that day, for it was instinct that churned into motion the events of this Monday. The rain had poured on and on, and the little fire in his house spread warmth like her velvet skin did when she touched him.

The wrinkles on her face were more perfect wrinkles than you would ever find, you see, for she loved them more than anybody else. Wrinkles were a sign of happiness, of too much smiling, she would say, and she would then proceed to smile some more, as if the earth itself would find peace when she spread her lips. The smile held her eyes in rapture, and her eyes in turn glanced at Quicksilver. A sparkling shade of blue moved like ocean waves when she smiled; it always had, from the day he met her until the day the water stilled. He was glad he had named her Sunshine then, for her eyes were like the sun shining on a patch of clear and cool seawater.

Sunshine watched the rain as it crashed down on top of their house, smattering their antique windows. She was spellbound not because of the beauty, but because of the power embracing the earth. The earth was receiving a reminder of the power in the universe, a reminder that chilled Sunshine’s bones. The Professor could only watch her and think with her. He knew that somehow, they were thinking the same things, wishing the same wishes, even criticizing each other at the same time. It was a telepathy that they had never spoken of, because he had never brought it up. On that Monday, the Professor had realized that there was one subject he had never understood clearly enough to teach his students much less his children- Sunshine. Had one of his students asked him about his wife, he would have been flabbergasted, absolutely speechless. For how does one describe Sunshine? How does one describe every little piece of him that has existed on this world? He could not possibly explain to someone the oceans in her eyes, or the curved crescent of her lips, and he could not explain why he loved her. He just did.

But if he was asked to describe her after her last breath, he could. He could remember distinctly the shape of her smooth throat as she breathed her last, and he could recall the veins on her bony wrists as she clasped him with as much force as she could muster. She died in her rocking chair- not in his arms, not even close. But the lack of contact before she passed into nothing somehow helped him, as if her soul had taken less of his as it departed. But she died like a canvas. The rocking chair stood beside the French window, whose curtains had been thrown open to allow the entirety of the rainy world to be glimpsed through clear glass. The rain cascaded down, and the shadows of each droplet streaked down Sunshine’s face as he watched her die.

The Professor had always believed that he wanted to die with his eyes open- so that he saw the very last second of the world around him. But Sunshine had died with her eyes calmly shut, and through his small understanding of her he understood why. She closed her eyes to burn the final image of the world around her into her eyelids, so that it lay sealed there and could not escape with death. Her soul might have carried on that lasting picture of rainfall. As the shadow-rain darkened her face, she tightened grip on his fingers one last time. When her ocean eyes closed, the Professor felt the rain break open the roof of his house and strike him with vengeance. It began shattering down, as if the heavens were disappointed with Sunshine’s passing. The house echoed with the rumblings of thunder and the gunshot rain.

It wasn’t raining on the cobblestone path, but the darkness was still abounding. The Professor had not moved an inch ever since Sunshine had come back into his mind. He had simply stood there and allowed the darkness to take him over, to slowly engulf his being. The darkness had brought Sunshine to him, and he had cried there, silently.

But he walked on. That was then, and this was now. He had a path to walk on, not a face to look at anymore. All the faces had disappeared a long time ago, and now all he had was wrinkled images in his mirror. And now, the wrinkles had disappeared. He walked on, because he knew that the darkness held no power over him- he was dark enough with Sunshine in his mind. It was black in front of him, black behind him, and black above and below him. And yet, he could see. As if a pale film of moonlight, very weak and yet powerful enough for him to see in front of him, had appeared, and the world was new.

The cobblestone path was the very same, make no mistake, but it was different. The darkness did not soak into these stones. There was potential- some, just enough- for moonlight. And moonlight was lovely light. It shone in the darkest places, in the coldest places, making Quicksilver feel quicker, if possible. He assumed his love for the moonlight had emerged after Sunshine had died. But that was far too coincidental. He had always believed that our love for nature never begins or ends, it can only exist. And the moon was, to him, nature itself, for it was nature asleep.

The path climbed still higher, but he could walk it now. He could walk it because he knew it. The pressure on the soles of his feet was a pressure he knew, and the smell of the street was a scent he had smelt. He almost heard the sound of chalk on a blackboard, until he stopped, astounded, in front of the coffee shop. Sugar and tea floated in the air, and he took in a great breath, stronger than any breath out of a cigarette he had ever taken. But when he exhaled, a cloud of smoke filled his vicinity.

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