Tuesday, November 30, 2010
It had been a good life, from those early bloom days of Spring right through until today. It was a simple life too, one filled with simple pleasures.
The leaf could still remember that first day he had stretched out, from a tight bud into a frilly green entity full of potential. As the days grew warmer, he grew, slowly spreading out until he was complete.
He relished those early days when the soft pitter-patter of rain would splash off his surface and run down his fresh green face; when he would twist and stretch to catch the full embrace of the sun’s warming rays.
The summer was just as nice, resplendent in its heat, cooler night skies awash with stars. He would often wonder what it was like out there in the cold expanses of space, that intimidating nothingness that stretched on into infinity.
As the summer drew to a close and the nights became longer and colder, a sense of gloom descended upon the tree. The leaves knew that it would soon be time to fall and with the great fall came the end.
Some of the leaves did not want to prolong the inevitable. They were more content to flame out in iridescent bursts of red than slowly fade away. The lemon-limes were happy to ride it out a little longer, slowly easing into their eventual earthbound descent.
“What are you thinking?” they would ask the leaf? “When will your moment be?”
The leaf didn’t have the heart to tell them that he was afraid of what came next. He watched as the others floated down to the distant grasses below, scattering off into the unknown on the cool autumn winds.
He clung to that tree as long as he could, missing the other leaves, and even the birds who would often keep him company. He clung firmly to his roots, desperately adhering to the chance that he just might persevere.
He lasted until the first snowfall but the cold was just to much. He felt a soft pop as he separated from the tree and plummeted towards the icy earth below. He landed in the crunchy grass, jarred by the impact on his brittle frame. A sudden gust picked him up and sent him pirouetting for a moment before setting him down in a nearby puddle.
The water was cold, but soothing. The sense of floating was familiar, not unlike being aflutter in the wind, still affixed to his branch. That night, the leaf felt him self slowly drifting away into the fall as the water slowly covered him and turned to ice.
The following morning, surrounded by shattered fragments of ice, the leaf was perfectly preserved in a microcosm of the life that came before.
Monday, November 29, 2010
It was all there in the drops, her entire life flipped upside down and reflected back at her.
She leaned in a little closer, looking for some kind of answer or an indication of what she should do next. There were images flickering in the bulbous globules, reflected shades that flitted just behind her and just out of sight, but they were no more than impressions, like the hint of possibilities.
She cursed the bland vinyl siding of the house. It was throwing everything off and obscuring the images further in a dull expanse of beige. She could see her face, refracted and magnified, stretched upside down over the surface of the water drop. She stuck out her tongue, winked an eye, and waved her arms wildly. The inverted reflection did the same.
With one eye closed, she leaned closer, staring intently into the middle droplet. Maybe there was no magic in there after all. Maybe the voices she had heard, the soft whispers of her name, had just been in her imagination. It was an entirely likely possibility and now that she was starting to accept it, she was feeling a little ridiculous.
She opened her closed eye and took a step back. Hands on hips, she took one last scrutinizing look at the row of droplets.
It was all in her mind after all. Of course it was. There were no voices calling to her, no answers to be found. It was just her subconscious mind telling her to take a closer look at herself, to view her situation from a different perspective. Gazing into those droplets she had only seen herself looking back. What she was telling herself was that what she needed to do was examine how she had arrived where she was and how she could get where she was going. She needed to take her life and magnify its parts; turn everything upside down. That was how she would find the answers she was looking for.
There was no truth to be found in those inverted close ups, just a different version of the same. She smiled, a lopsided grin of acceptance, and stepped away from the house. She would find a quiet bench somewhere and take some time to reflect on her life. She would be proactive and create answers to her questions.
As she headed down her driveway towards the street, she thought she heard something. It almost sounded like a hushed whisper on the light breeze was calling her name.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
COOLER HEADS PREVAIL
During a blizzard is the perfect time. The streets are mostly empty and even the few passing motorists are so focussed at getting where they need to be that they will barely notice your presence. Yes, a blizzard, especially at night, is full of opportunity for a person like me.
The hard part is finding the right moment. Sometimes it is difficult to find anyone at all on a night like this. When you see them, they are usually hunched down, hands buried deep in pockets, eyes on their feet tracing every bitterly delicate step.
You can almost sense the desperation in the air. You can tell that people would be happiest curled up in front of a fire, or even the television, than out in this blustery mess.
When you finally do cross paths with a fellow wanderer, it is almost like fate itself has thrown you together. The elation of the moment can be overwhelming at times and you need to keep a cool head. Ironic I'm a sense. You also need to make sure your hands are warm enough to perform the task at hand. The last thing you want it to blunder the moment due to frozen extremities.
When the moment is right, you know it. No cars creeping up, no snow hawkers at a parted shade, no interruptions. It is just you and them, two intrepid souls in the impenetrable gloom. You approach, slowly, sometimes making it gradual over a number of blocks and when the time is right, you strike. Make it quick, make it definitive, and when you are through, make your retreat.
The storm will erase your presence and with a cool head, you will prevail. At least that's how it works for me. On nights like this, frostbite is the least of your concerns.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
Saturday, November 27, 2010
The flames leaped and danced before us, a swirling tango of light in a ring of stone. The flames crackled, pockets of moisture popping. glowing embers shot up into the night, reaching out to their more substantial brethren in the star speckled heavens above.
I looked around the fire, curiously aware that these were people I knew too well. It was like the past ten years had not even happened, like we had always remained together. The camaraderie carried a palpable sense of familiarity.
The last time we were all together like this, our lives were very different. We were in our formative years, still trying to figure out what would become of us, what we would be when we grew up. We weren't children by any means, but we also weren't defined.
Now we were mostly defined in our ways. We were teachers and lawyers and laborers set in our ways. We were happy, and on this warm summer night, we were complete.
There is something to be said for the strength of pre-career bonds. The fact that we were all coming into our true sense of identity during those years added an extra degree of importance to the times we shared. Those life defining moments had helped cast is off into the the next part of our individual journeys.
It had been a magical summer all those years ago, mostly because we knew it would be the last. That September we had split up, some heading west, some heading east, and a handful heading overseas.
It was the end of our era and the beginning of adulthood. Sitting here tonight, surrounded by slightly wizened versions of such hood friends, I realized that we had made it.
I had loved some of these people unconditionally. I had shared moments of pure joy, sorrow, and innocence with them all.
With this great fire crackling between us, it was like we had always been. Here. Together. We had drifted apart bit this night had snapped us all together on a way that the years between no longer existed.
I looked around the familiar faces and smiled. We were happier now than we had ever been before. Sitting around this fire.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
Friday, November 26, 2010
IT'S NOT OVER YET
"You never really see it coming. Hell, you don’t even realize it’s happening until one day you wake up and every part of you is creaking."
"When we were younger, we used to play all the time. We would shoot hoops, get a group together and play baseball, skate around the outdoor rinks in an attempt at hockey. We would walk up the steep grade of the highway and scale the imposing rock cuts, pausing at the top to admire the view - and induce a bit of vertigo at the reckless height we had just scaled while the cars sped by below. We would canoe and kayak and swim our ways through the endless days of summer."
"We would walk from one end of the city to the other, pausing for a swim along the way, then we would about face and walk all the way back home. We would spend our winters careening recklessly down tree lined paths on our GT SnoRacers, weaving through narrow openings in the trees and launching off jumps, only to hike back up and do it again. We would do it all and it was nothing."
"Every day was an adventure."
"Then we got older. We got jobs and found ourselves perched on faux-leather chairs at desks instead of in the lofty heights of rocky cliffs or at the crown of an insurmountable oak trees, its labyrinth of branches a challenge that propelleed us to the slender twigs at the top. Now we work hard every day and find ourselves drained from the sedentary nature of our responsibilities. We tire easily and don’t make time for the games that once charged us with life and filled us with vitality."
"There’s no time to cut loose and do the stupid things we used to do. Reckless is now stupid; a quick way to die. With aching limbs and creaky knees, our death is now a looming fear in the not-too-distant future. A mid-August thunderstorm is no longer an occasion to run shirtless down the street. An icy hill dusted in snow is something that slows us down to baby sized micro steps, not a thing of beauty that merits a running start. Our baseball fields are overgrown, our hockey rinks buried in snow, and our basketball nets tattered reminders of an easier time. Our bodies are testaments to the punishment we put them through in our constant search for thrills."
"It doesn’t need to be that way. Adventure is still there to be had and our aches and pains are easily ignored when they are accompanied by the thrill of victory."
"You need to build a fort, take a different path, step away from your desk. It’s not over yet."
And with that, he stood up and wandered off into the crowd. He was right of course. It's never too later to be a kid again.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Even though it had only been three short months, the horrible moment was still ingrained in her head, a violent reminder of how quickly things can change. It’s not the kind of lesson a 17-year-old girl needs.
A 17-year-old girl should be worried about her looks (no matter what mum says), and boys, and whether she will have someone to dance with on Friday night. Homework should be her only burden, not a guilty soul.
She looked out over the choppy waters, splashing up onto the icy shores in wet thwaps of cold foreboding. The lake had been different on that warm August afternoon, full of people, children, families, and even a few dogs.
She had been sitting up in her lifeguard chair, scanning the crowded water looking for anything that might be out of place. Children flopped and dove in the water, splashing playfully.
Then the scream. She jumped from the chair and sprinted out into the water. The woman’s scream had continued uninterrupted, a high pitched warbling that ripped along the lengths of the beach.
The girl was still, a small angel with her hair splayed out around her floated there. She had picked up the little girl in her arms, carried her back to the beach, and went through the processes she had been trained to perform. There was no sputter, no mouthful of water ejected, no sudden gasp for life-giving oxygen. Despite all her efforts, the girl was gone.
It wasn’t supposed to be like that. She was 4-years-old and should have lived to be at least 84.
The young girl’s father had threatened to sue, but the mother eventually talked him out of it by saying that she was right there with their daughter and it was her fault as much as anyone else’s. Still for a 17-year-old, it was almost too much to bear. It had been her responsibility and while accidents do happen, this one had happened on her watch.
Out there in those cold, foreboding waters.
She would probably get it over in time; time is the great healer after all. At the moment though, she wanted to submerge herself in those icy waters and let them form a thick icy shell around her. Preserve her endlessly and shelter her from the guilt. Still she was 17, and unlike that poor girl whose life ended so suddenly, she had a lot of living ahead of her.
Chilled, she pulled her sweater tighter around her. She would meet a boy and fall in love. She would dance with someone on Friday, probably her desk mate from art class. She would live, and learn, and love, and grow, and this day would always be with her as a reminder of how precious life is; of how quickly it could all change.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The sky turned an eerie shade of green and moments later, the world exploded. It was that sudden, that abrupt. One moment the sun was shining, and in the next the world was broken, an entire city shattered.
It only lasted a few minutes, but the wrath of those moments would stay with us for years to come. Property was destroyed, people went missing, power was out for days, weeks in some parts of the city.
It destroyed the economy, sure, but it destroyed something more powerful than that as well; our trust. After The Event, people slowly stopped trusting each other. Sure there was some looting and violence in the streets, there was a curfew in place, and all the other things you would expect following such an event. That wasn’t the issue though. The lack of trust came from a lack of answers. The people in charge weren’t telling us anything and they were the first to go in the scheme of trust. They always are though.
Things quickly degraded from there. Neighbours turned on neighbours, students on teachers, the public on the authorities. It was a total societal collapse and it happened almost over night.
It’s been a few years now and we still don’t really have an answer. Some people have tried to validate their fears by claiming it was a microburst, a fierce freak storm. Others have said that it was visitors from another planet and that they either meant to destroy us, or worse still, they meant for us to destroy ourselves.
There are as many theories as there are people it seems, but none of them saw what I did. I guess that puts me in a unique position of understanding, although I fail to understand exactly what it was that I saw.
I was walking downtown, on my way back from the bar where I had just polished off a few afternoon beers over a game of pool with a friend. The sun was shining brightly, although there were a few clouds swirling above. I happened to glance up an alley, and as I did, I paused. There was something different about the alley, something shimmery and…off. There was a man at the other end staring back at me with what I imagined to be the same expression on his face. He was just as surprised to see me, as I was to see him. Especially since we were dead ringers for each other.
He flicked his hand quickly and that’s when the shimmer slammed shut. And then the world exploded. I don’t know who he was, or where he was, but I am pretty sure he is the one that caused this. I felt guilty for a while, but I realized before too long that I was only feeling the guilt because the man had looked so much like me. Now I just feel driven. Driven to find a way into that place and track that man down.
The only thing that scares me about this is that I think he knows I’m coming.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
She shivered slightly, embalmed in a cool November fog that had grown thicker as the day transitioned into night. Traffic passed her; cars, trucks and taxis gliding wetly along the busy street. Behind her, the hospital loomed, and a little further down the hill, the city itself.
It was a dark night, but she wasn’t afraid. Even standing alone at the bus stop surrounded by the swirling mists. It was actually kind of soothing, like a cool, wet embrace from a familiar friend.
She glanced at her watch. 9:30.
It was still early. She sighed and looked back in the direction she had walked from, towards her classmate’s apartment. They were in college together and he had finally invited her over to hang out.
She wasn’t sure what she had expected. They had been flirting playfully, seemingly since the first day of school, and he had finally asked her out. She had agreed, a little too quickly perhaps, and when their last class let out, they jumped on a bus and headed down to his place.
He didn’t know what she had expected; maybe a movie? She figured it would be a good opportunity to get to know him a little better. They entered the apartment and he awkwardly took her coat. The hairs on her neck bristled as his fingers brushed across her collar.
For a minute, she actually hoped they might make out a bit. Not all the way or anything, but something kind of high school. When he offered her the beer she blushed, sure that he could read the thoughts on her face.
An hour later, she was at the bus stop. She was by herself and she had barely been acknowledged on her way out.
When the group of guys arrived, she had been a little surprised. When her date had quickly turned on his video game system, she had been dismayed. Now, she was standing in the cool embrace of a foggy autumn evening and feeling a little foolish. Boys were all the same, really, and she should have known better.
The bus pulled up with a hiss of pneumatics and she climbed the shallow steps, flashing her pass to the driver on the way by. As she made her way towards a vacant seat near the back of the bus, she noticed a familiar face, another guy from school. He smiled at her as she slid into the seat next to him and she smiled back. The bus lurched out into the traffic.
Monday, November 22, 2010
LOCK AND KEY
She kept it all inside her, under lock and key
She blocked it from her mind so she wouldn't have to see
Storing her past was a physical mechanism, a way to take pieces of her life that she no longer wanted, and lose them in her shed. It wasn’t necessarily bad things that she locked away in that secret place, just things she no longer needed on a day-to-day basis.
The memory of first time she kissed a boy was in that shed, stored in the form of a fuzzy pink sweater. It had been an awkward kiss, yet kind of sweet at the same time. Still, compared to her second kiss, with the same boy at that, it just wasn’t worth keeping around. Some things were better off forgotten.
Her grandmother’s collection of creepy china dolls was better off forgotten.
The books and toys of her childhood, while sweetly nostalgic, were better packed away in boxes and locked into the shed.
Algebra was better forgotten, even though the equations were harder to shake loose from her mind than most of other memories and facts that bounced around in there.
Thomas Ian Cantin was definitely best forgotten. In fact, Thomas was the reason she had built the shed in the first place. She had been so fond of Thomas, with his curly golden locks, and sky blue eyes. He was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen, and yet, he had never seen her. She had never existed until that one fateful evening in November, and even then, he only really saw her for a few seconds.
She had stared down at him as his life slowly flowed from the gaping slice she had etched across his throat and in that moment, he finally saw her. Then he died.
He was buried under the shed now and on top of his remains she had built her shrine to the paltry things best forgotten. Memories, people, possessions, all tucked away in the musty recesses of her particleboard depository, safely guarded under lock and key.
It wasn’t a big deal. There was a hole in his tooth where an entire piece of it had just fallen out, a blackened piece of dead enamel, but it wasn’t a big deal. Getting his wisdom teeth out in the eleventh grade was a pretty big deal, but mostly because he had gotten hooked on his painkillers. That was still a bit of a blur though. He remembered waking up post surgery with two gauze tusks hanging from his swollen walrus face, then vomiting a bunch of blood into a nearby wastebasket, followed by a painful aftershock explosion of light in his head. His nurse repacked his holes with fresh gauze and a jackhammer and told him not to try standing up again.
Three weeks later he was still a mess.
This was nothing though, except for maybe a little weird in the first place. What makes a tooth break? How does a piece of something that hard just come loose and fall into the sink?
It had felt like a kernel of popcorn at first, but he hadn’t had popcorn in months. Still, it was no big deal.
He scanned the humble waiting room again. One wall was lined with diplomas and certificates, official looking documents that told him he was in good hands. The opposite wall was covered in Polaroids of satisfied kids; the Wall of Fame it was called. He wondered where the dentist had gotten a Polaroid camera, let alone the film to put in it.
In the corner, an industrial grade rubber mat was covered in soggy, salt stained boots and full of slushy residue. He glanced at his socked right foot, perched gently over his left thigh, and bobbed it up and down a couple times.
Waiting rooms were funny places. This one happened to be empty, aside from himself. There were a stack of magazines on a nearby table, but they were old and full of gossipy z-grade celebrity stories. The radio played a familiar song, which was no real surprise because they always seemed to play the same familiar songs.
Finally, after what seemed like half an hour, but was actually just a little longer than a full hour, the nurse called his name and pointed towards the rear of the office. He stood smoothly, returning her smile as she apologized for the wait.
“No big deal,” he replied.
Patience really was a virtue.
The building seemed innocent enough in the soft glow of the setting sun. A little foreboding perhaps, in its institutional grey brickwork, but not an imposing site by any means. Still, a chill wrapped its way along the length of his spine and he was unable to take the next step towards his destination.
He had tied his shoes three times already, and retied them twice as many times again. He had plucked an apple from the branches of the tree that stretched out over him and the sidewalk and nibbled it nervously, wincing as the tart juices flowed over his taste buds.
He had called to check in at his office, eaten three pieces of gun, and watched as the sun had slowly sunk from just past its mid-day apex, to its current position just over the distant western horizon.
He had procrastinated as long as he could and finally, with a seemingly titanic effort, he crossed the street and made his way along the brick walkways to the solid doors that marked the entrance to the building.
He paused for a moment at the front desk and when the woman asked whom he was there to see, he spoke her name. The woman typed the name into her computer and with a warm smile, directed him to the fifth floor.
He waited patiently for the elevator in the antiseptic smelling foyer until the doors finally slid open with a soft ding.
He pressed the button marked five and as the elevator lurched upwards, he took a few deep breaths to compose himself. The love of his life was lying in a bed, three floors away. He hadn’t come to tell her that, but the thought crossed his mind.
The doors slid jerkily open and he stepped out onto the fifth floor, following the helpful directional signage. He was three rooms away when he decided not to delay. It would be easier just to walk right into the room with a smile on his face. He felt sick as he stepped into the room.
She looked exhausted. Her hair clung limply to her forehead, her eyes were puffy and red in her slightly bloated face. She had seen better days.
He scanned the room quickly, a mental inventory of sorts. It was as he had anticipated.
Her husband was sitting in a small plastic chair next to her bed. He was staring at her with complete adoration. He was the best man and the best man had won.
They were focused intently on the cooing bundle between them. From his position in the door, he could jest see a wrinkly pink hand jutting forth. He set the flowers gently on the empty bed before him and stepped back out into the hall.
He had never felt happier in his life.
She didn’t know how she had stumbled so far off course but here she was, lost in the thick of the wilderness with no idea how to find her way home.
It was supposed to be a fun day of woodland frolicking; she would gather some wildflowers, pick some berries, draw a quick sketch of the beaver ponds, and head back home in time for supper. Now, the gloaming was encroaching from every side, an ominous pressure that betrayed the serenity of her afternoon adventure.
The forest was no place to be at night. The creatures stumbled forth from their dens in search of an appetizing morsel to satiate their sleep pasted palates.
The branches of the forest reached out to her, scratching at her exposed arms, and clinging to her clothes. It was as though the trees were conspiring with the creatures of the night, tenderizing her flesh and ensnaring her until nightfall.
She thrust herself forward, quickly losing her wits as well as her sense of space and time. A mournful howl rose in the distance behind her. It was almost time.
Her breath came in short blasts, frantic, hot, and choking. She burst through the thicket and onto a narrow trail. In the distance, she could see the small cottage, a willowy plume of smoke snaking from its small tone chimney.
Abandoning her baskets, she dashed towards the safety of the small home. It would be close. The mournful howls filled the night now, echoing throughout the small green valley.
With a last burst of effort, she grasped the door handle and tumbled inwards onto the hearth. She had made it.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
He stepped out of the car and towards the building, reaching for the door as he did, but something caught his eye. He turned and saw it there, etched into the snow-dusted ground: a single tire track. The track stretched out from the rear wheel of his car and off into the past.
That tire had been with him on a journey of years. It had carried him to all the places he had been and brought him close to all the people he cared for.
That tire had exerted its tensile capabilities when he was in college. They were at the look out and an impulsive moment with the love of his life and the shocks had put the burden of the moment on the tire while the windows steamed up in their moment of passion.
That tire had brought him to the funeral home and then the cemetery when his grandmother had died, etching a sad trek through the city streets.
That tire had brought him to the airport and waited patiently in the parking lot while he traveled through Europe for three months. When he finally returned, a more rounded and experienced individual, that tire was waiting.
That tire had left a four-foot long piece of its sole on a quiet suburban street when a young girl had run out in front of his car chasing after a leaf.
That tire had switched places with three others just like it to ensure that he had a balanced a safe trip each and every time.
That tire had murdered. It was a small, reckless chipmunk, and an unavoidable accident, but he felt that there was still some residual guilt left from that fateful afternoon.
That tire had carried him from his university graduation on one of his proudest days. It had been there with him as he began a new life of promise and success.
Even thought he had fought against it in a moment of rare humility, that tire had dragged a string of tin cans down a sunny summer lane as he and his beautiful wife set out of town for their honeymoon.
That tire had also got them to the hospital, reckless cutting a swath through traffic and blazing through amber and red lights while his wife huffed, puffed and grunted in the passenger seat next to him.
That tire was responsible for a whole family now. It was a guardian of sorts, a transporter of memories as much as people.
That tire had got him here today, and he wondered where it would bring him next.
With a smile, he clasped his hand on the door and stepped into the building. The tire would be there waiting for him when he returned. He was happy knowing that as much as things changed, that tire would always be there for the next exciting part of the journey.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
A cool breeze blew through the backyard stirring up the first fallen leaves of autumn. There was a hint of dampness in the air and an undertone of sweet decay, an allusion to the coming of winter.
Erma removed a shirt from the clothesline and folded it deftly against her bosom; a tight, precise, mechanical motion. She swung the line around and removed another shirt, repeating the same motions and placing the folded garment on top of the others in the hamper by her feet.
A bird trilled softly from the distant trees and she glanced towards the sound. A pair of squirrels bounded playfully across the yard, but the bird remained hidden in the shady limbs of the trees that lined the back of her yard.
Eyes locked firmly on the squirrels, Erma removed a pair of socks from the tine, and balled them inward, dropping them instinctively into the hamper.
There is something soothing about the mundane processes of life, the transcendental state that can be attained so easily through daily chores. A sudsy sink full of dishes, stretching a broom into dusty corners, folding laundry; these were life’s true great escapes.
People who sought refuge in movies, books, or exotic vacations had always seemed like unhappy people to Erma. Why would they need to escape their lives if they were truly content with what they had achieved?
Erma was happily married. She had two great children. She had a roof over her head and food in the cupboards. What was there to escape from?
To some people, life was a chore. To Erma, life was chores, and she couldn’t ask for anything else. Erma balled a final pair of socks, the last on the line, and bent to pick up the hamper.
Surveying the yard one last time, Erma smiled, content in another job well done. She took a minute to smell the hanging flowers that her husband had given her for their anniversary that summer, then retreated into the comfort of their home.
She wanted to bake some fresh cookies before the kids got home, and get dinner started. Yes, that would be nice indeed.
IN THE DARK
She was happier in the dark. It wasn’t an asocial tendency, or a defense mechanism; she just appreciated what the darkness had to offer: inspiration.
She was a fairly normal young woman, with normal routines, a normal job, and a normal blue armchair in her normal apartment. That’s how she viewed herself anyway, average in every way: comportment, looks, intellect, personality – abundantly average.
That is what she had always thought, but if you were to ask anyone else, they would have a very different picture to paint. They would tell you that the young woman was one of the most beautiful, intelligent, caring and vibrant people you could ever meet. Mrs. Cross, her grade 11 English teacher would tell you about the limitless creativity and potential that her favourite student had always showed so effortlessly. Rick Mancini, her college boyfriend, would tell you how being near her was like having a current of vitality and life running through your entire body. He would also say he had no regrets.
She didn’t see any of that though, because she preferred the dark. She had secrets that no one else could know about.
As a young girl, she had learned that there were things that existed within the secret corners of night, wonderful creatures and mysteries, and entirely different ways of being that made normal life pale. The harsh light of day was not the place where these secrets could thrive, although sometimes they could be perceived, like a sensation of greatness just beyond reach.
Sometimes, she would catch a glimpse of them in the most unexpected of places. They would wink at her from a diamond burst of sunlight reflected off the surface of a mid-afternoon lake. They would beckon to her with curled fingers from a shaft of light that sliced through her curtains. They were always there, just out of sight.
The darkness was where she thrived and while she viewed herself as abundantly average because of what she knew was out there, it was the darkness that allowed her to be shine in the eyes of others.
Monday, November 15, 2010
We stepped off the rutted dirt track and into a world of gold. Her soft hand was clasped gently in mine, and as much as I wanted to squeeze it to make sure this was real, I didn’t for fear that it might shatter the illusion. I could hear her breathing next to me; an soft, even flow that seemed to be falling into rhythm with my own short breaths.
“It’s beautiful,” she whispered.
I exhaled slowly, suddenly aware that my breathing had stopped. “It is.”
It was all I could muster, betrayed as I was by awkward adolescent self-awareness. She slid her hand from mine, and with a subtle nod gave me a reassuring glance that everything was fine. Her smile lingered from the corner of her soft pink lips, to her wide, innocent eyes. Her chestnut hair fluttered gently in a soft breeze that rustled the golden leaves around us.
“I never want to leave,” she continued. “I could stay here forever.”
In that moment, I wished that we could. I yearned for this moment in time to stretch out into eternity, a perfect capsule of promise, hope, and all our potential fulfilled.
With a burst of musical laughter, she ran off down the trail, her feet sliding wildly on the blanket of leaves as she careened recklessly into the distance. I gave her a small head start, then set out after her, sliding along the trail as it wove through the golden October Country, past trees, over small hills, and down through narrow valleys.
Her laughter filled the forest and as I gained on her, I almost felt like my feet would leave the ground; like I would take flight and soar high above. Instead, I lurched forward and clasped the shoulder of her grey wool sweater.
We tumbled to the ground, rolling gently down a small, slippery hill before coming to rest in a heap of yellow maple leaves. Laughing, she pulled a leaf from her hair. I pulled a second leaf from just behind her ear, and as I moved to pull away, her soft lips brushed against mine.
We didn’t need to speak the words. In that brief moment, lying in the golden heart of the forest, we had said all that we could, and those unspoken words would be with us forever.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Archibald sat at the same table every day from 1 o'clock to 3 o'clock in the afternoon. The table was in a nice little brick plaza, right down in the heart of the city. Between 1 o'clock and 3 o'clock was easily his favorite time of day.
Sitting at that table allowed him to see what other people were doing with their lives. It was nice having that window into their lives. Since Isabel had passed on, he didn't have much of a life of his own. She had been his world, a beautiful light that radiated around him.
Archibald would often spend his afternoons reflecting back upon their life together. He would watch the pigeons pecking for scraps of food, their heads pistoning back and forth as they wandered about the plaza. He would watch stroller pushing mothers pause for a break on the rock wall that contained the garden's colorful bounty. He would get pulled into the staccato rhythm of the traffic as it stopped and started through the nearby traffic lights.
Sometimes he would pack a small lunch in a brown paper bag, usually a peanut butter sandwich, an apple, and some cheese. On Fridays, he would flip through the newspaper.
It was the same routine every day and 3 o'clock, he was stand up and wander back home, the ghosts of Isabel and his afternoon observances trailing in his wake.
It was a perfect routine.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
Friday, November 12, 2010
THE OTHER SIDE
I can see you over there. Or is it out there? Either way, I know you’re there. All of you. I used to be right there next to you, a part of your world. Now I’m over here though, and I still can’t quite figure out how I got here.
I was fighting with my girlfriend. It wasn’t a big fight, or a serious one even, but she got upset and ran out of the house. I chased her, out into the driving rain. I called out to her as I chased her through the darkened streets, my feet pounding along the street, splashing water all the way up my legs from the puddles below.
I was slowly gaining on her, but she had a head start. She dashed around a corner onto the street that bisects ours, and as I rounded after her, I lost my footing. It was just a slip, a little whoops of the feet. It felt, for a second, like I was floating.
I braced myself for the impact, clenched my teeth against the inevitable collision, but it never came. Instead, everything blinked out to black and I guess I kind of drifted off to sleep.
Now here I am, just beneath the surface. I thought at first that I might have died, banged my head and drifted off into oblivion. Except I know I am not dead. I am not in oblivion. I am right here and I can see you out there looking in. I can see you gazing down into the glassy reflection but all you can see is the world above you, reflected back in the shimmering surface of my world.
It is a lonely walk along the cracked sidewalks of nostalgia, those narrow streets where people and places forgotten now live. Feet shuffle solemnly, seeking passage back to the better times that once existed, yet never sure of their destination. Knowing only that it was better there, with the people who loved and the smiles that fell upon unknowing faces.
It’s not that the here is a bad place, or that it is any different than where we used to be, it’s just that the things that overwhelm us only do so in the now. Back then, there are no concerns and even the bad can seem good through the gauzy haze of introspection.
And while we wander along these narrow avenues of memories half forgotten, where we are and what we have become slowly fades away, for better or for worse. This is why we come. This is why we continue to wander these crumbling landscapes. We are like cracked Polaroid prints that fade over time as they expose themselves to oblivion.
There is something to be said for these lonely streets and the perspectives they supply us. There is an intrigue that can be gleaned from the ghostly faces that peek out at us from behind tattered lace curtains. There is a comforting sense of belonging on every doorstep. These are special places, these sidewalks of the mind.
They are our passage from then to now. They are the way back home, or at least the to the place we perceive to be home. The danger in seeking yourself, is forgetting how easy it is to get lost along the way.
What do you think? Worth Pursuing?
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Will be checking in soon with a status update.