I sat alone in the dark. The slow steady thrum of my breath kept clock time for me. The misty, moist cloud that escaped my mouth and evaporated in the moonlight was my entertainment.
That one looked like a cloud.
That one looked like a cloud.
Okay, I never said it was good entertainment.
Alone with my thoughts. Covering ground I had covered over and over for twenty years. It was tiresome. It was endless. It was boring. It’s funny how a period of your life can consume you for such a long time after. Events, people, time. In a giant cyclone that swirls around and comes out to the fore with the regularity of Exlax.
Her face was always there. Dirty brown hair with a hint of curl. Thick and soft, he could run his fingers through it over and ever. She used to complain that she felt like I was petting a dog. Really I was revelling in it. Her mouth was small and her lips thin. But not too thin. A button nose that he had kissed a million times. And those piercing, pulsing blue eyes. The colour of summer sky. Bright one minute, laughing crinkled the next, blazing angry with bolts of lightning when the moment required.
I would run my hand along the line of her jaw, slip my fingers behind her neck and pull her to me. Staring deep into the sea of life, those eyes filled my world, the void in the void. If I was a religious man, those feelings would be defined by God-given. To me it was life-giving. The only manna I ever needed.
The day I found her was the beginning of the end for me. And the end of the beginning. Crimson red in the sun, I could only stare. Time stopped and I felt the cracks forming in the universe that I had formed. There was a growing void in the void of the void. The split in her skull was deep and wide and left no doubt whatsoever.
I don’t know how anyone ever recovers from that. I haven’t. A work in progress? Not exactly. More like a statue in stoic stillness. Trapped in the moment. I don’t understand people who can forgive something like that. How do you forgive the man who destroyed everything you were. Are. Whatever.
I went for grief counselling. I went for me counselling. I went to support groups. I was asked to speak publicly. That was something that could never be. At least I could not see how that would work in this moment.
I treated myself to a steak dinner. All the fixin’s’ just like the old days. Some days you just had to say ‘why the fuck not’? It was as good as I had ever remembered but it still had that shallow, meaningless taste that life was for me.
I had finally broken down and decided I needed to speak out. Out loud. Tell my story. So everyone could hear and understand. Of course I didn’t understand so I wasn’t quite sure how that would work. Thankfully there were only going to be 20 people or so. My nerves would be bad at best anyway. A larger crowd would have made it worse. I kept asking myself if I should bother. I knew it wouldn’t make a difference to me. Why would it to them?
Still, if it made the point. If someone could understand. Relate. Feel. Maybe that would be a good step. I chuckled a little. As if.
So here I am. Walking down the hall. My brain is on fire. I just hope I can say what I need to say. Get the words out. My mouth is turning to a desert with each step. The sand in the hourglass running full force.
As I step in the room, I see the people. The faces are drawn. Some unable to make eye contact. Others just stare. As I reach the top of the platform and the handlers make all the appropriate adjustments to everything, I close my eyes and start to talk. Words flow. Tears flow. I cough hard a couple of times. As I reach the end of my thoughts, I open my eyes again. I see tears. I see a lot of shaking heads. Once again, I ask myself if I should have bothered.
I stare at my feet as I hear other voices. The sound is near but the details distant. I keep staring at my feet. Without warning the floor drops away and I fall. Slow motion drop into the abyss. In a split second I know it is real. I feel my head snapping back.
And that is all.