Jane was in a state of shock as she drove home. Her thoughts were in a blur since forty-five minutes ago when she had learned that she had to be let go off work because of “organizational restructuring”, as they called it. Jane knew what that meant. The company was struggling for a while now to find a way to weather the economic downsizing that could be felt everywhere these days; however, she was still bitter. Her self-preservation instincts had taken over and she found it hard to be understanding of the whole situation. It had taken all of thirty minutes for her to pack up eight years of time spent in her little cubicle, and now she was driving home without any hope that she would ever be back there again.
The only thing she was thankful about was the fact that it was still relatively early morning. That meant that Brandon would be at work, and she had about six hours to spend alone, to think this through and calm down before she had to explain the whole thing to her husband of five years. Jane had no idea how he would react. Something told her he would be upset, and not just about the regretful situation, as it would be expected, but with her. In the past year alone, they had become too distant. Sometimes she felt she didn’t know him anymore. Still, she hoped it was all due to their busy lifestyle; burden they had both accepted to live with when they decided to join Brandon’s fancy executive social circles. She thought that once they got used to it or the stress for the sake of making appearances wore off, they would be happy again.
Jane pulled up into the drive way of their two-storey home. Although she turned off the ignition, she still couldn’t get out of the car. The sun was shining bright, and on any other day Jane would have wished to be free to go outside and enjoy it for once instead of being trapped in her cubicle during most hours of daylight. How ironic, she thought. The sun had no appeal to her at that moment; if anything, it irritated her with its brightness. The whole moment was just wrong.
With a heavy sigh she finally opened the door of her car and got out carrying a medium sized box which was filled with her personal knick-knacks from the office. She was glad again that Brandon was at work, so she could empty the box and disperse the contents of it throughout the house. He would never even notice.
Her steps hurried once she realized that even if Brandon wasn’t home, some of her neighbors might be, and no one would mistake what her appearance in the middle of the morning with the open plain brown box would mean. Her eyes immediately fell to the bright yellow brick of the Harper house beside theirs. Mary Harper was a house wife, or a house diva, Jane snorted out loud at the thought and smirked. Nothing could escape that woman – she knew anything and everything. I wouldn’t be surprised she knew I would be let go before me, Jane’s eyes glazed over with disgust as she reached her door and unlocked the front door.
The house was quiet and it soothed her. She dropped the box on the kitchen counter and threw her jacket and handbag over it. There was no hurry to get rid of the evidence yet. I need a drink, she thought and moved to the long cupboard where they housed a wide spread of alcoholic beverages. Entertaining paid off, she smirked again and picked up a bottle of something strong.
“Jane!?” a male voice suddenly called from upstairs.
Jane froze, almost dropping the bottle of whisky she picked up.
“Brandon???” she said to herself, not sure if the sound carried enough for him to hear.
“Jane, is that you?” Brandon’s voice was urgent.
What is he doing at home?? “Yeah, it’s me Brandon!” she called finally.
It took Jane a second to notice that he would probably be wondering why she wasn’t on her way to see him upstairs. She pushed the whisky bottle back in the cupboard and turned to the box on the kitchen counter. Crap, crap, crap! She picked up the box with her jacket and handbag and looked around her to see where she could stash it. Laundry room was the closest thing open to her where Brandon possibly wouldn’t be going in any time soon. She almost threw the box on the washer and shut the door of the laundry room on her way out.
“Jane?!” Brandon called again.
“I am coming, Brandon!” she shouted, walking to the stairs that led to the second floor.
“NO!” his voice shot up by two octaves. “I am coming down in a sec.”
Jane stopped by the bottom of the stairs and almost exhaled loudly with relief of having a couple of more seconds to herself. How would she explain what she was doing home this early in the day to him? Should she lie to gain more time, or should she tell him the truth right away?
She returned to the kitchen listening intently for his approaching steps. So far he was still upstairs, she could hear him going into the bathroom and exiting and moving around their bedroom probably. Oh, man, of all days for him to be home in the morning! How many times have I daydreamed of us meeting up at home for lunch and having a quickie or something, she smiled to herself nervously. This whole day is messing with me, she thought.
Jane finally heard him on the stairs as he came down.
“What are you doing at home?” he asked appearing behind the wall.
Jane noticed his brows were furrowed in agitation as his eyes bored into her.
“I didn’t feel good when I got to work this morning.” Her hand flew to her abdomen instinctively. “I had cramps whole morning and I am feeling a little nauseous…It’s probably some virus or something, or something I ate…” Jane bent slightly over her hand at her abdomen, hoping she looked as sick, as she was trying to be. “I asked Bill to take over my projects so I can go home for the day.” She almost finished the last statement with the question. She had no idea if she sounded believable.
Jane peaked at Brandon under her lashes to see his reaction to her lies. She couldn’t read his face at all.
“Oh…” was all he said.
“What…what are you doing home at this hour?” Jane asked finally, as if the thought just occurred to her. Her hand was still at her abdomen, and she tried to make her voice sound as weak as possible.
Brandon shifted nervously but straightened back in the same second. “I spilled coffee on my shirt at the office. I had an hour between meetings, so I thought I would come home and change before I have to go back into town to see a client,” he said and shifted his eyes from her pulling on the sleeves of his new shirt.
“Oh…” was all she said too.
Both of them stood silently for a minute facing each other. Jane noticed that something was just ‘off’ with him, but didn’t dare ask at the moment as she just wanted him gone from the house until she had time to think.
“Um…I think I’ll go to bed now. I am really not feeling that well.” She said and stepped in the direction of the stairs.
“No!” he shouted. Jane almost jumped at the sounds of his voice, as her wide eyes darted to him.
“I mean, don’t go upstairs yet…I have some time…Why don’t you lay down here in the living room, while I make you some tea?” Brandon smiled and his face warmed up in a weird grimace.
Whatever was wrong with him, Jane wouldn’t object. He was obviously worried about her, and she felt even guiltier about lying to him at the moment.
She moved to the couch then and sat lifting her legs up too. Brandon moved fast around the kitchen to put some water in the kettle to boil, and looked for the mug at the same time. He turned to her again, “I am going upstairs to bring you a blanket or something,” he said and darted to the stairs. Jane wanted to call after him to tell him that there was a blanket over the couch she could use, but he was already gone up the stairs.
She started after him for a while thinking how this day is getting weirder by each passing second.
The kettle started whistling after a while, and Brandon was still not back. Jane got up to make it stop as the sound was just piercing her ears. She wondered if she should let him pour the hot water in her mug, just to let him feel as if he’s done something for her like he wanted to, but she was already up, it just wouldn’t make any sense. Does anything make any sense today; she smirked at her inner remark, darting back to the couch before he could come back.
Shit, I forgot the mug. Oh, he would get it…whatever!
Jane sighed and stared back at the stairs again. What the heck is taking him so long? Did he even hear the kettle?
Jane suddenly felt like she was in some play and the actors were all wrong on the stage searching for their right places. She could still hear him walking around upstairs. His steps were heavy and too hurried and irrational for her to gather what he could be doing. If she didn’t know any better she would think he was cleaning up or moving the furniture around, but she knew their house was always spotless and mess-free as neither of them needed cleaning after.
“Brandon! You can find some spare blankets in our linen closet, top shelf!” she decided to shout out to help him maybe.
There was no answer.
Jane got up and approached the stairs as if she were afraid she would be found out from leaving her designated spot. She saw his figure then at the top of the stairs, but his face was turned still to their bedroom door as if he was looking at someone else and pleading with his eyes – communicating without words. Jane turned to go back to her spot on the couch before he would see her, but an unmistakable sound of their bedroom door closing froze her in place.
It just didn’t make sense. Brandon was still at the top of the stairs. He was nowhere near the door to close them. So who did?
“Brandon?” she looked at him with dumb expression on her face.
Brandon froze at the sound of her voice below, noticing for the first time that she was standing just at the bottom of the stairs. He carried a light blue blanket in his hands which dragged on the floor behind him.
“What was that??” Jane asked, anxiety coloring her voice. “Is somebody in our bedroom?”
Brandon took a step down still dragging a blanket behind him, but stopped again.
“No, no..it’s probably just a draft – I opened the window to air the bedroom.” He blurted, words overlapping and scrambling in his misplaced voice. She understood all of his words, but his eyes were so frantic that the two just didn’t match. His frozen figure was all wrong on the stairs, darting to her and then back to the bedroom door.
“Brandon, who is in our bedroom?” Jane’s voice was sure this time.
“No one, Jane, I told you already.” He was getting mad. “Go back to the couch; I will get you the tea.”
The words all sounded right again, but he was just wrong, frozen on the stairs, his eyes boring into her as they did earlier in the kitchen.
Jane climbed the stairs to him, wanting to pass him by to check the bedroom herself. He backed up to the top of the stairs as she approached, as if guarding the passage.
“I am going to look, Brandon. Please move.” She said.
“No, Jane, there’s nothing. Don’t you believe me?” he asked still glaring at her. She probably would, if his eyes were not frantic still. He wore the look of a crazy man and he scared her.
“What’s wrong, Brandon? Something is wrong!” she almost shouted the last word, and moved to pass him.
“No, Jane!” he yelled and grabbed her by her shoulders, backing her to the wall of the hallway, blanket falling on the floor by them.
Jane’s eyes flew wide with shock of the movement. His grip on her didn’t exactly hurt her, but the whole action just terrified her.
“What ‘s in the damn room, Brandon?!” Jane didn’t know if that question even made it past her lips, but the way he looked at her assured her it did.
The second of silence was deafening between them. Frantic glare in his eyes wore off replaced with a desperate pleading, “God, Jane! Can’t you just leave it alone?!”
“Brandon, what is wrong?” Jane’s voice was trembling as she saw him breaking in front of her.
He released his hands from her, dropping them to his side. “We have to talk, Jane.”
The way he looked at her then, she thought he must know she was let go or something. The dread of the situation reminded her of the feel of her morning. But he couldn’t know, something else is wrong…so wrong.
“Ok…say it then.” She said blankly.
“Can we go downstairs now?” His eyes were still pleading.
She glanced to the bedroom door again, “No, tell me!” Whatever it was, she couldn’t make her legs move downstairs anymore. She wanted to know what it was behind that door that he was guarding so desperately.
He let out a sigh, covering his face with his hands.
“For God’s sakes, Brandon, what is behind that door?” Jane couldn’t take the anxiety any more.
“It’s another woman!” Brandon yelled back at her, his hands dropping again. “Damn it, Jane! Are you happy now?!”
What a stupid question.
“Another woman?” Jane asked, deciding she sounded dumb. “But…how…who…where…who??” She just couldn’t find it in herself to make out a sentence.
“Does it matter, Jane?” His every word was laced with sarcasm.
Jane stared back at him, not even hearing him. She looked back to the bedroom door and moved towards them. He didn’t try to stop her this time, although his whole body flinched in her direction.
She placed her hand on the knob and opened the door, closing her eyes at first until she felt the door was open enough for her to see what was inside.
Familiar female figure stood by the foot of the bed, holding onto one of the posts of her four-post bed. Her bleached blond hair was a mess, and her shirt was sticking out of her tight jeans. Frantic look of her wide blue eyes matched Brandon’s from a moment ago.
“Mary Harper.” It was a statement. Jane was surprised by the even tone of her voice. She tried desperately to find some kind of emotion in her, but she found nothing. She was numb all over.
“I…I am so sorry, Jane…I didn’t….I really…” Mary’s voice was shrill with panic.
“Get out!” Jane’s voice was even.
“GET OUT!” Jane shouted now.
Mary darted from the bedroom squeezing by Jane so as not to risk touching her at all.
Jane did not turn around to see her pass Brandon, or go down the stairs. Her eyes were glued to their bed, whose sheets were crumpled under the big comforter which tried to hide the evidence. Once she heard the front door closing, she turned around to face him.
“In our bed, Brandon?... Really?” Her every word seeped with poison and betrayal.
“It’s not what you think, Jane” he said simply.
“How would you know what I am thinking, Brandon?”
He shrugged, “I don’t.”
“Then what the hell are you talking about?” Jane felt like she was losing her mind and all the words were superfluous. There was no point in anything anymore.
“What did you think, Brandon? That you could just keep me downstairs with the pretense of your worry towards me…making me tea, “ she spit the words out with disgust, “lying to me and hoping I would not hear a thing while you get the whore out?!”
“I didn’t think, Jane.” His voice was irritated about having to explain everything already. “I didn’t plan to cheat on you….I came home to change as I told you…but she was there, in front of her house…I didn’t…this was our first time.” He exhaled the words with exhaustion. Jane didn’t need him to fill the gaps, she knew what he meant.
“Does it really matter, Brandon?...First time or not, you slept with her! You cheated on me!” Jane didn’t even notice that her eyes were filled with tears until just that second when they began to spill over.
Brandon flinched again as if to move towards her, but decided to stay in his place.
“I think you should go.” Jane said.
“No, Jane, we need to talk about this…”
She interrupted him before he could finish his sentence, “I lost my job, Brandon.” Jane looked for his reaction. He just looked at her dumbfounded.
“I found out this morning, and that’s why I am here…only to find that I lost my husband too, it seems.” She was talking to herself, not caring if he listened or heard, or anything.
“What? Lied?” she interrupted him again. “Really, Brandon? Are we tit for tat now?” she glared at him.
“We still need to talk, Jane.” He said.
“Go back to work…I can’t…” She didn’t know what she wanted to say.
He made a step towards her finally breaking their long stance, “Listen, Jane. I will go back to work, give you time to think, get out of your way, whatever…When I come back tonight, we can talk. Please!” he pleaded her.
“Go…” Jane couldn’t look him in the eyes.
“Promise me, Jane. We will talk tonight…” his arm stretched as if he wanted to put his arm on her shoulder, but brought it back when she flinched backwards.
I don’t owe you any promises, you bastard! She thought, but didn’t say anything; at least she didn’t think she did.
“Just go…” she said, and he finally listened. Brandon turned and walked down the stairs still looking at her, his eyes pleading with unspoken words.
Jane stood in front of their bedroom door still, afraid to move; afraid to break whatever was holding her in pieces.
This is ridiculous, Sara thought and slumped in her chair, as one of the airport’s monitors showed that her flight was delayed for yet another two hours. She had already read all four gossip magazines she’d picked up at the airport’s newsstand, thinking they would last her a four hour-long flight from Las Vegas, Nevada to Washington D.C. Flimsy articles and two-line comments with LOTS of celebrity pictures would have been about all the attention she could spare while trying not to think about the fact that she would be thousands of miles high up in the air. She would have to resort to buying some fashion magazines now, she thought; however this time she would wait to board the plane first, before opening to read them. She let out a heavy sigh, and got up to see what she could find to do in the meantime.
Sara placed the gossip magazines in her tan designer handbag and strolled down the long corridor of the Terminal “C”. She wished Mel, her best friend she had been visiting in Vegas for a week, could be with her now. They had had so much fun celebrating Mel’s “Big 3-0”. Now Sara would have to think of something to top that for her 30th next year. They have said their goodbyes three hours ago, and Sara was supposed to be in the air already, on her way back home. That thought made her pull out her BlackBerry and send yet another text to Mel to inform her that her flight had been delayed again. She typed up the short message with an experienced thumb and scrolled to “Send”.
As she was placing the phone back in her pocket, she looked around, noticing her surroundings more closely for the first time. Just to the left and above her she noticed an elegant script of letters forming a sign which read “Cocktail Lounge”.
“Perfect,” she blurted out-loud, catching an attention of a pair of dark eyes sitting behind the half-wall of the Lounge.
The eyes glanced over her carefully and smiled. Sara blushed involuntarily and headed for the entrance to the cozy-looking bar. She found a comfortable sofa chair furthest from the entrance, and by the big windows overlooking the tarmac, and sat in it.
“Hello there. What would you like to drink?” The waitress had appeared out of nowhere, smiling at her.
“Um, I think I’ll have a Cosmo?” Sara smiled back, forming a question, rather than an order, as if she wasn’t really sure if Cosmo would be the best idea right now. Oh, why not, she thought. Another martini would be a nice way to end her celebratory week with Mel.
“Coming right up!” the waitress said, dancing her way back to the bar.
Appreciating the soft cushion of the sofa chair instead of a hard terminal seat she had spent the last couple of hours in, Sara leaned back and closed her eyes. The silence didn’t last long.
“Do you mind if I join you for a drink?”
Startled by the sound, Sara opened her eyes to a tall figure standing in front of her.
“Sorry to bother you, just wanted to see if you mind the company?” dark eyes asked again, holding his drink in one hand and pulling a crimson red suitcase with the other.
“Um, sure,” she didn’t really know what to say, taking his whole presence in, recognizing at once that dark eyes belonged to a very handsome man.
What a strange choice of a suitcase color for a man, Sara mused to herself. I would have pinned him for a navy or black suitcase guy.
“My name is Alex.” He started to sit down, making her turn to look at his face instead of a blaring red suitcase, as he extended his arm for a shake at the same time.
“Sara,” she simply answered, leaning forward to place her hand in his.
The waitress returned at that moment and placed Sara’s Cosmo in front of her. Sara turned to her handbag to get some cash to pay for the drink, but Alex was faster.
“Let me get this one,” his hand was already extended with money toward the waitress.
“No, really…” Sara started to protest, but the waitress was already returning some change to him.
“Thanks. You really shouldn’t have.” Sara blushed again.
“Hey, it’s the least I can do for bothering you while I wait for my plane.” He said, his lips pulling into a grin, showing his perfect white teeth.
“So where are you headed?” Alex asked, his eyes still smiling.
“Washington.” Sara answered instantly, but then bit her tongue thinking she should be more mysterious than that to this handsome stranger.
“Oh, great! Me too!” His face lit.
Well then, he would have figured it out anyways when he saw me boarding the plane with him, Sara thought and relaxed again.
“So you know then, that the flight has been delayed for another two hours?” She offered the information sourly.
“Yeah, I saw that just a few minutes ago. Crazy stuff.” He said, sympathizing, his face serious for the first time since Sara met him.
Pleasantries continued for a while, and Sara found out that Alex also lived in Washington, and had come to Vegas for some business convention. In return she told him about Mel’s birthday bash, omitting some embarrassing details of her drunken stupor she had been in the last couple of days. He laughed at her distaste for exotic male dancers, as they continued to discuss what the most entertaining and hip place actually was in Vegas. They were both surprised that neither of them held any attraction for gambling, and were almost in tears from laughing so hard when each offered description of some strange people they noticed in casinos and on slot machines that were almost everywhere in town.
When she glanced at her watch next, Sara was surprised that their two hours of wait were almost up.
“Hey, we should probably get going. We should be boarding the plane soon,” she chimed.
“Oh, wow.” He was surprised himself. “Um, do you mind watching my suitcase while I go to the washroom before we leave?” His hand flew to his hair, and he suddenly seemed nervous.
“Sure, no problem.” Sara smiled briefly, confused about his sudden change of demeanor.
Alex paced quickly out of the Lounge, heading for the washrooms across the hall.
She watched him until he disappeared from her view, thinking what could have made him get so nervous all of a sudden, and then decided to get up herself and stretch before he comes back. Maybe he’ll ask for my number or something, so we can meet up in Washington again, she mused to herself again. That thought made her smile and turn her stomach into a nervous twist. No wonder he was nervous, if I am getting butterflies about the thought myself.
Garbled female voice came through the airport’s speakers announcing that her flight was starting to board. Sara got even more nervous then, her eyes darting to a distant point of Terminal “C” where she’s last seen Alex. She glanced at her watch over and over again. Five minutes turned into ten, and ten to fifteen. She decided that she would start moving toward their gate, where he would probably try to find her once he realized the time. How long could one take in the washroom, Sara wondered.
She wrapped her hand uncertainly around the handle of the red suitcase, and pulled it along with her. Little black wheels rolled without a sound and Sara couldn’t stop turning to look at it over and over again as she walked toward her gate, wondering again why a man, so handsome and “manly” as Alex would decide to buy the suitcase so femininely blaring in color. The two just didn’t match. Oh, whatever, maybe I’ll manage to ask him or joke about it with him when he gets back, she thought and smiled to herself.
A small line of passengers formed in front of her as they waited patiently for a strikingly beautiful female flight attendant to check their boarding passes before they proceeded to enter the plane. Sara stood awkwardly on the side of the line, still hoping that Alex would appear out of mass of faces that strolled by.
The crowd around her started to thin out, and when she turned again, her eyes met with the questioning look of the pretty flight attendant.
“Are you boarding the plane with us today, Miss?” She asked, forming a perfect smile.
“Um..I…I am waiting for a…a friend… that is also supposed to board this plane. He asked me to watch his suitcase for him while he went to the washroom…but he’s not back yet.” Sara tried to explain the conundrum that would explain her awkward position at the gate still.
“Will he be back soon?” Flight attendant asked. “We’ve already been delayed for quite a while, and we would like to leave as soon as possible,” she explained.
“I..I am really not sure,” Sara was overwhelmed with sudden anxiety about the whole situation. “I actually just met him two hours ago, and he said he’ll be right back and asked me watch his suitcase for him,” Sara pointed to the red suitcase and continued, “I’m really not sure what to do. He…he’s been gone for a while now.”
“Hmm, what’s his name?” the attendant asked, doubt creasing her forehead, while she turned toward the computer at her side.
“Alex.” Sara answered quickly. “I don’t know the last name.”
Attendant’s fingers started flying over the keyboard of the gate’s computer. Her eyebrows furrowed as she read something on the computer. Sara was feeling nauseous with anxiety, waiting for the woman to explain her computer search.
“I am afraid we do not have anyone named Alex on the passenger list for this plane today,” she finally explained to Sara, not bothering to turn her eyes off the monitor yet.
A fresh wave of anxiety washed over Sara in that moment and her head turned to the direction of where Alex disappeared last.
“But he was just here with me not twenty minutes ago. “ She turned frantically to the woman at the gate again, “He left me his suitcase to watch! How can he not come back?”
“I am not sure, Miss,” the attendant seemed apologetic for her lack of insight. “Maybe you should board the plane, and leave that suitcase with us,” she said, her eyes glancing toward her colleague, whom Sara hasn’t even acknowledged in presence until that moment.
“Um…,” Sara tried to absorb attendant’s suggestion. “Yes, I should probably do that.” She felt like a child being comforted through some trivial predicament.
She dropped her hand from the handle of stranger’s suitcase, for then he was obviously a stranger to her if he lied. His name may not even be Alex, for all I know, Sara’s thoughts were in a whirlwind. She fumbled through her bag until she found her boarding pass and her passport. Her hands were shaking when she offered the papers to the woman. The attendant checked her papers and motioned her that she is free to proceed to go to the plane.
Sara took longer than needed to approach to entrance to the long hallway that led to the plane entrance. She turned back to a mass of people walking down Terminal “C”, still holding miniscule hope that she could spot Alex again. Her gaze fell to the red suitcase still standing where she left it, in the middle of two rows of hard terminal seats. It seemed to blare with color even more than before as it stood there alone in the sea of shades of gray. Even though she couldn’t do anything anymore, she still felt responsible for the red thing. She suddenly wondered what could be in that suitcase that its owner would just leave it with her. However, there was no point in waiting any more.
With a heavy sigh, Sara continued walking more determined then to get to the plane. She found her window seat and slumped in it, glancing apologetically to an older woman who was sitting next to her. The woman looked annoyed that Sara interrupted her book reading with her presence. Sara turned to look through the window, replaying everything that has transpired in the last thirty minutes. Anxiety started to subside, but something even worse was overwhelming her just then. Betrayal. She felt so foolish for believing the first stranger she met at the airport. How stupid do you have to be, she thought.
She couldn’t help but wonder about his agenda. What was it all about? Why would he want to meet her, pay for her drink, spend two hours talking with her, being so believable in everything he’s said, just to disappear then and leave her with his irrational red bag?
I wanted to see him again, for God’s sake! Sara cringed at the thought of having some romantic desire towards the beautiful stranger. Yes, despite everything, she could acknowledge he was still handsome.
Admitting defeat to making sense of anything that has transpired, Sara closed her eyes. Still seeing the mysterious red suitcase in her mind, she wished she could fall asleep fast.
His hurried steps started to slow down. The sound of flowing water got stronger with each step he took, so he knew he was getting near. It surprised him that the trail to the river was so familiar, even though it has been some time since he was here last. He felt he could close his eyes and still know every little turn of the winding path that led to his favorite place in the world. He closed his eyes briefly, already seeing it in his head - glistening surface of an ever-changing surge, and suddenly his breath came out in one big gasp.
His sky-blue eyes opened in astonishment as he just realized that he wasn’t really breathing since he left her sitting in the lobby of her hotel. No, it was not the time yet to think about it all. He stopped in his tracks, filling the lungs with much needed air. The cool morning breeze made him shiver, even though it was early September and the light peaking through the dense leaves of the forest around him promised yet another sunny day of summer passing. Only a few small clouds hung in the sky. Knowing he could stand under a warm open sky if he would just reach the river bank, his hesitant legs started to move again and his original hurried pace returned.
The trees seemed to be further and further apart with each step he took, as if a curtain was opening on a stage in front of him to a most desired play. At last, his blue eyes exploded with light, as trees were no more, and a wide clearing of green grass led to running water. He closed his eyes once more, and let the light wash over him, warming even some far forgotten corners of his broken heart.
It was definitely easy to breathe then. The flowing river demanded it. He almost wished for the view and serenity of a stagnant lake – then it would be easy to keep everything that wanted to come out now locked up, but being in the presence of the unceasing current, the flood gates were about to fly open. The wall he had built in his heart, behind which he had hid his love for her, showed cracks and he knew he could no longer hold it.
Realizing he could not bear to hold his weight any more, he walked over to a pile of laid out tree trunks in the clearing, by the water’s edge. His hands touched the tree below him. Its crust was rough, but warm from lying in the sun. The sudden warmth shivered his body from pleasure and provided comfort. Memories were inevitable.
Eight years ago, he had given her his whole heart. She had returned his love, and he kept her wrapped in a cocoon of his worship, even though she had to leave their city and live far away. Distance had not bothered him, and he told her so, many times. She had lit his whole world with thousands of stars, and the fact that they had to be away from each other for some time was nothing compared to a lifetime. He had always known he would find her, his one true love, and the miles between them would not stop him dreaming of their future. Only, he had not predicted that she would never be so strong. She had decided to give her new life a try, “so she could be happy”, she said.
His devotion had turned against him. Thousands of stars had ceased to shine, and he was left in complete darkness, to fend for himself. It had taken years for him to even think of loving anybody again, knowing that it would never be the same. Epiphany has struck him some time ago, when he comforted himself with sudden realization that the fact that he had had one true love in his life did not mean that he should never let anybody in his heart again. After all, didn’t having one true love serve to teach you about life? He’d been taught for sure, he thought. However, in order to ready his heart to accept anybody ever again, he had built a wall. Behind that wall he has hidden all adoration and love he held for her, his old self, because if that part ever continued to live, he would not survive.
The river knew all this. He had been here almost every day since that time, working hard on building the wall. The river challenged him. Just as it has easily crumbled his gates now, then he worked against it to close them, making him stronger with each day he successfully put on the next layer of the wall.
How it easily flowed now. No barrier would ever stop the persistent rush of that beautiful stream. He inhaled deeply, and he could taste the water’s victory. A smile broke on his full lips, congratulating it. The river’s wavy and always moving surface glistened, mocking him with almost giddy expectation to tell it what has happened that he was here again.
He let the sound of the rolling waves probe him and feel for the truth. He knew there was no point to holding secrets from the river.
“She is back,” he told it, “and she wants me back.”
He listened for the response. The water was humming in his ears.
“I told her she was too late, and she cried,” he continued. “I even told her about the wall, and that I will never let her behind again….”
He didn’t know if he imagined it, but the hum of the water was stronger now, louder, confused. The breeze picked up into a wind.
“Yes, I know I let you break the wall now,” he lowered his eyes to the ground in front of him, defeated. “But she didn’t see it, and that is what’s most important. That part is over. She will never come back again.”
The light suddenly dimmed, and he looked to the sky for an answer. The only gray cloud has hid his source of warmth, and he shivered again. The river’s usually persistent blue surface has become gray reflecting the cloud above. His hands instinctively touched the tree’s crust below him again – it was still warm, and he clung to it to keep himself afloat.
“You are very perceptive,” he mused to the river, acknowledging its power to match his moods.
The grey cloud in the sky was persistent, as it clung to its captor, the sun. The wind picked up again, and he dug his hands deeper into the warm crust of the tree on which he was sitting. His grip broke the piece of the crust and he brought it in front of his eyes. He observed the dark brown piece in his hands and gasped at recognition of its colour. The rough piece bore the exact colour of her eyes, and they were piercing.
“The whole nature is mocking me,” he thought, and threw the piece into the flowing water.
Catching the dark brown piece of the crust, the river’s small and still grey waves played with it. He watched her dark brown eyes float away, wet, just as he left them a couple of hours ago.
His heart burned as pieces of the wall lay broken, and his love emerged triumphant. He loved her, he knew that, but he was not strong enough to trust her again. He thanked the skies above that he was strong enough to hold the wall up enough, so as not to give her a chance to see him as he once was. He let his face fall into his hands then, and the smell from them brought the warm comfort of the warm tree below again.
He exhaled and got up to the water’s edge. He stood there for a while, absorbing the river’s exuberant energy. The cloud must have moved again, because the water’s surface glistened again, matching his blue eyes. He nodded towards the river in agreement, and turned to leave. The water hummed in his ears and the yellow warmth encouraged. They will try to do it again, the river and him. They will try and build the wall again.
Daily matters seem to escape my interest these days...
The Devil recruiting a new servant
His dark figure has been standing over me, expecting me to be afraid. As if fear could reach me now. I almost wanted to laugh at his confident posture. What he was proposing was more like sanctuary compared to this constant state of anguish I was in for so long.
“I don’t suppose you could imagine breaking into thousand upon thousand little pieces, day in and day out?” I proposed, however, it was more of a statement. “You, ‘my friend’ are not offering anything that may hurt me more.” I simply stated.
“You seem awfully sure for a human.” He said the last word, as if in disgust.
“But you need me, no?” At this point I could afford to be smug.
“That, I do,” he hissed.
It was almost uncomfortable. Shouldn’t the roles be reversed? Shouldn’t this ‘creature’ be the one who was convincing me to sell him my soul? However, I don’t suppose there are any experts on the matter.
Whatever this creature may be, he has chosen a form of a man, or rather a “male”. Maybe it would be wise to tell him what someone like myself could do for him, for after all – “hell hath no fury, like a woman scorned.” I almost laughed out loud at my sudden memory of Congreve’s clever insight into a woman’s nature. How it perfectly fit this odd arrangement.
As if he has read my mind, he grinned darkly “You, my dear, are perfect for the role.”
Intrigued as I may be, I could not afford the time it would take to explain the details of how he got such deep insight into his choice, or the details of the role he proposed. I wanted to escape my living hell and trade it for a real thing, at least, since I was already ‘there’. Why fake it?
I just wanted to know one thing and one thing only, “And you promise that in return I will feel NOTHING. Nothing at all?”
Sensing my resolve and an easy catch at this point, he has come inches close to me, so I could appreciate the full glory of his empty face, “You undermine my promises, human. I do not play games, nor are such childish nuances needed in my world.”
“I like your world” I whispered, letting the pain spill freely now through my words, and probably my whole being.
His stance has started to falter. I was amazed. Could my underworld kingpin be any MORE human? Although his intentional movements were a blur of grace and nobleness, indicating that he could not be a product of the real world as I knew it, glimpses into his unintentional gestures were utterly mindboggling.
“Before we seal our deal, I cannot help but be intrigued as to why you are giving me yourself so freely.” He moved slightly away, as to appreciate the full picture of myself. “I expected at least some form of challenge in my conquest,” disappointment radiated from his last words.
“I have lived enough to know there is nothing more to expect from the world to offer me,” I offered. Pretense was not needed in this situation, I thought. “In fact, what I have been left with for quite some time is just pain….pain of ignorance of the person I trusted the most.” I finished, trying to decide what effect my words had on this creature. His figure has just been standing there in front of me, as if he were a statue, unmoving.
“I don’t suppose that you know what love is or what it may feel like?” I grinned getting a little irritated, waiting for a response.
“Are you serious?” the statue responded uninterested. “Only such weak souls as yourselves could give into such a foolish emotion.” He paused briefly, “I find it quite amusing that you are all searching for what eventually always ends in some form of disappointment. As if any creature born to a man, can fulfill what you all expect out of love,” he concluded.
“Aren’t you observant,” I was annoyed already, but his answer did not disappoint. Only then have I realized that I had asked that question to test what his world is like, because if he knew what love was - I would not enter such world as freely as I had originally planned.
He motioned with his hand to continue what I wanted to say, before I had asked such a stupid question.
“Unfortunately, I have to disappoint you in a sense, because I had not expected much of love in this case. I only expected some form of…ANY form of emotion in return. However, I have gotten something much worse. Ignorance. Not hate! Hate would be a welcome, almost desired solution to my pain. My love has decided to just not care of my existence, and I am afraid that if the time runs its course, it may turn to nothing but a pity for myself.” I cringed. “Having him pity me, is much worse than this impending death of my soul, you propose.”
He was silent, and the silence was deafening to my ears. “And didn’t you so confidently assure me that I am perfect for this role? You must have known something of the situation or myself to give you an idea of how hard, or easy your conquest would be?”
His laugh sounded more like shattering of a rock. “You will be an interesting companion to myself. I am rather glad of my choice.”
“That does not answer my question.” I forced.
“You, my dear, have nothing to lose. That’s what makes you a perfect candidate. I just didn’t know how that came to be.” He was still laughing. “I suppose I can let the details be trivial in the matter.”
Moving towards complete darkness now, he turned, “Shall we?”
I was standing already.
“Yes, Master.” I let the darkness fold.
First of all, I apologize for not writing sooner, but in my defense, I've really had nothing to write. Actually, the truth is, I didn't feel like writing - at least not in the same drone out way that I've been writing last year. This blog, although reflective of what was going on in my head at times, has truly bugged me, for the simple fact that it now stands as a witness in front of the whole world to say that in the last year alone, I have done NOTHING to get to where I wanted to be...what the whole purpose of this blog was. I have not lost a pound..have not "found" myself in a way to set me onto bigger (or smaller actually) and better things!
...But should I really be bothered by it? At least it's a collection of my whole year...the evidence that at least I was trying and never gave up, really...
Consequently, I have no 'resolutions' for this year, as just thinking about the term sends me into a fear of failure, where I would probably end up, if I set myself up for one like that. No, I am giving myself NO expectations this year, except that I definitely am looking to myself to stick with some kind of determination to get happier and healthier.
I am happy to say that as of January 5th, I have had incredible strength and resolution (ironic, isnt' it?), to not look at food as something I run to whenever I need....either hunger, or any emotional need that may strike me. I have decided to treat food as necessary evil which all humans need to nourish their body, for that purpose alone and no other. This frame of mind has worked miracles, so far...I have managed to lose 5 lbs since the Holidays, and I already feel GREAT! I hope that things will not change, so that I can keep this new-found determination to succeed once and for all in losing this dreaded weight, that is keeping me a prisoner.
I am also starting a new college course today - the last in the series before I can claim my "Project Management Certificate" - so I am very happy about that!
So..onto new ways we go...
The boss sent us home today at noon because of yet another snow storm in the area...
So, here's what I've done with my time:
Shortbread Cookies with Toblerone Tops
The Cathedral Windows
Hope the kids enjoy it!!!! :)