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Archive for October, 2010

I felt sweat running in rivulets down my back and each breath came out in a disjointed rhythm. I ran. The sky above me looked ominous, ready to pour. My feet seemed to miss the ground, causing my long white gossamer dress to billow all the more in the wind. It rose and fell like the white caps on top of a wave during a turbulent storm. Golden wheat shot up everywhere, swaying and bumping, making strange music. The sweet cadence of their cricket like movements were the only sounds that I heard. Everything else was still. Panic rose in my chest as I realized running wasn’t an option… It was a need.  I felt the first drop of moisture fall from the dark clouds. Soon, those small silver bullets were pelting me. It felt as though my flesh was being torn from my body, Poseidon’s brew, a cataclysmic occurrence in this wasteland.

Ahead of me, I spotted a white tent standing tall in the middle of the otherwise empty prairie. Though it was made of linen, the wind seemed to be making a wide girth around it. I could tell by looking at it that it was completely dry. Shelter. Pressing forward I ran a bit harder, knowing that the moment I reached it, I would be safe.

The closer I grew to the entrance, the further it seemed. The distance stretched on, unending. My dress felt ten times heavier as moisture seeped into its seams. The wheat’s whispered song taunted me. It began to crescendo with my pulse, until it became a roar in my ears. The closer I grew to my destination; the rain seemed to pour harder. It was blinding, making me less sure of my footing. It felt as though nature was willing me to misstep and fall forever over the edge into an unknown and never ending oblivion. Oblivion was not something I had wished for.

As I drew nearer to the entrance, I felt a strange sense of foreboding. My body began to shake from the inside, quivering. My teeth chattered as rain dripped down my eyebrows and my nose. The need for warmth and shelter won… Placing one foot in front of the other I entered.

It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to my dimly lit surroundings.  Even in the gloom, I noted that it was sparsely furnished. Against the wall of the tent was a roughly hewn wooden bench. Atop it sat a simple kerosene lantern. A single flame danced within the confines of the glass.

Looking to my left I froze. Ice worked its way up my spine as I spotted her.  She was sitting on a dilapidated old cot, partially covered by a white eyelet lace comforter. Above the cot, hung mosquito netting. Haunted blue eyes looked into mine.  I was taken aback by the ghastly hew of her skin… Its once bronzy glow had taken on the appearance of porcelain, almost iridescent. Eerily enough, she too, wore a dress just like mine, only it was black. Instinctively my eyes fell to her neck. The mark was there. My heart jumped and I swallowed, trying to regain my composure.

“What are you doing here?” Though I was now warm, my hands were shaking. This didn’t make sense.

“Waiting for you,” she stated simply.

I began to back away, quite sure that what I was seeing had to be an apparition. Was I asleep? Was I dreaming? Our eyes met. Instantly my mouth went dry. The hair on the back of my neck stood up.  I felt small pieces of goose flesh rising up until my whole body was standing on end. This was no dream, this was real. More than anything I wanted to run, to escape this awful nightmare. Try as I might, my feet wouldn’t move. She knew I couldn’t leave.

An invisible magnetic force seemed to pull me towards her. Against my own will I was moving. Time seemed to freeze. I felt perspiration beading on my upper lip. This couldn’t be happening. I looked at her face. She looked into mine. With each passing second, the wind seemed to leave my lungs a little bit at a time.  I couldn’t breathe. I stood in front of her now. Silence enveloped us; the rain outside seemed to have stilled. Nature hushed, waiting.

“I realize my presence here is rather unnerving. Unexpected. I had to come though.” She gestured for me to sit down.

Once again I felt myself moving against my will. My head was spinning. Seated a few feet away from her on the cot, I continued to stare, blood leaving my face.

“I’ve been gone for a few months now. Nothing is like I expected it to be.”

She stopped speaking. She was weighing her words. The issue at hand caused the air between us to feel almost heady, in an apprehensive sort of way. It was too much for her to even speak of. Tears began to pricked my eyes.

“I don’t get it… That week, I wasn’t even here. Why? I wished you wouldn’t have, have… I don’t understand, no one does… Why?”

Choking these words out, I was unable to continue. Tears flowed freely down my face, leaving their tell tale marks as they went.

She looked at me, grief evident in her features. She had things she wanted to say to me. However, she was waiting for me to regain my composure. A few minutes went by and I felt myself calming down.  A part of me wishing for the tears again; I knew I was not prepared to hear what she had to say to me. She continued.

“I realize everything must have come as a shock to you. I tried, really I did. It all just became too much. Or so I had thought,” she said. “It was odd watching everything from where I was after it happened. I didn’t see you there, though.” She cocked her head, looking at me, inquisition evident in her piercing blue eyes.

Shakily I took a deep breath. “The morning after… after…” I couldn’t say the word and I paused again.

Patience seemed to exude from her. She had known this would be difficult. She was prepared though, willing to wait. I on the other hand felt bombarded by everything that was happening right now. Everything was foreign, including this change in her. It was not something that I was used to. Living life in the fast lane, she had always wanted things right away. I on the other hand took things slowly. She had seemed fearless, untouchable. I had been cautious. Now, she was different, so very different.

My insides stopped quaking long enough allowing for me to continue. I swallowed.

“The morning after it happened, I was about to head out of town for the week. I almost stayed after I heard…It is just, were I to stay, I knew that people would need me. For once I didn’t have the strength to be the constant pillar. I just couldn’t shoulder everything. It was just all so shocking. It came from out of nowhere! I couldn’t… I didn’t, I just didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t ready.”

A small amount of bravery welled up inside of me and I glanced in her direction; surprise filled me as I saw her nodding, almost approving of the fact that I had elected to flee even after I knew.

“I don’t blame you for choosing to leave. I understand.”

She said it so simply. A weight I hadn’t known was there lifted from my shoulders. The heaviness in my chest dissipated. I felt as though a gift had been given to me. For months I had been living with feelings of guilt for not being there that week after it had happened. It wasn’t as though I hadn’t cared about her, quite the opposite actually. It was just that I hadn’t known how to go about dealing with her sudden departure.

“I am here because I wanted to talk to you specifically,” she stated. “You were the one influence in my life that was stable. Everyone seemed to overlook everything that I was doing, that I had done. You seemed untouched by the things that we all were doing. You were the only one who saw into me. You knew I wasn’t happy. There were times that I resented the fact that you knew about my turmoil.”

My heart began its strange eradicated pounding again. We were getting back to the topic at hand. The feelings of security I had just had fled as the gravity of the situation hit me.

“You tried to save me. You dealt with my apparent bitterness. None of it fazed you. Your life was a light to me. I ignored it though.”

She paused long enough to collect her thoughts. Everything within me wanted her to stop talking. I felt as though my heart would forever stop beating. Never in my life had I imagined that we would be having this conversation. Taking a deep breath she continued.

“The things you said crossed my mind as I got everything ready. It was such a deliberate process. I wrote everything out. The whole time I felt outside of myself. Escape. That was all I could think of. It was what I wanted. I thought I would get it, I haven’t though. I am more of a prisoner now than I ever was,” her voice trailed off.

There were no words to describe how I felt at that moment. What was happening was too powerful. This time we switched roles. It had a sense of familiarity. I became the patient one waiting for her to carry on. There was so much I wanted ask. There was so much I wanted to say. Yet, I sat, lips un-moving, unable to even speak.

“It was not what I imagined it to be. I just longed for release. I had felt caged in. Now, though, now…” a bitter laughter rent from her throat. “Now I am more of a captive than I ever was,” she gestured with her hand, motioning to the strange tent containing us.

“How is it that you are here now?” I asked leaning forward. She didn’t scare me as much at that moment. Instead, I felt the stirrings of intense sorrow in my heart.

“To warn you,” she said.

“Warn me?” I choked on the words.

“Yes. Things are not like you think they are when life has faded away. Her hand went to her throat; my eyes unwillingly followed. I flinched, my throat closed. “Even after it was all done, I am forced bear this.”

Her finger traced the mark that her last choice had left. It was ragged, ugly, glaring at me. I reached out to touch her; she put her hand up and shook her head. I understood. Our eyes met for a few more moments.

Thunder cracked above us. For a moment the whole tent was lit up as lightening danced across the sky. Just then, the door of the tent was blown open by the wind. Wide eyed, I watched as the flame in the lamp was snuffed out and everything disappeared.

It was there I was left, kneeling in the mud. I sobbed uncontrollably while I tore at the grass and beat the ground. My white gown had turned into sackcloth. Its rough, dark material rubbed my skin raw, a constant reminder of our pain.

Clenching my eyes shut I saw her as she wrote out her last words to the world. I saw the empty garage where the rope hung from the ceiling. I saw her as she stared at it, the noose inviting her. Faces of my peers flashed in front of me, arrayed in black. They sat row after row, silent tears coursing down their solemn faces.

“You have the truth…”

“It didn’t save you!” I screamed at the angry black sky. The wind picked up, whipping my hair in my face. Clutching my sides I wept, and the rain poured down.

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