Tuesday, June 19, 2012

When Connor Ruined Kate

The grass itself was warm. He clenched and unclenched the toes of his bare feet, as if to grasp the earth, whether to pull parts of the lawn up, or to tether himself against the wind, none could say. The sky was a deep, rich grey, the very look of it thirsty for the coming rain. His gaze was steady as he cast it out over the field and to the road. The cars, sporadic in their passing, came and went. He thought of the drivers and passengers. He thought of those heading home, and those going out. “If we could only know,” he thought, “Which way each of us was heading, if  we never had to guess…” He imagined a world, or a culture, in which such destinations were broadcast easily. He yearned for a way of knowing, upon first meeting someone, where they were headed, and how they were getting there. “but then,” he reminded himself, “We ourselves would have to know our own roads.” He waited for the lightning as the first sounds of thunder came slowly and distantly rolling in.
     ”Beauty, strength, truth, and light” he recited to himself, remembering those words, like a prayer. He thought of that day in the cafeteria, and how discussing things like philosophy and poetry and the future with her had always seemed like making a promise. He remembered those four words, and the days when it felt like they were the only ones at their school, possibly in the world, who were seeking those things. He thought of what he’d made of that creed, and if she’d ever love those words again.
     As the first bolt of lightning lit up the sky, he could see her face before him, as he’d seen it earlier that afternoon. He could make out the lines in her face as she bit her lip and furrowed her brow. He could see her eyes shining as they filled with tears. Standing in the field. he thought back to the moment earlier that day when their argument came to an abrupt end. He thought of how the deepest pain in his gut was not stemming from what he’d done. As she had stood, stunned and hurt, all he could think of was how quickly the hot anger had given way to a cold dread, how all the rage dissipated and he was left, frozen, like an empty tomb.
 ”Her head didn’t even turn” He had told himself immediately as it was done, “it wasn’t hard enough to redden her cheek or turn her chin” He had consoled himself.
     Standing in that field as the storm was building around him, he sickened himself, knowing his first concerns in that moment had not been of her, but in making excuses for himself. Another long roll of thunder, another flash. “beauty,” he thought, and in his mind’s eye again saw her. She had crumpled to the floor like a marionette with cut strings. He just stood there, over her, unable to move for long, empty minutes, before he simply turned, and silently left. He thought of his drive home, and the way he’d cursed himself for being like his father, despite many oaths and promises never to be like him, never to do to anyone what he’d seen done to his mother.
     “Strength” he thought, remembering his coward’s exit, his retreat. “Truth”, another flash, and he closed his eyes, the thunder seeming to come not from the sky, but a grumble from the earth beneath him, scolding him, knowing. his fingers of his right hand massaged the palm, as they’d unconsciously done in the hours since that same palm struck her cheek. The wind whipped at his hair and jacket. He muttered a single word, “light” and laughed, when as if on cue, another bolt struck the ground somewhere beyond the road, and the strobing light lit up the darkening skies. She was quick to laugh, once. She was all smiles and hope, hope for and hope fueled by those four words they’d shared. They were their creed, their pledge. He knew he’d changed her in that moment. He knew what he’d taken from her, what he’d broken.

“Beauty, strength, truth, and light” She said into her mirror, and nodded. Outside, a storm was raging, and she knew distantly, having read many books, and seen many films, that she should feel a similar tempest within herself. She examined, closely, her pale cheek. The sting had faded almost instantaneously.  Her fingers lightly brushed the spot where he’d hit her, and she felt her eyes well up with tears again, but quickly suppressed them.
 ”Still beautiful.” she said to her reflection. She forced a smile, let it fade. She followed it with another, and the muscles of her face seemed to respond more quickly and easily. She sighed, and nodded. “Still strong.” She looked down at the things she’d piled on the vanity in front of her: letters, a key chain, a set of earrings, a few albums. She brushed them all, quickly, in one swift motion, into an empty shoe box. Without daring to look in, and holding her breath, she put the lid on the box, tossed it to the floor, and kicked the package under her bed. “it’s was not my fault. That’s true.” she said, not quite believing it yet, but knowing it all the same. She realized the storm had passed, and walked over to open her window before returning to where she’d stood before the mirror. Her confidence wavered then, and broke. She placed her hands on the vanity, and leaned on them, her legs weak. she shook her head and fought back tears. She looked up again, first to her mirror, then outside. “I’ll be ok. I’m ok.” She told herself.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Dark and intense with light at the end. I do like your random :)

    Later and Love