by Darryl Price
I had guessed the color of her eyes
without looking directly at her face
whenever we met for the first time. She sighed and some
kind of strange weight like a stranger's still wet hands started to
press down none too gently on my forehead. I went
over to the pond and looked at the stars
through the filter of the water. She quietly
shook off her shoes. I didn't know anything
about her heart condition for the longest time.
She held my arm with her brittlest hollow fingers.
I felt around in my brain for any words that would do for that reality show but
came up with nothing more than a short
guttural groan of some sort that escaped like a mist
before I could stop it from happening to us.
She smiled so beautifully then that all
the moonlight in the world suddenly fled right inside
her mouth and sat huddled together
between her teeth like a handful of luminous moths. I watched it all shining
from there until her eyes slowly filled up
with glowing things by themselves. She fell down smoothly
into the grass like a swan might enter into a darkened stream of a dream.
I followed. She was still a bright and roaring presence
there as surely as any campfire in history.
I felt pinned to the moment like a very small bug on a very small leaf.
She waited on death like a woman with a
suitcase sitting on a bench waits for a bus.
I planned on grabbing death by its gritty bony
brittle tattered throat when it arrived and
squeezing with all my might until one of us should quietly
disappear forever from the spot of touchdown.
She said I needed to settle down. I said
I needed only her presence in my life. She said don't say that.
I said something else but it didn't register
as either words or sound of any kind.
It's been so much longer of a voyage than I could ever have imagined taking on when you first sent for me to join you in the colonies before I could comfortably sit down to write you even these few lopsided words for a long time coming letter. I'm sorry. I've been actually unable to stand for more than a few seconds at a time without falling over immediately onto the deck like a heavy brass cane, so I usually just prop myself up against something hard or bolted down and hope for the momentary pesky feeling to pass. The leafy sea rolls us around in its foamy mouth like a tough piece of dry meat but still we seem to move slowly forward if only by a few hard won inches at a time. The same six or seven noisy birds fly around the sails every day like loose flapping flags, all day long, but for the life of me I can't quite figure out where in the world they sleep at night or if even they do. I do know where they go to the bathroom—everywhere! We also know what's probably right now swimming underneath the calm looking exterior of the ocean's mile wide skirts, we've heard all the awful rumors about rows upon rows of fins like inverted black teeth slithering through the waves like ugly thread, in that thick plot of pea soup, but you can't really tell if anything's out there just from listening to the popping and swishing sounds coming over the hopefully painted surface of things. Occasionally we do get ourselves a small handful of streaking dolphins that seem to enjoy running alongside the outer rims like a bunch of wild for nothing dogs but nothing more threatening than that so far. All the real threats to our safety are on board it seems. The food looks rather lopsided and funny in a slimy kind of thrown together way and the drinking water smells like many days of spilled eggs. I've often wondered why we travel in our suits when it would be so much easier to take our clothes off, not all of them, but enough to get a breeze under the arm, so to speak.
At night there is so much raw beauty in the stars above that you can't help but cry out for such happiness, to have seen such a thrilling thing I mean in your own thankful lifetime. There are not enough words that I know of in the whole English language for this kind of a feeling to appear fully formed, but if you'll let me, when we do see each other again, I promise I'll show you. If you will only look me in my eyes the right way you'll see what I saw, I promise, because I'll never be able to forget it. I know how that sounds and I don't mean to wax poetic on you of all people, but if you could see this remarkable thing happening out here, wrapped around the world as far as you can go and see, like a wondrous cloak made out of a billion brightly lit diamonds, you'd know the true meaning of silence. It's as if you are witnessing some profound miracle that you've always known existed all along, but refrained from believing in for fear it might disappear right in front of your eyes forever like in an instant. You never want to look away from anything beautiful again as long as you live.
Last night we had a terrible, swift lightning storm and then more of the pouring rain. It took down at least two of the main masts I'm told and broke them like they were nothing but tiny matchsticks and washed three poor souls overboard too without so much as a last tearful goodbye to anyone that mattered. All of us were hanging on to each other for dear life all night long. Nobody kept their hats on their heads and a few of the children even lost their only shoes. It started out with a far away darkening shadow moving in fast from the eastern part of the sky's horizon that simply grew steadily bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger until it seemed to become this giant cloudy hand floating right above us that finally reached down and picked up the entire ship like it was a little toy and flung it furiously back down into the swirling, foaming mass of a draining into a hole water like an unwanted piece of chewed gum. Everything everywhere was mangled and tangled up in tightening ropes. People's belongings were strewn about like dead and scratched leaves from an at long last stopped shivering naked tree. The captain was nowhere to be found the whole time. As I fear I may also be too soon from now my love.
Well my dearest angel I'm told we're taking on much too much water now to believe in anything like a miracle is going to come and save us from anything. Everyone's looking for teacups or anything else to fill with water and help to throw the wet overboard, but it's been of no use so far. I've been using that antique blue bottle that my mother packed for me for good luck but it's proven a little too small a shovel to do much good in the long run. Whatever was inside it that she believed in once upon a time is of no lamp to the both of us now I'm pretty sure.My words fail me. I'm afraid. But I know you'll be brave for me someday. Find and give love. Look up at the stars. Give this bottle some fresh flowers.I love you so.
All rights reserved.
The author has not attached a note to this story.