Wednesday, October 15, 2014

September's Hope

Sunshine embraces the morning, Mother, as if to apologize for its long absence. Its arrival is announced by a scattered chorus of finches, cardinals and squirrels that wake to greet the day. The approach of autumn lays its evidence with the occasional falling leaf, but still there is promise in the air of more warm days to come. The ancient maple and walnut trees that weave their way through the quiet, aged suburb are bejeweled with the dying summer's gold. Dew decorates the rows of lawns like a million diamonds. I open a large window in the main room and welcome the weather inside. A playful breeze passes through like a dancing kite. The aroma of fresh grass mingles with the subtle, earthy musk of autumn's approach-an agreeable perfume to fill my empty surroundings. The day arrives as a happy surprise, despite my fatigue. I was stirred from another brittle sleep by a pair of cardinals who'd pierced my bedroom window with their back and forth chatter.  

My wife is surely awake now, without me of course. The children run, jump, bark, bite, laugh and live while she spells out mechanical morning orders to pick up toys, clean rooms, comb tangled hair, scrub mucky faces. She likely steals a passing glance through the kitchen window, standing on the tiptoes of her petite frame and takes comfort as the golden warmth greets her. She has a long walk to work.

She hurries to ready herself for the day, finally having stolen five minutes in the bathroom. She drags a brush through soft and slightly curled deep brown hair that frames a beautiful face, draping just above her shoulders. Rich chocolate eyes fix on the mirror and she faces her age, which is noticeable only to her, really. I miss those eyes; they were wide and full of wonder. They were soft and slow to anger. They hungered, they longed, they laughed and loved. They loved me, Mother. But those days are behind us.

She composes herself quickly, needing no makeup mask for supple toned skin. Faint creases forming from the corners of her eyes map her forty year journey. Many of those lines are roads I took her down.  

With one eye on the clock that leads the race as always, she hurries through the house to deal with last minute details-bickering siblings, half-made school lunches and unsigned permission slips. Dirty laundry forms a small mountain on the landing in the stairwell, invisible to her as she sprints the familiar path. Fingerprints map children's journeys along the white-washed walls of the unassuming abode. Life lives freely here. A beautiful scent, a mixture of dirty socks, fried eggs and Kool-Aid hangs in the air. I remember it well. If I could trap and bottle that sweet perfume, I would bathe in it now. She misses nothing in the morning world; the children are safe every second and marching to their orders. Dinner is defrosting. The heap of laundry is shrinking. The after-school babysitter finally answered her phone and has promised to be more timely this time. I am far away but assuredly in my wife's sight. She could not have left every trace of me behind her. I refuse to believe that she made a clean exit, as much as she had tried. 

I'm dwarfed by the large imposing living room that surrounds me with its long high walls and crushing silence. The beagle remains curled into my bed sheets, likely finding little reason to greet the morning, now that the children aren't around to greet him back. Dust and dog hair dance in the sunlight and settle into places where life lives no more. I begin to feel the weight of my memories as they also wake to the new day and assume their place at the front of my thoughts. I retreat to the large brown couch we'd bought as newlyweds. Its faded and torn tweed fabric is worn well beyond its value now, not unlike the world I shared with her. I'll not part with it though. It sits as a rugged witness to the life, laughter and love that once graced its purpose. My memories are all that remain to cast my identity, as much as they dismantle me now. Tears blur my vision again as I gaze upon yesterday. The mountain of sorrow deep within me wants to erupt, but I stop my breath at my throat, not wishing to upset the delicate morning as I wonder of her now. I never intended to send her away, Mother. 

You could argue that point I suppose. I indeed forced a heavy hand into the fate of our love. I did break her heart. I drank my ever replenished liquor elixir like Dr. Jeckyll and out came Mr. Hyde so many times. Rarely though did I let Hyde escape the confines of my thick skull. Yes, disappointed one, I am my father's son, but not in the ways that stole your sleep, split your lips and snuck away into another woman's arms. Hers was often the heartache of simply seeing such a creature peer out from behind my hollow eyes. 

When our matrimonial path began to spiral off course, I ran to liquid relief from the tiring journey. I hid myself away in a safe corner of the confusion and there I remained, stoned and stubborn. I gradually faded into the walls, a pale shadow of a husband, only wandering from my self-imprisonment for sustenance and for bedtime stories with our little angel girl. As my fragile bride waited in tearful silence for me to return to her side, she began to weaken and wither. Autumn settled into her eyes, Mother, dimming the lights that once shone like dazzling jewels. Her lonely days grew into hopeless years. She was long gone before she actually left me-her escape already mapped out, her backup plan in place. If she'd tried to warn me, I didn't hear her through the cold steel walls of my obstinance. Now, I accept without complaint my yoke of repentance, and I shall carry it as long as I have to. Though one question plagues me now-could a truer love have have held fast, Mother, having been so tested? Should I share my burden with her, for her giving up so readily and running away without a goodbye? Four years, oh wounded one, is hardly the twelve you endured, in no less than a combat zone. What exactly is love? Did you ever solve the illusive equation, oh womb of my fruit?

There were mysteries deep within my porcelain bride that I could not easily unearth-missing pieces of complex puzzles. She was a silent and fiercely reserved woman. At one point in time, long before she'd grown on me, I simply would have called her the quiet type. Yet behind her eyes there existed a woman I had not met, and one she didn't want me to meet. 

She could not unlock every door of her heart for me, nor for anyone. A paralysis had spread throughout her being, that often froze her in the path of her best of intentions. She'd weathered wicked storms during the years long before our lives collided. She would only allow decided fragments of herself to be exposed. She faced each new day with a decided escape plan, should life send new storms upon her. These plans lay hidden and tangled in her innermost places. They clumsily overlapped one another as she struggled to keep her secrets in order. She suspected that most would not easily accept her illusive and often devious designs; they often wove themselves through the lives of the innocent. 

Phone calls were frequently contained to careful murmurs. She faithfully erased the browsing history on the family computer. She gave accounts of her day-to-day that often betrayed her as fragments of other stories echoed their objection in my memory. There were wide gaps in our tale of two lonely lovers. I'm convinced now that those gaps could not be closed without crumbling the very foundation of our unionLonging to believe that she was the purest of pure, but knowing that perhaps this sentiment was slightly too demanding of her, I snatched my heart back from her and retreated to the solitude that would seal our doom. 

Early in our days together, I'd reasoned that I could share my existence with her hidden world if I must. Certainly there was a thread of rectitude laced through her peculiar ways. Perhaps they involved innocent male friends, girl-only affairs or family matters. Eventually though, not even vodka could settle me into such a delusion. Over time her trail became too littered. She'd left evidence behind-pieces of her puzzle, in her careless pursuits.

I knew that her heart hungered still. Our eyes rarely met. Our words either collided or they didn't connect at all. We spent our days in different rooms and ended our nights at different hours. Silence soon hung like a dense fog throughout the house. Our love finally seemed but a spark that had shown much promise but failed to ignite a fire. 

My hope eroded and finally vanished as time poured out its heavy sand upon our lives. Beyond our front door, my fears became fact. Troubled faces approached me with heavy hearts and reluctant news of my wife's wayward travels. There were other men alas, Mother, with whom I'd shared her bed. 

I know now that her delicate survival had long required its hidden rooms. There were pieces of her puzzle that I was simply forbidden to find from the beginning. She'd never set out to deceive, dear woman. Often times, a soul simply knows no other way to survive. Hers is a heart that beats strong and pure. It simply cannot keep rhythm when her fears begin to choke her. Her willful silence in the shadow of her cracked facade finally told me the story complete. With her swift and sudden departure she erased our history and was on the run again. 

My runaway bride may never brave her way out from her hidden rooms. She may always insist to her guilty secrets that I alone must account for the long empty days and the nights of hands on ourselves. But ours, Mother, was a mutually assured destruction. Another love may wear the blame complete one day, should autumn set into her eyes again.  

I've taken lovers since she left, Mother; moments of desperation produce fools. I fucked every ounce of energy right out of myself, like a loose pistol, pounding every yesterday until I fell exhausted and only wished to remain asleep. There were no more dreams to be dreamt. There was no more love to give or receive. I was spent. 
I scold myself now for thinking I could trick my wounded existence with such a charade. I choose now to sleep alone, to starve my soul rather than feed it that which has no substance. The silent house haunts me. Though I no longer wrestle with secrets and strange tales, I wither and weaken as each cruel night arrives without her. I've abandoned my vodka. I must be more real now. She's taught me well the destruction of lies. I must never dwell in hidden rooms of my own. 

Why, though, had not love found a way? I must face my bride's looming shadow and alas confess that sometimes love, though it is the very breath of the Divine, cannot alone overcome the elements that divide two souls. 

Today however, still holds promise by the very virtue of its infancy. The sunshine has returned to chase away the threat of an early frost. Today is September's hope. She's on the tired path again. The children have set out on another day of dreams. I return to the open window and breathe deep the day's renewal. I ask the steady breeze to guide her along a solid and fruitful path today. May it carry us all, Mother.


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