Tonight Kaitlyn sent me a poem she wrote that reminded me of one I had written when I was just a little bit older than she is now. I think I was 14. I kept that poem for some reason, I think because I liked the idea and thought it might come in handy one day. As poems go, it was never that great. Over the years I’ve taken it out and toyed with it a bit. It’s the inspiration now for a story I haven’t finished yet . . . a story about an old woman who waits for a long lost love to return to her. I’m not sure it’s a poem anymore (a prose poem perhaps? flash fiction?) Whatever it is now, here’s the latest incarnation from 1999.
Knock — a single rap and then no more. Quick, soft, then gone — like a message spoken in haste, a mistake quickly retrieved. Is it real? Or have I imagined your knuckles upon my door? Like in my dreams, the echo brought to life by the wilful strength of my mind. Has my lost love returned? Or have my ears been fooled by my wish? Perhaps a tree’s severed limb has been thrown against the door, like a bit of an innocent soldier’s flesh flung from the trenches of war. A storm has captured the night. Thunder crashes amidst lightning flashes, like bombs launched but destined to remain in the sky forever, never landing. Lightning paints the world in unnatural jagged silver-white sheets. Trees bravely fight the fierce howling wind. The birds and little forest animals, overwhelmed and outnumbered, have long since surrendered and defeated without protest skulked home where they hide waiting for peace. Electricity cut by the enemy, clutching a candle, my knuckles white, I creep to the door hoping it is you but believing it is the tree.
Flash — a face pale and wet is framed in the window for one startling moment, frozen in the storm’s paralysing photograph — then gone, the night swallowing it whole. Your face, beyond the reach of my candle’s weak flame, but I know it is you. I run to the door, fumble with the locks and fling it open not caring that the wind having found the weakness in my armour will invade my fortress. And there you are. Tired. Battered by the storm. But not beaten, not wounded, unscathed and alive. You are alive and returned safe to my arms, soaked and chilled through the bone, but here with me, my dream incarnate. You are the same with hands callused and strong, body towering and lean, face hardened and sharp, eyes dancing with —
No. Eyes not dancing at all. Eyes lifeless and dull. What has happened? Have I remembered the eyes wrong? Perhaps . . . perhaps . . . But . . . Your smile remains the same, broad and so white against your tanned skin. It’s so joyous to be held in your arms again. Your embrace has not been forgotten or altered in the depths of my memory. Still warm. Still comforting. Still safe. The words upon your lips are the very words I always wanted to hear, words you withheld before. The words flow loose and free, finally released, but not forming the question as I dreamed. Still, the words nonetheless — You will be my wife. Oh, I will. I will. Your lips lower and part meeting mine. Your kiss so sweet and soft like clover, freshly mowed grass. I do remember your kiss. I remember craning my neck to lose myself in that kiss. But this kiss . . . This kiss is cold as death and rank as a rotting corpse. It is not you. This man I kiss, this man I’m to wed is not you. “Who are you?” I scream clawing to escape. And the thunder crashes. And the door is blown open. And the wind surrounds the candle’s flame, killing it. And the lightning flashes freeze framing the demon. Then blackness. Darkness smothers me as the demon laughs loudly above the roar of the wind. The wind tamed and powerless in the demon’s presence.
Awake. The sun shines. The birds sing. Squirrels chatter in the trees. And I lie alone in my tiny bed thankful I’ve only had a bad dream. Nightmares my darling, from missing you so much. But now it is the day and I am safe and the day is beautiful and bright. Nothing in the world could ever be wrong. I stretch and yawn, well rested despite my horrible dream. And it is only then that I notice, only then that I see it, only then that I feel it . . . on the third finger of my left hand —
A golden wedding band.
Mood: somewhat withdrawn
Drinking: water still, we’re out of the good stuff
Listening To: With or Without You, U2
Hair: I can no longer bear to look at it in the mirror