Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Into the Stream

This is one of the short stories that I wrote for my upcoming book project. I hope you likey.

I poured the rest of my drink into the stream, thinking that someday it would wash out into the ocean and take my memories with it. “Beautiful,” I thought to myself, “but utterly pointless.” How had I come here? How had my life boiled down to mourning a fallen enemy?

I’d made this trip under the darkness of night to make an empty gesture and all that it had left me with was an empty bottle. I shuddered. Or shivered. That’s it, the temperature made me do it.

I strode back to the road, keeping a lookout for unfriendly eyes and violent arms and legs. The trip itself was not too difficult, I only had to get off the road for fear of being spotted once or twice, but the real killer was the uncertainty.

I took a swig from my flask and sat down for a moment, gathering myself, telling myself that I’d be ok, but never really believing it. To quote Paul Simon, “These are the days of miracles and wonders,” and here I am walking, like a caveman. Where was my car? I gave up looking after a couple of days. Where were my friends? I gave up looking after a couple of hours. What does that say about me?

The fallen enemy, the woman I’d given up everything to hate, was the only thing that I could think about. And why was I here? Her family, her protectors, would no doubt kill me rather than look at me. And I made this trip to make my peace, I guess. Who would understand that?

So here I was, without a lifeline in the belly of the beast, in the heart of the bestiary, sitting at the side of the road, doing my best to get myself killed all to pour a few drops of my beer into her stream. But isn’t that what all relationships are about? Feeling sorry for myself was fast becoming my new occupation and I wasn’t sure I felt bad about it.

When they found me, I even felt relief. The basest punishment was meted out over several minutes, but all I experienced was a flash of flesh and a bang of pain. There were no stars circling my head like a halo, I hadn’t earned that. I think I broke someone’s hand on my face. The satisfying crunch and subsequent yelp told me that he was done with me, but there were more of them and they weren’t backing down.

When they were finished, I’d curled into a ball. I spat blood into the dirt and cringed, which signaled one of two things, either I was still alive or Hell was not quite as fiery as I’d imagined. They picked me up. Definitely alive, then, or I’d somehow got beaten so badly that their brains had exploded from witnessing it and they’d followed me to the afterlife. They threw me into a car. They tossed me like a ragdoll in front of a hospital. I tried to stop myself being a cliché, but my body rolled down to the sliding glass doors anyway. They opened and shut on their own for about ten minutes before anyone noticed me.

In the hospital, they asked me what had happened. I told them it was a broken heart. They informed me that if my heart was in my nose and ribs, then I was absolutely right. I imagined what she’d do if she saw me like this and I laughed at the thought of her laughing at me. It hurt.

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