The International Writers Magazine: Alone in Central Park
I'll Go On
Darlene preferred to walk on Central park, around the periphery of the reservoir, on days when the weather was difficult, thorny, icebound.
She felt at ease amid the bare branches of trees, and the nearly visible, still solid, dirt, which had not yet yielded to the relentless force of the green blades of grass, still fighting to brake through the frozen ground, to reclaim their place in nature, and deny the unyielding ground its arguable solidity. Darlene frequented the park because it was there where her mind became lucid, unburdened by the stifling chore of daily living.
“What is happiness?” She asked herself, with the self awareness of a student of philosophy.
Her mind revolved around her senses like a satellite bound to orbit a lonely planetoid, resigned never to reach it. She cogitated the question, and spoke her thoughts, clearly, into a digital recorder. She had no reason to believe that a formulaic answer was possible:
“Trouble is, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’ve realized that. I fall in love at the drop of a hat. Love! I mean it. Just like these cliches I'm using: redundant and overused. But the real problem with me is that I fall in love with the first person that touches me in some way, real way. I’m not lonely. Really! I am not!”
The digital recorder had suddenly assumed the role of her confessor:
“Take this for instance: I was browsing through the Net and found this story telling site, which, I think must be some sort of ‘collective journal,’ because it features the innermost writings of many individuals, young, old, men, women, gay, straight; but the only thing they seem to have in common, is this necessity to tell all, to throw their cares to the wind, to open their hearts, to let it all hang out.”
“I know this is going to sound very, very, cliched, however, I can’t find the words. My own sincere and unique, words, because I am not a story teller. I have to rely on ancient proven words. Words which have been "rode hard and put away wet" by others. I appropriate them, use them and abuse them, to make my feelings known.”
The quick sprint of her feet had slowed to a brisk walk. She had entered the world of her mind. The only reason her legs kept moving, was because of an instinctive, necessary need to keep going. Her voice was sincere as she continued the one-sided dialogue with the invisible ghost of her rational mind:
“Now, don't get me wrong, the people in this particular site seem to be really touched, embraced by the muse. They are excellent wordsmiths. Words must be the food they eat, the dreams in their sleep, their breath or air. Me? I rely on cliches. Which, by the way, are not necessarily useless as most people might think, not to me. I love them. They, the cliches, define me. The fact that people there are able to tell their true-blue, bleeding bouts with life, their inner most fears, loves, desires, and experiences, makes me want to stay on and stare. Gawk, like people when they stretch their necks driving past a car accident. Just to look, to see the carnage, or whatever it is that makes people stop, stretch their necks, drive slowly past the crunched up vehicles, meander between the orange cones, and nearly get into an accident of their own.”
The brisk, sharp, wind of a forced and late arriving Spring, revived her senses. She had now stopped walking. She sat herself on one of the few, solitary benches in the periphery of the Jackie Kennedy, artificial lake. Darlene was in a world of her own making, deep inside her mind:
“So, I’m browsing. I’m looking at pictures. The pictures are also very intimate. They are portals to their stories. To the bits of life they write and share. Many of the photographs involve sunsets, cute babies, inspirational words, portraits of people smiling big at the camera; people kissing babies, kissing men, kissing women; men kissing men; women kissing women; birds, stones, sky, snow, moon, sun, stars, crayons. It’s a mixed bag, an unpredictable bag, some as predictable, but inspirational nonetheless. I’m looking at photos. I can’t stop skimming over the entire set.
|| I slow down, every now-and-then, and look at the pretty skies, the pretty animals, the old men, old couples, old women, young men, young women; the cows, the birds, the dogs, the cats, the occasional iguana. I must admit, however, that for some odd reason, I prefer the sad looking photos. I am attracted to the forlorn looks of big eyes, the sad smiles. I am drawn to the portals with these photographs. I stop the cursor and click.”
Her eyes drifted from the vacuous emptiness of the self-imposed isolation of her thoughts, and followed the flight of a single swallow, drifting along the surface of the water, moving with grace and speed, with the agility of a thought being carried by the force of some invisible current. When the drifter disappears behind the trees, she resumes her monologue:
“When I click on the photos, I become enthralled by the sincerity of the posts. Human lives drawn, doodled, written in little poems; life sayings, single minded quotes, real-to-life anecdotes. Undoubtedly, their very true, and very own, slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. All spelled out in vowels, consonants, letters, paragraphs; rhyming, not rhyming; quick, easy, hard, slow, fast, but mostly, sincere. I feel their pain. I fall in love. I sing. I jump. I stare. I cry. I hate, but mostly, and this is sincere: I Love. I fall in love deeply, not just with the sentiment, but the words, the person. The avatars. Their energy distilled in words, in commas, periods, sounds.”
Darlene was now deep inside her mind. She had fallen slowly and deeply into the bone-marrow-deep sentiment of her life-song, which mirrored the grey and dreary scenery of sky scrapers reflected on the still waters of the pond. Her trailing, though vibrant voice, continued to describe her thoughts:
“I go back and forth looking at the photos, looking at the names, to-and-fro. Their words enter my eyes, they become food for my brain. I drink from the well spring of their emotions. I adore more, every dot, every comma, every accent. I become infatuated with their honesty, their sincerity, their loves which drench and drip from every letter, word, and photograph. I click, and read, and listen and love. I spend electrifying eternities in a few hours, feeling. When time ends (as it always does) I become sad. Melancholy, because there is a certain finality to the whole enterprise, the entire experience.”
She pauses and inhales the crisp, jagged air, then exhaled a steady stream of air which carried in its vaporous midst a lament: “Stories end."
With a forlorn sigh, she continues:
"The experience, is akin to smoking the purest opiate in the world. These timid little tell-tale life-tales get me high in love, in life. I levitate. My feet leave the ground. I float to the ceiling and look down at the top of my head, at my hands typing, I see my own eyes watering. I feel the hair on the back of my neck standing-on-end. I all I want is more. I want much, much more. This is the purest and most potent potion of emotion I have ever drank. Distilled from life as words, pictures, sounds, and crammed into an abstract plane. This I know: here is pure love, pure agony; the purest emotions and feelings, wrested and amalgamated into a magnificently potent formula, an elixir from which I cannot get enough.”
For a brief, limitless moment, she’d become euphoric from the adrenaline speeding through her veins, urging her mind to restore life into her soul. The moment vanishes. Bereaved, she continues:
“I can’t go on. I see my reflection in too many of their words; my likeness in too many photographs. I despair. Where are they? Who are they? Why are they in so much love? Some much pain? So much despair? So much in life? Why do they need to pour their hearts out, and let strangers' eyes lick their wounds, their hurt, their love, their ecstasy, their euphoria? Why do they have to bare their souls in words? Why the need to share? How is it possible to feel so much?”
“I can’t go on, I'll go on.”
Darlene had read that phrase, her last recorded words, in a book by Beckett, which had engendered a glimmer of hope in her soul. The brisk, sharp, windy day of a forced, and late arriving spring in Central Park, had revived her senses. Darlene frequented the park because it was there where her mind became lucid, unburdened by the stifling chores of daily life.
© Oswaldo Jimenez June 2014
If I had to do it over...
The car was a white, two-seater, 1965, British made, Triumph Spitfire, convertible. Low to the ground and high on looks.
One bite. That’s all she thought she needed to satisfy her hunger. One bite of the funnel cake. No more than that. There was no need for more. A single bit of food would have satiated her starving stomach.