The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes
We bleed the same in each line as if we have only felt love now for the first time. Summer is here no more. Once my father had a girl called June. He watched her turn to stone in his hands until she was nothing more than a ruffling of feathers or a soft place to fall, to lay his head filled with the dark, soporific melancholy blurring the edges of his fine gutsy reality. As her nimble fingers cut his throat he saw an ocean-sea move behind her eyes. He hid from it. What happened, happened. How do you bring closure to an ending in a middle-aged man’s playing fields? How do you deny the unintended?
Why are these roles set out for us from birth; women as the natural caregivers and men as the hunters and gatherers. In the hereafter we are built for dust even ash. In the splendour of youth, we store up reserves of energy and then waste every drop of it because we think it will last forever. I was always there watching you fall from afar in my gilt-edged cage. With my wings clipped, I could no longer fly out, hover over to meet you. Tragedy was the day you left me and all I saw was red and then I went out to meet you and instead I found beasts waiting for me, wearing shrouds, their hair long, thick and black as the night air and I mistook each and every one for you. I could taste plums, salt and light. They bruised my lips. For too long now I have been chaste, pure and virtuous. Something of the philosopher within me said you were dead to me and yet I still thought I would see you again. I would wait for the phone to ring and create my own illusion. You’re still you. The years have not changed you and you have risen to meet every challenge. Something within me, now that years have passed and I can look back in retrospect that of course, God’s instruction was there and I had the faith to continue with my poetry which was important to me in some ways more than even you.
How beautiful youth is and just but only for a short while and there is even something poetic about it. About how everything seems to change around you and the more turning points there are in your life, the more things seem to become dull, setting you slowly into living, into place, like the light in the stars, into context and confirmed displaced sensibilities. Once you were all I needed but how could I be so wrong. How could I or you have settled for one injustice after the other? You taught me that. I can say that now. It was the way you made me feel. As if there were two suns instead of the one in my hemisphere nearing, nearing my proximity always and then there is the subject of God?
Why bring him into this, right? There was always this fight, this battle within me between the sources of good and evil. What is so evil about love? It can kill, it can wound, it can hurt, it can shout, it can instruct for life, it can be heinous and cruel. When you’re in love you can worship the devil with all his satanic wiles. You can give gifts to someone you’re in love with. Books can exchange hands and what does it mean in the end when you walk away. What does all of this mean? I wanted, needed to know so badly years ago when we parted ways amicably. It was amicable, wasn’t it and we’re friends, right? We’ve always been friends. Nothing has changed that. So this is what love means. Graduation, the perpetual bliss of the perfect candidate and are there two candidates or one in a relationship? I don’t care anymore. There’s bliss, you know, even in the ‘wait’. The ‘see’ is fraught with possibility.
It was so hot that day and I felt like burnt toast, chewing gum that tasted like rubber and then I saw you. You were just standing there with your dark, wavy hair and I was drawn to you like moths are to a steamy bathroom window. You hadn’t noticed me and your perfect back was, it was plain to see, perfect and now we can never work together again or see each other because then we would both drown and there would be no escape from that. I would drown in ill health and you of course, would recover. You’re built like that, a horse. You always were perfect to me and you still are. Illusions, they have no flaws. They’re there for the taking, the picking. I never picked you up when you were down, or comforted you when you were sick or feeling insecure. How could I when I was a child, you were already grown and making your way into this world. You already had a fully developed, blown out soul and a mate; a mate who knew you so well that she could see right through you; through all the veins, the vessels, to the very heart of you. I was an interloper.
Make it stop. I can’t make it stop and I want it to very badly. This outpouring of jealousy, of rage, of love (whichoneisit I can’t decide). Take it away from me, from here, these formless and hapless shapes. You cannot give me anything except grief. I’ve replaced you with the news and politics and books, always books. Get out of my head. I’ve tried to wash away my sins, sweep you away from consciousness but you come back. You’re in my dreams and in my head locked away like some gold treasure or elixir for lost youth. Please, please. If I give in, I’ll drown. You won’t like my kind of company. If I was not good for you once, how can I ever be good for anyone? I’ve loved you from afar for more than half my life. Lines are getting crossed here again. You shut the door. You closed it and then pronounced me deader than dead. For too long now I have been shut up, cloistered and it is now time for me to make the break and the question is not how but will I make it? Who will save me? God and the golden lightness in prayer and supplication weaving its magical way through the very nerve centre of my brain with brushstrokes of inconsistent skill and genius? Why couldn’t it have been you instead? Please don’t make me beg. We’ve both been through this before, haven’t we, I mean, haven’t we?
I’m grown up now so I should be able to handle a relationship but I couldn’t, shouldn’t have handled you or let you have handled me the way you did but we both did our best under the circumstance. We both remained pure and godly even. We’ve said our rites, made our way through the passage that is time, healed all wounds, we’ve done all that but what is this ache that refuses to subside? I’m weak but I did it to myself. I know you can’t save me now. I know that now. I’ve travelled down that winding path, journeyed down that open road. You’re so gone. You’re so gone. You crushed every instinct that I had. I let you have that blind power over me. I can hardly bear to touch even a trace of you. I am terrified you will bind me to you again but there are other frontiers, spells and cautionary tales of wisdom and wit awaiting me. Don’t judge me too harshly now that I’ve turned my back on you and on the memory of you standing there with your back facing me on the day that we first met.
Do you ever think of me? Will I ever see you again? Will you ever forgive me for what I said? In a moment of cruelty I wanted to hurt you the way you hurt me so I hissed at you. Forgive me, forgive me. I want to hear you say those words. All is forgiven. Let’s be friends. For years I have lived recklessly with these unexposed ghosts. Only youth can see where true beauty lies. Do I have a defense against that indictment? I am like the flower seller at the cemetery with a wad of notes in his hand. The roses left behind wilting; much too expensive. All that orchestrated instrumental jazz playing in my ear just for one bloom? Men love the chase not the girl in all her naivety, with all her airs, fairy dust for brain cells. They love her because they can see her for the woman she is to become and as she grows further and further out of their reach they feel safer and cling to their suburban loyalties. Men realise too that they are growing older and they feel safe and secure in the knowledge of the wife who has been at their side for what seems like eternity and their robust and educated children. For too long now you have been a danger to me and my intellect but for now, I will leave you in peace and wish you well. You haven’t really left me with much choice, have you.
I write about you all the time and if I’m not doing that, I’m thinking up of reasons to. You are the one constant in the hieroglyphics of the daily course my thoughts. Don’t. Don’t. It’s hell through and through but you are all I want. While you’re steady and alive to another woman, caught up in her fire, I can’t control anything beyond my reasoning and I can’t explain why. You’re not really going to leave me out here, where all my seasons since I’ve returned home has been winter but you did. You left and winter just showed up leaving me pale and disagreeable ever since. Do you know what you’ve done? What you’ve done to me? You have done my head in. If this is what love is, I told myself, I wanted no part of it ever again. You haven’t left her yet, have you? You haven’t said anything, because there is nothing, was nothing to be said. We almost sound as magical and luminous as the moon. ‘Us’ is a useless, trivial exercise in
Leave her. Leave her. She’ll survive but I’m afraid I won’t without you. I can’t believe I’m saying such things. It’s not me. Is it the woman inside of me crying out, just waiting, to meet her partner for life? There’s no life in this struggle, no God, no consummation. I keep waiting for you, to hear your voice, the smile, the laughter in your voice, wanting my eyes to connect with yours above heads in office space made of whirring computers and cubicles, just for one last time before I say goodbye; one last time. We never said our goodbyes properly, did we? We never said anything black and white. Stay with her if that’s your kick, mother with children; that was your deal and not mine. I could always feel your prescence, sense your nearness, even now and before that used to scare me half-to-death but not anymore. I love you now as I loved you then, half-worship you now as I did then. But surely you of all people must know that.
If you read this, you will eventually figure out that it is to you I am writing, always writing, never comparing. How and to whom will I ever draw a comparison to you? No, don’t do this, don’t forget me but you’ve already won empire after empire, what does it matter really, who wins and who loses in love. I could kill Nabokov with one look, defeat his ‘Lolita’ (couldn’twouldn’tshouldn’t). I should have left you with all the Greats. Long gone, frozen in time immemorial, dead and buried.
© Abigail George August 2011
Email address: email@example.com
see also her collection of stories Winter in Joburg
Sam Hawksmoor writes:
Raw passion, vivid anger, rolling emotions cascade across the pages. Abigail George bares all with a compelling, lyrical prose and one hopes that at least some of this is fiction - for no single human being could withstand the tumult of emotion that are contained with these stories. I have been reading Abigail's short fiction for years now on Hackwriters.com, her great romantic upheavals and barely concealed anger at what life has dealt her and have worried for her. But she is a tough cookie and if you want to know what it's like to be Abigail and just what happens to people who live an emotional life - 'Winter in Johannesburg' is brilliant, vivid, compulsive stuff. I highly recommend her work - but stand back - there will be fireworks!
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She frustrates me like a blue fly I cannot swat, gut or trap.