The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes
To Wander In A Foreign Land
Lea stood inside the door of the riverboat restaurant … tall and willowy with a shock of hair, dark and heavy, and piled a’ top her head like an afterthought.
David thought, 'she is still so elegantly beautiful.’ He noted with fond remembrance, ‘and she has yet to grow into her features. Eyes and mouth still too wide for her little valentine face. And though her features seem to be drawn up towards her forehead, her face is warm in its intimacy.’
When he caught her glance meeting his, he saw her radiant face darken with the shadows that came to lie under her cheekbones and under her tip-tilted eyes; her eyes seemed to lose their sparkles, and darken with doubt.
David surmised, ’She’s seen me and is not happy about it. She probably concluded and rightfully so, that I would have the good sense not to be here with her brother, Josh. Why did I write her that ridiculous, revealing letter?‘
And then their eyes met, connecting before they did. And though he was standing beside Josh, it seemed to Lea that David, with vague smile and hooded eyes, was far off from the two of them. She took the steps that connected them. And with his broken-mirror smile, David took a few more. And then they were together and clasped in each other’s arms.
“Oh Lea," was all he could say, and in those two words rang an expectancy that had nowhere to go.
Lea put her hand over David’s. “It has been so long,” she said with a sincerity that pulled her into him, as she had unknowingly been all along.
She looked into his eyes and deducted, ‘he has not found what he was looking for.’
And when he focused his gaze on her, she knew. ’What he has been looking for is me.’
“Did you get my letter?” His words cut into Lea’s disturbing thoughts.
Soon as he said the words, he regretted them. ‘Paltry words. Words as inexplicable, as was my letter to Lea with its vague implications ... houses with lights, trees with arms to hold me. Loneliness was the theme; Lea was the object. But how would I say “it has been you and your willowy body that travels with me through all my days. You who moves through my dreams. You, with the grace of a dancer when you walk. You, with unstudied charms so much a part of your make-up that women, as well as men, smile when you pass. And they have yet to hear you speak, but if they do, your butterscotch voice will further hold them captive.” But I can’t say those words, I can’t put her on the spot.’
“Yes, I did get your letter,” Lea replied ruefully. “And had you had sent me an address, I would have written back.”
“Oh,” he said sheepishly. Too late, he remembered that long-ago gaffe. 'Or what was it that didn’t send an address where she could get a hold of me? Fear she wouldn’t write back and then I would know for certain she no longer cared? Or did I not know where I was going? That is usually the case. I did not want Lea to know what a scramble my life was in. I didn’t want to admit to her that I never know where I am going, only that I am going; always going.’
He came to a conclusion. ‘It is time to change the subject; definitely time.’ In an undertone, he said- “When I read Josh’s letters from you.”
He cleared his throat meaningfully. “When he is not looking.”
His words brought back a time when Josh monitored their every move. Laughing at the memory, Lea prompted a chuckle from David. “I find there is something missing; something that you are not telling me, or ah, us.”
Josh interrupted their shared amusement. “What is that something exciting that you are going to tell us?”
“Whoa!” Lea lifted her hands to hold them at bay; both of them.
And while they sat there looking at her with faces lit in anticipation, she went on to explain. “Too many questions and both coming at me at once.”
She ceased smiling then, and a troubled look darkened her face, as though a cloud were passing over. “I need to, I am going to talk to David first. Talk in private.“ She felt a dread start in the pit of her stomach.
Taken aback, David gulped. “Sure thing,” he replied. “We will wind our way up to the pilot house.”
She was thinking heavy thoughts when she felt David standing at the back of her chair. He pulled it out and she stood up. Then he was guiding his arm in hers in the courtly way that she fondly remembered.
Sighing, she told herself, ‘Be careful, girl! What was is no longer. Enough of tripping over the elusiveness of this wandering man. I tried but failed, and cannot waste a moment longer trying to clip the wings of an allusive bird that is always in the motion of flight.’
And with those warning thoughts going through her mind, Lea followed David to climb up the narrow, winding steps that led to the pilothouse. Then he was opening the door for Lea, and waiting for her to pass before they stepped inside to long, quiet moments charged with electricity. Both began by trying to form words ... polite, honest, awkward, or any words that would move them away from these first tense moments. And then from somewhere came a sad song: one held aloft in the air with the notes of a solitary flute. David thought the song was piping a requiem for Vietnam. But to Lea, the flute was playing the melancholy notes of what was left of her and David.
“Where is that sad song coming from?” she asked in words that hung on, as did the sad song of the flute.
Settling his hands on her shoulders, David turned Lea to a solitary window, where together, they looked out on shore to see the lone songbird piping his flute. The song was drifting across the bay and into the night.
It was a song that prompted Lea to tell David, in halting words, that she was engaged and getting married in three months.
“Oh,” he said, and nothing more for the longest time.
Finally, he murmured in words that trailed the sadness of his voice, “And I thought that you came to Saigon to claim me for your very own.”
Lea choked on the tears in her throat. “Like you have ever belonged to me.”
When he drew her close to him, she was filled with wonderment. ’They are still there: so many feelings I thought were gone or fading.‘
Lifting Lea’s chin, he looked into her face. That is what she most dreaded ... for there were words that she needed to say to him, and there was such intensity in his face that she feared it would burn off her words.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“My engagement to Jay.”
The hurt in his face buckled her knees. She held on to him for the sheer courage that it
took for her to continue. She was drawn like a magnet to his eyes, and when she looked into their depths she saw timelessness.
‘But timelessness to what,’ she wondered. ‘My feelings for him, his feelings for me? Timelessness seen, or felt in this wanderer? Wrapped in mystery he is, with few connections that could clear up the mysteries. And yet he is like a tree with the timeless roots that are holding the two of us to yesterday. Even now, yesterday is the place where we are lost and flogging about.’
“I will tell you about him; how we met and what he is like,“ she murmured in a kind of
“Yes, Jay; the man that I am engaged to marry.”
In response, he pulled her close and kissed her.
She felt herself sinking. ’If I don’t put the brakes on, I greatly fear I will again fall into the abyss of loving David. Who is this man whose arms I am wrapped in? I didn’t know then; I don’t know now.’
With a mighty effort, she pushed herself away from him, even as she looked into his face with tear-filled eyes. “What am I to you? What was I ever, David? At best, I am an abstract yearning.”
She added weakly. “There is nothing substantial in abstract yearning.”
He smiled a far-away smile and pulled her back to him. “It is ok, Lea. I am holding you, not because I want to keep you from happiness and fulfillment with Robin.”
“Oh yes, Jay.” Together, they laughed with tender sadness.
“I am holding you to savor the touch of you; soft and dewy to carry with me when I am humping trail in the badlands. And if you keep talking, you will give me your raspy voice to take along, too.”
The tears that he was holding in his throat broke loose. “I was afraid I would cry,” he said raggedly.
“And I was afraid you wouldn’t.”
They cried together the inexplicable tears of solid promises, they unknowingly were making.
He lifted her face and it was his eyes that pulled Lea into him. He ran his fingers around her face: David’s way of mapping her. “If you keep crying, I will know that you didn’t let go of me easily.”
“And how difficult will it be for you to let go of me?”
He was dumbfounded: so much so that it was a while before he spoke. “Why honey, I will never know. I plan on keeping you with me until my days and nights are used up.”
Used up his time; Lea’s time. Unfathomable! What seemed like forever away to them then, was but a blip in eternity, as were they. They were about to travel to their tomorrows thinking and hoping that what the two of them had yesterday, they would have tomorrow too, but with someone else.
'This time maybe,’ they would tell themselves over and again; they had to in order to move on. Until they came to realize that it was only the two of them --- then.
Ages and wisdoms afterwards it would be before they could accept, and know, with a sweet sadness, that what the two of them once had would never come again.
© Susan Dale November 2012
Susan’s poems and fiction are on Eastown Fiction, Tryst 3, Word Salad, Pens On Fire, Ken *Again, Hackwriters, and Penwood Review. In 2007, she won the grand prize for poetry from Oneswan.
Journey To the Mountain
David headed off in the direction of the sacred mountain. Winds were picking up speed to scatter the fog into mists and beam frail rays into the horizon. Soon into his journey, the mists parted to an abandoned castle that once housed Asian nobles.
Sands Sifting Into Infinity
Sands upon sands stretched out before David, even as something inside of him was sounding warnings. ‘These sands stretch out as far as the eye can see, and beyond that. I can’t see the end of them.