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The International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Captive Love

The gift of tears
Jeannine Pitas

She kept them in her eye. There were a few of them, six who stayed always, about eleven who came and went. But most stayed right there, and no matter what she did or where she went, she saw them- sometimes talking among themselves, sometimes drinking a glass of beer or wine, sometimes looking at her. She needed them there; she could not function without them, without knowing that they were there looking at her and needing her in return…

Every so often they could not take it anymore; every so often one of them tried to plan an escape. Soon, they found that if they knocked hard enough on her cornea’s door she’d begin to cry, and one by one they fell, riding to earth on her tears. But, there was one who never fell. She had met him when she was twenty, and he was her first real love. After he’d finished his studies and moved across the country to work they’d corresponded with the vague idea of meeting again some day, but then he’d begun to write less and less often, to say less and less in his letters, to no longer use the word love.
That was when she decided to go and find him. She saved her money, took a train across the country, and showed up on his doorstep. He stared at her in astonishment and before he could even say a word, she snatched him up and placed him in her eye, just as she would later do with all who were to come. There he stayed, plastered to a thick white wall until at last he could not take it anymore, and with the others he hatched a plan. One night, when she was almost falling asleep, he instructed them all to form a line against the door, and then, in one mighty effort, they began to push and shove, to demand that the door be opened and their imprisonment brought to an end.
Jerked awake suddenly, she did not know what had happened, but all of it was there before her. The moment when she’d met each of them. The kisses and caresses, the long lazy mornings and luminous nights, and then the cracking-sometimes a sudden split, an eggshell shattered against the side of a bowl, sometimes a slow, gradual rupture of a mountain slowly growing in between. Remembering the rejections, the disappointment and lost hopes, she sat up in bed and started to cry, sobbing more profusely than she had in years, more intensely than she had in all her life. So consumed with grief was she that she did not even notice that in each of the thick, fleshy tears a lost love was escaping, this time not to return. For after some hours she cried herself to sleep, and on awakening the next morning she touched her eye to find that all of them- even the first and most precious - were long gone.
From then on, she was left with the curse. Tears are meant for catharsis and cleansing…not for stasis and captivity. Because she had abused the gift of tears, now they would be denied her. Sadness came; darkness came; hollowness and heaviness consumed her. But now, all she could do was stare at the dried-up lake around her, lamenting not only the loss of her companions in sorrow, but the tiny waves that had swept them away from her for good.

© Jeannine Pitas February 2009
jumpingjitterbug at

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