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ralph
October 12th, 2010, 09:13 PM
It begins with me breaking your heart and ends at the wishing well.

We were travelling home from the coast, after a weekend of enforced fun to patch up some unspoken hurt. A few days by the sea, watching the sun set from the pier and sleeping in a shabby hotel room, to let us pretend to start over again. Now water returns to earth, back to our house by the woods, no ocean in sight. I have the sense it had been dark for some time as you drove us home, but that may not be true. Many things seem to be eluding me now, trying to recall the memory is like trying to grasp a sound or voice a colour. I listen to the sound of the tyres rolling over tarmac, a hypnotic purgatory of being in between destinations, between home and some removed place. The eeriness of night travel.

The radio is barely loud enough to decipher any message, a low chatter like voices in another room. You are sitting next to me but I feel alone, entombed in myself, and unable to reach out to you. We travel without speaking. I watch the road lit by the headlights. Itís not that we have argued, there is just nothing I wish to say, nor you to me. Something seems final, resolved one way or another, but neither one of us wants to speak it aloud.

And then I see it, dashing across the beam of the headlight as if towards us. Something feral, something of fur and claw, and then gone again like a snapshot of time. In the same instant I hear the thud of tyre over something, we both do, as if waking from a dream. We are united for a moment in a different silence. 'It was a fox', you say. This somehow seems worse than a rabbit or a bird, the larger the beast the more human the attributes. You say we were lucky it was so swift, any slower and you would have had time to react and swerve. We might be dead if you had. So in the end it was him and not us. This is all that seems to matter now, the difference between being dead or not dead.
We arrive home late and go to sleep in our cold bed without touching.

We check the car for evidence in the morning like a guilty party. Is the blood on our hands to be seen? There is no trace on the car, no gruesome discovery, no proof that the animal had existed or ceased to exist. I take selfish comfort, however inaccurately, that it must have a been a mercifully quick death. I meet your eye, conspiratorial. We kiss goodbye and part company for the day on our separate routes to work. I walk over the bridge and avert my eyes from the strangers. I look out and over the water. It is grey-greenish today and flowing fast. The geese are poised statuesque at the edge, regal and still.

I think of the fox from time to time over the coming weeks. I do this at strange moments, when doing the washing up, at my desk at work and over a drink with a friend. As we sit in a bar I watch her crimson, glossed lips moving and all I can think of is death. I feel tainted by a crime, I feel an empty sense of loss, perhaps because it doesn't matter. In scheme of things it just doesn't matter. It's just another incident without visible consequence. I wonder how long it stayed there, on the road. I picture the fox twisted and broken, and wonder by what macabre means nature cleaned up the mess we made. A morbid omen to fit the nameless thing already inside of me.

I doubt that you have given it a second thought, yet I cannot shake this insane haunting. To you things just happen. To me everything means something else.

I begin to disconnect myself from things, from my work responsibilities, from my friends. I watch myself turning inward as if from a distance, like a ghost watching my former, dying self. I let the telephone ring out, I draw the curtains early and do not answer the door. You question me when I do these things but I cannot give an answer that sounds plausible to either of us.

I begin to say and do things that I can't undo. I wound you on purpose because it makes me feel raw and alive. Yet this sensation too fades away. I do these things simply because I am capable of it, my body is capable of it and my head is empty. I betray you with my body because it is inevitable. That's what I do, I break your heart because you love me. I give my body to men who do not deserve it, I do it at night because the darkness seems like a different realm, one where the daylight rules hold no sway.

Sometimes our actions cause ripples, sometimes tsunamis, and sometimes nothing but dead calm. But under the surface I wear you down with my treachery to a smooth and featureless pebble, a faceless object no longer bound to me, no friction to grasp you with. We spend time together, we watch television, we go for dinner, we sleep together. I hold you close to my skin but I feel like I am in mourning for you, for us. I feel like I have glimpsed the end and all else is shadow.

I begin to sleep in the day, and go out at night without you. I go out with my single friends under the pretence of something else; itís someoneís birthday, itís someoneís leaving do, itís a work thing. And while the noise in the club is raging around me I feel a stillness, a disconnection of body and mind, and I will leave with someone who I know I should not. In the morning I tell myself it was the drink, it was the other man pursuing me, it happened to me and not because of me. But it was I who pursued it. In my mind it had already happened, it was done before it began.

The day you found out I remember heat and shouting. I had not come home the night before, nor bothered to hide my tracks this time. I am too tired and too cold for this duplicity. I can see you have been crying and I soften to you. But too late. There is a burning through of words like razors. I feel anger in my blood like a chemical, a survival instinct, raging until it's all used up. An atomic equation with no remainder. Our relationship is reduced to catalysts, fire and dust.

I turn my back on you and walk out of the house but I know you will see through the kitchen window which way I go. I want you to see me. Because I want you to find me, to fix me and to bring me back from the brink. I feel present in the world again now that my sins have been spoken aloud. I want you to make me new, make me something other, something purged.

Only this time you don't follow me. Youíve followed me too many times before, and to no end. You would have followed me forever if I had only deserved it. I have rendered you inert. By the time I reach the well at the end of the lane I know this. Once I was out of sight of the house I had slowed down to allow you to catch me without my acknowledgment of surrender. It is amazing what we can convince ourselves of, if only for the briefest journey. But once I reach the well there is too much distance between us, no gravity to pull you back to me. That fragile thing is lost. The deeds are done and I cannot come home, not now. You saw through me, to my base elements and the only feeling that returns to my flesh now is shame.

The wind breathes a sigh through the trees above. I stand and wonder at the depth of the well, resting my hot palms on its cool stone sides. I do not feel vertigo but relief at the stillness of water in darkness, knowing that something greater lay dormant there. I wonder if I threw my body in how long my bones would lay there, how long until I became the same as the water. I want peace now, not resurrection.

I pull the ring from my finger to set you free. I watch as it drops into the well, the ring you gave me, blinked into darkness and out of existence. There is no sound of inky water to signal the end of the drop. It must still be falling now.

That ring was my coin, my currency. It was my wish that you'd save me. But we only wish for things we can't make true. Such things are beyond our capacity to earn.

namesake
October 15th, 2010, 12:23 AM
I think that the first line is strong it lured me in. Also this has prose which is a good thing. You are skilled. But this seems to read like a stream of conciousness, first person. I cannot say I know how fresh and unique this can be. But that would be a good start if you ever get it published. Originality comes in small amounts. Try making it original by adding a twist, a reimagining. I am thinking this has the precise wording that seems to tell us what we want to know. It is short, and there seems to be shock at the end. Secrets are one way. Anyways I noticed the emotional states, as a item of the checklist you could vary them, and make this in that way a more original epiphany. Symbols, well the coin was a masterful symbol, you didnt explain why but you state it. Could use more background that just the ending. In what more ways was the marraige like a coin? How about flashbacks and past history. It can be useful.