Thursday, December 14, 2006

I will deliver. You know I'm a forgiver.

My phone just rang.

Hello?

Hello, I just called to remind you that people are psychotic and you should be careful at all times.

Okay.

And I hate them.

Haha, okay. Are you okay?

Yes.

Okbye.

********

I walk to the park to have another conversation with myself, but I'm not there. All around me are children, young couples pushing prams, younger couples holding hands, runners pushing themselves further toward...whatever they're running toward. None of these things interest me, instead I take the time to listen to the sighing of the trees, to watch them lean toward each other in the wind, leaves and branches gently caressing their neighbour, whispering tree secrets to each other. There are ducks in the pond, I like watching them. And beside the water, on a seat, is a withered old man, staring straight ahead, his hands on his lap. I can't tell whether he is happy or sad, he looks so still. Though his eyes are bright and wide open and unmoving. I look 360 degrees, one last time in case I see myself. But I don't, so I turn my back on everything and walk away.

The next day I return and again I am not there. I must be busy, though I can't imagine what I am doing. A song I like hits my iPod and I turn it up and lie back in the dried grass and watch the clouds form strange dreams above me. Each time the chorus hits I throw my arms wide open and form grass angel indentations. I feel alive. Though this stomach has not let up for six months now. The song ends and I do a single sit up and cross my legs as I observe the park. The old man is there again, just as still. I think, is that me? But I know it is not. I take the headphones out and let the morning bird chatter soundtrack me instead. It's good to be in the green, it's good to feel your feet in the earth, to reach beside you and dig your fingernails into the dirt. Later that night, someone will look at my nails and say, that's disgusting! Don't you ever clean your nails? and I will try to explain that I do, but I needed to feel the soil stain tarnish of terra firma, and I needed it inside me.

On the third day I am walking faster toward the park for I need to know if the old man still sits there. I have no idea how I came to be so prepossessed, but the compulsion drives me nonetheless. I stride and scamper through the traffic haunted by thoughts. I need him to be there and I don't know why. My fear is that he is gone and I won't understand. My fear is that I won't understand.

They prove unfounded for rounding the bend and eyeing the trees I see him. Unmoved and still staring and even the ducks are unafraid for they form a semi circle around his feet. His hands remain on his lap, his eyes seem to stare straight at me, though his posture is unaltered. I don't know why but I walk directly toward him. The birds are still, the trees are mute and there is not a person in sight.

Hello, I say. Do you mind if I sit here?

He does not reply, simply stares. I do not register a blink.

I sit. The ducks scarry away, over the edge and into the pond and create tiny ripples as they skim across the glass water.

I couldn't help but notice you sitting here these last few days. Is this your favourite place? It is mine. I often come here to talk to myself and let nature cast her perspective over me.

No response.

You see, I say and I'm leaning forward now my hands gripping each other long lost brothers in a tight embrace. You see, everyday I wake up and I seem to have a lot to think about, but perhaps I think too much and really each day I should just wake up and be and take action and move and run and create and talk but instead I find myself sitting in this park, much as yourself, and I listen to the trees and I try to hear the answer and...

My life story is spilling from me now. Words tumble and fly from my clumsy mouth as I spit and contort in some sort of self cleansing ritual to this silent old man. I feel tears waterfall down my cheeks, I feel heat and passion burn in my gut and anger rise in my throat as tale by tale I confess my sins. And I don't know why.

When I am done I turn to face him and he remains frozen. Staring ahead.

The park is silent now.

Are you okay? I ask.

Mister?

Are you okay?

I don't even think, but my hand reaches out for his shoulder and I stare into his bright green eyes and just as I make contact with him, he gently, slowly, leans away from me. Then topples off the chair and falls to the grass.

It's then that I notice the smell.

When the ambulance arrives they ask me questions. Did I know him? How long had he been there? Name, address, did I have any details whatsoever?

I answer blankly, but I am shaken. I could've sworn he was alive. I could've sworn he was listening. This old man, the vessel of my confessions, who listened silently, then took them all to the grave. My own personal Jesus.

********

The feeling comes slowly in the morning then burns bright through the afternoon before dulling to a gentle ache each and every single night. Yesterday was the first time I'd noticed that it had actually been there for a long, long time. Does everyone live like this? How come I carry this around? No wonder I'm always writing and drinking and trying to escape. When will it go away?

Motherfucker!

I have no more news on my escape but the fire for it intensifies each damn day.

2 comments: