Bridgett List 9/14/12
Somewhere at the Bottom of the River
"I think I saw you in my sleep..."
A man sitting alone at a table lifts his head from the small puddle of alcohol and his own spit. He looks around at the spinning room and groans.
"Stitching up the seams..."
His head falls back to the table with an audible thunk, and he passes out again.
"There are ghosts in the walls and they crawl in your head through your ear."
He remembers her hands; they were always so cold, and so small. He could never understand how someone could have such small hands, but she did and he loved her for it even more.
He also remembers how she got sick. It was a painful memory, one he usually tried to bury. It was a car accident. She had been in the car with her friend; they were driving to meet him and another friend at a restaurant. Suddenly, a drunk driver came charging at them head on. He died immediately. The two girls were both in critical condition. He had received a call from her mother, who was frantically crying. The doctors said they were sure she'd be dead by the end of the week. When he went to visit her, she laid unresponsive in a hospital bed. Her parents and younger brother stood around her bed. That day had been a hazy one. He usually tried to forget it. He usually tried to forget her.
It took him two years. Two years to 'move on'. The first year, he turned to alcohol to forget the painful memories. The second year a friend begged him to get help. After much consideration, he did.
All was going well again. He had a new job, in a new town. He made new friends and essentially rebuilt himself, and his life. The day he finally found himself at peace, without a deadly, plaguing thought of her, was the day he looked to the sky and said,
"Then again, maybe you were right."
She was right, there were plenty of people out there for him and she always made sure he knew it. It used to scare him when she would say that nothing lasts. Almost as if she knew she wouldn't be with him long.
But that didn't matter anymore, and things were good.
Yes, things were good, until he met her.
Andria Alexis Wright. She was a sight for sore eyes. She was tall and muscled, with dark brown hair, and eyes to match. Tan skin, natural because of her Hispanic background. When she talked, you listened. Yes she was something. He was hooked right from the very start.
Their first date had been a disaster.
"Boy, come kiss my mouth, I'll set you free. You know that hope you're holding to? It looks an awful lot like fear."
They went to a small dinner, late at night and had coffee and pancakes. They talked and talked through the night. Then they went to a park to watch the sun rise. When he looked over at her, to lean in and kiss her, he saw it. This woman before him looked a lot like the woman in his past. It terrified him. She had noticed his pause, and it made her uneasy.
"You had your chance, boy, I tried."
At that, he looked her in the eyes, and he laughed. He forced his fear back.
"My girl, you must understand that fear is not some product that I made. It crept unwelcome in my head the day they had her torn away. "
She said nothing, only waited for him to continue.
"What I offer to you, darling, is all that I can. Me and my damaged goods. I'll give it my best but my best may not be what you want. But I'll still offer you my all."
Then he leaned in to kiss her. It was sweet and quick, but it was enough for the both of them. They made plans to see each other again.
They saw each other countless times. They fell in love.
"But the wind picked up..."
The man woke again, his head snapping up. He shakily reached out to grab his bottle, still half full. It was empty in seconds. He pushed himself up to stand, and awkwardly made his way to the living room. He sunk down into the sofa. His shaking hands grabbed the remote and he clicked on the small TV that stood in a dark corner of the room. He rubbed his hands over his eyes, as if it would rub away his pounding head. Or maybe the memories that resurfaced every time he tried to push them deeper.
It was late. He could hear the old couple next door shouting at each other again. He wished they'd just leave each other. He couldn't stand them and their fighting at all hours of the night. He told himself that it was because it kept him up at night but deep down he knew why it really bothered him.
It bothered him because it reminded him of how things had been with Andria.
He tried to stop himself from falling into another slumber filled with memories of her, but he couldn't help himself and before he knew it, he was asleep again.
"So tell me, what is there to fear..."
The good times had turned rough. They had an impromptu wedding, and tried to settle down and start a family. But money was tight and they were both restless.
The turning point had been when they found out they were to be parents. Neither of them were ready for a baby, so they argued. They fought and screamed at each other countless times throughout the night.
When they found out they lost the baby, they stopped fighting. They stopped everything. They were both broken, and nothing they did would fix them.
"And besides, there's so much beauty in a storm..."
Eventually, they began to wake up from the nightmare they had previously been in. Times were still tough, but they managed to share a small smile every now and then.
The problem was, when things fall down, they have a tendency to fall down and never get back up again.
The two tried to work it out; they loved each other after all. The wave was just too strong for them; it swept them both out to sea.
They began to argue again, this time more maliciously than ever before. They blamed and they said things they never meant. They were stubborn and still quite young. They turned away from each other to find comfort in places married couples shouldn't.
He stayed late at work and drank and when he was at home he drank and when he was out with his friends he drank. He often wore his wedding band one the right hand.
When she wasn't out with her friends, she was at home, or at the church. Crying, usually. She went out with her girl friends and meet plenty of men to keep her occupied and buy her things. She also wore her wedding ring on the right hand.
"What is life without a purpose? What is purpose without love?"
Things went on like this for weeks, months even. Until one day, they both found themselves at home.
For a while, it was silent. So quiet that he thought he could cut the silence with a butter knife. He considered grabbing a knife from the kitchen and trying it.
She was the first to speak,
"I have washed my hands a thousand times but still can see the blood."
Tears were already forming in her eyes. He stood, quiet and emotionless. She went on.
"Lover, come and hold me, I am terribly afraid. While you're shouting at the stars, my scars are not fading away."
He stayed where he was, hands clenched. He couldn't bring himself to move. He knew they had both been wrapped up in this sin, and he didn't know if either of them could fix it. He wouldn't let himself think of what could happen.
She was crying now, and for a second he wondered if she might flood their house.
Their house. That shook him. It was theirs. Since they had bought it, they never once acted like it was their home. They hadn't bothered to paint the living room, so it stayed an ugly shade of green. The carpets were brown and often reminded him of the dead leaves on the ground during fall. There was only a TV, a small love seat and a recliner in the room. It was devoid of any pictures, or decorations of any kind.
Looking at it now, it made him feel something. A longing for the life they had both wanted before they married. He looked up at his wife, still crying with her hands pulling on the ends of her hair. He finally stood and reached out for her. He pulled her into his arms and let her cry. He even cried himself. Neither spoke a word. It was almost as if each were whispering sad prayers for guilty bodies to the other. Begging for forgiveness.
At that moment, things were looking up. The sky outside was still a sad, almost sickly looking gray color.
His last thought that day, was of the sky. He wondered if, had he been a character in a story, the way the sky looked then was a foreshadow of their life to come. He hugged his wife to him again and shook his head.
No, you cannot cut silence with a butter knife.
No, you cannot flood a house with tears.
No, you cannot rely on the color of the sky to tell the future.
He tried to be convinced that the outlook for their life together was good, but he remained unconvinced.
He woke again, gasping as he choked on the past. This time as he looked around, the room no longer spun. His head had stopped pounding, and his thoughts were just a little more clear.
He didn't like it that way. He stood up, and slowly dragged himself back to the kitchen. He rummaged through the cabinets until he found a bottle that wasn't empty. He brought it with him to the living room and again sunk into the sofa. He downed a third of the bottle immediately. For a while he watched the infomercials that played late at night, but he began to become bored and restless. He stood up and walked back into the kitchen. Then back into the living room. Then back again. Finally, he grabbed his bottle and walked into his bedroom, drinking another third of it on the way.
He falls back onto the bed, spilling on himself. He closes his eyes and tries to shut everything out, hoping to actually get some sleep.
"Always always always always always always always is valueless..."
Things had just started to get back to normal, when they shattered again. He hadn't meant to snoop, he was just cleaning up their bedroom. He was picking up her skirt when a folded piece of paper fell out of the pocket. Curious, he opened it.
"I had such a wonderful time last night; I was hoping we could do it again? Maybe around 11, next Saturday. We can meet at the dinner and go from there."
That's all it said, but he knew. He knew she was sleeping around again. Or maybe she never stopped, he didn't know. He didn't want to know, he already felt sick to his stomach. Today was Saturday.
Things had been going good, they had more money in their pockets, living comfortably enough to begin trying to really start a family.
Things can't just fall apart like they were, he wouldn't let them.
He quickly left the house, headed to the dinner he hoped they'd be at. It was her favorite, the one they went to on their first date.
It was kind of sick, he thought, that she'd be with another man there.
He arrived soon enough, and immediately spotted them. She was laughing and smiling in a way he hadn't seen her laugh or smile, for quite some time. The man with her was unfamiliar to him. Without hesitation he headed straight for them.
"How could you?"
He hadn't meant to sound so cliché, but that was the first thing he could think of to say to her. They had been working to fix things and then this.
She gasped, surprised to see her husband in the same room as her lover. This mysterious man was the first to speak.
"I'm sorry mate, but if you're going to cause us trouble, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
The audacity! No man would speak to him this way, especially no man sleeping with his wife.
Before he could say or do anything, she spoke up.
That was it. Only a sorry and a pleading look. Was she asking him to leave? He shook his head, and directed his attention at the man.
"I have half a mind to make you hurt, to make you bleed, to make you suffer."
He gestured towards his wife's left hand, and whispered.
"Now, when you saw you're lover wore a ring around her finger, why didn't you stop?"
That was all he could manage to get out before collapsing onto his knees in front of the two.
The man, who was not sympathetic in the least, only glanced at the woman next to him, and said.
"I guess this is one of those new storms for old lovers, huh?"
When there was no response from either, he laughed.
"I guess love's a funny thing, the way it fades away without a warning. It doesn't ask to be excused.
And when it's gone, oh it's goneand it ain't ever comin' back. There is nothing you can do to save it, to make it breathe the way it did when you were sliding on the ring. Trust me: It's gone for good.
Now there is nothing you can do to stop me. She is happy when she is with me and I am finally alive. I'm sorry."
He then stood and held out a hand for the woman next to him. She looked at her husband, tears running down her face. She then looked at her left hand, at the mark from the ring that she normally wore there. She removed the ring from her right hand and stood. She placed the ring in front of the man, and stood there silently, awkwardly, unsure of what to do.
"And when it's gone, oh it's goneand it ain't ever comin' back."
The man looked at his wife, the woman he loved even through the toughest times, and didn't recognize her. He didn't see his wife there any longer. He now saw a beautiful woman, a stranger.
The stranger left without a word.
The man stayed where he was, on his knees in front of a table at a dinner. He stayed there for hours, silent. Finally, he picked up the ring on the floor in front of him and left.
"Trust me: It's gone for good."
He jolted awake again, and muttered a curse. He was tired, and wanted some sleep. He grabbed the bottle and drank what was left of it, hoping it would help him sleep some more. He pushed himself off the bed and ambled to the living room. He stood there for a moment, relishing in the quiet. The couple next door must have gone to bed as well. He rubbed his eyes for a moment and glanced at the clock.
3:56 in the morning.
He sighed and rubbed his eyes again. He happened to spot the picture frame that he had knocked to the floor the other day. It was taken on their wedding day. They were both smiling brightly and dressed in their best. They hadn't bothered to have a big celebration; neither of them were into that kind of thing. Instead, she dressed up in a mint green dress, and he in a white shirt with a tie. He grabbed the picture frame and sunk back into the sofa. Immediately he slept.
"How can you doubt a love that stood so proud..."
He tried to get her back. He called and he left voicemails and once he went to where she was staying. He had tried. He just couldn't get back what wouldn't come willingly.
He turned to alcohol, like he always had.
He reached a new low. He never left his house, unless it was to get more alcohol, or groceries. He never called up his friends and asked how they were, or if they wanted to grab a drink or see a movie. He shut himself away from everyone.
"Hear me, the promise that you made was meant to live forever. Until our deathbed, you're not allowed to change your mind..."
He was going broke, not much to live by anymore. He hadn't been to work in over a year. He figured he didn't have a job there anymore, anyways.
"I failed you dear, I'm sorry, oh I'm sorry..."
He spent most of his days sleeping, drinking and wallowing. He gave up on himself. He lost weight, became a sick pale color. His eyes always had bags under them and his lips usually bled from his constant biting them. He was nothing anymore.
"Some love just fails without reason..."
He knew he should try to get back on his feet again, but a year of isolation and self pity made him fearful of it. He wasn't ready to try again yet. So he continued to wallow.
"There is nothing you can do..."
He snapped in and out of consciousness. It was then, as he lay in his sofa at 4:00 a.m., that he sang his last blues for bloody knuckles.
It was then that he finally allowed himself to begin to pick up the pieces of himself and move on.
"Oh, precious distance. Oh, precious pain. You've given me a name..."
When he awoke again, he saw that it was past noon. He had finally slept without waking up from those awful memories. He saw this as a good thing and decided it was finally time.
He stood up and headed for the bathroom. He showered and dressed quickly. Then he began to clean the house. There wasn't much to clean but it gave him a sense of accomplishment. It built him up towards being himself again. For the first time in a year, he went outside and enjoyed being alive. He laughed and smiled and went to his old job and made his apologies and left. He visited his family and caught up on what had gone on in his year long absence. Then he caught up with his friends.
"'Rise!" Said the King to the River,
"Never let up! No, bring us a flood and bring it hard!'"
He was fixing himself. He knew that the only way he could truly move on was to talk to her. He wasn't honestly sure, but he made up his mind that he would do it so he did.
It took him a while, but finally he managed to contact her. She had married again, the man she had been with at the dinner. They had a child together, and they were happy. She agreed to meet him, because she had heard about the state he was in.
They met at a park, and she brought with her, her boy. He was almost a year old. They chatted for a while, awkward stiff conversations. Finally, they managed to work past it and get comfortable with each other. That had never been hard for the two. When the subject turned to what had happened, she apologized. It didn't make him feel any better, but it was a start. He wanted to ask her to stop being silly and come back to him, but he knew she wouldn't. So he accepted her apology and it was done.
"This place is not your home, nor was it ever, sever every tie..."
When they said their goodbyes, he knew it would be the last time he would see her. He thought it would be a good thing, to leave. Just before he left, he hugged her one last time, and whispered into her hair,
"If I can't love you as a lover, I will love you as a friend."
And he left. He didn't turn back, either. He walked away from her and walked away from what had been plaguing him for the past year. He had finally moved on. Things were starting to get normal where he now lived. He had a small, two bedroom house with a dog. He had a new job and he made new friends, and still kept in touch with his family and friends. He was happy again. He was at work one day when a coworker appeared at his desk with a letter. She said it was at the front desk when she got in, nothing but his name on the front. His eyebrows furrowed in confusion as he tried to recall who might send him a letter. He couldn't think of anyone, so he opened it. He knew immediately who it was from. All it said was,
"Today I'm not afraid of failure. The past is a flower. The future, the snow..."
"You tricked me. You came back and you brought floods. Wearing a necklace made of hearts that you'd dragged through the mud. And I guess I wasn't quite sure what to say to you..."
"We cast our hearts in plaster; we imagined our bodies were fashioned of stone. But they chipped at the brick and mortar; we found out that we're only layers of skin hiding bones..."
"I'll lay your bones into the earth and you will haunt my head no more..."
"Bury your flame."
He didn't need to bury anything, though. He had finally found peace. He moved on. He knew then, that he would be okay. He knew then, that he never needed to tie himself so tightly to another. Life is temporary and shaky, but if he could be strong in himself, he could handle anything. He could handle the floods. Right then, he knew that nobody, not even the rain could tear him down.
So he went out with that girl his friends had tried to set him up with. He bought that car he had wanted for a while. He did what he could to be happy, and be confident in himself because what else was there?
"I know that even with the seams stitched tightly, darling scars will remain."
He knew the scars would always be there, but he was okay with that. They were a reminder of everything he had endured in the past. They were a reminder that nothing is forever, not even life. So he had no need to get stuck in the past or hide from the future.
He was okay. He would always be okay. He wanted everyone to know they'd be okay.
Life was meant to be lived and he meant to live it.
"Our hearts still beat the same..."
Sooooo I had to write a short story for my creative writing class and this is what I came up with whoop. We had to include ten song titles and I thought, hey, why not base it off a whole album. So I used La Dispute's Somewhere At the Bottom on the River Between Vega and Altair. All the italicized quotes are parts from their songs and if you don't know them, I hightly suggest you go listen to the right now!
So yea that's it...I hope everything turned out ok format wise I'm too lazy to go through and edit this whoomp. Sorry. Much love3