She left without fanfare or fighting or pleading or any other type of action that could signify a hesitation or a hidden desire to stay. It was an exit of surrender. Surrender to the unutterable realization that he had fallen into and been swallowed by that slough of despond wherein once one has fallen no words or actions may dissolve those ties that bind one to the world which one creates.
She left at the dawn’s breaking on the first day of spring last year. And on that morning, he drank his coffee and paid some bills and wiped away a tear and went to work.
A sharp pebble pushed up into the sole of his shoe and shook him from his memory. Some soles aren’t meant for wild places, he thought and laughed at the thought of himself tromping through the woods along the river in his thin business shoes and pants and button down shirt now spotted on the chest and armpits from sweat and toil.
He laughed at the thought of a person ill-suited to survive in the world. The thought of a person who is only suited for that world created and fabricated and secured from the wildness inherent in all things. The wild that pushes from beneath the surface and behind the walls.
He stopped walking and listened as the river and the rocks talked among themselves. The high pitched rush of water pushed between two boulders and jettisoned out with a baritone sploosh into the churning pool. He marveled at the life in, around, and of the water. A few trout. A crawdad. A salamander And on top of a smooth and moss covered boulder on the shore opposite lay a sunning snake stretched out in a broad lazy arch.
Thirsty, he walked up toward the the mountain. He found a natural stream and laid down with his back upon a smooth stone above which the water rolled off and fell in solitary statements. And these statements showered upon him in droplets cold and pure and he opened his mouth and quenched his thirst and drank still more. He used his hands to wash his face and wet his hair. He rolled over and sat on his knees and bowed his head as the water poured over him.
You lost your soul, she had said once. I have too. Our world is a world of rubble. Bits and pieces. Scraps and remnants lashed together. We treat it like its the purpose and end. The scraps. But they aren’t. We live in a time of great dying. Long dying scared folks trapped beneath rubble and praying for still more rubble that they may never have to question the rubble nor that which lies beyond. Our species is of the dirt and hellbound and determined to forget that the dirt is that from which we have come and that to which we shall go. There is a revulsion to the earth and to each other in a quest to be more than what we are.
What are we then, he asked.
We’re animals, she answered. No more. No less. It’s not a bad thing to be.
Maybe not, he said, maybe not. And he sighed the sigh of a man resigned to his toil.
Her clouded eyes looked through him as she spoke. Maybe one day you’ll see that that which you hold is no more than waste. On that day you’ll find yourself taken by a yearning to put down the load which you carry and on that day you will either continue on as a slave to those illusions of the world or you yourself will break free and redefine unto yourself that which is. Maybe on that day you will remember these words and you will remember that there are more choices than this or that.
He shook his head beneath the falling water of the mountain stream. Maybe you were right about a few things, he thought. And from beneath the weight of that memory a primal yell welled from within and reached toward the tops of the trees and the top of the mountain and to the clouds and sky and unfathomable space beyond. I am here, he shouted!