24 May 2005

Death in the park

The lunchtime park was glittering and heavy with the sweet scent of mown grass. Office men and women smiled and flirted over rolls and coffee under the open arms of spring oaks. She neither saw the trees nor felt the sunshine. The bench slats pressed into her spine like a surgeon’s knife. Today was like every other yet unlike any other. He had let himself out in the night.

Her larynx was hard and brittle. She made no sound as tear rolled after tear. A jet twinkled overhead, a tiny silver bullet streaking lives across the blue void. She stood up stiffly and walked. Dire Straits spilled from an open-top Mercedes, queued at the lights. ‘... do the walk of life..’

Their love was the first and last. His fingers learned a tender touch on her skin, never practiced before, born only for and because of her. They slept and awoke, laughed and wept in harmony. He held her the way she needed. He knew without asking.

Even last evening he said he was happy. “Are you sure you’re happy?” She had probed for the hundredth time, her eyes racing across his face looking for a flinch or tell-tale frown. One hundred times she had asked since he walked in on her and out on his wife. Had he lied? He can't have been lying, because we knew unspoken thoughts, sick fear pounded in her head. His last sentence had included ‘cherish.’

For six weeks he had folded his clothes on the floor and kept his toothbrush in his pocket. Every day he had cleaned the bathroom to erase traces of his presence. He wiped his reflection from the mirror. His fleeting possessions had hovered over surfaces and were gone now. This was the morning he had vanished.

Too intense to persist. This supernova of passion, fusing flesh and soul had scorched everyone around them. Now the cataclysm had engulfed them too. The baking pavement radiated white heat and she whispered, “I’m breathing mercury.” Pavement cracks offered the only reason for her steps. Her limbs were pointless now. She implored a stranger, “Help me, I can’t get any air in.” No answer came.

In twenty years she might wake from this horror and the park will be empty, unless in her sleep she forgets to breath...

“Maybe you're the same as me
We see things they'll never see
You and I are gonna live forever.”
Oasis - Live Forever


doughgirl said...


its a good thing you color code, becuase it's often hard to tell the difference between what's real and what's not in your posts. You do a great job of writing and explaining what you see, think and feel.

My heart aches

Jen said...

The little deaths we encounter and hardly get over. Sigh.

transience said...

pointless limbs. that is a perfect expression for her desperate helplessness. i felt it in every word.

Wardo said...

I like the colour-codes too, they are a good idea.

This, and the usual insertion of a music reference. It's like a trademark of yours. And the words of the song may not mean very much, but if you know the tune in your head, you can immediately imagine the scene.

So many times, I have seen moments like this on a bench. In a park, in a mall, in a bus station.


Perfect Virgo said...

DG - Ahh, the colour code! Yes I chose to indicate this was prose but I think you are smart and you will have considered how the line between fact and fiction can become very blurred. If your heart aches then I hope that is how 'she' probably felt.

Jen - the weight of all those little deaths add up to a heavy burden. You never get fully over them, even after two decades.

Transience - my yellow to indicate prose seemed more appropriate. It was easier for me to think of this as fiction because I am guessing at her emotional response. I don't know how she felt, I never asked or looked back. If you felt the helplessness then that is surely what she felt. I was cripppled.

Argus - the colour code system helps me compartmentalise things. Occasionally even when these stories are routed in real life I choose to write them as fiction because it's easier to deal with the memories. Sorry if that confuses but I'm sure you'll spot the real from the fake!

Music is my life. I love to recall relevant lyrics. This time I just wanted the word 'forever.'

These scenes are killers whether you are involved or not. Weeping in public is the final straw.

Dionysius said...

So very fine as always PV. Note my new screen name.

In 1974 when I lived in Paris 75014 (Porte d'Orleans area) I used to regularly visit Parc de Montsouris (check spelling!!). Every evening between 6pm and 8pm I would walk the same route. On Mondays and Thursdays I would always see this very elegant lady, circa 50 yrs old, seated at the same position on that same bench. Her hair was strawbwerry blonde and her skin tones were so beautiful. She had very sad, deep, and encircled eyes that one would be afraid to peer into for fear of being entrapped with no hope of release. One fateful evening I came and I saw her with tears in her eyes. She looked broken and gaunt. Her spirit was gone. All of this I gleaned from a single moving stare.

I never saw her again. I went there faithfully but I was never again to lay my eyes upon her. How many times have I wondered in these past thirty years what her crisis was and what had she done to overcome it.

Perfect Virgo said...

Dionysius - duly noted. The Parisian excursion sounds terribly sad. I am always moved by the intensity of grief and I certainly know a vast amount of sentiment can be interpreted from one glimpse of a face. A moving and inspirational account.

finnegan said...

Dionysius' account of that woman is what gives birth to stories. Wondering about what happened to certain people (especially classmates) has occupied my mind more and more over the years, especially since learning that a number of them have died.

PV, I will be back after work to comment about your sad piece here.

yours truly said...

This is why I'm maybe a little too scared of love. Glue, gimme glue!!

doughgirl said...

Pointless limbs...this is exactly how Im feeling today .......

recoveryroad said...

That's down by the docks, Queen's Gate? Parrallel to Oxford St?

Cool pic, as always.

Perfect Virgo said...

Finnegan - "what became of the people we used to be." A line from that UK '70s TV theme sums it up I guess. We are getting older. Look forward to hearing from you later.

YT - I think I write about 'sad' because for me it is a stronger emotion than 'happy.' Heartbreaking tale, eh? I'll find you some glue.

Doughgirl - I just read your current post and understand why you feel so bad today. I hurt for you. I do hope you find a way to ward off both the anxiety attacks and the scary episode from last night.

Thank you for calling back DG.

Kenny - No pulling the wool over your eyes is there! Spot on with the location and thanks for the compliment. I like my camera!

The Flea said...

Virgo -- a wonderful piece. The ghost of his presence in the bathroom, and the toothbrush in the pocket, spoke volumes.

It's funny, but it made me think of finding my ex-girlfriend's stray hairs, even three years after she had left.

Perfect Virgo said...

Flea - nice words, thankyou. Just when you think it might be in the past you find hairs, reality keeps reminding us

HOW said...

So often I feel like crying out for help because I cannot breathe. How beautifully you seem to create straight from my heart! Mine has actually not come yet to keep his folded clothes on the floor, I am still waiting. But he does keep a toothbrush in the drawer.

Perfect Virgo said...

Oh yes this one is straight from the heart and 18 years ago if you can imagine it. I was trying to guess at her reactions because after 5 years of affair, I never saw her again. I know she will have recovered, people do. But this might be about right for day 1.

Well at least the toothbrush is a foot in the door! If and when he comes, try to suggest he unpacks properly and not live as if in a hotel room. I lived like that for 2 months, there but not there.