I don’t need you to fix situations or relations. I don’t need you to intervene in my life or make things change. All I ask is for a heart that has been healed. I ask to be content. Satisfied. In love. Joyful. It doesn’t matter what you tell me to do, where you tell me to go….I’ll do it. Whatever you ask, it will be done. I will surrender it all. But all situations without joy feel lifeless, no matter how blessed I am. Give me joy…take away everything. But at least leave me with joy. I want purpose and this love at all costs. I will pursue it and I ask that you lead me to it. I am empty without you, empty without the feeling of full life you pour into me.
The grammar stinks - but the story was written to transcend grammar. So please overlook it. I wrote this a couple years ago. It was my first somewhat okay short story - so I felt like finally sharing. :)
We talked in whispers as we ran up the grey hill of ash.
“The house.” That’s all he said. “The House.” It made me want to run, to dance, to shout. Something I haven’t done in years. I looked up and saw the house. It sat on the edge of a bluff- so sheer it made you dizzy even to think of it. It looked out on an ocean so vast that my mind could not even wrap around it. But of course, my mind could not wrap around most things these days.
“Go, go, go,” He prompted them. Their little feet pattered on the hard ground, barefoot. And their legs, which should have been plump with baby fat, were skeletal. We were almost there, our little band of travelers. Him and I, three children we had met on the way about a year ago, and three lone strangers of which we knew nothing, only that we all shared that common bond of the fear of solitude.
The hill up to the house was familiar and yet so changed. It was covered with ash, ash and bones. Or perhaps the ash was crushed bone. I had heard that some people nowadays had taken to doing that. Unlike most buildings, this house was erect. And it was beautiful even as it had once been. Painted white with shutters of blue still around the windows. The wrap around front porch was still intact. The spindles of wood rose up out of the strong beams that were anchored soundly into the ground.
A slow sigh escaped my throat. I remembered life, as it had once been, bright, vivid and passionate. I wanted that back. I wanted the days when I had been eleven and swung on the porch swing, fallen and bruised my nose- when daddy had came and picked me up and shushed me. He smelled of laundry then, laundry and the sea salt that blew up from the ocean with the winds. Not of what he smelled of now, dirt, rot and decay.
I wanted back the time when my mother asked me to help her bake an apple pie for Thanksgiving. The kitchen was warm and toasty and I recall how our cat, Ginger whom I hated at the time, was adamant about rubbing her fur along my calves. What I wouldn’t give for that cat now. Who knew a time would come when I would miss her so.
But most of all I remember being a rosy cheeked sixteen year old. I remember having long, shiny hair. I had enough energy to run for miles on end, and I did. I was curvy and attractive back then, beautiful even, with round breasts that any girl would die for. That, of course, was all gone now. The curves had wasted away.
I remember the way the boys gawked when I drove into town in my parent’s old car. I was there to go grocery shopping, like I did every Thursday after school. And I specifically wore my bathing suit under short shorts and a low cut top. I was such a prideful little girl. But they were so funny to watch, those boys, the way their eyes traveled up and down me so hungrily.
But then there was that one. Him. He was beautiful, if you can call a man that. He never gawked at me like the others. He merely smiled at me and looked me in the eyes. The eyes! Most boys could never manage that when I was young. Their gleaming eyes would run along my long legs, my flat stomach, and the round shapes overflowing out of the top of my shirts.
None of them could keep their jealous eyes off my body, but He could. He had dark hair and eyes like the ocean. He worked at my dad’s hardware store. He didn’t talk much, in fact he always seemed like something was bothering him. But that was until He smiled. And then you forgot about every bad thing that had ever happened to you.
I remember the way He had asked me shyly to prom. I remember the way He had first kissed me, tenderly and short, as if tempting me by making me want more. Love is such a unique thing. There is no measuring it, no containing it. It simply is, whether your twelve years old, thirty, or eighty. And I had loved Him. I had loved Him just as I loved that porch that we first made love on right after I married him. I loved Him like I loved the ocean that I swam in despite the cold and the smells of the white house on the bluff. I loved.
It is amazing how fast love can fade. How fast emotion drains from you- and how quickly human morality disintegrates. My emotions vanished long ago on that day when the sun vanished behind the smoke. But as I walk up this hill now, this hill of ash leading up to my beautiful white house, I feel the stirring of emotion in me once again.
“Lilly! Is this it? Is this your house? Is there any food here?!” Meg’s questions poured out of her mouth. She smiled, her teeth filled with black rot.
“This is my house, yes. Is there food? No. The food is all gone. Everywhere. You know that.” We were waiting to die. Meg’s eyes dimmed, the hope of a getting a meal faded. I remember when I had such hope within me, so young I was.
“Now, you know why we came here?” He said. “We came here to have a home while we still can. We cannot have food anymore but we have each other!” Why was He so happy? Though our situation over the last two years grew brutal everyday, He managed to keep himself as He had always been.
We made it to the house, our weary little band of travelers. The house was dusty and made creaks wherever we stepped. But it was home and the feeling gave faith to all of us. It made us all remember what it had been like to live, really live. Not the existence we try to preserve now, wondering if it is even worth it. Surely even hell is better than this place called Earth.
The sky was darkening. Not that it was ever light. But at night it got as dark as the souls of the men that now walk on this earth. It was terrifying, but I was used to it. The children were sound asleep in my brother’s old bedroom upstairs, their bony chests rising up and down with the sleep that brought the only peace they had known in a long time. I leaned with my head resting against the beams of the white porch, looking out into the grey, pallid ocean- wishing for something.
“Lilly.” Him. “Lilly.” I turned. He stood in what little light was left of the day; still looking as beautiful as the day I met Him. Hair mussed, eyes dancing, and that mouth of His curved into a sweet smile that used to light up my life. He was a much thinner than the he had been, but the past 2 years had flattered him in a way I could not say about me.
“We haven’t talked in a long, long time.” One day when He had tried to have a serious conversation with me, I had snapped and told him to never utter another word to me. He had listened and never spoke to me about anything that mattered since that day. And I was glad. I just didn’t care anymore.
“There is no need.” I replied.
“As long as you and I still exist there will be a need.” Ha, he tried to speak so poetically.
“This. Is. Not. Existing.” I said shortly. He smiled sadly, reaching His hand out to my hair- dead, lifeless, dull. He used to play with the ringlets that curled up around my forehead, but now they were gone and hair that was there came away in His hand. Embarrassed, I turned away.
“Lilly” was all He said. No different than the way He used to. He seemed as if he wanted to say more, as we stood on the porch looking out to the sea, the porch where we had first kissed. But then soft arguing came from inside where the three strangers were.
We walked inside to see what was going on. Him and I had only allowed the strangers to travel with us because they had said that they too were resigned to the same fate as us. You see the food had run out long ago and we couldn’t survive any longer. We were dying slowly and had only come back to my house to die at home. These strangers had wanted companions and we had allowed them our company, as we knew they were near death also. The strangers sat in a circle on the floor, the three of them. Two men and a woman with dirty matted hair and smells that you probably would not be able to imagine. But I was used to it.
"What seems to be the problem?” He said in that voice of His, addressing the three people.
“We been thinking. It seems that while we been sitting down here whining about being hungry, we is forgetting that up those stairs lies some food that could feed all of us until the next week.” The woman nodded along with the two men as I realized what they wanted. Why had we let these strangers travel with us!?
“You will leave them alone. Those children are in our charge and we will keep them safe until the good Lord decides that they should pass.” He said in a firm way. I gasped internally. Those children had been with us for a year and yes, they were difficult at times. And though I had eaten human before, they were still children. They were counted among the innocent. I knew that most of the population on earth did things of the sort everyday to stay alive- but I was still somewhat civil and moral. I would not eat a child.
The woman spoke up,“Maybe da good Lordie is thinking that they should pass tonight- to benefit the greater good through a good meal. Surely the Lord wants to take em outta this hellhole.”
“No.” I said. But as I said this, a horrible thought formulated in my brain. A thought proving how disaster can bring out the evil in people. I was hungry. It ate at me like an acid, burning me from the inside out. I knew He was hungry too. And the children, I cared about them and wanted to see them pleased. I did not love them….no. The love was gone. But I knew they needed food, and the two men were big, well as big as a starving human can get. But even just two of them together could feed us for weeks. Maybe even longer!
“Wait, maybe I was too quick to speak,” He look at me incredulously, “I have a deal for you. Your 'family' is hungry, as is mine. So let’s play a game. A game for keeps. You win; you get one child and me. We win, we get two of you.” I let my words hang in there air like fire. Surprisingly, He didn’t say anything. Hm, maybe he was hungrier than I had thought.
They replied, “Not fair! You get two grown adults if you win. We only get you and a child. Why, you can’t weigh more than 75 pounds!”
“You forget that one of the children weighs more than me. He’s 100 pounds. I guarantee that is more than your lady here. If your so unhappy with the deal, I’ll throw in another child!” I knew I didn’t really mean this but would they believe me? I don’t think they cared much about betting their lives. Life was not worth much anymore.
“Yes. Deal. What game?”
“Who do you know that owns cards? Because I sure don’t know anyone.”
“Wait,” He said. He ran up the stairs and I quickly followed. It took my breath away just to climb those few steps. He ran down the halls and corridors that made up the maze of my beautiful, old house. He didn’t stop until he came to a door. That door. Oh gosh. My door. My door. My door. Opening. My room. My room.
It had long been stripped of items of worth. My bed sheets were gone, pillows, my bags and shoes. But the pictures were still on the wall. That pale color of yellow was more vivid than anything I’d seen in ages. This world had been devoid of color for so long that the shock of its extravagance scared me.
“Lilly.” He had whispered that to me so many times in this room. Usually while we were sitting on my bed in the golden sunset talking, the waning light lit up my room then in a way that made everything pale golden and magical. He had whispered to me under the covers of my now vacant bed spread the night we married. And also through the window at night, when he hadn’t been able to talk to me because I was punished back when we were children. He had said my name just like that so many different times.
“Lilly, here it is! Do you remember?” Pain. Oh, do I remember? How can He ask that!? Remember is all I do. He picked up an old Life game that had been shoved under my bed. The little cars and fake money spilled out as if it had been shoved under there in a hurry.
That day had been beautiful. We had swam in the ocean and came inside to the children arriving home from their friend's house. My oldest daughter decided to bake and the smells of cookie batter wafted through the whole house, one could just smell the warmth of the melting chocolate. We put the kids to bed and then Him and I took the cookies to my room, which we had turned into our room when we moved in. We were still so young at heart and we stayed up late as we played the game of Life, talking and kissing for hours.
And then the screaming, the wailing started. The moaning in such an unearthly way that I had been afraid that it was inhuman. But no, humans do make this sound, I am afraid. Humans make this sound when they are in great agony. And so we had shoved Life under the bed and gotten up. We had run downstairs to encounter the horror that had passed. He had taken my head in his hands, locking His fingers around my curling hair, and that was the night that changed everything. The last night I showed affection toward Him. The last night I cried. The last night I saw that house. The last night I saw my family...and the night where I lost Lilly.
And so Him and I picked up that old, dusty game of Life together, remembering what had once passed. “Why’d you tell them we’d play a game, Lilly?” He always used my name so much when he talked to me now. Why did he do that? Couldn’t He tell that it annoyed me, hurt me?
“If we win, we can eat. If we lose…”
“If we lose, then what Lilly?”
“Then I die. It’s what I’ve wanted for the past two years. Why prolong it?”
“Because you offered them Meg and Drew. Lilly, you offered them children to eat!” He stressed the word eat. It didn’t affect me. Humans tasted good. They were evil anyway, they deserved to be eaten. I don’t understand why He was so shocked over this. It was the way life worked now. Though I would still try to save the children if I could, they were not my first priority.
“We won’t lose.” It hurt to spit the rest out, “Remember Life?” A small smiled seemed to cast a shadow on His face, as if it wanted to come out but wasn’t sure.
“Yes, Lilly. I remember Life. You never lose.”
“Neither do you.”
“As a team we’re unstoppable. We used to play this silly game for hours.”
“Exactly. And we’d also get two humans. Food for weeks!”
“I told you that I’m not eating people. I will not do this, whether or not we will win.”
“I swear to you, I want them. I am hungry and if I am going to die, I at least want to die full. I have not had the feeling of satisfaction for the past two years. I want to feel it one last time.” I said with a ferocity that I saw hurt Him.
“I will not do this Lilly.”
“Then I will. I will play them and if I lose I will let them have just me. Take the children and go if you don’t want to play with me.” He looked at me so sadly.
“Don’t,” I said. Enough with the Lilly. Lilly is gone.
“If you insist on doing this, I will help you.” He finally replied. I nodded curtly and walked out of my room... not even daring to look back at the pale golden color it gleamed and the love that still swirled inside, leftover from the years I had spent in it. I couldn’t bear the feeling.
The strangers were waiting smiling, as if they all shared some great secret between themselves.
“What is the game?” One of the men asked. His voice rasped and I noticed his teeth were gone.
“Life. Have you heard of it?” I said dryly
“Of course.” They murmured for a moment, lost in their thoughts of years past.
“I have a new proposal.” I said quickly, “Instead of the children, you will just get me. If you lose, we get one of you. I weigh 85 pounds, for your information, and I will make a good meal for at least a week, maybe two if you don’t indulge.” They protested. I knew they wanted two of us, but the children were not chubby anymore and would not provide much meat anyway. “You either get just me or no deal. But frankly, I wouldn’t pass up the chance for a good meal. It’s not like you have anything else to live for.” They nodded their heads. What dull idiots they were. Being undernourished must really be having an affect on their brains.
“Let us sleep for a few hours. I want to be able to think properly to play.” One of the men, a black man, said. I agreed, though I would have no alarm to wake me up and if we overslept we couldn’t play because the children would wake. I voiced this thought out loud.
“I will wake you in two hours. At exactly midnight.” The woman said. I did not know if I trusted her to wake me. She might eat us while we slept. I looked at Him, throwing my thoughts to Him through my eyes. He knew what I was saying and shook His head. Apparently He would trust them. So I agreed. I would not argue with Him, especially since I am indebted to Him for keeping me alive so long. I would sleep.
And sleep I did. I fell asleep right on the floor, as far away from everyone as I could. I lay on my stomach and the ground smelled of dust, chalk, and sea salt. I soaked it in hoping the sea salt would bring back old memories, and I dreamt of dolphins and birds skimming the ocean’s surface. It was a short-lived pleasure although, because I was awakened to the sound of whispers and arguing. I sat up and looked around. Him and the strangers were huddled in a circle talking. “What?” I asked shortly, “Is it time to wake?”
“No.” the woman said.
“Lilly.” He did it again. My name. “Go to sleep, I will wake you when it is time. Everything is just fine.” This calmed me and I fell asleep again, though my dreams were not pleasant as they had been, but were riddled with bodies, fire and the stench of rot.
“Awake.” A voice said. And I did.
“Let’s play.” I do not know who said it. Perhaps it had even come out of my own mouth. But I was unsure- voices ran together nowadays, indistinguishable and insignificant. We started to play and though technically you do not play the game of Life in teams- it is possible. Him and I just switched off playing on our every other turn, as did the strangers. Except they only played with two people to make it even, the black man and the woman. The uneducated, dull man sat in the back corner watching.
I took the responsibility to be the bank, and we all picked the little cars that you move along the little boards with. The three strangers fought over which color car they would use. This was so petty it humored me. Here we were trying to decide which of us to eat, and they squabbled over the color of their game piece.
We moved our little car quicker through college than they did. Paid off our student loans as soon as we could and picked our jobs and salaries. I got 40,000 every year and He got 80,000. I became salesperson and He became an athlete. It was ironic because before all this horror had happened, that’s what we had been. I had worked for my father selling his business items and He eventually, after leaving work at my father's store, had been a college baseball player being scouted for the Major Leagues. It made me cringe to think of how trifle that was now. We had been so concerned with our careers and futures when we should have spent so much more time together back when it had actually meant something to me. The time we spent together now seemed so empty.
The two strangers followed closely behind us and I had to remind myself that Life is not about getting to the finish line first, but it’s about what you have with you when you arrive. So when they passed us I did not get upset, I just worried about making the most money and acquiring the most special Life bonuses. Him and I passed the ‘get married’ and ‘have kids’ spots and acquired more Pay Days on the way.
The strangers picked their different careers and they had two good salaries cards, a 50,000 and a 100,000. But they were dull and him and I were not- so even though they were ahead with more money we could still win. They passed the ‘buy a house’ section. They drew a 100,000-dollar Victorian Mansion. I smiled slightly inside as they chose not purchase insurance on it.
He whispered to me, “Pray we get a bad house….we’ll pay nothing and if we get house insurance we can win this.” His voice was gravelly and low. I used to tingle inside when He talked to me in that tone. He looked at me and smiled, his little half smile. It made me feel pleasant to be doing this again, playing with Him. Not happy, never happy. But pleasant. I almost felt myself again. Almost. He took my hand. His big brown fingers were still strong, no matter how much weight he lost. I let him, not for comfort but just because it made us feel more connected in this game -almost as if we could read each other’s thoughts.
We reached the ‘buy a house” section. “You do it.” I asked Him. My feelings were starting to come awake again…I was nervous and I did not know why. And I feared if I drew a card my hand would shake too hard and He would see. He must believe that my emotion was gone. And it was! Whatever this was, I must make it disappear.
He picked up a card and to our relief we got the 40,000-dollar broken house, enabling us to purchase house insurance. I had no doubt we would win. We went through the game mostly like this. Both teams stopped to get Life tiles and sometimes collecting money from each other. I could tell that we were saving the most money- but they did have more Life tiles so it was a fair trade off.
Then they landed on a space where their house was destroyed in a flood. I laughed inside for their lack of insurance. They were angry and it showed on their haggard faces. What ugly people they were, but then again I am sure I was too. I don’t even remember the last time I saw a mirror. For the first time, I took notice of their appearance under the dirt and grime. The first man was black and one could tell he had once been big, shaped like a football player. He probably would last a few more months before he wasted away.
The second man had orange hair and a crooked nose. His teeth, as I mentioned before, were missing and he had a scar stretching from his forehead to his chin. But the woman, as ugly as she looked now, had once been attractive. Her hair was almost all gone, probably mostly because she shaved it. Hair was an inconvenience these days, though I refused to shave mine.
Her eyes were big and brown giving her the appearance of a frightened puppy. She had been petite and slender, though now she looked skeletal. And I could tell her voice had once been soft and quiet. I wonder how they saw me? I know I must be just as awful looking as them. But what about Him? I could not even explain Him. He looked just as He had all those years ago. His hair remained thick, His teeth were all intact and His smile never faded. He was unchangeable.
The strangers paid for their house insurance and we continued on, paying each other, the bank, losing money and gaining money. He and I played well, as we had all those years ago when we had the time to play for so long as teenagers... and even into our adult, married life. They played with mere luck, putting no thought into it but still managing to gain money....and by the end I was unsure again of our fate.
They were two spaces away from retirement and by rolling a two they retired to Millionaire Estates, confident that they had the most money. He and I retired as well to the Estates. Which meant we needed to all count up our cash. Whoever had the most cash got to collect 4 extra Life tiles that were waiting in the retirement fund. After which we would then count up our total Life tiles and house value.
Nerves rocketed through me like hot flames. I considered my life worthless but in the face of death I found that I was truly afraid. The thought of waiting to be burned or axed so the strangers could gnaw on my bones was not a pleasant thought. And, yes, my life now was a living hell. But at least I had memories, and I relished in them. My once deep emotions were run dry, but I took comfort in the fact that I could remember how they had felt all that time ago.
The feel of cold water on my hot skin. The way the autumn smelled, the crisp colorful leaves, and the expectancy of the holidays. The way summer was like a drug for us, that immediately put us teenagers into giddy moods. The feel of my father’s arms around me. The screech of my mother’s voice when she screamed. The joy I felt at those two words, “I do.” The feeling of His lips on my neck. How I thirsted for Him, craved Him, needed Him to breathe. I felt this all no longer. But the memories, ah the memories. They were the only thing that made me able to put one foot in front of the other. The only thing that gave me the will to open my eyes in the morning. It was not hope, I had no hope. Just the remembrance of hope, and that made me survive.
He counted, though He knew I was better at math. 50 dollars, 100, 200, 300… On and on it went until both teams had added up the totals. We had saved our money well. For our team won in the cash portion of the game and so we were allowed to collect the two Life tiles set aside for the monetary winner. Now we both just had to count the tiles.
The black man was in charge of his team’s Life tiles and did it quickly, calculating in his head. He let me add the Life tiles together, I don’t know why. I knew now that He could see I was nervous. Who was I to think I could fool Him? He could read me like a book.
The first life tile contained 100,000 dollars, the next 50,000, than 10,000. I added and added. Before I was done with mine, the black man said, “800,000. That is our Life tiles added with our money.” I had two Life tiles left and I was only at 600,000. If these two tiles both contained 100,000 dollars, we would tie. If I could possibly hope for more, than we could win. I picked up the first tile. 100,000 dollars. That was good. I just needed the next one to say 200,000. Oh, please God, say 200,000! I don’t want to die. No matter how dead I feel in this world, I don’t want to die for real yet.
With shaking hands, I started to pick up the second Life tile with the startling realization that He was not holding my hand any longer. I felt alone, more alone than I had ever felt. He saw this. He saw my fear and slowly reached for the Life tile, picking it up so I would not have to. He turned it over with no hesitation as my heart thumped in my chest. Where had this uncontrollable fear come from?
50,000. It was 50,000. No. Oh gosh, no. Our total was 750,000. We lost. How did I lose? I never lose. I can’t lose. I can’t die. I can’t die. I can’t. When I die, I won’t be able to remember. My memories will disappear. At least while I was still breathing that time of my life still existed, those people I had once known were somehow still alive. It was living through me and now it would be destroyed.
Oh, no. Oh, no. What do I do? Could I run? Could I refuse? No, I could not fight them. He and I were both too weak. They would find a way to kill us. It wasn’t worth it. I’d have to let them take me, and at least my meat would help others live for longer. I was frozen. I couldn’t move. I stared into the old wall of my white house scared. No one said anything for a while. I’m sure they wanted to give me time to deal with this. For I knew they were not cruel, just hungry, hungry for so many things.
Finally, I looked up. The black man was looking at Him straight in the eyes.
“If I had a gun, I would use that. I am not a cruel man. I wish to cause no pain. Unfortunately, I have no weapons and no alcohol to numb the pain. All I can create is fire. So fire is how you must die.” The black man said this while looking at Him. I shook. My body trembled with fear.
“That is alright.” He said good-naturedly. He didn’t care?! He didn’t care that I would die? This wounded me, though it should not of. I did not love Him, I told myself over and over again. I did not. I felt nothing for Him. He was merely a tool I used to survive.
“How long do I have?” I asked, “Will you give me some time to say goodbye to the children. Or would you like me now?” I said this without looking at Him, shocked and angry that He would be so indifferent to my death.
“Oh, honey,” said the woman, not unkindly, “It’s not you.” That was all she said. But her eyes said the rest, looking straight at Him. I looked at Him searchingly.
“What? What does she mean?” The anger left me, as I already knew what He would say. And for some reason, I was even more afraid.
“Lilly,” He looked at me with His sea grey eyes, “I would never allow you to die like this. You need to survive. You have to. I have lived my time. I have more meat on me anyway, it was an easy trade for them.” I couldn’t talk. What was wrong with me? I shouldn’t care. My emotion was supposed to be gone.
“We will give you time alone,” the woman said, “It is 2 o clock. You have until little past sunrise to say goodbye. Then we will take you. I’m sorry. But an agreement is an agreement.” She smiled compassionately at me, but there was hunger in those eyes and I wanted to attack her, to rip those starving eyes out of their sockets.
They left. I assumed they went outside to sleep the rest of the night away. Or to contemplate joyously the meal they would soon receive. How disgusting. I felt dizzy. But there was a strange sensation filling me, of which I have not felt in years. I could not put a name to it, nor did I want to. But I knew what I had to do. I had to know. Him and I had to have that important conversation that I had ignored for two years.
“Why?” I whispered. “You need to explain to me why. I will not let you do this.”
“Lilly,” The warmth in me increased, “I have been in love with you since the day I saw you drive into that town to buy groceries. I have never loved you any less than I did that day. I loved you even more as we grew up, through our marriage, and the past two years and everything we went through. In fact, I have fallen in love with you even more every day since then.” I couldn’t breathe. The warmth in me was blossoming until I couldn’t contain it anymore. He was making me come alive.
“How? All I have done since then is spite you. I never touched you after the day.”
"Being with you is all I need."
He had said those same words so many years ago when I stood with Him on a sunny, breezy day above the ocean with the preacher in front of us and 200 people behind us. He is a man of little words but when He speaks, His voice is more exquisite than any sound you've ever heard. It is richer than honey and makes the insides of your body feel like they cannot contain themselves. I thought I had been living before I met Him. But before I met him, I had never known what really living could feel like.
With His proclamation of love for me on that day so many years ago, and this day as well, something insides me breaks, like a dam opening up. The foreign feeling scares me and engulfs me. Flash of sounds, smells, memories flood back to me. Hot skin, cold water, his breathe, smoky kitchens, the salty air, the soft wool of clean sheets, my mommy holding me, tears on my face, screaming at my sisters, wrestling with my brothers, making love, holding my first child, infuriation, captivation, joy, hate, peace, warmth, safety, love. He is associated with everything.
And then He is no longer a memory. His hands are in my sparse hair, his hot breath taking my air from me and then breathing it back. He whispers to me that I am more beautiful than anything. How could I have forgotten His love? Him and I are one again.
I wake to the orange sun shining into my room, creating a vivid array of colors that bounce off of my golden walls. This is what paradise will look like. Who knew paradise could exist in this hell of a world? Wait, the bed next to me is empty. He is gone. No, no, no. They must have taken him. Oh, God no. Oh, my sweet Jesus, no.
I wait for the same coldness to wash over me again. The same numb feeling I had made myself feel the past few years...and the sadness comes. Oh, yes. It comes and almost breaks me. He has gone the moment I discovered him again. I feel torn in half.... but the cold? The numb feeling I had felt? It has vanished. He has chased every thought of indifference from me. Hope exists within me now, for I know that some in this world still have the ability to love. As long as love exists, I will too.
I gather the children from their beds. It is time to go, for I cannot dwell in my memory any longer. We will move on. I will take care of them. I will love them and we will survive. As we run out of my white house on the bluff, I cry. But tears of joy, love, and sadness all mix together in one. I have not cried like this since that day when the world died.
The strangers are beside the house gnawing on bones greedily, raw blood dripping out of their rotten mouths. I cry as they toss his bones down the cliff into the sea. I cry as I turn and take the children's hands, for they are now my children. I cry as I run barefoot down that ashy hill. Ash made of the ground up bones of the people who once were. I am filled with the purest form of love.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for those he loves.
My feet are yucky, but you never see them cause I wear shoes....except today! Most people around the world don't even own shoes, so take your shoes off today to raise awareness!
Whenever somebody asks you why you are barefoot, let them know how around the world millions go barefoot everyday. If we could get people to realize that they are able to help, even in small ways, we could play a little part in changing the world. :)
Hey, friend! I'm Chelsie!
Stay a while and get comfy. <3