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She's a Wanderer Now

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She sits in a circle, surrounded by thirty other people. It is time to meditate, picture a place. Share it with someone. She settles onto the hard rubber floor, and hears the other people doing the same. The lights go out, and the Hope Candle is the only light. It shines through everything that is evil. It pierces her eyes and blinds her. She turns away. She fits into the darkness; it hugs to her like a second skin. It protects her, anchors her, and makes sure she doesn’t rush away. A picture forms, bringing her down into a memory. She breathes in, the air sucked into the bellows of her lungs. She exhales. The air is reborn, hot on her lips. She breathes in.
She looks around her memory, a world suffocated in grey. Silence. She pulls off her boots, the plastic outside slipping on her fingers, soft. The touch disappears, and the boots drop to the ground with a muffled bump. She breathes in. She steps down into the water, the patterns of the stream disrupted. The rushing stream laps at her toes, weaves between them, rolls past her ankles, licks her skin with its cold tongue. Then it is gone, replaced. Never the same water twice. The cold is numbing. It is September, way past time. The snap of branches, the rustle of leaves. She turns to look behind her, staring at the grey bark of the usually brown trees, and sees a dog on the other side of the stream. It sniffs the ground, uninterested in what she is doing. She breathes in. The dog is not here, it is lost in time, but it once walked here. It once was here. The dog straightens, and turns its snout in her direction, alert to something that is coming. The wind starts to howl, rustling the trees, and the sound of dead leaves colliding resonates. It tugs at the dog, rippling her fur, pulling the soft ears back, and making the delicate nose twitch. The strong gusts tear her from the ground, throwing her from the grey and the dog is gone. The water rushes. Down and past.
A frog croaks nearby. A noise that should scare her, make her jump. But it doesn’t. She knows these woods, she knows the animals here. She knows where the foxes, the frogs, and the deer live. She expects them to be there, like the stream she is standing in. It should be here. If they weren’t there, the absence would be felt more than the presence.
She begins to walk with the water, keeping time with the surging stream, the water displacing where she steps, making waterfalls over her toes, her ankles parting it as easily as the wind through the leaves. She breathes in. She stops, the water rushes on, but she stops. There is no point in following what you can’t catch. She tilts her face up, staring at the graying world. The trees, so tall and impassable, their dead leaves waiting to fall, waiting to be replaced. Their words rustle with indignation as the wind carries them away from their home, away from where they have lived since they were born as little buds. A crow cackles from his spot on the branches, an awful sound, full of mocking and hate. The last echoes of his malice soon go the way of the leaves.
The wind dances around her face. Trying to bring her away, circling around her hair, whipping it in tendrils around her eyes and ears. It pulls at her clothes trying to tug her along, asking her to come towards the darkness. She breathes in. Movement. Out of the corner of her eye she sees the dog, back from the darkness. The wind moving the fur gently. It is not a young dog. The fur has faded from the jet black of its youth to the salt and pepper of old age. It stares at her, the deep brown eyes glazed blue with cataracts, eyes she knows so well. They stare out mournfully. Searching. Not moving. She looks away. When she looks back, the dog is gone. The stream barrels on, always in a rush to get where it’s going, hurriedly shoving past her numb feet like people on a busy street.
She sees a dragonfly caught in the mud, its blue-green tinted legs twitching frantically in a distressed dance, pulling one leg free, only to get another stuck, the shimmering blue wings pulling hysterically. It makes no noise. She watches, not moving. She wants to help it, pluck it from the mud and free it, but she is scared. Scared of the untold consequences if she does. Finally she turns away, the life of a dragonfly forgotten.
When she looks up, she can see where old sand meets new sand. She kneels, brushing the water with her fingers, the lightest of touches that seems to not feel like water, but like the touch of fur against skin. She stares into the river, past the water, past the rocks and into the sand. Into the ash. It doesn’t belong here. It wasn’t made from the pummeling of water against rock. It was scattered here with a wish. A wish of something better, a wish of apologies that were hovering in the grey. The only thing that never disappears. She breathes in. From the cold comes a heat, the slow tingle of thawing limbs tracing down her cheeks. She tastes salt. Her chin spasms. She feels like she is being squeezed, her throat closes, she can’t breathe. She feels a weight under her hand, not like water but like an animal. She is no longer kneeling; she is standing, her hand stroking the dog’s fur. She looks down, but can only see fragments of color blurring like an artist’s palate. Yet she can tell this is her dog. She blinks away the blurriness and tries to look for her dog, but it is gone. The fragmented images come again, faster this time. The fire rolls down her cheeks, past her chin and drops into the stream, only to become part of it, to roll on and never stop. Never the same water twice. She breathes in.
Coming out of her meditation, she opens her eyes. She hears the movement of restless people, the undertone of deep breaths from the meditating people, and the slow guitar with piano accompaniment. She feels the hard rubber floor under her, and people’s presence next to her. She turns towards the Hope Candle, but cannot see. The tears come fast and hot, forcing her to taste salt, but she doesn’t go to the dark; she stares at the light and wills herself to flow past the sorrow, to never be in the same place twice. She exhales.





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BE123 said...
Nov. 5, 2011 at 9:38 am
good story ... made me think of my own life and loss
 
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