From the Small Moments in Time

November 3, 2007
By Ashley Nojoomi, Granite Bay, CA

From the small moments in time in which all feeling had ceased, I sought to borrow momentary release from my obsession. Yet the closer I came to the smallest of triumphs, the farther away from recovery I was drawn. The coldest hands Fate might have laid unto my soul have clearly wrapped themselves around my throat. I walk these halls condemned.

It was only 50 years ago that the skies shook with thunder and the sheets of heavy rain repeatedly hammered at my window, yet the feeling of icy terror that day left feels like enough for all eternity. Shadow encased almost every corner of my majestic mansion, leaving only the lightening to sharply illuminate the dark halls in flashes. I should have been terrified, but I just closed my eyes to look away.
My chair was placed in front of the largest window; it was on the third floor overlooking the expanse of lawn gnarled with aging trees. With my head against the icy glass, I stared blankly at the shadows cast, thinking of nothing. It was in this cold and darkest trance that I remember the smallest of thoughts—a reflection upon something I hadn’t thought of for a great, long while.

My head remained in its frozen position as the memory of a time far away drifted back to me—my eyes grew heavy and my thoughts grew soft and my vision grew blurry. A perfume from the sweetest flower tied itself around my nostrils and drug me into a room in which a familiar scene was painted. In the corner was my bed, in the center was my table, and in the cupboards were my dishes; this was my house long ago. It was nothing but a one-roomed shack built of wood I had cut myself. Yet the sweetest perfume did not come from its walls. I stepped into my surroundings and looked closer at the bed, in it, was my wife. Her face was snow white and immaculate, her lips were rose red, her eyelids were of the lightest violet, and her lashes of the deepest black. I gazed in awe, as if I had forgotten what she was like. The angel’s long black curls lay in a maze across the white sheets and I drew breath at what I hadn’t clearly seen in an eternity. She opened her eyes to smile at me and I wanted to stay, smiling back, forever, but a sickening, hallow wave of feeling encompassed my mind and I had to close my eyes and look away.

It quickly subsided.

I took one last look at the room and a wave of hatred flew through my veins, it burned my cheeks and returned me back to reality. Again, my head leaned against the icy window for support.

Yet the memory still remained.

My wife’s face was no longer young and peaceful, nor was her lip graceful and rosy. That is not what troubled me. It was that I had forgotten to look at her…I could not remember the last time she had gazed at me as she had in the memory.

Again my vision clouded and wafts of decay pulled me into a remote part of a city where I had been so many years ago. Rich men passed in their carriages drawn by little white horses as the weather grew gray and ever more dense. My clothes were of rags and a familiar burn of jealousy returned. I hated the men in their carriages and I hated the wives perched in their fancy clothes and white gloves upon seats that I couldn’t afford if I worked tirelessly for all hours of the day. I suddenly recalled that I had stood there so long ago, thinking the very same thing. I hid in the darkness of an ally and turned away from the road where the carriages splashed in the fresh puddles to walk farther into shadow. Long before I knew exactly where I was going, it was apparent it was not anywhere safe. The buildings had grown more rotten with each step and by the time my feet stopped, they were in front of the most worn of all I had passed. I had business there. Without a second thought, I had reached out and opened the door and, just as I had the last time I was here, walked in. It was a decrepit factory: all machinery in shambles, all walls in slime. From here, I could no longer remember what I had done next, but it seemed logical to keep moving. I strode further and further into its confines, turning what seemed to be corner after corner. Finally, I reached the smallest of the rooms and found no more doorways to enter. It was low ceilinged and hot—burning hot. A furnace took up all of one wall and emitted flames that sputtered and flashed only feet from my face. I stood staring for what seemed like hours, wondering what to do next. Then low and bellowing scream arose from the depths of the furnace, which appeared to expand, forming a great flaming stretch and extending far past what I could see. Suddenly, a figure was distinguishable in the heat. It was a slender male, walking in a slow, poised manner, unharmed by the fire. I didn’t move as it came ever closer. His eyes were upon me, small and hallow. His skin was pinkish and reflective—a permanent burn. Even the veins were visible through the tinted layer of covering, but I did not move. Something told me that nowhere I moved or how far I ran, I could not escape the man with the flames.

As he stepped out of the furnace and onto the cemented and slimy floor, terror iced my veins and dizzied my senses. I felt as if I would feint, my vision cloudy, but I did not black out soon enough not to hear the words come from the low and cracking voice—“Eternal wealth and success for your heart….Deal?”

A guilty, sickening feeling of emptiness overwhelmed me and I had to close my eyes to look away. Yet, when I reopened them, I was back in my darkened room against the glass in a trance in a chair and alone. I didn’t have to stay in the memory to realize what I had answered the Devil. It was clear.
I had my money.
I had my wealth.
And I was happy, but I wanted my wife.
I rose from the chair and crossed the shadowed room, watching my reflections in the mirrors upon the wall. I was older than I had remembered…much older, but I did not dwell long on the thought.
The house was large and it took an eternity to move through the rooms and into the hallway in which my bedroom sat. Inside, undoubtedly, was my wife. I outstretched my wrinkled hand and opened the door, casting moonlight onto the elaborate bed. It was a lovely night.

That night 50 years ago, I did not feel the rush of love as I had in the memory, nor a jolt of longing at her beauty. I had spent longer than I thought shutting my eyes to what was too hard to look at, having no heart to take the pain. In that moment in which I was reunited with my wife, I felt all that I could possibly muster, but it’s hard, when you now must love a corpse.

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