The Obsession

October 17, 2010
By Brian Reigh BRONZE, Austin, Texas
Brian Reigh BRONZE, Austin, Texas
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

“I am sorry Emily,” said he apologetically, “I truly am.”
The tears dropped endlessly from the poor woman’s eyes that deepened with unutterable sadness. The minuscule diamonds deepened in their brilliance, and even her utmost dry hair seemed so rich in texture. And the little baby girl looked at her mother solemnly.
The man waited patiently, for he understood the pain that the poor woman was undergoing; his heart was no less severely tattered by the loss, yet his tears remained concealed.

It was late July, summer that seemed to have gone so fast. The heat waned, fortunately, and perhaps due to this factor, the normal spate of people in the bar disappeared. So empty it was: that usual echo of gibberish was audible no longer, and that nondescript expression on each person was nowhere to be seen. In that empty bar, he sat. The perfect pattern of the clock ticking along made his mind sick. The constant pitch and tempo exacerbated his nausea.
“Carson, what brings you here, dare I ask?” The woman recognized the man, and this was only natural. Her cheeks protruded as she grinned, feeling the numbness of this seemingly sane man, inhaling the embarrassment of being wholly ignored. Her patient eyes calmly scanned the crestfallen face, but even her wise mind could not see the pain that this man was stomaching. After scrutinizing for a while, which sadly became her diurnal job, her puerile disposition triggered yet another question in order to wipe off the humiliation she herself only knew. “So,” asked she, “how is your father? I never really did hear anything about that man after he retired. A great man he was, and, of course, a good mayor he was. People loved him just too much…” The woman blabbed out an infinite amount of nothing, her obliviousness evident more than ever, but Carson heard not a word she puked, for his ears were shut to anything but to his own voice. The ponderous body twitched a little as the tears fell.
He stood in front the empty road, and he contemplated. He was a man, yet his memories grew not, for they were preserved in the very core of his mind, still moving, twitching, and waiting to be revived. The sky in his eyes had no clouds, nor did those pupils move. Sorrow digested his soul. It was fear of nostalgia: the scarf of nostalgia fluttered infinitely inside his heart, striving to be freed, yet he was scared of the grief that would be awakened. This was sweet rue: he smiled recollecting Charles, yet sadness quickly prevailed when he was reminded of such merciless and relentless time. What harm would there have been if they had given a little more time?


It was the first day of Carson’s return from the war, but it was the last day that he saw Charles. The rain had wholly bedraggled the ground for a few days.
“Carson,” Charles approached. Carson smiled, looking at Charles’ emaciated body, trying to eat the fear of losing him. His mind was empty, his memories furthered away, and his spirit was confused with numbness. What a surreal reality it was!
“Carson,” the man said again, intimidated by the hostile silence, quieter, yet stronger. Carson knew that Charles did not believe in God, yet oddly enough, that day, his eyes glistened with religion. It was as if he were enlightened with spirituality or even divinity.
“Why?” Carson paused for a moment, swallowing his sick headache, “why Charles?” continued he, who did not want to prolong this antagonistic ambience. Carson looked away because his love for that man allowed not him to divulge his tears: his weakness. Enduring the dire heartache, he continued, “How could God do this to you…”
He stopped, for he saw those stars illuminating inside the eyes of Charles. Charles looked through at him but offered no answer. His demeanor – his wordlessness – stated more than he could have stated; and that apologetic glare expounded more than what his speechlessness could have expounded.
“What being must be so pitiless to decide to take the only happiness away from such a prayful sheep?””
“Stop, Carson. You are doing nothing but exacerbating my guilt.”
“The guilt, with which you cannot do anything.”

He recognized the doomed time that was disappearing one droplet by one droplet. He timidly muttered, “It was before I married her; years before my marriage, in fact. It was during the war, Carson. It was during the war when I came back after the injury. Of course, you were not here. I blame it not on your absence, do not misconstrue my words. Yet, for some unorthodox reason, the absence of yours, the absence of my grandest friend – the very notion of it – contributed to this illness. I diurnally came here; labor was my only profession, and sweat was the only matter that I could humbly offer to sustain my family. I watched this place being torn apart, destroyed, and gradually dissipated every day. And then one day, it occurred to me – my frivolous imagination made me think – that you might never make it alive. That emptiness was too great, and the notion of having no one to lean onto was so devastating. Then God found me. I couldn’t find him in this thick darkness, Carson. My blindness couldn’t possibly imagine his light, but he found me instead. Only then did I feel the grandness of nature, the warmth of the love, and the power of friendship… Yet it’s all too late, Carson. It’s all too late… Only if I had realized it a little bit earlier…”

He stopped there. The warmth of the liquid flowing down on his cheeks overwhelmed inside him, his body that was plagued by his own deed. He cried; the tears that were withheld inside his broken eyes inundated altogether, his uproar had that rotten guilt, which had been accrued in his heart for years of waiting. The boiling tears fell continuously, and his sorrow surfaced: sorrow that could not be consoled. Carson gazed on his soul, incapable of assuaging the pain. Curiously, he could not step toward the man. His cold eyes fixated on the bent, agitating body.
Then Charles continued, “They say I have a week left, Carson. I want to spend it with you.”
Looking at the contrived smile of Charles, Carson somewhat hesitantly stated, “Let’s go swimming, Charles; let’s go swimming like we used to do before the war…”

The next morning came, and Carson waited. He waited and waited until the sun extinguished, but his beloved friend did not show up. Charles never made it.


It was his last day there: he promised himself that he would never come back. Carson stood on the same spot that he had been standing every day since the incident and every day before that, looking at the dilapidated sight of those trees ruined and destroyed; the trees that seemed so verdant and everlasting. His feet dragged his body, yet his intentions were unknown even to him. This spot, a place filled with his priceless memories, was now the only location where his anguished heart could be relieved. The ambivalent peripheries of those precious jewels commenced to resurface in his mind as his deep sorrow and the fear for Charles was assuaged gradually. He asked himself why he was standing there when nothing remained. Was it that pure desire to recollect the memories of the past? Or was it that he needed the break to hide the guilt that insidiously bit off his flesh inside? He was scared, not just for his own departure, but because of what he had done: the absence that was enkindled by that spark of cowardice. He blamed himself for not being there, standing next to Charles when he was undergoing such a hardship. And the constant recollection of water glistening exceedingly through the grass, the sunshine exploding with sparks tormented him greatly, expanding that lump of guilt that Carson could not bear.
Whenever the warmth of early spring arrived, they used to go swimming here. This very place was a forest once. In the very inception of the forest, there was a valley, and a river flowed across the depressed land mass. They used to hop along the path that led to the valley; the way that proceeded to that secret place was purely beautiful. It was a long, tortuous path surrounded by verdant trees that emitted so much replenishing smell that chocked one’s throat. The sound of the powerful stream that beat the rocks away and advanced, stopping at nothing, grew louder and louder as their hearts throbbed faster.

The aureate sunshine sank in through the gaps among the thick bush, reflecting upon the flow so brightly. Bedazzling light it was, a beam of mercy from the stars. The laughter echoed, and each word conveyed through the golden leaves, their hum calmly stirring the water. The sensation that can be procured when first jumping in the river was something more than a mere excitement, but that was just the past.
The man quietly said, “The glumness has been continuing, Charles. Days have passed, but the rain knows not how to terminate itself. It is like all the colors are dead, Charles. Your daughter is doing well. I met Emily this morning. She is very well too, so it is not necessary for you to worry, Charles.” His face was wet, and the tears flooded with the rain coming down heavily; he was crying, and that distorted face of grief and nostalgia was the only evidence. He could not stop, for this would be the last day. “Death, it is a funny notion, is it not? But it is so much more powerful than what verbal ability can describe. It is so much more frightening than anyone can imagine. Sundering even what seemed so inseparable…”
Carson sat on the grass. The wet, white daisies were gently swinging with the zephyr that blew from the north, twitching as the raindrops hit hard on them. His eyes, full of tears, glowing embers, and shining diamonds, contracted a little as he grinned. He looked down, and he smiled again. He looked at that grey stone. He looked at that dark gravestone that had the name on it. The name that he will never forget even if years pass by and other memories become vague. The night came faster than anyone ever thought it would, and the stars twinkled in the bloodstained sky. It will rain tomorrow as well, Carson knew, yet he would not be here anymore to see the raindrops. The name echoed through his ears, and the name floated around clearly through his eyes. That name was Charles. It was frigid, but Carson was oblivious since his soul lived in his past: that glistening water and that burning sunshine… The zephyr blew again, and the raindrops became stronger, but the obsession never ended, the stars in the sky remained untouched.

The author's comments:
This piece is about friendship and time. On the outside layer, it is quite obvious to see that the story emphasizes the importance and intimacy of a good friendship. Yet I wanted to convey the powerlessness of human beings in front of merciless time that keeps moving on and our incapability of avoiding regrets. It is only through acceptance that we are truly free from the burden of contriteness, guilt, and the overbearing power of time.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Oct. 22 2010 at 4:28 pm
deus-ex-machina14 BRONZE, Stewartsville, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 439 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There are two main tragedies in life. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." -Oscar Wilde

Beautiful descriptive language, it just paints such a sensory picture in my head! Great job!


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