Silence blooms in the morning. It comes with a swale of clarity and leaves with the faint trace of slumber, all the while pushing out into the open any thoughts or dreams trying desperately to remain unnoticed. Most people either mindlessly endure this as part of their waking ritual or they resist within themselves until real life takes hold. I treasure such everstill sound, because it is when I can see what’s been locked away during the day; to see what’s lurking between the folds of my mind. It is within the homely confinement of my memory, maybe my imagination really, a girl who never ceases to dance away from me. I call her Eve.
Looking back I wasn’t ready for Eve. She was above us all, even the best of them blurred into the backdrop of her fervor; her wit. Even now with my memory fleeting and my bones withering, I can recall one particular Friday doing its very best to bake me alive with its arid, summer heat. The only thing worse than the heat was the fact I forgot to bring Eve flowers. Understand the gravity of my misfortune because she loved flowers, the red carnations in particular, the kind that stain you with their bloody dye. I believe the carnations must have been magic to cause such an otherworldly effect on this girl for they always seemed to make her blue eyes brighter, her red cheeks rosier, and, on this occasion I learned, the lack there of made her quippy remarks all the more abrasive. But anything less would be out of character for Eve, and I wouldn’t want her to be any other way.
I met her in Eden, our place beyond the green. A flowering sea of lettuce heads and entangling back roads. Among it all stood a dilapidated, old house that shakingly held its ground against the endless onslaught of the central valley’s manic weather patterns. Why the landowners didn’t demolish it, I do not know; I never asked too many questions. I still don’t. I had never visit
ed the house; only seen it passing by on my way home from school, but on one merciless summer’s day I could not help but stop to seek shaded relief. That’s when I saw her sitting patiently on the back porch reading a novel in her lap. I didn’t expect to see another person, let alone a pretty girl. My first thought, on account my social anxiety was to scurry away like a field mouse, but something about her face kept me from leaving. She was not a pin-up girl by any means, but she was beauteous in the way that must have inspired the Greeks. I was so entranced I must have held my glance too long because my look instantly met a pair of ice blue eyes.
I felt the blood rush both to my face and my legs as I dashed out of view around the corner of the house. Embarrassment engulfed every fiber of my being yet I could not help but peer over in wonder if she was looking at me in bewilderment or disgust. To my amazement I saw a willowy girl take note of me once more, smile, and wave as she walked away, cutting through the empty field. I walked over to where she was sitting on the porch and saw folded piece of paper. I picked it up and read the almost cursive handwriting:
“Dear Stranger - please don’t stare awkwardly. Some people find it rude, no matter how cute you may be. Next time come say hello. Preferably tomorrow.”
There weren't many places to hangout in those times and an abandoned house did seem unusual, but I was not going to turn down a pretty girl -- no matter how strange. The next day came like a whirlwind and each day after was blur. The second I saw her standing there in the shade of that desolate shed, I was thrust out in pride to the pleasure of an approaching dream. I wasn't ready for the mischief of her smile or the clamour of her thoughts. I later realized I did not have to be prepared for anything; we were dancing off into the sweet assurance of our stride and Eve was taking the lead with each rambunctious step. With each passing minute we spent together
I learned more of myself through her. Soon the hour lasted into two and the days became weeks; years, and each moment with Eve was a moment out of my shell, no matter how hard I tried to crawl back in it. To think such a wonderful person could fall for my awkward, sodden self is beyond me. All these years and I still manage to laugh at myself.
Despite the entrapping eddy of our young love, I sensed something was off. At first I thought she was embarrassed to be seen with me, but I never asked for courtesy’s sake. My fears were relieved though when I learned of her busy life interning at the city hospital; that was why she could never meet my parents over dinner. Even then it did not matter much whether or not she met my family yet. All I needed was the entrancement of her gaze as she pondered over what book she had just read and the warmth of her spirit holding mine. That was enough for me. For my family however, this justified a cause of worry.
Worrying was all my parents ever did; it was all they knew how to do, but this was entirely different. I admit I made some troubling decisions such as putting off college, but I did not believe it constituted the digging claws and shrieks of parental advice. As my situation grew strenuous at home, I counted my blessings I had Eve around. Her impassioned comfort slowed the push of my parents’ spear and resolved any lingering doubts delaying my proposal. We did not know then exactly where we would marry, nor did we really care. We savored the engagement. To my parents however, being engaged out of high school with no real job prospects clearly insinuated some kind of emotional trauma. In retrospect I would have preferred emotional trauma compared to what came next.
Now this part I have trouble recalling--it breaks apart in uncivil rifts in my stock of recollections. The shock however, is still very fresh, the events that followed not so much. To my
understanding I was handled in a belligerent manner as I was transported out of town for a “rest” at what was a very finely grim institution. I signed some forms and saw a counselor to whom the sake of my sanity rested upon. The conversation was of little substance. We discussed my parents, engagement, and day to day interactions mostly. I know for certain I unleashed a blowtorch of crude, defensive remarks concerning my parents’ recent conduct, but this segment did not last more than five minutes. He was more interested in the intimacies of my life and relationships, and apparently it was enough to verify whatever idea it was that matured idly inside his head. The shock that would reverberate within my mind for the next forty-two years originated with a poignantly simple revelation. There was no dilapidated house out in the fields; there was no internship program with the city hospital; and there was no Eve. The next morning I began my first of a lifelong series of insulin treatments for acute schizophrenia.
Life is a lot different now then it was then. All is quiet now; quiet in the drowning sounds that fill my clambering days. I grieved once, to the mountain and the valley that paint the wall of my room here. Now I just wait for the attending nurse to bring news of a visitor that never comes. The orderlies murmur and call me much to solemn and reserved, lost in my pride. And they are right, but can you blame me when my life is hauntingly similar to every other pill-popping maniac pondering within their own medicated ignorance. My only gleam of relief comes in the morning, before daybreak reaches my fumbling consciousness. That frenzied, moment of clarity is what I value most, because for a split second it drowns the truth out. That split second is enough for me to find Eden; enough for me to try and dance away with a girl I call Eve.