Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New


The snow was new. The dream was old. 

She walked past the barn, setting a course for the pond, clad only in a white nightgown and a pair of muck boots. Beneath their rubber soles was half a foot of January powder. Around her were charcoal limbs and the stillness of snow and every so often, a gathering of white-tailed deer, their eyes wide and staring, the placid aliens of this frozen planet. Soaring over the eastern hills was a half moon, tilted on its side, scattering stars across the Milky Way. 

As a girl, she’d tried to count the stars and failed. As a young woman she’d plotted every constellation, believing math and myth to be the star-crossed arms of God’s embrace. It had been years since she’d troubled herself to check for more than an act of weather. 

She was conscious of moving towards a goal, undeterred by its non-dimensionality. To move was enough. To move, at her age, was a gift. The snow gave beneath her slight weight, and for some reason, on this particular evening, she saw the quantum glow of Cheshire cats with every step pulling her closer to her destination. 

To Lovers’ Lake. 

A foolish name. They hadn’t striven for creativity; to live back then seemed a poetry enough. To fall in love, during the spring of her seventeenth year, was simply her due.  

His name was Thelonius. An impossible name. 

Impossible times. 

Time. The night had sharpened its claws on it. Luckily, she had no teeth left to chatter. As it was, the wind lifted her hair and stiffened her nipples; it howled at her meager pound of flesh. She wouldn’t last long in it. Perhaps sooner than that.  

To lie down and sleep the sleep of the angels. 

The pond was as she remembered it, at the far end of the acreage. She stopped several feet from its southern lip. Where there should have been ice, water steamed like a boiling spring. Approaching the pond's edge, she could see through the condensation to the stars reflected in its black pool. She picked out Orion easily enough. 

“Thelonius.” 

The wind died. She hunkered down by the side of the pond, looking towards its western face. The oak tree had been felled long ago by her daddy’s men. A gawping blankness remained.The limb Thelonius had hung himself from had been too burdened by the task before it, fracturing sometime after her discovery of his body, during the lost hour of her dash for help, the promise ring he’d given her bouncing secretly against her heart, her knees bleeding from so many falls to earth. 

When she’d returned, screaming incoherently by Mama’s side, how her heart had leapt!  As big a leap as any they’d taken from oak tree to pond splash. Thelonius wasn’t there. Just a branch snapped off to bone. Mama was confounded. Perhaps it was all a dream. Perhaps her daughter had lost her mind. 

She’d prayed it was so. 

In the end, they’d had to drag the pond (“for a Nigger, mind you”) as the summer sun gave up and she’d wept through the hands half-covering her eyes. 

Let him be, she’d begged, as they fished out the body. But they’d paid no attention to a girl gone to hysterics. Her pleas had come too late. 

She’d fought for him too late. 

“Thelonius,” she said again, the fulsome vowels a thaw on her tongue.   

The cold stopped and stars dropped from the sky as snowflakes. Softly, with a falling grace. A dying wish. 

Tipping forward, she looked to her reflection in the water, unsurprised by the youthful countenance that inspected her in turn. She’d been so pretty once. She’d forgotten how much. She touched her face. The girl did likewise.  

Slowly, as she continued to gaze into the water’s shapeshifting depths, the stars of Orion sharpened into the brightness of a man’s eyes. And then a smile: a brilliant blossoming of white crescent through a dark throne of night. Eventually, there arose the constellation of his cheeks and neck. And finally, the whole of him. Thelonius. Suddenly and miraculously. Yet somehow, during this moment--and at this holy coordinate--the most natural thing that ever was. 

She reached out to touch the water but stopped, scared. 

Jump.

She heard the voice as clear as day. She heard it as a bell. Snowflakes melted against her bare shoulders and breasts as she peeled the nightgown away and kicked off each boot in turn. She laughed and lifted her palms upwards, hesitating but a little as the snow collected in her hair and hands. 

Jump, May. 

She jumped. 

And before her splash, she heard the nightingale cry out its darkling song.  


--


For more in my "New" series, see 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008. Special thanks to Aniket Thakkar for keeping it going. A nod of gratitude to John Keats as well.

Happy New Year, everyone. May 2013 be good to all of us.  

13 comments:

the walking man said...

Sarah, you have made her jump a leap from the earth to the cosmos.

Charles Gramlich said...

Great lyrical writing, as always. That last line is simply wonderful.

Aniket Thakkar said...

Onions. Onions. Someone ask these damn ninjas to stop cutting onions.

You couldn't wait a few days before making people cry with your words could you.

The Walking Man's comment sums it all up. May found her peace.

Thanks for the mention too. I've never gotten credit for nagging someone before. Feels good. :D With "New" the new year is again off to a good start. :)

Happy Happy New Year, dear friend.

Sarah Hina said...

Mark, that's beautiful. Thank you.

Charles, I owe that one in part to Keats! :) Thanks, my friend.

Aniket, I prefer "inspire" to "nag." But you know--potato, po-tah-to. :)

Happy Happy to you too. I'm deeply grateful for all you've given back to me over the years. I hope this year's the best ever for you.

jennifer zobair said...

She'd fought for him too late.

Such a haunting sentence in such a haunting piece.

Lovely and devastating, Sarah.

I'm glad Aniket nagged/inspired.

Sarah Hina said...

This will only serve to boost his ego, of course.

I feel like I've lost something in my writing lately. Some kind of belief in magic, maybe. Reading Keats' poem reignited that longing.

Thank you, my friend.

Wendy said...

Fabulous as usual, Sarah. Great piece.

Sarah Hina said...

Thank you, Wendy!

Steven Harz said...

loved it!!!

Sarah Hina said...

Thanks, Steven. :)

David Hicks said...

Gorgeous. Good writing, Sarah.

Sarah Hina said...

Thanks, David. I very much appreciate your posting a link on Google+ as well.

Oh James said...

Hello, I just nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award! Check out at the link below:-
http://liftyouup.blogspot.com/2013/01/liester-blog-award.html

Wishing you all the best,

James