I pulled up to the old spot. There he was. I took a shaky breath and closed my eyes. The engine was still running. I didn't get out. I wouldn't dare. When I opened my eyes, I knew instantly. His stance told me everything. He didn't move. He was solid, definite, a rock. The hard rain between us drove the message in deeper and deeper. It fell from the oak above him and tumbled down his face, carving deep canals into his rough skin. Portentous branches from the old oak tree reached down to him, perhaps searching for a soul. There was a distance yet to reach. One which I knew I would never be able to obtain. Yet, I needed some kind of closure - or, a fresh start. I had driven all night to be there, his voice last night sounding desperate and confused, although perhaps not for what I had thought, what I secretly hoped for. Suddenly, I was a capricious teenager. It was the sound of his voice, again. Stupidly, I threw everything aside, jumped into my car and traveled the lonely back country roads to where I had first laid eyes on him. I knew he'd be there. Only last night he had said his marriage was crumbling, the pieces which needed to be placed back together never the right size or shape, dimensions too great to overcome. Sure, he'd been drinking when he told me this, but this time it seemed different, his voice quivered as if... as if he'd been out all evening in the rain and he was soaked to the bone, his soul exposed to the elements, death above him, wanting him, reaching down for the fragments at which he refused to look more closely. Pieces which I believed I could somehow sort out and fit into his puzzle... How stupid I've been all these years to believe... Now, he stands solid, a statue and I am made of paper blowing down lonely country roads, the sound of his voice the wind which moves me...
The engine continued to run and the windshield fogged. I didn't get out. I didn't dare. Streaks on the glass meandered erratically between us. They split us in two. I couldn't look anymore. My eyes wandered upward and to the old oak tree which loomed over him. There wasn't a leaf in sight. It was dying. He didn't move. I closed my eyes.
He was only a blur when I finally drove away. I think I made it back home in the morning rain with my eyes still closed. I don't recall seeing a thing along the way. I can still see that hard stance he held so tight below that old tree. It is always raining when I see him; my eyes are always closed.
M C R
This work is copyrighted by the author, David Woodward. All rights reserved.