I gasped in shock as the scream slammed into me. It took me a few moments to realize that the awful guttural sound of pure rage had emerged from my own throat.
All of the past year I have tried to run away from that scream. It was the sole witness to that truth you told me that day, a year back. The truth set my teeth on edge and tumbled my house of dreams to dust with its foul breath. I realized the flimsiness of the structure only after it was destroyed. In hindsight, I am surprised at my surprise. I mean, what on earth was I thinking?
For one year I have told myself that the truth will not be the truth- will not BE- if I could only leave that scream behind. I hated it, that mortally-wounded-animal cry that issued from my throat that day. The grate of it turned my nerves jagged and my guts liquid. It doused me with cold sweat as it swelled from deep within me. It shattered one of my pet delusions about myself; shattered it like a flimsy glass bulb meeting the ruthless reality of a concrete floor. I can never tell myself again that I am courageous; I am not. I am an abject coward—for I cannot take the truth. There cannot be bigger cowardice than the one which would rather close its eyes than see a truth—however unacceptable. A lie to the world is innocent compared to a lie one perpetrates upon oneself. It is corrupt on so many levels.
Like a cunning predator lulling its prey into a false sense of security, the scream hid off-stage for a year. It sardonically watched me rebuild my house of hope. It let me think that I had escaped its deadly claws. I had begun to breathe easy, thinking the scream had given up. It could afford to play a languid cat to my mouse. It knew it could pounce on me at will. It knew I carried the seed of that truth in my soul, the truth I ran from—whose emblem it was. One whiff of that truth and I could be had. Its ultimate victory was inevitable, deny it as I might. Now that it has cornered me again, I know there is nowhere to run.
That day, a year ago, you told me the truth. Not the almost truth you had been telling me for long, but the absolute truth. After the frothy sweetness of the almost truths sliding smoothly into me, filling the empty crevices with loving warmth, the acrid bitterness of the absolute one seared my soul.
It reduced me to the state of an animal whose paw has been caught in the jaws of a death trap.
Once the trap is sprung, there is nothing the dumb beast can do but to wail its outrage to a snowbound silence. As the shock wears off, he begins to feel the merciless fingers of ice freezing his marrow. He closes his eyes to the truth and runs around in a futile attempt to assess the damage. With the sweetest, most winsome words, it tells itself that all is not lost and that things aren’t really bad. Come morning, telling himself the ultimate lie, he is sure be rescued. The trap will be prised open, his paw will be cared for. In a few days, this bleak night will fade into a dream and he will be running again, light as the wind. His passion for life doesn’t let the brute lose hope. He suffers on and on… all through the cold night. The cold gets deeper with each passing hour of his agony. But he endures it, waiting for the night to end.
He doesn’t let his pain overwhelm him. He fights fierce and bloody battles with an insidious voice in his head telling him he is doomed. With a heroic effort, he manages to quell the voice to a whisper. To drown out that whisper, he calls loudly to his Lord in entreaty. He entreats as much as his sense of justice would permit him. He begs piteously, the untarnished, never-used words tumbling from him. He demands succour of the universe. His blunt, rough words sink into the snow warmed with the heat of his passion. They never reach the delicate ears of his Lord.
With the first rays of the sun wrapping him in a thin blanket of tepid warmth, he feels a new surge of hope. He tries to fool himself into believing that the absence of cold is the same as warmth—as if the absence of death could ever be life! He desperately tries to convince himself that he would soon be made whole again. As the shroud of the night lifts away from him, the trapper arrives on the scene and humanely puts him out of his misery.
No, I didn’t die that day, a year ago. That day was the beginning of the long night.
I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself. ~D. H. Lawrence Click To Tweet
Do you remember how I would look at you and say “Mine”? In these final moments of my life, while the snow beneath my body runs in scarlet rivulets, I know the truth. I never had a right to that word. It was forbidden to me. I chose to pronounce it as I looked at you. By pronouncing it, I set the trap with my own hand and became the trapper. The bullet didn’t kill me, the word did. I played with the laws of the universe, refusing to give a thought to consequences.
I know well that every decision and action has consequences. I didn’t forget. My mistake was worse than a poor memory. It is something for which I must give credit to you.
I dared to imagine myself beyond consequences. I thought I was above the law; a law known for its ridiculously long arms. The law was for ordinary humans. I thought I was among the Gods, nay more, I thought I was God. You made me feel like that. The reality of the feeling is the only compliment I can pay you.
I read once that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I hope there is a special hell reserved for those who have loved—not wisely or prudently—but with all they had. I am sure the road to that hell is paved with almost-truths. But I shouldn’t be wasting precious moments thinking of irrelevant things. I have something far more important to say.
During the long night, something seems to have fallen away from me. I feel light, buoyed up by a feeling too full to describe. All the knots of terror have been cut loose. My spirit has been set free. There is peace in me now. A smiling, serene peace. I seem to have found my lost courage.
I cannot, I WILL NOT regret it. I have looked into destiny’s eyes and grinned. Whether my audacity was born of impudence or from an innocent lack of awareness, I climbed onto the Goddess’s pedestal and kissed her stone lips. I took what was forbidden to me. If the consequences of those kisses is banishment from life, I would kiss her again and again. That moment of glory is worth an eternity of exile. You must remember that—I demand it of you.
I will die as I lived… untamed… beyond laws that expect regret.
Drawn from the inner core into words..the feelings flow free for the audience to hold..
And you seem to have held them. My job is done then. Nothing can please a writer more than finding a reader who resonates with what she has written. Thank you for the resonance.
Pried out like the floorboards of an abandoned house, the wood that is now creaking,
from the weight of courage stepped upon, seems like you once thought your trust was free and you know now just what it cost….
I suppose this is what people mean when they talk of maturity. One learns the world and its ways. One learns to value oneself… a faculty one seemed to have missed out on in one’s youth. And so yes, the education continues. 🙂
Pleased as punch to see you here. 😀
Little to say- the story hides a lot of things…
I liked the transition from “No, I didn’t die that day, a year ago. That day was the beginning of the long night.” to the ending “I will die as I lived… untamed… beyond laws that expect regret.”
reasons unstated, but the story is a statement of strength. Yours!
It is the hidden things that make a story play itself out in the mind of the reader. I am pleased there are hidden moments in the story. Reasons unstated..? But why not state them? The story is a statement of strength you say. Yes it is. It is the strength of a quintessential survivor given words. Survivors such as you… and me. We will die as we have lived. That is the essence of us. That’s what we are… and shall remain.
Pleasure to see you here. 🙂