Sunday, August 9, 2009

Short Story X



Short Story Sunday has reached double digits. Hopefully you'll enjoy the latest one, and as always, all comments are appreciated. An old ad campaign once gave us the great line - Between love and madness lies obsession. "I Watch" is about living in between.








I Watch


BY ROY L. PICKERING JR.







I watch as she floats across the street, her daughter's tiny hand securely clasped in her own. The sun competitively brightens in envy of her superior radiance. Other pairs of eyes cannot help but be drawn to her, taking an all too brief moment to pay ocular appreciation, but only mine fail to unlock from the vision. I watch with a completeness swiftly growing extinct in a world full of easy access distractions. It would be simpler to tear a coat of paint from a house in a single strip than to remove my retinas from the feast of delights before them. Every blink is a torturous nanosecond away from paradise.

I watch as she delivers her angel safely to the schoolyard, and then heads underground. As always I follow, my focus unwavering, my distance painstakingly calculated. Never so near as to cause discomfort, but always in close enough proximity to keep her within range of my tunnel vision. I prepare for the inevitable. A train pulls into the station and she embarks, moments later transported beyond the scope of my radar. It will be several hours before I am next able to gaze upon her. I can wait. It is what I do second best. As for first ...

I watch her emerge, appearing in increments with each step up the stairwell, beauty exposed gradually like the blossoming of a rose on a nature program where the film is sped up to make hours transpire in mere seconds. I wish the pavement was sand so I might marvel at the evidence of her path. While waiting for a traffic light to change she bathes in the illumination of the night; street lamps; garish neon signs from businesses desperate to attract attention; the winks of angels and the steady one eyed squint of God, better known as stars and moon. I follow dreamily, taking special delight in inhaling the air she has just exhaled.

I linger for a minute after she enters her home, her life beyond that which is lived in my eyes. My gaze cannot penetrate the brick walls, but imagination takes me where I do not wish to go. My mind's eye presents the image of the woman I crave in the company of her husband, a photocopy of marital bliss. Against my will and the laws of science it seems I can hear through those walls the pet names they have for one another, that I am able to witness them making passionately tender love. What I imagine her hidden life to be is no doubt close to the truth, but truth can be denied if not examined too closely, whereas imagination is beyond dispute.

Though my gaze upon her is remarkably steady and constant, the fact of the matter is that I take in only what I want to see, reinforcing that she exists for me, and me alone. Her present circumstances are no more than a mirage, a period I must endure to prove my heart true. Time will eventually see to its demise. Then the prophecy which has been written across the sky in indelible ink will come to fruition. Calendars will be discarded along with all time pieces, for the world will have a new starting point. Until that moment arrives, I watch.

I've watched the way she brushes back her hair, fingers reveling as they part five separate trails through a velvet ocean. I've watched her drop a cigarette to the ground, step on just the embers with the toe of her left shoe, slightly twist it away from her body, then back towards it, the sweetest extinction of fire one has ever witnessed. I've watched her resting on her belly on a blanket in the park, her feet free from high heeled bondage, toes curled as if preparing to sleep in fetal position. I've watched the maternal glow her face takes on as her daughter bounds off to join classmates. I've watched the corners of her mouth turn down as she glances at her watch, concerned about running late. I've watched the last seven years mature, refine and perfect a beauty that could render a man helpless. And so it did, and continues to do. I've taken her in little by little until I contain nothing but desire for this woman who passes by the window of my world, and I am content merely to watch. For now.

The time is destined to come when I will devour what a mere taste of proved devastatingly addicting. She was impossibly lovely and morose on that distant night when I spoke my first words to her. The man she thought would be there forever had abandoned her. I wanted to tell her she was mistaken. He who would never leave was still present, because that man was not who she thought, whose absence she mourned by trying to drink away the pain, but was I. These thoughts I held inside, and instead let myself be absorbed by her emerald eyes while listening compassionately until she tired of talk. At her suggestion she left the bar with me, came home with me, and there we became one, her smooth caramel complexion contrasting against my taut milk chocolate. As if we had spent countless hours independently rehearsing for this performance, the movements of my hardness and her softness were simultaneously strenuous and effortless, our synchronicity echoed by our shadows on the wall. Her fingers kneaded my musculature while I plunged into the depths of her moistness and emerged baptized, saved, born again. My tongue followed the exquisite curvature of her body, rejoiced as the narrow of her waist expanded to the ripe thickness of her hips, paid homage in clockwise rotation to her plump lips, right collar bone, the peak of a succulent breast, its twin sister, left collar bone, then back to where my journey begun. I delightfully lapped up every drop of her sweaty sweetness as she panted for more and I obliged on command. Not quite at the same moment yet both on cue, our mutual desire exploded and our bodies writhed uncontrollably, locked into place, then gradually sunk into her mattress as tension released into the night like doves to the sky.

She had noticed how I unwaveringly stared at her on Friday nights as she unwound at the end of each work week. The directness of my gaze did not bother her, for it seemed more admiring than lustful, more appreciative than hungry, though the thoughts held beneath it were actually equal parts all of the above. She had known for a long time that I yearned for her, but she was not available, and if she had been, it would have been left up to me to do something about it. The arrival of such a moment seemed wholly improbable, until it was suddenly before us. That night she rewarded my slow but steadily boiling fervor. When she closed her eyes to repose after our passion was spent, instead of also going to sleep I stood guard till dawn; memorizing her expression in slumber; hypnotized by the rise and fall of her abdomen; engulfed by the scent of her sex; mentally connecting the dots that formed the supple lines of her body. The next morning I planned to divulge all I had stored within the deepest chambers of my over packed heart. But I didn't get the chance. She saw the words coming and purposefully cut them off with those of her own. Words that shredded my dreams to confetti.

We were to pretend it never happened, or that it didn't matter. For me both scenarios were beyond comprehension, but she was already well underway, had perhaps begun to forget even as it was taking place. I had been used to help put the past behind her, to kick start the future, but not one in which I would play a part. As much as one appreciates a band aid for stemming the flow of their blood, they also cannot wait to tear it off and discard what immediately grows useless once its purpose has been served.

I accepted these terms, though I knew they would straitjacket me. I did not want to pressure her. Due to great patience I had managed to physically possess her, although under cruelly temporary circumstances. I would wait a little longer, until she realized there was no need to search further and surrendered her soul to my adoration on a permanent basis. There existed no doubt in my mind that she would soon recognize the inevitability or our joint destiny.

Two months later I sat in my usual place on a Friday night, watching as another man won her smiles before my scarcely blinking eyes. Yet I did not worry. Not at first. But as time passed by, days turning to weeks and then months, his presence refusing to fade away as expected, the truth could be denied no longer. This man would succeed where I had failed for the simple reason of superior timing. Her heart was now healed, she was ready to move on, and that is what she did. Within a year they were wed. What was I to do but swallow my torment? And watch.

I hold firm to the trust I have in fate, continue to revitalize myself by her existence while keeping my presence scarcely detectable. Good things come when they are awaited, and so they will, and until then, I watch.

I have been with many women since she put a taint on the rest of her sex. Others can be no more than settling for me, and that is something I refuse to do. The standard was set too high to be reached by mere mortals. Their imperfections blare too brightly, contrast too sharply with the Heaven I know can and does exist. They fulfill my basest needs, nothing less or more.

Fortunately, I have a special talent that gets me through the nights I fill. If I look at a woman intently enough, my eyes can transform her briefly into whom I wish her to be. This trick doesn't last for long, but for long enough. I scarcely make a sound as we thrash about, hopeful that the body beneath me does not recognize that in my silence, I am screaming the name of another.

My life is on hold, this I freely admit. I know what I want, nothing less will suffice. I ache at the close of each day that does not end with her in my arms. Yet I go to sleep full of hopeful anticipation that when I awaken, my dreams will venture beyond sleep.

I need no convincing that every passing second is one closer to the one I long for. There exists not a shred of self-consciousness or shame suggesting that I change my ways. For what I do is pure, the most holy thing imaginable, undertaken for no less a motive than love without boundaries, without conditions, without a date of expiration.

Even so, in order to endure seven years of ceaseless hunger and be willing to embrace an indefinite amount more, I need something to sustain me. The strongest of faith requires the occasional reassuring nudge from God. Every so often, following no particular pattern, always watched for yet never expected when it happens, I receive a sign, the most subtle of gifts. On certain nights indistinguishable at the start from any other, as she bathes in radiance drawn both from manmade illumination and celestial bodies, she will turn slightly towards me. Her eyes will rest on mine for a brief span of time. No change is undergone by her expression. Before the beating of my heart has time to accelerate, the moment will have passed. She will have continued on her way, and once again I simply do not exist to her. But this is of no matter, for the moment was there, it was real, and within it everything I needed to hear was stated. My presence was more than merely acknowledged. It was welcomed, encouraged. Permission was granted to continue waiting for a day that may not be foreseeable, but is nonetheless set in stone somewhere on the horizon. Until then, there is but one thing for me to do.

And so I watch.


















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