Fallen Sunrise

She did not smell the same. Nor for that matter, did she taste the same. Then again, he doubted that he did either. She was young once, just as he was. They were wildly in love once, just as it should have been. At least, that was how he figured it.
He thought as her lips pressed onto his, just how full they use to be. They were thin now. He pretended not to notice and kissed back.
In memory, she was youthful and decidedly beautiful. Admittedly, that was when he was a young man and she a young woman; when her hair was still black and his grace so very obvious in youth.
Waves of the midnight hour lapped without restraint upon the ocean shore. When he was young, it would have seemed to him that these waves were succumbing to the moment of two lovers; that the world would bend for them; him young and brilliant, her innocent and beautiful. Now these waves were simply independent sources, no more subjected to his will than time that had turned his and her hair grey.
It was of her accord that the kiss was broken but not the embrace. He could only pretend to understand her motive for laying her head upon his shoulder and taking in his scent, then releasing her breath as a sigh. In accordance, he wrapped his arms around her waist. Not really because he wanted to, or that his body told him that he should; but rather only for the incentive to feel that young selfish love again. His only reaction for the failing motive of the embrace was to hold her tighter. Nothing changed to suggest it was working.
Together they swayed with the breeze in rhythm of the ocean waves. They were in time with the waves, he thought, the waves were not in time with him. Together they swayed nonetheless.
Her hand, graceful, but similar to the quality of worn leather, took his and began leading him along the shore. He accepted it, though he was not completely sure why. Perhaps it was obligation or just simply indifference.
Her voice, once sweet in girlish seduction, now contained a raspy. “The night is beautiful.” She always had a way of carrying her words with such undeniable grace. He was so used to her gift that it was not even worth recognizing anymore.
He would not deny that truth, “Yes.” He drove for deviation of her eyes upon his, “Look at the stars.”
A lapse in movement of the walking pair allowed a safe moment to gaze upon the heavens. It was in this allotted time that somehow she wound up in his arms once again. He could not think who had acted first, her or him, but together they stood, so close that it was almost as if they were a single unit.
They spoke of quiet things; of their eldest, James-of the youngest, John. They spoke of the future of they could not be sure that there was much left of. They spoke of these things because they were what they had always spoken of. Like an addictive reliance, it had always given them a satisfaction speaking of possible, but mostly improbable, futures.
It was not a long walk back to their home by the sea. Not long at all, just slow going upon tired legs.
She kissed him once more. “To sleep then.”
He nodded, and mumbled something similar to agreement.
Another kiss, once more induced by her, was given, “Love you.”
Once more he mumbled his consent.
He woke with the morning, or rather before it. The sun was still hiding somewhere in the mountains. His gait was heavy upon the cool hardwood floors. It was of no concern to him to wake her. Then again, he could not think why it really mattered that he just left her sleeping.
There was a dull aching in his ears and a building tension in his forehead as he heard the grating upon the window frame. He knew without the process of thought and rather just the familiarity of habit, that the sound that irked him so, was induced by the creature that wanted into the house.
She had always had a soft heart for those cats. The black one in particular; he could not even begin to count all the times he had entertained the idea of shooting the little beast down, perhaps even drowning it. The most recent episode was when he discovered his jacket along with his pants, smelled exactly like cat piss.
He could not understand how she could love something so vile, as unloving as that animal. It would much rather bite and scratch you than it would to have you pet it. Not that he had ever bothered to try. He had only to deal with the small children who had attempted such a feat, only to be met with sharp claws.
His heavy footsteps moved uninterestedly to the doorway. The bottom of the door grated along the welcoming mat as it was pulled open, creating a soft grating that made his back tingle uncomfortably. The cat swerved through his legs upon entrance into the house. The urge to kick the animal was resisted as he took a step forward into the morning air.
The world seemed particularly lazy today, or maybe that was just because he was awake too early. In either case, it was in an easy contentment, and he waited for it, amused just how awed he was at the dawn of a new day, even after all his time.
It was always a halo that came first, just strong enough to turn the vast blue of the horizon into a heavy purple. These colors would then in complete reassurance, transform in a gradual fashion. So gradual, it was difficult to distinguish when it transcended into light. Only was it discernable in retrospect. He had watched the skies become dominated by bright pinks and oranges before he had the chance to realize it. The bafflement did not upset him, but comforted him. It felt better not knowing.
She was an exotic find. It was in those first moments that he saw her, which he had found himself drawn to her, not really knowing why or remembering how he had managed the meager words of greeting. She was too kind, far too brilliant not to answer. Or maybe she had been attracted just as vainly to him as he her.
‘Perhaps’, he thought. He knew very well that he was young once. Those were the days he fondly remembered but spoke nothing about. When the nights were exchanged for the days and laughter was used to cover up fears. When being stupid could be attributed to youth, and a smile was all he needed. It would have been charming, that reckless bravado. It was easier thinking this way. Then no longer was she a kind saint who took pity upon a helpless boy, bewitched by her…the word…beauty.
Yes, he admitted to himself, she was very beautiful once. And now? Now she was his wife. Now she was aged just a perfectly and as foully as him. Now it was her smile, now it was her compassion, now it was only something to remember, now it was something to live with; the remnants of vanity. Of his vanity, and what he hoped was hers as well. He wringed his hands together. It would be so much easier if it was her vanity too. For some reason as the sun peaked over the distant horizon, he could not settle the unease of this thought.
He thought of waking her. He wanted to see her face when she opened her eyes. He wanted to see that reaction of initial disgust, to know, that she too was just like him. That she was horrible too. So that he would have no reason to feel guilt.
She laid just the way he left her, still under the worn quilts. She was very clear to him with the sun playing upon her hair like that. Wrinkles lax in sleep, face blank and he could hope it to be as graceful. The change would be so much more apparent that way; graceful wisdom to aged disgust. Yes, had to see it. He did not want to know truly, what she thought of him. He only wanted to see her reaction and take it for what he wanted it to be, what he hoped it to be; to simply see and assume and then not truly know. Yes, that was exactly what he wanted.
He placed his hand upon her frail shoulder and shook in a manner he knew to be gently. “Honey, wake up. Come see the morning.”
Her body moved with the force of his hand upon her shoulder, but that was the only movement. His shaking became more insistent; almost unbearably forceful.
His voice, though he did not realize it, became quicker, and higher pitched, “Marie.”
Nothing moved. Those eyes…her eyes… remained closed. There was nothing to be seen, nothing to be comforted, no suspicion or selfish incentive cured. There she lay, completely still, just as the way he had left her as he did all the times before. His hands moved over her face; completely cold.
He could not make sense of the tears on his face. It was a long while that he sat there, his hand tracing the contours of her lips, then her nose, very gently then her closed eyes, down to her narrow jaw, and finally her graceful neck. He did not think or know of much, other than the way the sun lightened her face.
He was prompted to look down when he felt the cat rub up against his leg. He was tempted to kick it as he did all those times before. Yet as the cat weaved lazily around his legs, he could not find the anger to do so. The black sheen was brilliant in this light. He watched and he listened as her cat meowed for attention.
He smiled at the beast, “You must be hungry. Let’s get you some milk.”

Fallen Sunrise


Joined January 2008

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