Excess Beyond Consumption is Entropy
Part Three of The White Darkness series
Back to Part Two: Shadow of a Doubt
Or where it all begins: Guided At Night by Factory Lights
Sometimes you cannot go home.
Water under too many bridges. Too much ground to cover. Not enough hours in the day. A sense that something is missing. Life becomes a mystery and no one plays charades any more. Three steps forward and one to the left. A knight needs to acquire more fluid movements. Change happens. Stagnation never goes away.
There was a run down old diner not far from the reservoir where Miles spent most of his time in contemplation of what he mistakenly referred to as a curse. He saw too much. He always had. When the lights went out and the stars and the moon were all that kept darkness at bay, Miles resisted the temptation to dance. Those who danced on graves for recreation were not in the same book of the month clubs as Miles was, but they beckoned to him.
You can only chase a shadow so far before it gets the better of you. Hearts go to war before they decide it is better to embrace and to lift each other up the stepladder to the higher shelves that most people walk past day in and day out without so much as noticing that they are there.
No matter where you go, there was someplace that you used to be. There will always be someplace you would rather be. There will always be ecstatic instants that the soul remembers well beyond the pale sheets of darkness that batter against the inner self like waves crashing against a tired and battered cliff face.
Jeannie was sitting in the diner, occupying a booth with two girlfriends while Miles occupied a stool alone at the counter. Miles wondered what the other girls knew of the previous evening, where Miles had watched something uncomfortable transpire between Jeannie and several men, including her brother Bobby. Jeannie looked detached, barely paying attention, throwing in ineffective laugh spasms whenever one of her friends said something that was supposed to be funny. Miles watched her, looking over his shoulder at Jeannie from time to time, and eventually she noticed he was watching. She looked into his eyes, radiating sorrow and anger simultaneously, but neither was directed towards Miles. Regardless, he quickly looked away and pretended to be preoccupied with his bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. He closed his eyes and stared into the black coffee he clutched in his left hand. He closed them tighter, and the room exploded with a flash of white.
When he opened his eyes again, he saw the woman from the reservoir who had been stepping into the water with his tiny baby in her arms. She was taking over the shift from the waitress who was serving the back booths in the diner. She looked different in her waitress uniform, not necessarily more attractive, but certainly more able to blend into her surroundings. Miles strained to read her name tag across the room, but she was too far away. Then he felt dizzy, closed his eyes, and the name badge flashed brilliantly in his mind. Her name was Jayne, spelled with the kind of "y" that asked too many questions all at once while skating around the answers.
"Jeannie wanted me to say 'hi' to you for her."
Miles heard the voice and closed his eyes again. He saw Jeannie's face in his mind, flashing with such energy and warmth that she knocked him off his stool yet his body did not move so much as one inch. He opened his eyes, realized he had not fallen to the floor, and looked at the girl who had approached him. It was one of the girls sitting with Jeannie at the booth and she was giggling. Miles smiled and nodded.
"I never said that.
Ignore Kat, she's an idiot."
"I kind of wish you had, but I realize you're not that transparent. Want to go to the movies?"
A mere three days later, Miles and Jeannie were sitting in adjoining seats at the movie theatre. When asked years later what picture they had gone to see, Miles could not remember. He remembered everything else.
She came to see him at the photography studio. There were visits to the Pathos Dairy, where the world's best ice cream was served. There were long, endless telephone conversations and innocent kisses in stairwells. Then came the letter.
"Anyone could die in the next five minutes without upsetting the balance of the world."
The letter was sitting in an envelope next to the cash register at the studio when Miles came in to work. His name was written on the envelope in the handwriting of a little girl. Fernando, decked out in a lovely spring gown, but frustrated by the uneven hem lines, could not remember who had brought the envelope in.
I didn't want to do this
I had to do this
It isn't right like this
None of this makes any sense
We both need something else
We are lying to each other
We never talk about anything
Our relationship is so shallow
Let's go our seperate ways
While this still has good memories
It isn't about you
This is about me
Take care of yourself
Hugs and Kisses
There had been a girl. Now there was supposed to be a memory. Miles put the letter in his pocket and took the rest of the afternoon off. He walked for blocks, walking past the diner and watching Jayne the waitress waiting tables before deciding he had to see Jeannie. There were too many things he had not told her. Too many things were left unsaid. She had been right. Their relationship was shallow, they never talked about anything, but that wasn't because the people involved were shallow. It was because they were trying too hard to protect each other by pretending to create a warm, rosy glow. Sunlight burns the skin, and warmth is little more than an illusion. The only real warmth comes from digging into the wretched caverns of what we keep buried deepest within and letting it melt across the essence of a kindred spirit.
"She never walks alone."
The sun had begun dropping below the horizon when Miles reached the house that Jeannie lived in. It was darker than it should have been. It was darker than night preferred to be, and yet Miles could see everything so clearly. Jeannie's father was standing in the yard, holding a rake and staring up at the sky. Another brother, not the one Miles had seen that rainy night so long ago, was talking to him. The father was not listening. Somehow, Miles knew that no one else is home.
"There is a place in the park where she likes to swing."
Miles continued walking, feeling cold even though the humidity remained oppressive. His ankles were tightening, refusing to continue the mad journey. Still, Miles knew where the park was, just on the other side of the graveyard.
There was a brilliant flash of darkness, and Miles saw his father's cookie jar again. His vision showed him Jeannie reaching for the cookie jar but being unable to reach it. Then the cookie jar was gone and Miles tripped over a crack in the sidewalk, buying his chin the need for a handful of stitches. That would come later. There was still something that needed to be done.
The graveyard was quiet, its occupants tired and restless, waiting for George Romero to give them something to do. It wasn't the focus of Miles' attention. It wasn't important. What was important was reaching that park before something else did. There was something slicing through the darkness in Miles' mind and it made him want to cry out, save for the lady with an empty baby stroller watching him from the other side of the street. She started shaking a baby's rattle at him, causing him to walk a little quicker, despite his pain frozen ankles and his profusely bleeding chin.
"Paths intertwine for reasons that can only be seen in the absence of color."
Miles reached the park, moving as if his boots were sealed in fifty pound bags of cement and a tapir had jumped on his back trying to get a free pass through life.
"Jeannie, please, we belong together. You just don't get it yet, but you will. I can't explain it. The darkness blinds me and I don't know what to do, but I have to love you. I have to love you!"
The words poured out of Miles after his ankles failed him and his knees hit the hard stone walkway at the entrance to the park. No one heard him, aside from a young girl with a yo-yo who knew her name was not Jeannie. Her mother had told her that her name was Candy, so she walked away from this man and ran back towards her house. Candy did not live far. Miles lived much further.
The last thing Miles saw before being blinded by the darkness was a single swing swaying back and forth in the playground. It was so lonely, but still so warm.
To Part Four: Don't miss me until I'm dead