Short Story – “The Fate of Farewells” – Chapter I – Modern Romanticism – 4/24/2022

I

For Sickness, for Shame

The time has come. The time did come. When bedsheets are folded over as pages of a Bible, turning to scriptures written to the weight of loss in the heaviness of the physical copy; and the water comes to take the end away. The sun rose, and then it was destined to fall when a woman, once an infant girl, laid in her own mother’s arms in the sweetest comfort and cornered by the warmest eyes. Water did come from that stare to take the end, the pain, away.

While she grew, she was given a fate to end unwell. Doctors were to be her reaper, while nurses stayed around her as groundskeepers. In her adulthood, she has a husband. That man is hurling anger, a stage of a time under the same directed fate, towards the reaper, to death, to the fate that should have never arrived.

He walks up to one of them, to say, “I cannot conform with this! Why isn’t there something more to be done?”

The doctor, the reaper, the last effort before a tear can fall to a burial of a body says, “There is not anything more to be done. I am sorry.”

The apology does not reach the husband. Instead, he says that to himself, aloud, and audibly to the doctor, “I am sorry.” It was so to himself, in him looking away from the doctor to the window where if looking beyond, one can see the wife. However, the reflection of himself, covered in a shade darker than mother earth, smothers the attempt to see his love.

His glance hangs a moment longer, tilting his neck an inch lower as if to swing there, under the depth to his coming depression, as though predicting it. He lets a tear fall. An autumn leaf that loses its home in the balance of a tree branch, coming to its odd serenity of decay among the collection of others to its likeness. A relief of words are the ones to come forth from his lips, “I repeat, I apologize,” talking to his reflection, instead of his beloved. He continues with, “You are the only hideous thing in this place full of white and too much emptiness. There will be too much to wait for, and still too much to go on without.”

He walks closer to his own reflection, leaving the doctor to say to a nurse standing nearby, “I will let him have his time.”

His walk stumbles, while he shambles forward as though afraid of what he notices. If in not seeing his wife, though himself, there is blame. There could, not only to himself, though to his wife, be the same level of blame. He says to the reflection, “Someone, or something, must leave from this picture, this fragile and miserable-looking appearance before me.”

Her bed, a cradle. Her eyes, wanting.

A wife in her mid-thirties. Disease has traveled the course of her form, leaving it drying itself of life, with the drought siphoning all the water out. This time, the waves will be hard to come by. They are, to the doctor’s field of vision and professionalism, an impossible task to any attempt to cure the ailment. If the nurses remain as groundskeepers, she should be pronounced as dead, if left up to the husband’s comprehension. To hospice, would she go there? To be comforted by nothing except for the thrill of a life left up to by this somber degree of fate, as that would repeat the era of no consolation. Nothing but tears await such a destination. What kisses would be genuine?

In pain, in ruins, and in thinnest disregard to a dying soul, here stands a man unable to see beyond the curtain of faceless flesh before his eyes. He runs a long glance to his face, one that has been carved there, to see a drafted stain. An incomplete version of a man without a form of his own. A stranger.

Whenever he should pull back the curtain, he would notice a garden. A garden of briars and thorns, wilting even under the wash of photosynthesis from a springtime sun. Nothing grows from her. Nothing grows from himself. To pull the curtain back would reveal no difference between the two sights. Himself or her, there can be nothing more to this than strangers looking at each other in the same casket, though for the fear of the sight, cannot open their eyes.

If he noticed her, he would not see beauty.

No rose can be conferred in the light of what will be lost, to become the token of remembrance in everything remaining. To him, all that would remain is an empty vase.

An empty lane without the steps to walk along, for only he would remain to himself. Pain holds him, here, closer than anything else that has embraced his form. He bleeds closer to himself, than to her. Cruelly suffering for himself, and without much to identify with her for, despite the lack of difference to either. In his reflection, in noticing himself, a monster stares back to snarl at him. A fanged beast, cloaked in ebony fur, digging daggers from his eyes to puncture both man’s lungs. It is a monster he recognizes.

It is himself he lacks recognition for.

In his plight of disillusion, he states, “If I could ridicule what I see, it would go through. It would go through to her, to who is dying in her breath, her darkening vision, among everything else that holds plague to her flesh. To whom? Who? Who is she, anymore?”

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