It’s devastating if you knew her before, if you knew her like I did. It’s devastating to watch how the slow, confusing, hopeless descent. It’s devastating
to know that the world lost a brilliant, beautiful person and it’s most devastating to wonder what I give my love to now.
I want to write out this story in a way that will glorify her. To show those who judged to look deeper.
December 24th, 1946.
Two days ago the quiet church across the street was completely empty, but for one man. Yes, I attended her funeral alone but in all honesty I’m sure she would have preferred it that way. I look out my window as I write this and see the families beginning to file out of the church doors, the small, rosy cheeked children jumping down the frosted steps in excitement for Christmas morning. Last year on this chilly night we would have been doing the same thing, her and I. Now I have no idea what to do. In fact, I’d completely forgotten it was Christmas at all.
December 29th, 1946.
Today I feel angry. I feel deserted. The saddest thing I’ve come to terms with so far, is the fact that I knew it was coming. I had known it for a long time; let’s see now...six months at least. I remember the night I first feared for her life so clearly. It was just after eleven o’ clock and we’d had a most pleasant evening together. Supper was delicious, conversation never dull, affection always present. My head hit the pillow and I was asleep almost instantly. Who knows what woke me up, who knows how long she’d been up for. The bathroom light was on, that’s the first thing that piqued my curiosity. Knock, knock, knock. No answer. “Sweetheart, are you alright in there?” Long pause without response but the light flicks off suddenly. “Can I come in please?” I jiggle the door handle when my question is ignored. “Unlock the door.” I kick it gently, getting more anxious now. “Open it.” I’m banging loudly. Then I heard the dreaded sounds of crashing banging and glass shattering. “Get away from the goddamn door!” As she yells I finally break the lock and it swings open. I can hardly see anything, but from the little light provided by the moon I detect tiny slivers of what was the bathroom mirror covering the tile floor and in the corner, a foot shrinks away from me. I don’t say anything, but I crouch down low and peer behind the door. Her face is hardly recognizable in the night but for a pair of shiny, unsettled eyes. Turning on the light will make everything worse, more real. We sit in silence for a long time. I wrack my brain for something to say to make everything alright. “Andrew?” she rasps, her voice jagged and disoriented. “I think...can I go to bed now?” I offer my hand and grasp her cold shaking fingers, lifting her gently into my arms. I hold her the entire night as she sleeps, but I am wide awake. When morning comes, I head into the bathroom to pick up the broken glass, mop the dried blood from the floor. As I’m cleaning, I hear a gasp and turn around. She’s standing in the doorway, having just woken up and looking shocked. “Andrew what happened?” I realized then how scared I am.
December 29th, 1949 ~ evening
My mother dropped by this afternoon, claiming it was a friendly visit but I know better. She came to check up on me, make sure I had gotten out of bed that morning. An awkward silence hung in the air throughout the visit, which didn’t last long. I felt I didn’t have the energy to even suggest having coffee or tea with her. We sat in the armchairs. She made small talk for no more than seven minutes. I was quiet while she spoke. To be honest, I had nothing to say to anyone. The whole town must think I’m crazy by now. Don’t think I don’t remember their quizzical looks and whispers when she and I used to take walks. At the beginning of our marriage they used to say “What a nice young couple, so in love.” But that was before she got sick. When our neighbors began hearing stories, they couldn’t believe I hadn’t sent her away or filed for divorce yet. How could I stay with a person like that? What did she have to offer me, to offer anyone? I don’t think any of them know what love is. They live their dull average lives, completely without depth and understanding. The love of my life lost her mind, I watched her unravel for months. But when those moments came, when she could remember fully who I was and what I meant to her, we were the only two people in the world.
January 7th, 1946
It’s just after midnight and everything seems too quiet. I’ve found I can’t sleep lately, but I don’t feel tired. I don’t feel numb and I don’t feel sad. I feel dead, like I wish to be. The talks we would have late at night…the things she could say to make me laugh. When I do doze off now, usually for no more than an hour, I have the same dream over and over. The summer of 1943. It’s the night we met at Le café à Minuit in Sainte Marie. I was traveling with a few friends from college through Europe. France was our last stop, and we were so exhausted from a long day of driving that we stumbled into a small café in a village unknown to use. That’s when I first laid eyes on my Genevieve. And I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Wavy hair just past her shoulders, in a shiny dark brown. Her skin, pale as snow and soft as a feather; I remember it felt like silk against my hand every time I touched her. The first conversation we had was an awkward, somewhat confusing one. She was sitting at a table alone, nose in a book and her index finger trailing around the edge of her coffee mug absently. My pal Tom had been teasing me to go introduce myself and I finally worked up the courage to say hello. Nervously I went to her table and stood there for a moment, looking at her. Her tiny button nose caught the light of a nearby lamp, and her perfect lips moved slightly as she read. Eyes downcast, I could see only dark lashes fanning out and casting shadows upon her glowing cheeks. “Bonjour Mademoiselle,” I began in what I hoped was a confident voice. She looked up after a moment and I think she said something but I was completely lost by then. Breathtaking, wide cat-like hazel eyes peered up at me coyly, dancing in the light of the table candle. Flecks of warm brown and gold dotted the emerald green irises I was faced with. They were mysterious, perceptive and bold. She was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. I snapped back to reality and apologized. Her lips turned up slightly at the corners. “The time, would you happen to know it?”
“Oh. Yes, eleven forty five I believe.”
“Thank you. I really should be leaving.”
“Oh…I suppose it is late. Let me walk you out.”
When she didn’t answer I took it as a yes, and quickly retrieved her coat from the chair I stood behind. She murmured a thank you politely as I held the door open for her. I couldn’t resist following. It was only in the lamplight that I caught a better look at her. She carried herself daintily, elegantly. Her figure was slender and swanlike, legs long and shoulders slim. She wore a knee length cream coat, the edge of her pale yellow dress peeking out of the bottom and swaying gently while she walked. It was then that I realized she wore no shoes, none at all. In fact, I was sure she wasn’t even wearing stockings. “Excuse me; did you forget your shoes?” I asked, catching up to her. She kept a good pace, not the sort of leisurely stroll I’d been used to. Eventually she stopped, quite abruptly I must say, and turned to face me. “If you must know, my shoes were stolen Andrew.” And with that she kept on walking. “How did you know my,”
“I have excellent hearing. I’m heading to the rocks now; join me if it pleases you.” And so we went. It was a short walk down to the coastline and we made
ourselves comfortable leaning against rocks in the sand. The light of the moon cast a peaceful glow upon the calm ocean waves, a gentle summer breeze blowing back her soft hair. I spoke up first,
as she looked out at the sea. “What were you reading before I interrupted?” I asked just out of curiosity. “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn – Betty Smith.” I’d heard about the book from a few friends and
seen it places but had never picked it up before. I thought then that perhaps I would. As it turns out, it became a favorite of mine. Her copy of it still sits in the book case; I can see it as I
So there I was, wondering what on earth I could say to this woman to make me sound interesting, and was just about to ask about her summer when she interjected. “You know…you should take off your shoes as well. It’s very freeing.”
“And how would taking my shoes off make me feel “free”?”
She shrugged, legs swaying against the rock she perched on beside me. “It gives such a better sense of direction. All day long without my own shoes, I’ve really given a lot of thought to where I’m going. And more importantly, why it is that I’ve chosen to go there. The day has been altogether more enjoyable without them in some ways. I suppose I really ought to thank the thief who has them now.” Her lengthy explanation drew a laugh out of me. I’d never met a more peculiar person in my life.
“I hadn’t expected a logical response to that question to be honest. Alright then, off they go.” Now at this point, I had always intended to keep my shoes with me and put them on again later when we walked back. I slipped them off my feet and placed them on the space between us. I must admit, I felt very lively doing it. A twinkle appeared in her eye as she looked on at me, a small smirk upon her lips. “I think you’d better let the socks go as well, just to make it even.” Once I was barefoot, she stood upon the rock, slipping a little as she rose and took my shoes into her hands. “What on earth are you doing?” I’d asked the question too late I’m afraid, for it was then that she flung them as far as she could into the water and let out a contagious giggle. I wanted to be angry with this strange young woman for doing what she did, but for some reason I found it so hilarious I could barely keep from falling off the rock. Perhaps I was more drunk than I’d thought. After we’d had our great laugh, she sat back down and leaned against me. “I’m feeling dreadfully tired Andrew, aren’t you?”
“We should head back now.” Her head fell against my shoulder and I felt her soft hair against my neck. I decided I was very content with this position and let it linger a while. “Say, I never caught your name.”
“Oh…oh yes, it’s Genev…”
And with that she was asleep. Actually, within five minutes both of us had fallen asleep on the shore, leaning against the rocks. You wouldn’t believe it, but it was the most comfortable night I’d ever slept through.
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