Soggy Eyes

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
An old man, whose philosophy and love of live was all contained in his wife, must now decide how to continue on, now that she is dead.

Submitted: November 12, 2012

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Submitted: November 12, 2012

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He was tired.

Fatigue filled the cracks in his lined face, darkening his once fiery eyes that now drooped in a shrug of acknowledged defeat. His back was painfully hunched, twisted from so many years of looking down timidly at his feet when others attempted to speak to him. He was a broken machine.

Outside, the wind was screaming, throwing itself against the man’s fragile windows, desperate to escape the suffocating night. The glass warbled and warped with the force, but held strong. Nothing would be able to break into the man’s house tonight, except maybe sadness.

As another gust rattled the skeletal limbs of the trees, the man shuddered violently. He trudged over to his barren kitchen, fumbling with the teakettle. Steam billowed, and the spicy sweet scent of cinnamon and herbs rushed into his body, warming him down to his capillary veins.

 He took a sip, felt the dopamine race from his brain to his toes and back again. But as he carried his mug over to the living room, half the liquid spilled out due to his trembling hands onto a disarray of old photographs below the mantle of the fireplace.

The man cursed, some dated word that had lost its significance, and gingerly wiped the liquid from the face of a young woman who smiled back at him. Her eyes, the bluish-steel of a midwinter sky, gazed back at him adoringly, their life preserved only in the soggy photograph. The tea made it look like she was crying.

They had found each other, so many years ago, by some intangible fate, becoming something beautiful in the way that lonely piano notes bloom into chords. He loved her, loves her.

But sometimes, found things are lost.

It was fifty-four years ago, when the old man (young then) was wandering through an art gallery in Boston. Both had come across a colossal painting, thirty feet in dimension, completely blank. There were other paintings like that in the room, smaller, but by the same artist. One was red and two were black.

The woman, a college student then, with her curly hair cut short and dyed blue, shimmied up to the man, and they stared at the painting together.

“It’s funny how someone can make boatloads of money by doing nothing and calling it everything.” She exclaimed aloud suddenly, turning to him. “I mean, this artist is lying to everybody. This isn’t art!”

The man, terribly anxious that such an intriguing stranger was talking to him, ducked his head shyly. “Perhaps that’s exactly what people need,” he murmured softly. “Lies, for them to interpret however they desire.”

A bit of a smile tugged at the woman’s lips. “Maybe,” she said, “but there’s nothing here. It’s blank.”

The man finally looked up at her, his eyes bright. “An absence of something isn’t nothing. Just like an absence of love isn’t hate.”

Silence fell between them. They looked back up at the painting with a new understanding, each smiling inside.

It was then that the two fell in love. Not with each other’s appearances, for the woman thought the man looked like a dull old fart with his button-down and Oxfords, and the man thought the woman looked wildly eccentric in her bright flowing skirt and Birkenstocks.

No, they were simply captivated with each and each other’s minds, which would grow to be important, as the tides of time became intent on washing their faith away.

Over the next few happy years, the man and the woman relied on the other. Their daily routines became a sort of coordinated ballet. One would make breakfast, the other do the dishes. Housework was even more intricate in its design, for the woman couldn’t wash the laundry on rainy days because it made her head ache, and the man was secretly terrified of the spiders that lurked in the dusty cobwebs behind the sofa. But, together, they supported the other in body and mind for many happy years.

And now, fifty-four years later, in a future that had supposedly promised flying cars and no worries, the withered old man collapsed, alone, in his empty bedroom and cried. The rain cried with him, harder perhaps.

His bedroom walls were shadowed and bare. Any sort of art was now painful to look at, and the man preferred the bright pictures the sunlight cast upon his room during the late afternoon anyways. There was no sun out now though.

In his veined, scarred hands the man clutched a hard metal object, stroking it, cradling it, squeezing it. The mere sensation of holding the object made him feel at ease, and a small smile crept sadly up his face. 

Outside the storm wailed anxiously, banging its fists on the windows, begging him to stop what he was doing. The man opened the door and greeted the rain, letting it seep into the hundreds of wrinkles that lined his ancient body.

All of the man’s optimism, hopes, dreams, and wishes had been personified in his wife. Now she was gone, and essentially, so was he. An absence of something isn’t nothing, to be sure, but an absence of feeling is undoubtedly death.

Near the fleshy groove behind his ear, the man pressed the metal object, digging it into his skull. His fingers fumbled inside his jacket pocket, rubbing the soggy photograph he had ruined with his clumsiness earlier.

And the man’s eyes looked up at the rumbling sky, becoming soggy as well. Every raindrop felt like bricks striking him, and the wind almost blew his frail body to the ground. He was so tired.

Bang. 


© Copyright 2020 LietKocham. All rights reserved.

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