Saturday, December 4, 2010

Penitent Distance

She wasn't able to find the last shell casing, lying silent and glimmerless in the shadows of the tall grass. A panic set in that they would catch her now. She swallowed it, with the bile and let joy rise in its place. In this joy she ran.

The motel smelled of cigarettes and water leaks. Thin curtains barely hid her from the light, and she slept restlessly beside the pistol. Her joy came and went, another part of ragged dreams making for fitful sleep. In the moments she slept her long fingers arose, with wills of their own, and caressed the pistol. In waking, she held it close and smelled the steel and gunoil. As the night wore on to day, she knew what had to be done. Tears welled in her eyes, and she fought for hope of another option, but with the dawn breaking came certainty.

It was worse than the killing. The pieces of her friend, stripped to bare components in a bread sack, turned her stomach. She felt an awful emptiness as its familiar weight was reduced to parts jostling and dangling in the cheap plastic. The riverbank stretched before her, and through her grief she saw that the water flowed. Bird songs fought against her, but their joy was winning out.
She dropped pieces of him as she went. Small ones first, into the mud and flowing brown water. She took her time, and felt like she walked some great penitent distance between each lonely, and hopeful, splash and plop. As the sun drew low in the sky, setting the river ablaze in reflection, she emptied the bag and dropped it. This was the last of him, the barrel. Her fingers ached from the loneliness of each piece she'd dropped before, and ached more to feel his cold metal so long a friend. She kissed this last of him, and found it cold and rank with oil against her lips. With a cry she flung his finality into the deep water, and stood watching the ripples become overwhelmed in the flow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lovely. Absolutely lovely.