Ships Two, Chapter One.

by | Mar 16, 2024 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

Nick enters the cafe, all silent, he sees the bowed head, the small figure, looking smaller than ever.

This was written in March 2021, following the completion of the first novel. In it, Jena and Nick reflect on the ending. As did the authors at the time. This harrowing story of self doubt and self destruction would come true exactly two years later.

Now, twelve people, some who will read this will be in a position to do something, to take this chapter further. Will they? Who knows. Enjoy anyway, the two differing styles. Thank you.

Jena’s Story

A massive storm separated them for a whole night, they couldn’t see each other, or find a way in the middle to balance their lives. After the stormy night, they decided to meet in the café, their café, to talk about it. Jena wanted to do it first thing that morning but their date was delayed until afternoon. The storm was in her head, and would only be stopped by Nick, they both knew that.

She was already there when he arrived. On seeing him, her mind wandered down a dead end. This tall, handsome man was the type, any woman whose life he was, would always be cautious. Not only his friends, but also any female in the café should be intensively watched. He was there, holding her heart in his hands, wearing his sunglasses, in contrast to his white skin, making him look enchanting. She always admired his rounded forehead, all she wanted to do was place her palm there, shaping it to  fit it exactly. He came closer, sitting opposite her at the table, removing his glasses. She knew exactly what they concealed , the ocean of his eyes in which her heart sank with every glance. 

Jena considered herself a strong woman, with no weakness. She would fall from time to time, but she always stood up, stronger than before. She was fluid like water, shaping herself to fit into the container in which she was placed, knowing when to change the container, even if it hurts her and makes her lose some droplets. She rushes like a flood when necessary, but can heal like holy water when she wants. All this until she met the ocean of his eyes. It was unique, with islands here and there. Every wave of this massive ocean melted her, raged her, hurt her and cured her. She was in love with each drop before she entered the ocean, falling in love when she saw it from faraway. He was deep but she never hesitated to rush in, he had islands with deep roots below, some roots cut her to pieces, but he always managed to heal her,  make the tsunami calm her. This time, she was cut deeply, and he came to heal her. He loved her in return, she never doubted his feelings.

She had so much to say in explanation however, since her weakest point was herself, she couldn’t. It was the anniversary of their “finally”, their first meeting, for real, that is. The occasion that took place after his dream. She’d been preparing all night. The tears combined to shape a  waterfall on her cheeks. Pouring for him, because of him and towards him, she entered his breathtaking ocean. Jena couldn’t speak, momentarily mute but wasn’t worried. He would understand everything she wanted to say from the look in her eyes. He once said he understood more she didn’t say than did, something  she didn’t believe then. She’d never met anyone who understood all she said, let alone what’s kept inside, nevertheless it was true. She looks at his red nose, tears form in his ocean too. His beard covering his cheeks as if he needed any more ways of taking her breath away with his attractiveness. His lips softly closed but are ready to save her from drowning, his lips always brough her back to life. 

She used her eyes to tell him until her words formed into something like this: “Our relationship is like this perfect body, which has illness in a certain organ, it’s not a deadly one, but it hurts every day. Because I love you so much, I can’t leave this body, I am in it, my whole soul is in, but the insecure feeling keeps slicing my soul with a sharp blade, cutting me off every single time, and here I am, my soul is bleeding, and all we can do is leave it there on the floor for a while.”

Nick’s eyes were helpless but she had to finish first, it had to come out so he could save her. His hands were holding the sunglasses, her hands were tightly holding each other, on her lap.  Looking down at them, she continued “We were the big ship and the small boat, but every time I got closer to this vessel, the same feeling came back, looking down on me. I saw this view, so tried to sail away, but then it disappeared, and you tell me how much I mean to you, so I slowly got back closer to you, and again, the feelings return, like an unexpected tsunami which was trying to flip me over, sink me. The waves come in different shapes, and I have to sail away again to save my life, further and further away so you could barely see me on this foggy day. I was lost in the sea, in the sky and leaving you.”

She looked out of  the window, and saw a bird flying nearby. It settled on the window sill, closer to him than her, and she remembeed he’d said she was a bird. She glanced back at the man opposite.

“I am a bird, and you are my saviour, you said you wanted to save me, when I was pleading on the floor, thinking I was not worthy of a home, or a shelter. I agreed to go home with you, so you put me in your pocket. I entered it and you fed me, giving me shelter. It was warm inside but then I discover it was a crowded. I found out you’d already helped many people and they were there inside too, staring at me. As the one who just entered the pocket, it was easier for me to leave, so I did. I flew high in the sky as I am now, I looked back. I missed you and wanted to thank you but when I tied, I saw you checking on those in your pocket, making sure it wasn’t too crowded inside. 

The café was quiet, not one sound to accompany them. No background music, no one talking. Jena glanced at the counter and notices a flower, the petals are withered, but it was still inside the vase with water in hope of bringing it back to life. She continued.

“I am an iris, I am hiding under you, this massive tree, which is a shelter to many species, no one else is here, I look around and check. I look up at you, I smile and thank you for keeping me away from the direct sunlight, from the harsh wind, and from the heavy rain. You smile back and say thank you for being in my life, you are a beautiful flower. I dance to myself with joy and happiness, until they show up. Here they are, surrounding us. You look at them, with a smile on your face, and you forget the tiny flower underneath you. I vanish under the soil, I soak under the grains, in the mud, I can’t breathe, I am in the warm soil, but I have shivers in my body, and I feel cold, it’s a coldness from within, it has nothing to do with the surrounding environment.”

He nodded, his bushy, russett eyebrows rising slightly. Nick was in pain seeing her this way, helpless and unsure. The only thing she was certain of was that he was her saviour. Sipping from her cup, Jena remembered something she’d read once in a story. It’s ok to cry but when you do make sure to replace the fallen tears with a cup of water, make sure to stand again after you fall. She finally took a deep breath and uttered some words:

“I am me, and you are you, and they are there. I stand in front of you, all you can see is me, but I can see you and I can see the rest of them, right by your side, looking at me. Who you don’t mention much, but from time to time when you do, you bring another reason, to let my soul bleed, lost in the sea, fly away while still looking back, soak inside the warm soil, with shivers and numbness all over my body, like me here now in the café in front of you.”

***

Nick’s Story

Nick enters the cafe, all silent, he sees the bowed head, the small figure, looking smaller than ever. Could that be possible? Could she be an even tinier mannequin than the one he worshipped everyday with his very existence? Jena slowly looks up as he pulls out the chair opposite and sits down. He is undefended against her enchanting eyes but they stand alone against the rest of her expression which is of pain. They can never show pain only emphasise it with their complementary beauty. Removing his sunglasses, he adjusts to the light in the cafe, taking in the features around him before gazing into those dark golden irises. Then as if that is a magic signal, they expand almost two fold as the clear lenses of tears move outwardly on each eyelid. He can almost see the ripple of the warm salty liquid before the meniscus coating each eye erupts simultaneously, forming rivers of silver on her pale cheeks; pale because her mother wants it that way. He listens to her thoughts and hopes as she pulls each one out like thorns from her flawless skin.

His eyes follow hers as she seeks inspiration, first from her tiny hands that lie folded in her lap, resembling an injured animal she’s found in the street. Then the bird, as if pre-arranged, which lands near him and finally the desiccated bouquet of irises sadly adorning the cafe’s counter. Each one, like a friend, gently coaxing the words out from her exquisite, quivering lips.

Suddenly, she’s done, spent, empty. The expression now is not of pain but relief, as if some magic analgesia has entered her body. He has taken it all in and is ready for his reply. No prompting for him, no props required for his performance. The stage is set and the audience of one awaits.

“Our relationship is indeed the perfect body but not with a physical ailment. The patient is sick in another way. The illness that can’t be cured by a plaster cast, like a broken arm or a few stitches like a cut. The malady is not of a physical nature, but of the brain. That is where they exist, carrying out their acts of malicious sabotage spurred on by your very own brain. Yes, your brain is the one supplying the ammunition for them to shoot at you.

It’s like reading the last helpless wish of a condemned man as he digests his final meal and waits for the gallows. The desperate writing of a brain so confused that it becomes supremely creative. Taking stories and moulding them into its own destructive paranoia to enable it to cope with its invisible illness. 

Do not despair, however, this ailment is not incurable, as this writer will testify. The cure, like the malady, is complex and invisible. Complex like the ball of your mother’s wool that has been worried by the cat and now lies in a tangled mass. Invisible because it doesn’t come in a bottle or a tube, it comes from a brain that once suffered terribly with the same illness. A brain that still has minor relapses of creative numptiness like the two post midnight visitors to your messenger or your black ring on a chain that adorns your naked chest as we make love. 

The scene has to be set, in a time long before we met, when we were in deep turmoil. A time that makes our respective numptiness look like a broken fingernail. When you cried on the floor because the bed was too comfortable and your suffering didn’t deserve comfort. When I wandered aimlessly through the streets counting down every day until I would join her in her freedom from pain and suffering. The rocky, harsh, dry landscape bereft of life with not even the most hardy desert plants living there. I will show you the rickety bridge that we discovered, spanning the deep canyon which lay between us and the other world, the world of our reality, Finally World. 

I will describe our journey over the bridge where we carefully avoided the broken and rotting planks of wood and held onto the frayed rope that turned to dust in our hands. I will show you the soft wet grass that reminds me of your hair during our lovemaking. The trees and plants, the mountains with coverings of fir trees pulled up to their collars like winter coats in spring. Their tops are still covered in white snow that reflects the warm spring sun. I tell you to face this way and drink in the beauty then turn and briefly look back. Look not just at the barren lands we left but the space that was left as the bridge, our route to this spot, collapsed after we stepped  from its last rotting deck. 

I ask  you to consider the option of returning and how that option no longer exists. It has been replaced by a long fall into the canyon and certain death. Something we both mentioned yesterday. 

You heed  my words and we look, together, at our future, celebrating with long and exhausting love for each other which ends up in a sleep of such depth, it’s like medicine itself. Another  occasion has been dealt with, another episode swept away… Until the next one. 

Keep looking forward, my love. 

What was to be a celebration became a post mortem, a discussion of what might have been…

1 Comment

  1. Kenneth Childs

    Heartbreaking.

    Reply

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