by Michael Tuberdyke
“I hope to God that this will happen. I need it now more than ever. It is all I want in this life and this world—please. If not anything else just let it all fall.”
Richard Davidson sat half naked on the edge of his bedside and looked out at the world. The clouds began to form a heavy gray mass over the quiet town that sat just beneath the cliff. The temperature that week broke records and May looked unreasonably like late August. Everything was dry and burnt, which made it difficult to not sweat if one needed to move.
He was a painter and the white wash from that afternoon stained his hands along with his only pair of jeans. His skin looked like a blood-orange from being out in the sun for to long. The skin behind his ears was peeling.
Scattered across the floor were remnants of the previous evening. He had fallen off the wagon for the first time in a couple of years. Life brought him down. A close friend was found dead earlier in the week. The following day another friend of a different kind decided to turn their back and leave him for another.
That conversation began like all the others. She didn’t want to hurt him, so she hurt him early on to avoid any collateral damage. He did not know that she did in fact love him, but it was tough and it all came at the wrong time. It was like a car accident. One missed a signal, which caused both machines to collide. Both held a visible dent at the end.
Photographs were scattered across the floor. In them the two looked very happy and if he could, he would sell his soul for not just this lifetime, but for the next five ahead of him to receive just five minutes of that time again. Beside the photographs was a letter he received from his deceased friend about a month before he decided to take his own life. There was also a parking violation ticket that he laughed at for not paying.
His head hurt, and it felt like an anchor that wanted to force him to the ground. He refused and did his best to sit straight in order to watch the clouds roll in. A crooked smile adorned his face, which was in high contrast to the parasitic pit of despair that held a grip in his heart.
He needed the heat to go away.
“Look at me. Here. Sitting. I have unraveled everything. I have grown sour. Used to be sweet. The honey in the hive of my heart was syphoned. In the heat— I can’t think straight. I have nothing to say other than why? Why this? Why must I— must be something in me. I hope to God that it rains. Need it now more than ever. It’s the heat that makes me crazy. I love it but then again I don’t. The back and forth. Falling to stand back up again. People say it builds character. If anyone wants some character—. I am not afraid. Life. Death. What difference does it make? I have lived to pursue life and last night, in my own personal celebration I became death. That is the other me. The one who does not smile when my face is glowing. The one who knows not—not, for certain that they are lost, but certainly knows nothing else. The loneliness that breeds when all hope is gone. My own personal demon. Something to fight my whole life. Honesty bleeds from the heart of truth and so badly do I sometimes want to topple the cards even if the house took awhile to build back up again. Back up again. After a few years on the wagon, I deserve a day off.”
He spit on the floor and watched the sky grow darker and the thunder rolled in.
“That the best you got? I was louder than you last night. Love you brother hope you are well. In a better place. No longer a pickle. Pickle in the middle. All the time we said we would be free. Guess you are free now. Nothing holding you back. Nothing pushing you though. I can’t say what is true anymore. Maybe it is all an illusion. We say the best at the time. Meant it at the time. Love. What a lovely idea. Meant it at the time and I meant it now. Didn’t say it though. If only we said the things we meant to say, to everyone we meant to say the thing too. Then maybe, life would be different. I’m quite positive it would be. Lose all inhibitions. Let go of the guard rail. I am in the world now. Just as I came in and how I will go. Alone.”
His thoughts ceased as he realized that the temperature dropped. The thunder was now closer and as he stared down to the floor his eyes landed upon a very specific photograph. It was the last day the two had spent together and on that day, it was raining. A stranger that walked by them took the picture as the two stood under an umbrella.
The water slowly built up behind his lids as he realized everyone in that frame was now a stranger. The thunder in the distance was louder and then the storm came.
Michael Tuberdyke is the author of the novels, The Pharaohs and The River May Run.