Her tone had carried the tackiness of glue as its pity stuck to the very core of his will. Her single word germinated thoughts that spread like roots into the soil of his mind. He was a day removed from her presence and still the chewing of his disposition rankled his ire as her judgment upon his predicament grew more errant with each judgment of his own.
“Sad? Indeed, NOT!” he thought again. She was wrong. She’d been wrong to say it. His life was not so bad.
After all, he had been kind enough to give her the passing time, chatting amiably with another strange do-gooder like that, for the sake of her quest’s completion. He’d seen her kind before, selfishly seeking to uncover and solve the mysterious dread of her earthly neighbor so she could go home to the warmth of her generosity. But, in the wake of this visitation her effect on him had become more misery than mirth.
Sad? “Ha!” he thought. It was really her existence which was sad; living in the false superiority of her comfortable home and clean clothes. Sad was the pomposity of her noble journey to his humble lair that had landed her within the error of her view. With one word she had boldly bared her ignorance of his valiant days. She saw only “the now” of his life and held it in comparison to her irrelevant standards.
Turning over and gathering his soiled blankets from the scattered recesses of his cardboard abode he treasured his solitude from such meddling conceit. Comforting himself with grand thoughts of freedom and the usual exaggerations of past victories, he felt better off without her.
“Sad” may have once described those debilitating days when accepting his wife’s death was still far from his reach. Yes, those were sad days when he stumbled about the floors and walls of a house that had been a home only a few months before. But, not now. Sad? No, there was no longer sadness in his existence as he languished in his vacancy of concerns. He enjoyed the dignity of the stage upon which he stood, with a passing audience of onlookers gazing into his freedom, paying him with their attention and envy. Sad? No.
She spoke to God on his behalf. She believed he was in need of some assistance, as if he hadn’t sought the Almighty’s hand whenever his hunger brought him to such foolishness. Yet, he knew the ways of God; to condemn his despair and steal his freedom. He knew God demanded obedience of an exhausting nature. He knew his life on the streets was a preferred existence and better than any dream born of prayers.
He’d been to church. He knew the rituals of the righteous. He knew the emptiness of their rules and hypocrisy. He knew God had no place for him. He knew he was better off not believing in a love that was not there. After all, he had loved his wife, and that foolish merger reaped only pain in its concluding separation. There was no door he wished to knock on, no answer to any question he had not already explained to himself. He had no need of her prayerful compassion, misguided as it was.
He was even better off than her, for he knew the truth of his independence. He knew he was alone in life, and was happier to see it than be deceived like she was. He knew the length of his days were only turmoil to be defeated with each slumber, and that one day his gleaming example of self-exile would be revered for its power, truth, and self-sufficiency.
He sat up at the inspiration of his self-affirming resolve, picked up a half-finished can of mandarin oranges and dipped his fingers in the sweet juice. While sucking on the savory goodness of Mother Nature’s nectar, he eyed the piece of fruit he wished next to eat. He found the least filthy patch of fabric on his grimy, stained shirt to wipe the remnants of juice and spit from his fingers before fishing the orange section from its recesses.
Sad? I think not, he said in the false joy of his utter disdain as he chewed the soft, stringy fruit with the few good teeth he had left. How could she look upon him and say it? Why couldn’t she see how good his life was? This was the greatest life he could imagine.
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