Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Once in a Blue Moon (01/06/11)
TITLE: Birds of a Feather
By Michael Throne
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I met Irene several months ago. I was waiting tables at Bristolís and she walked in and ordered a coffee. She had these sad, beautiful eyes and a wily, infectious grin. We talked a while and went out for tacos after I got off.
She called it fate; I wasnít quite sure.
The next night, I stopped by her apartment. I felt drawn to her. She radiated this enticing, almost haunting kindness about her, a kindness that made you feel like youíd been friends for years, a kindness that reached out and pulled you up closer, a kindness that wrapped its arms around you and told you that you were good, no, more than good; you were the best, most wonderful human being on the planet, a kindness that bordered on obsession.
We stayed out till midnight, then later the next evening.
It was the following week, and I didnít recall bringing it up, but she said that a love as special as ours happens only once in an age, once in a blue moon.
I didnít know what to say.
She called me at work every night. Weíd walk out to the bay and stroll across the beach at midnight. She held my hand and said we were going to be together forever.
Iíve been driving around quite a bit, lately. I slow down and try to time the lights so that I can run the yellows without burning the reds, but sometimes I miss. I drive by the bay and count the bridges, one by one. I stare too long at the trees and overpasses and concrete pillars.
In truth, blue moons have always haunted me and they probably always will.
It was on our third week or possibly our fourth, just when I felt certain she was expecting me to propose, that I broke up with her. I donít know why; I just had to. Things were going too fast; I was losing track of myself.
She didnít take it well. Not well at all.
We never do.
The truth of the matter is that weíre all imperfect beings raised by other imperfect beings, and the imperfections sometimes multiply, like rogue DNA gone wild. I hope and pray and know in my heart that the Lord will heal us completely one day and weíll shine like the sun and stars as we sit joyfully by his side but sometimes.
It just doesnít happen, at least not in our lifetime.
I visited Irene, a few months later. She was back at the group home, doing well; thatís what they told her, anyway. We sat among the Risk and Monopoly and other board games and talked about how cold it was out there and the possibility of a snowfall before Christmas.
I know that itís not my fault. I know that the murmurings of the demons who whisper in my ear, who torment me, arenít true. My therapist tells me that Iím not responsible for every bad thing that ever happens and I repeat it like a mantra, but it doesnít help. Some days the weight of the despair grinds me down, it grinds me down into the darkness of the streets and bridges as I drive, aimlessly, trying to disappear, trying to somehow stay above it.
And eventually, it passes.
We sat in the living room among the books and the games with nothing left to say. I offered her some cigarettes and out of the blue, she looked at me, not with the dull, medicated, sensible eyes of the home, but shocked eyes, eyes that asked, pleaded, insisted you could have saved me, you could have saved me from all this routine and medication and endless sessions and we could have been happy together forever, you could have saved me, my whole happy manically hopeful truly joyous inner being and I wanted to shout out, truthfully!
I canít even save myself.
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