By the Reigns

Tunnel Vision

In hindsight
I guess I
should have seen
the whole thing coming
a lot sooner than
I did.
But that vision
is always twentytwenty.
Me, at the time, I
was blinded by
living in the moment and
trying to swallow
the past.
I guess I
just wanted things to
move forward but I
learned there are
only some things I
can see coming
when I
am fitted with blinders
and being led down a path. I
don’t trust paths
I can’t see in three sixty. I
am alone because of of this.
I accept this.

The Dialogue

“You wonder if she has a conscience at all?” This ghost of a girl took her normal post next to him on the bench, smoothing out her skirt.

“It’s one of the biggest questions on my mind and it’s been driving me crazy. This is far from the first time something like this has happened to me but this one just feels so much worse than the others.” His gaze dropped to his shoes and he took a deep breath that gave him away as someone who bore the weight of his sorrows on his shoulders.

“Have you talked to her since…?” She trailed off as if mentioning the event itself might drop him like a right hook to his glass jaw.

“No! No… absolutely not. Such is my dilemma, I guess. She told me she wanted to be friends-”

She cut him off, “She actually told you that?”

“Yes. The real issue for me is that I feel like I was the one who got shafted in this whole ordeal. So, if I’m the first to make contact and tell her I wouldn’t mind being friends I feel like I’d be legitimizing what she did and give the false impression that I don’t care at all that she broke my trust. I don’t trust many people anymore, I just don’t. And when that trust is broken coming back from that should not be my responsibility, should it? I mean, if she actually has a conscience then shouldn’t it strike her in such a way that, while she may be content with where she’s at, she should be sorry for stepping over me to get there? I can’t even begin to comprehend the whole thing but if I’m as important to her as she claimed, enough to stay in contact after she kicked my heart in the ass, then shouldn’t she be the one coming to me in some form of contrition? Aren’t I owed at least that much?” He stood up, took a few steps and stopped to let the question float out on the summer air.

He glanced back. She was sitting forward with her hands on the edge of the bench, clasping it while staring at her crossed legs punctuated with sandals on her feet. She looked like she was absorbing the words he had just sprayed into the air. She was not used to him aerosolizing such invective but was willing to absorb it because that’s most of the reason she was there as far as time as time had allowed her to reveal. To him she was still a specter, an unknown. He didn’t know her and she had not introduced herself. That was important.

“This is the awkward part of these situations. You have to remember the one who is allowed to control the conversation is the one with all the power. So, yes, you would be yielding a lot of healing power and catharsis if you were to engage her in conversation to let her know that she’s important to you as far as friendships are concerned. I think you’d also be opening yourself to a lot of ache as you watch her run around with your, uh… replacement.” She looked at him to check for any emotional response. He was solid, statuesque, and staring off into the landscape of the park into the city street in the distance.

“Yeah. I can’t deal with that right now,” he said. His voice was flat.

“So, maybe you forget about her as best you can and work on you. Don’t hope for any great miracle, just know that if she meant what she said that she’ll make contact. If she doesn’t then it’s her loss. It was her loss in the first place, in my opinion.” She shrugged her shoulders.

He couldn’t see it because he wasn’t looking at her. His head dropped and he put his hands in his pockets. He took another deep breath and exhaled as much negativity as he could. He still had enough stored to last him for quite a while.

“Yeah. Yeah, maybe you’re right.” No affect. As flat as the pavement he stood on.

He started walking back to his apartment, not looking at her as he walked past where she sat. She watched him from the veil of shadows she sat within and didn’t say anything. Sometimes, there are just no more words.

The Streetlight

The sidewalk.

The park.

The bench
under the street lamp, everything tinted by the radiation of its bulb, electricity lightly humming. And he knew that feeling well.

But just then he didn’t. His mind was swimming with swarms of thoughts circling around his head like killer whales around an ice floe covered in seals. His chin rested in his hand, his elbow propped against his lap as he stared at the concrete. He was more looking through the concrete, beyond the concrete into a space which only he could see, beyond the crust and mantle and into the space where pure imagination dwelled. It was where the movie studio in his mind directed a thousand scenes, edit, revised and reviewed scripts and he let the actors play out their roles. Indeed, all the world was a stage in the space between his ears but the actors were real people and the names were not changed to protect the guilty. And, right now, the actors in his head were guilty.

Soft footsteps approached.

“So, you’re the one burning holes in the sidewalks around here? I figured it was some pyromaniacal kids with fireworks, considering the time of year.” It was her again. She must have seen him come into the park again. It was nice to know he wasn’t the only one who had nothing better to do at that time of night but, after their last encounter, he was a little wary of her.

“I saw you walking here again. I thought I’d check to see how you were doing and to see if you took my advice.” She sat down next to him, her face obscured by the curtain of her shoulder-length hair. She was like a ghost but she could breathe, a puzzle to be certain.

“Well, did you?”

The train roared past, catching the back of his jacket in the wake in his head. “Yes, I did.”

“Good,” she looked up into a nearby tree, “How do you feel?”

The question rattled him for a moment. It felt like he had trekked a thousand miles since someone asked him that question. So much time had passed and so many resolutions made regarding his heart and his head had been made and dismissed in so small a space in time. The hammer flew end over end and disappeared into the headlamp of the train over and over again.

“I’m not entirely certain. There’s a large part of me that wonders how much of it was actually real. I can trace the end back and link it to so many things now that I’ve had time to reflect and I keep wanting to know, wanting to ask how much of it was real and how much of it was just… ” He grasped for a word that wasn’t there, despite the innumerable ideas in the shape of flies that floated around his head. His right hand motioned in forward circles to signal his brain to get unstuck from the mud but eventually gave up with a sigh.

“Yeah, I suppose that’s a fair question. But would you really want to know the answer to that? I mean, if you had a lot of good memories then does it do you any good to find out that she was just placating you so you wouldn’t know what was going on? That’s just more pain and misery, isn’t it?” She kicked a small pebble across the concrete.

His eyes burned holes in the sidewalk again. He stuffed his hands in the front pocket of his hoodie and rested them there.

“I suppose it would be. I don’t know. Part of me is curious to know if any of it was real or if it was just filler until something better came along.” He let out a deep sigh and looked down at his lap.

“You’re looking at it the wrong way, I think.” He felt her hand reach out and brush his hair out of his face and back behind his shoulder. He knew she could see him but he couldn’t see her as that seemed to be the way of things. Her touch felt so strange to him that he almost recoiled out of instinct, like someone about to be hit. He just kept looking down trying to keep calm as he felt anxiety bubble up. He felt damaged, inhuman though her touch implied nothing. She pulled her hand back and had leaned closer.

“If there’s anybody waiting for something better to come along it should be you.”

He furrowed his brow and turned to see her face.

Then the streetlight went out.