This is a reworking of an old piece that needed a bit of love and a new lease on life.
The landscape stretched below us. A twinkling world, shrouded in rain. There were so many lives down there under those lights, all filled with joys and sorrows. For so long, I had felt nothing. The cooling bliss that was once a rush of joy had eventually stolen all other emotion from me. I was hollow now.
When they told me my mother had died, I knew that there was a feeling I should have. I reached for it. Rummaging around in the empty landscape of my soul, but I came up empty. Unable to mourn the loss of the feeling, never mind the loss of my mother.
“What the hell are we doing up here? It’s pouring!”
I slanted a look at her. She was still beautiful. Face drawn now with the addiction, eyes duller than the shocking blue they had once been. Her hair hung limp and drab in the pouring rain where once it had been a lustrous mane of golden blonde. She was a beautiful ruin.
“I’m not really sure. I used to come here when I was a kid. It was my happy place, you know?” She knew. She knew everything.
“And?” She drew the simple word out, perhaps trying to sound like she didn’t care. I could tell that she did.
“I liked to watch the lights,” I continued. “Imagining all of those lives being lived down there beneath them.”
“Lives?” She laughed then. It was almost her old laugh, but it held the tinny sound of emptiness. “That’s not real! You’ve tasted real living. All of that mundane Suzy Homemaker bollocks is a descent into madness baby, and there is only one thing that lifts you up.” She placed the syringe in my hand. It felt so light, almost weightless, but I knew it held a whole world trapped inside that clear plastic. “That right there is the candy-coated topping, it’ll take all your pain away.”
I looked at her. She talked like a camp movie villain, but the way her eyes suddenly came to life for the syringe was magnetic. They sparkled with anticipation and passion as she spoke of it. If love was real, then surely there was none greater than hers. Throwing her arms wide and turning her face to the rain she spoke with rapture in her voice, “It’s the only way to fly!”
I felt sick, “but I don’t want to fly. I only want to feel.” The words slipped out meekly, but it didn’t matter. The venom I hadn’t intended to show was still there. The accusation of thievery that I had never voiced outright but had felt for some time. She heard it too. Head snapping down to face me with ice in her eyes she mocked me.
“I want to feel,” she mimicked. Her eyes were walls of blue stone as she drew back her hand and slapped my face. “Can you feel that?” Hell yes I could. The stinging imprint of each finger caressed my cheek, “Bitch.” She drew back again and slapped the other cheek. I didn’t even try to stop her.
“You want to leave me is that it? I gave you meaning! I gave you everything when your family turned their backs on you. They threw you out in the street, but I stayed with you. I gave you bliss, and you want to leave me?” She was spitting the words at me, and the burn of the truth in them held more hurt that her fists ever could.
“I don’t know!” I cried, “Maybe?”
She now looked as though I had been the one to slap her. Mouth agape as the rainwater poured into it and then twisting in anger. Suddenly she was not quite so beautiful. “You ungrateful whore! You’re blaming me because they turned their backs on you at the graveside? They turned their backs on you and you now turn your back on me, is that it? They didn’t want you baby, but we do.” She gestured to the needle still cradled in my palm, pleading now, “me and the bliss, we want you baby. We need you.”
It glowed warmly there in the haze of the headlights, heaven wrapped in plastic. Begging to be slipped under the skin and take the hurt of the world away. It would heal me.
I knew better now. Comfort was tempting, but also temporary. Each high was shorter than the last, demanding more cc’s from the needle to fill the emptiness that consumed me when the warm fuzz turned back into a cold dark ache.
Heaven and hell wrapped in plastic and holding me hostage.
I watched my fingers unfold as though from afar. The syringe hung there for a moment, balanced on the tips of my fingers as though I alone could be the scales of justice. In the end, it tumbled to the tarmac, bouncing and then lying still. I stared at it for a moment, my reflection a strange halo in the puddle in which it lay, and then I crushed it under the heel of my boot.
She had watched the whole melodrama, eyes riveted to me, feeding on my pain like an emotional leech and then dropping silently to her knees when I made my decision. It was not the ending she had expected.
“How could you?” She moaned, hands scrabbled uselessly at the broken remnants of our life. “You’ve lost your mind.”
I was towering over her. Steady and yet shaking, unsure yet resolute. “I don’t need it anymore,” my voice faltered. I could do this. I had made my decision. “I don’t need you,” turning, I walked to my car.
“Don’t leave me.” She whimpered, “You can’t do this, can’t abandon me.” I glanced back at her. A sad figure huddled on the ground. I felt such pity that she was so broken, but I knew I had to save myself.
“I can’t stay,” I explained patiently. “You’re killing me.”
I got into the car and her voice followed me there. “Please,” she begged. I couldn’t. There was no going back now. No giving in. I chose to live and shut the door.
My throat was raw from shouting. My face stinging from the blows it had taken, hands still tingling from delivering them. I drove back down into the lights and I left my addiction on the bluff.
She looks different, yet the same, in the photograph. Her eyes have laughter lines. Deep crinkles made by stories I did not know. I have solace that she’d been so happy, sorrow that I was not the cause. Now, I never would be.
I lay my flowers and leave.
Microfiction in 50 words or less.
As well as trying for the #52weeks52stories this year, whatever writing challenges that take my fancy, a new children’s book, possibly a new adult book and keeping up the photography, I’m trying my hand at watercolours.
I’ve never thought I had any artistic talent but I had the paints and I thought I would give it a try. I’ve done five so far. Top left is terrible, but only my first effort. I’ve gotten better as I’ve gone along.