Friday, September 20, 2013
THE REVELATION: A Short Story
The lie lay between us like a long, tapered sword, and when I turned this way or that, the metal would make a slight cut across my middle. I knew eventually I would die from a thousand tiny cuts before I could make it right between us, before I found the right words to say to him. I am that sort of coward. Even though I would have preferred the lie become invisible, like my courage, or that it would die from lack of attention in that feckless dark spot in my mind, I knew it wouldn't. The darn thing had taken on a life of its own. That foolish lie would never leave me alone. I had repeated it too many times.
He hadn't left the room where I last saw him. He was in the same position, his head cast down, his long dark hair brushed behind his ears, except for one strand that grazed his cheek. He looked a little bruised in the light from the window, the blue curtain always played its thready tricks whenever the sun washed through it. I wanted him to lift his eyes, to look at me with those puppy dog brown eyes of his, to engage my attention. A sigh escaped my lips, but he didn't seem to hear it.
I took a step closer, hoping that he would hear me enter the room, raise his head, and ask me what I wanted, but he was rapt in his work, lost in the concerns of all those other people. I cleared my throat softly. It was almost an imperceptible noise, but just loud enough that it would rise above the noise of the air conditioner that blew wildly through the vents. He continued to focus on his work, not ignoring me, just unaware of my presence.
He was concentered, and seemed to be wrestling with a singular foe, his gaze fixed intently on that one thing. I couldn't tell what he was thinking, or even if he believed that he would win the battle against the unseen force. I suddenly saw him differently. Before this moment, I had never given a thought about how or why he did his work, let alone its importance. His business reeked of triviality to me, a mythic adventure conjured to outrageous proportions in his mind. I never dreamed one person could care so much about what he did, because I never cared much about anything.
A strange admiration bubbled up inside of me, a sensation I never felt before. Perhaps it was because I had never seen him until this moment, for I had never taken the time to look that hard. He was beautiful, with an aura of generosity about him while he applied himself to his work. He had always been an abstraction to me before this, a part of the tableau of what my life should look like; marriage, family, and home. Even when I consented to be with him, the words I spoke were never wedded to the center of my being. They were just words, words of convenience, words I had to speak because it was expected of me in that ceremony. Our relationship had always been one of passing indifference, until I began to feel that lie take life and begin to assault me with such purpose.
Yes, the lie, that stupid, huge lie I continued to tell to get out of being with him, to be somewhere else, with someone else. The lie seemed to bloom before my eyes while I stared at him, and envelope every decision I ever made, as though my life was filled with lies, one attaching itself to the next in a never ending parade that marched through my years. That sudden revelation of my wastrel life began to crush me, to wring me out like an old dishrag until I was empty. It wasn't his work that was the triviality, it was me. There was a littleness in me I had always refused to recognize. I could almost see it in my reflection in the mirror above the dresser, and it made me look pinched and small, ugly.
I fell to my knees before the crucifix, my shame poured out onto the floor. "Jesus, I can't . . ." my voice cracked, but I had to continue, I had to say it, "I can't do this without you anymore. Forgive me, forgive me."
Through the tears I saw Jesus lift his head, and his eyes, those soulful eyes, looked directly into mine, all the way to my tarnished soul.