“The happiest people in the world are those who live with free expression in infamy and never have to quell the silence within the constant searching for joy or sadness. Their reaching is outside, their untapped potential is mesmerising, excruciating and unforgiving in its wholeness and everlasting in its fullness. It is the bland flicker which pulverises deep into an impact so minute but so resolute that following it can lest be seen as merely a waste but thought of as something still worhwhile as if doused in wonder and quickly undiscovered, a private moment, a passionless play, a glory in the solitude of its santity, a wild star that creeps its shining and allows you back into the light of its life”
Chapter 1 : The Background
Michael, 31, felt a certain sense of agelessness his entire life. When he was 6 he felt a difference, a blend of uniqueness and wondering and when he grew into his teens this avid wondering became complex and misconstrued but he felt it sharply and wholly and he felt it everywhere. He lived inside his own mind from as far back as he can recall and his own mind was the torture upon which hastily, sadness visited often, but between those mounds there, listed excitement and anarchy of a vacuum and safety, the comfort in words on thoughts and the deep lull of passion played within his heart.
Michael had moved to New York over 4 years ago to pursue a deep lust of discovery that burned eternally in his screaming soul. His writing, his art was mercillesly stagnant in his hometown, the losing of virtue, the flailing desperately to find reason and meaning in everything was the ache from which he could not cure by standing alone on a safe platform, it was too easy, too mundane, less exacting days spent holding out for the kind of thrill and madness that becomes commonplace within the mediocre if only for a different time and place.
His hometown was leafy, quiet, unspoilt but terrifying in its mediocrity. New York to him was the mortar board upon which to paint life’s true worth. The design of anxious average was a fascination but nothing more. He believed in higher hope, he desired something more. New York was a cascade of crucial in which to find true meaning, the lights, the people, the creation, the revolution and the world. It was his place, it was where his mind could rest easy and he could live inside himself but also as himself.
Deborah, 38, who was older but so serene in her quaint understanding of happiness, had lived half her life in the city and the other half in the great larger state of New York. She lived its magnitude every day, she worshipped how it gave life to different cultures, different people, different attitudes and she never forgot how the sheer thrill and destiny of the city had welcomed her to the experiences of adulthood. It was forever there as her muse to adventure and her soul at night when the shrieking voices refused to drift silently away into the deepness of sleep. New York was her New York, Deborah was its sanctity and its reason for existence.
When she left home to move inside the bosom of the city as a 19 year old she dreamt of stardom, being the next big thing on Broadway was her life’s ambition since the very first time she sang and danced in front of her parents as a 3 year old, so unashamedly starstruck, so capitulated within her own wishes, her single minded desire to live up to her own youthful expectations could never be quelled fully, she had the wholesome will to be at peace with the very idea of success but for her success came in such a different way.
Her musical career had never taken off, mugged by an attacker near the subway station, beaten, kicked and savagely scarred, it had taken so much of her spirit just to learn to live again. The confidence, strength and hope she held as a child had been cruelly whisked away to be replaced by a forlorn desperation, a tragic suspicion of humanity and all that it entails. The free expression of her dance became the desolation of anxiety and fear. She lost herself in that subway station and for the longest time she was beneath the city, alone away from the lights upon which her youth had shone so brightly.
Deborah was now an advertising executive, her quest for fame had evaporated into an everyday quest for sanity, love, happiness and safety. Michael’s quest for sanity, love and happiness would be everlasting for longer. The safety New York afforded him within his own mind was fleeting, momentary images on a film slide designed for a much larger and much more complex idea of one’s own mental alacrity.
Chapter 2 : The Meeting
Michael lived in an apartment block roughly 100 yards from Central Park. It was perfect for him. He lived on the 8th floor which had an unobstructed view of every morning sunrise and the birth of New York into a new days beginning, the viciousness of what previously had passed replaced by an awakening of conscious light and a fascination into something newer and more than heartening. To write in this city was to live your words and to love in examples, to breath in beauty as it reigned, to sigh and swallow in evaporations, to walk and play in the shadows and the smiles, becoming with pride the people that held up as heroes or muses or wishes or wants. Life here was lovely.
Deborah lived two doors down on the 8th floor but until a certain point they were merely strangers. Strangers with a spirituality and a certainty of thought. They passed each other sometimes daily, most times weekly as life in a city should go. They never spoke but there was a palpable sense of something there, a tension, a feeling, an electricity of energy that felt wild to Michael, it got to him in his quietest moments and fuelled him extensively. This tension sprayed itself into his conscious and made him question why everything around Deborah felt different. He had felt a uniqueness his entire life but the moments where Deborah took control he felt confused by his own mortality, he lacked all control of body and thought and it frightened then excited him. The terror in this immediacy soon became a sense of passion and lust, then a vibrancy of creativity and an artistry of the visual, a foregone falling into the abstract of adversity.
He often wondered about her, he wondered if she too could fell his passion and intensity, he figured she knew something between them was always on the verge but never quite realised. It was a foreboding and a dread to imagine that her own sense of self was cloudless and free of Michael. A darkness of shadows caste within him, feelings and thoughts, deeper and darker, darker then brighter and joyful then happy, contented and lustful again. In circles in his head, moments set free then chained again, days and hours and time spent fascinating over this virtuosity. Then finally it happened.
As Michael was out walking in Central Park he heard a quiet but illuminating voice call out to him
“Help, Can you help me up?”
He peered across his right shoulder to a vision of a lady lying on the grass in some discomfort but without a certain sense of total helplessness. As he approached, his body suddenly and sweeping became indulged in its own world of satisfaction. His pulse was racing, he felt something strange but somehow comforting as if he knew this person without knowing who this person was. Deep down he knew already, deep down he knew all his life. It was her, it was Deborah.
“Oh hi, are you okay?” He asked casually not wanting to openly scream and holler and reveal that his muse was now sitting effervescent within his grasp.
“I’m so dumb, sorry, i was out running and i was listening to my headphones, lost concentration, tried to avoid running into a park bench and twisted my ankle, i am the worst” she was meek and shy and felt a sense of sadness at ending up this way but there was a total grace which only Michael could see at that moment and which would live within him long after their first meeting.
“Don’t worry, you’re not dumb, if i had a dollar for every time i had to pick up a lady who nearly fell over a park bench i would have precisely a dollar” that joke was needless and he immediately quivered but she did not look at him with disgust so he felt at ease and less strangled by a fear of himself.
He lifted her up putting her arm around his shoulder and carried her to the exact park bench which had tried to destroy her accidentally but instead had brought Michael and Deborah into a mindful meeting place. He secretly wanted to kiss the bench but more advisedly did not and instead resorted to another lame joke about her having to take out a lawsuit against the bench and in court having the bench approach the judge’s bench. Humour in his anxiety was Michael’s default for social situations. Unadvisedly so he thought to himself but it was the one comfort he had to avoid humiliating himself. His confidence in writing and expression was overwhelming but his lack of confidence in himself in everyday life was both taxing and suspensory. He was not half a man inside his own mind as he was free and outside of all thought.
Deborah quite appreciated some of his humour as it appeared or perhaps it was a falseness which comes with awkward situations and trying easily to avoid them or get through them quickly with platitudes and gentle graces. Either way he felt at ease now and Deborah was kind and beautiful anyhow. They sat on the bench for a minute then Deborah remarked that she recognised Michael as living down the hall from her and how supremely fateful it was to meet like this. The interest they both showed in this situation led Michael to a deep sense of joyful wonder and savage excitement but on the outside he remained calm, calculating and unaffected. He agreed that it was an unusual way to meet given they had lived as neighbours but only knew each other as casual strangers. Moreover though inside he felt that it was just the beginning.
Chapter 3 : The Fantasy
From that first meeting forward their relationship warmed. Michael still existed wholly self within his own world but the creative spark through which he found his motivation strengthened and vanquished over the dullest and most ordinary of November days. The caricatures and themes and plots which he explored became consumed in the idea that Deborah was to him what Nora Barnacle was to James Joyce, that flower of exploration which could only bloom once fully restored to its most beautiful of natural homes.
Michael’s apartment was small, tidy, awake and comfortable in its interior. It never left for a lasting sense of wanting something more. He had various paintings and artistry and books which enthralled his meagre ideals before alternative ideals became frontal such was the evasive nature in which he changed and moved from thought to thought.
His idea of Deborah as something everlasting seemed all too real to ignore. She quite liked him, he pondered, but without that greater burning sense of everything and always. They stopped and talked in the hallway and every so often Deborah came to his apartment for a visit and to gleefully immerse herself in his art. She was her own person but she felt a certain belonging to the idea of him as a hero. As casual meetings in the park go, it was more notable than most. It stayed with her and Michael became an interesting afterthought to Deborah, he was sure of this and secretly it disappointed him for he was engaged much further in the exploration of a certain romance.
As Michael’s creativity grew so did his sexual urges and his overwhelming passion for Deborah mesmerised and catapulted him. He knew that he desired her fully, he knew that the lasting ambition of his legacy was to love her infinitely and to explore her truly. He dreamt and dreamt of her, he wanted her, he thought he had her but having her was only ever fleeting and yet he knew he always wanted her. So still and perfectly he dreamt and thought, wanted and craved her. He knew he was younger, he felt her being older was a hurdle which needed crossing, somehow she was slipping from his grasp because he could not maintain in years the distance they had travelled in emotion.
Deborah’s short black hair was lustrous and sumptuous to him. He imagined the sheer delight in taking her slender body to bed and ready and able to claw and hold her head in his hands as he made her come. He lasted to kiss her neck and whisper in her ear and moan and expel delight as he thrust so passionately, so willingly and so completely inside her.
The fantasy within him was quick, bright and often arduous but so delicious and so very thrilling. He thought about her body and her mind, he wanted her intelligence and her soul, he needed all of her but that touch was indistinguishable and far away. He was restless at the notion that she would not take a younger lover, he felt her skin was made for just his taste, he felt her body was born for a devouring. He felt that she was his but she could never be fully his. The pain of life and a broken future had given him a sense of ill feeling, a wish that he could find a way to help her how he could. It had taken her so long to trust again but it would take forever for her to love again.
If only she knew how and what he felt, would it be so different and was different so much worse than the not knowing? He scattered thoughts of admittance well forth in his mind and examined the consequence of the admittance. But the avoidance seemed the better bet. It made him weaker but altogether safer, it made him cheap but the comfort in a lie of his own making allowed him to rescue his own process of emotion without the execution of a broken heart if once it would end up in a betrayal. He loved but he avoided heartbreak, he felt but he struggled to deal with any tacid rejection. He wanted her with everything he had but the aftermath of fury was so vivaciously unsatisfactory to him that instead he would stay in the longing for and avoid the countenance of actuality.
Chapter 4 : The Pain
For several months the distance between them had grown sharper. Michael blamed himself and mused on the idea that he had given away a certain idea of who he was to her and what he wanted and it was becoming too much. The devastation he felt was only compounded by his inability to communicate this to the world except through fables and musings in his work. It hurt and he felt it coldly, weakly naw away at him, rabid, incandescant, lurching backwards between his soul and the light that he rose up every day to find meaning in.
Deborah appeared to be away from him, torn from him untethered, meekly drifting skywards like a kite without a string, floating, tilting, shaking, gone in a second wind and up high cloudless but unforgotten. He worried. It ate away at him. He returned to his art but worried again. He stopped, thought of her, dark thoughts, happy thoughts, cold thoughts, warm thoughts, all thoughts, all of them and on and on again. He stood in the shadows of his soul, in the doorway of his home, cried and veered away from the everlasting for as long as he could hold out without dying.
They had not spoken in weeks, he needed to do something, he needed to become somebody else, for once in his life he needed to become somebody he could live before himself with and not just within himself forever, lost in ages. So he went to her, to her apartment. And he had never been there before. Deborah was private, she could trust but not trust so much. So she came to him, to feel safer she stayed away from where she lived and went to him. But now he went to her and it felt right. It was right.
Michael tamely knocked on her door and sometime later she adorned his presence. Deborah had been in the shower and so she looked perfect. Her face and skin glistened in the afterglow of happiness but as Michael searched deeply for what lay behind her eyes he felt a sadness and a sudden pain drifting through his body as if he could feel every inch of sadness that ever washed over her. This was fraught, this was the danger of sailing so close to someone you loved, admired and lusted after. Everything was felt, even the most innocuous of occurances was a strain on a core of empathy and compassion.
“Can we talk?”
“Sure, what about?”
“I guess i just feel that lately we haven’t talked as much and i don’t know why, something just feels off” Michael was aching to get to the reason for the distance save he would torture himself with ideas of his own insanity and fragility.
“Hmmm” she pondered for an eternity
“I’ve just been dealing with some things that are outside of anyone’s control so i don’t want to burden people or move in on them with my shit because its heavy” then he knew that she was sick, he knew that what he felt, the grief and stricken rafts of tears and tragedy had shouldered him to a place he knew his mind was already going.
“Oh no, damn, well whatever it is you can talk to me or not talk, just be you, just don’t shut me out, i care about you” If only Deborah knew how much he really cared, maybe that would finally be the catalyst to bring them closer. He pondered telling her then thought wisely of it, this was not the moment, this was not the time or place to make a move.
As Michael scoured her apartment he noticed the sheer greyness and blandness of everything. Nice, tidy kitchen, homely, decent and without taste except for a painting in the living room above the couch. He gravitated towards it and saw what appeared to be a simple painting at first, blue edges, dusted in a solid frame and filled with colours towards the bottom. He asked her about it. She told him an ex-boyfriend had painted it for her, one who had long since gone ashore, to Colombia she mentioned as an aside, to find his true passion or something relatively worthy but he had left her with a painting and thoughts of freedom. It intrigued Michael, he wondered if she loved him, had she really loved him and could she ever love him too, could she ever love anyone. Now he was tortured for another moment, the hollowness of silence delved into the abstract of all thought and bit away at him with a force fit for weeping.
“I love this painting, Michael. It is basically a sky but it is the most important one because he painted the colours underneath the blue as an examination of feelings and emotions. It symbolises what we go through every day because the sky is present every second of every day and so thoughts and feelings must always be present even in sleep. It helps me in my darkest moments”
And now Michael loved it too, he examined its texture and he figured he understood it better than she ever could, as an artist he believed in his own relevance more so towards understanding the adventurous further than those who could not write or create. But its meaning and its grace was inside of her so deeply, in a place that Michael dreamt of but so far unattainable and he longed for. He paused, mulled and tried to dull the senses that were screaming at him to portray his passion for Deborah so openly and wholly.
He venerated on the thoughtlessness of ill judgement and the causation of action relative to the remorse of what would follow but that painting had his attention and Deborah had him more than ever. But he did not have her. And he could never have her. And he knew she was sick. But the painting was a bridge towards her mind so he quested there. And then left her apartment, happy, humiliated and burdened by his inexactitude.
Chapter 5 : The Passing
It was sometime later before Michael discovered the truth. He knew in his heart if not in reality until much further on when Deborah found the courage of honesty to reveal that she had been diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis was dreadfully bad. This was not going to end well, an admittance which caused in Michael an overwhelming tsunami of denials and fabrications, bargaining and bluster. Her grief became more to him than almost to her. In Deborah it brought about a wider sense of calm and honourable acceptance. The bewilderment of horror replaced by a placid, almost vibrant sense of starting to love what little of life was left as if all life before was nothing more than a shallowness of space and time. A constant guiding of beauty into its rightful place, she was more than ever determined to live her life without self inflictions and recriminations. Nothing could destroy her if she refused to destroy herself.
Michael’s empassioned awakening reached a signal stop. The brutal devout nature which caused in him the wildest of realism and consistent dreaming had found itself stagnant with the coming to terms of what the future held for Deborah or more pointedly what the future did not hold for her. Or him. The vacancy grew tightly and stung at his heart without remorse or reason. He embedded the painful moments as a collage of purity against the backdrop of sudden blackness. The wild and wondering of playful passion rendered obsolete, remorseless vanities prayed against themselves like violins hollowing out the cracks in a broken future, resting in a box for all centuries and beyond.
And yet in their final moments he felt drawn to her, still. He thought about the countless hours spent living out a fantasy within a dream. It felt surreal and somehow appeared morbid to want to love her and make love to her but still he needed her and he always wanted her even in the lull when he seemed cooler and circumspect, there was a spark and a fury and a gravity so intense it gripped him until he was breathless and weak with anguish and full up on a fantasy. The agony of it always, the agony of Deborah was always so real to him.
After the cancer worsened, Deborah moved home to upstate New York and then she was gone. She went as quickly as she came into Michael’s life but not before she made him more than he had ever been before. Her discovery was the gem upon which Michael tried to harness beauty in lustful hours, days and weeks, in painful anger and between the sad rejection of what had came and went and all that would never be the same or equal ever again. His fondness for her grew in death, her memory ever so remarkable, unflinching and still raw, determined. He never felt alone, the memories strengthened into writing that became further enduring with a newer, doughtier sense of meaning. He wanted it that way. He knew he would be okay.
Before she drifted into the mystic of beyond, Deborah asked Michael if there was any of her possessions he wanted to keep as something to look back on or to refine further in his own memory as time passed. He chose the painting of the sky. That represented something far more terrific and meaningful than a simple painting. The soul of it was all those reasons for living life every day as if its the last and that painting was in Deborah more truly than he could ever live within her. He promised to love it, passionately, remarkably and admire its lasting foreverness. And he would cherish it, truly and tremendously.
A few weeks after she died, a letter came which Michael knew was from Deborah. She promised him she would leave a lasting message that he could hold dearly as a reminder of the all too brief time they shared in this life. As he rather hoped and expected the letter was touching and kind and filled him with both the joys of candid remembering and the soulless desolation of everything lost. In the final paragraph, just as his emotional toil had reached its nadir, something utterly unexpected would shock him. “By the way, sorry if the note i passed under your door way back caused you to think i was some kind of desperate slut, thanks for not holding it against me, i figured you didn’t feel the same way about me but thank you for not disowning our friendship, it meant a lot.” Michael lay there stunned, unable to comprehend a word of it. “What note?” “What did she mean by feel the same way?” Everything was rushing forward in his mind, all the terror and unkind thoughts a man could think lay waste to his soul. He desperately clung to the letter as he searched beside the door, behind the door and between the door for a note, anything that could explain this sudden atrocity of ill feeling. There was nothing there, everything was torture without an explanation. Michael quit on himself, he ached to quit on life. Nothing was right, all of it was unbearable mystery and tension borne from devastation.
Almost as if by chance or divine and gracious circumstance he noticed some Yellow paper peering tamely out from underneath the rug in the far corner by the window. He grabbed it but toiled with the idea of opening it for the contents would most assuredly render him vanquished. But he read it anyway and it was all he was expecting and so much more. Little did he know but leaving that window open on the most magical of New York mornings had caused the note to float gently from the floor to the far side of the room beside the window and hidden from his view until now. The idea of a note thrilled him and its reveal monstered his mind and his human yearnings. Deborah had wanted him but she could never find the courage of her voice to go further. It was all she had to find the words in a note to explain how she felt. Knowing that to reveal all would have left her exposed in such a way that the waking of waves would most probably have broken her and left her tarnished but in triumph or that sense of rejection would equally have finished her for every man. How must she have felt, loose and austere but alone for him and needing his touch, wanting him in ways only he could understand. They felt each other deeply but the courage of words comes only when a soul is truly free of its own rejection and awaiting release, a heart no longer entrapped by its darkened doom, blood rushing into fantasy and away from the moderate thoughts that shatter its playful youth. Thoughts are to render it plain and tepid, action is to impulse it and experience it eternally.
Michael stood there, tame and vanished, thinking over all the times he wished he had the courage of his convictions and the foresight of all action. He read the note again and realised further how far he could have been with Deborah. But the past had disappeared before him into the ground and he did not want to be buried yet. The realisation of all that came before sparked a glint in his eye and a resolve to be from there so different, to have another day not like that but the opposite, a day to love and live, a day to be beyond himself and whip the landscape from its tender solitude and love the sky she gave to him. And then love everything else.