Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hearts of Darkness, Part I

Without further ado, that thing I wrote.

David’s flight from the island was unceremonious. He woke up one morning, walked into his mother’s kitchen, sat at the end of the table and silently ate his share of the breakfast. It was room temperature, coordinating with the hour. His father had gone, and left his guards. Something about listening to his mother sing as she washed the dishes, as if she couldn’t see the posted sentries, the men in suits designed to shrink their world. Something about that made everything click for David. 

When his father came home for lunch David told him. 

“I’m leaving.” 

And not just him, David realized, but his mother, too, and the uncle or cousin his father had brought home with him. The words came out of his mouth and it was almost like sneezing, something his body needed to expel, a violent, involuntary gesture. After he spoke, there was nothing left to do but to have an ugly family confrontation. Except David had prepared for that, too, had practiced in the mirror, the way he held his posture, the way he fixed his eyes. 

As it turned out, none of that was necessary. If push came to shove, they couldn’t stop him, after all. The cage no longer troubled him, so far as they knew. And the bars, the men who watched him and his mother while his father was away, they were only as powerful as they were allowed to be.

“Do you know for how long?” his father asked.

David wanted to follow through. He wanted to stand up tall and tell everyone who was in the sound of his voice that he was never coming back, that this was the last they would ever see of him. 

But then his father accepted his mother’s hand. She needed something, someone to cling to, and found a willing buoy in the man she had married. 

David looked from his father down to the hand that was holding onto his mother. “I don’t know.” That made it impermanent. Powerless. That made it a youthful touring. 

His father stood happily, spoke of worldliness and sowing oats. He snapped his fingers and made arrangements immediately, as if this was all his plan. Within the hour, he was pressing documents and currency into David’s palm as he shook his hand. 

David didn’t pack much. In his memory, the gesture of leaving most everything behind meant something else when he had planned everything out. In his mind, he would need to travel fast and light, by nightfall in his heroic imaginings. 

When they dropped him off at the docks in the middle of the afternoon, waved goodbye as the towncar reversed direction, the knapsack on his shoulder seemed appropriate. He wouldn’t be gone long. His mother had been forbade to give him the kind of send off that was appropriate to David’s occasion. Just a hug, a kiss, a sweep of fingernails through his hair, and a foil covered dish with leftovers from lunch. 

He couldn’t remember the name of the boat, or even the name of the captain, but the smell of the docks, and the scents of the ship would be with him always. The freighter was so large though, it felt like he wasn’t on the sea at all, felt like he was still on land. There was still no need for affirming. Every other part of him knew he was floating further and further away. When he walked the deck on the second day and couldn’t see the island at all, he wasn’t surprised. He did thoroughly wash his mother’s bowl. For safekeeping.

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