Memories and the Mountain

 

    A duck landed on the lake, disrupting its flatness; concentric rings ebbed from beneath the bosom of the duck, spreading outward in all directions. As the first rings hit shore, Elijah peered down, watching the water cascade over murky mosses at the lake’s edge. The water regressed to its original flatness, a solid sheet of blue-green glass. The sun had yet to rise and the clouds were still, sitting thickly on top of the mirror, while the fescue flowed in the morning’s breeze, its sharp yellow barbs scratching at Elijah’s arms as he continued down the bank. The mild scent of grass and fish filled his lungs, giving him a nostalgic sense of security. Every step muddied his Italian black leather shoes, which had been shined only hours earlier.                                                    

   The memory of running through here as a child decades ago flooded his mind. Back then, he had been too small to see over the tall-growing grasses that bordered the lake. Elijah had used his shortness to his advantage when his mother would call for him, hiding for hours, waiting for her to become so anxious that she would cry. He cherished these moments; to him, they were a sign that he mattered. Elijah’s mother had perished long ago, but the memories of her were thick, overwhelming and full of sorrow and regret. Young and loving, it had not been her time to leave this life. Elijah recalled the loss of control, remembering his mother’s hair falling on top of his own as her neck became limp; caught off-guard, she was defenseless. Swiftly, Elijah had lost the one he had held most dear. A fescue barb nicked his hand; an orb of blood protruded from the wound, and raced down his palm, filling the crevices of his palm as it went down. 

    Elijah looked down at the cut. He believed that, though it was his nature to imbibe blood, taking lives of others was a sin, an ultimate commodity he had vowed never again to rob. However, Elijah remembered Lucy Stedwick, how passionate and in love they both were--foolish, for they were only in their twenties. She pushed too far, too soon. Elijah was not prepared for a display of such lust. A bead of blood dripped from his palm and landed on his now mud-encrusted shoes, creating a starburst of red. Lucy had taken off her garments, and as she did, Elijah eyed her, his eyes becoming wider. He went to embrace her, kiss her, but his mouth was following orders from another consciousness, one within himself, that led his teeth to sink into her with pure passion. When he had finished, he let loose of her neck, blood seeped down out of the corner of his mouth. His eyes closed, Elijah grabbed hold of reality once more. He saw what he had done. Elijah wanted to hurt like humans did for the loss of their loves, yet painfully, he was unable to do so. It is one thing to have feelings, but to want feelings that are not attainable is quite another. Elijah believed that he had loved as the definition expressed, but, as arbitrary as it seemed, that definition was exclusively pertinent to man.

    He proceeded down the bank of the lake, ultimately coming along a mahogany-boarded dock. He stepped up onto it, his planted foot sinking deeper into the mud, temporarily stuck in its brown vacuum, as he ascended the two-foot gap between savage and tamed. With each step, clacks were sent vibrating down the dock. This caused the venerable chipmunk to flee in a flash of beige and gray, back into its cloistered burrow beneath a moss-covered rock. Elijah thought about how simple it must be to live as a chipmunk. Chipmunks were not murderers, they had no moral regrets. Why could he not be a chipmunk and hide from the world under a rock?

    Life was futile when you were a hammer and everything else was porcelain. For what reason would one choose to remain if nothing could be done to change human fragility, leaving Elijah to inflict more unintentional damage on those who did not deserve it? Elijah walked down the dock, coming along a buttermilk-colored wicker bench. He turned and sat down, his wounded maroon-encrusted hand clutching the arm of the bench. His grip on the arm could crack a walnut.  Elijah twisted his wrist to get a more preferable handle on the bar; red mixed with buttermilk. He shut his eyes tightly, squeezing out tear after tear. The sky began to reveal its emblematic color as the fog evaporated from above the glass. It would not be long before the sun rose over top of the mountain across the lake. Elijah opened his eyes, peering at the majestic beauty ahead, serene, indelible. At dawn, Elijah would be no more...