It Is Finished


The full moon casts a burnished halo on the bed, their bed, the marriage bed, banishing any and all traces of rapture from the room. The stench of unspoken words populates the heavy stillness as the two undress. She looks up and catches him gazing, with longing, at her plump, ripe breasts. She gives him a stare that feels like a cold slap. His face burns with the colours of shame. She looks away, as if that simple act will erase the reality of him, of his longing for her. Outside, night flickers in the gentle eyes of a doe. And beyond, beyond, a cluster of grieving stars begins to fade. Her passion, her desire ~ once flaming petals ~ have burned themselves out like dying embers of a fire gone cold. She shrieks into the deafening silence. Her raw voice shatters. And suddenly, so suddenly, the air weighs a million pounds.

What happened to the us of us? We’ve become a dream, dissolved into the light of dawn. A dream spilled out of itself. I look at you, look into your eyes and see your soul there, languishing. What do you see when you look into my eyes? Calamity’s magnet? I think so. You’ve suffered, for so long, you’ve suffered at the cruel whim of my heart, which sometimes, often times, chose your brother over you. I thought I could exchange you for your brother. With no cost to anyone. With no cost to you. With no cost to me. I thought I could do this and still clutch you to my heart, never letting you go. It hurts to remember you, to remember us. It hurts every part of me.

And now, and now, I say the letters of your name, over and over again, and they tumble out of my mouth, jewels on the thread of my breath. And I think of how, like the shoreline with the sea, you refused to stop loving me, despite the many times I left you. A gaping hole separates us, as wide as the sky’s velvet expanse; it grows ever wider with the passage of time. A certain tension unravels itself inside my chest as cold phantom fingers wrap themselves around my heart. Guilt, I feel guilt, the kind of guilt that strangles and crushes, when I think of that beautiful thing between us which I destroyed. I remember the words you spoke, I want a divorce. And I remember that suffocating feeling in my chest, as each of those words you spoke piled there.

And now, I see you with her. And we throw around smiles like they don’t mean anything. And my blood feels like lead in my veins. Her gaze meets mine with a gaze that threatens to split me wide open. Why? She has already won, hasn’t she? I would make her head explode with only the power of my brain, if I could. I hear a sharp and deafening snapping sound in my ears. That’s the sound of death, the death of us. The sound of shifting from what is, to what was.

All the colours of the spectrum collapse into a few dusty greys as a hard and brittle laughter pierces the air. The cloud bank sagging in the eastern sky becomes a luminous bruise as lightning flickers without a sound. I stand, motionless, trying to catch my breath; breathing feels like swallowing jagged pieces of glass. I feel unreal ~ my surroundings have the texture of a dark dystopian fantasy. I look at the woman in the mirror. She has inky, soulless eyes. I feel quite certain that she’s had her soul surgically removed ~ she feels like such a hateful place. Where did that sinister laughter come from? It came from that woman in the mirror. It came from me.

I like to think it started with the crack cocaine. But then, perhaps it started long before that. We got lost in the dark spaces between the lights. And we couldn’t find our way back to ourselves or each other. Heat tears through my chest and tongues of flames press behind my eyes when I reflect upon how deeply I hurt you. I had to let you go, I had to, even if it felt like everything inside me would collapse into itself, like a black hole. Voices fill my ears, telling me that love still exists between us, and I cannot tell where these voices originate. From inside my head? Perhaps. From that part of my mind that has gone completely mad? Perhaps. I don’t really know. I only know that I see something there, in those eyes of yours, those eyes of melted steel. And it hits me, like a sigh passing through my body.

Oh, but it’s all wrong. Our time has come and gone. Leaving us with nothing but empty shells, dried up husks of memories, of moments long past. And all I can do is stand and watch as this all gets dissolved into the patina of time. I feel bare without the marriage skin which we spend so many years weaving together. My soul feels thin and papery ~ worn, so worn. And my arms ache as though they’ve had to hold up the leaden atmosphere that hung around us, in some strange kind of stranglehold. I sit in this empty room and watch as my armour of secrets fades away, screaming until my throat burns, screaming for everything lost to me, to you, to us. And my screams, they melt into the walls. Then I look up, at these pinpricks of light, which grow ever larger, until light pours in around me from all angles.

I find myself standing where the sea and the sky bleed into one another, and I can hear the hearts of angels sing. They sound like spun gold in the moonlight. They shriek into the wind as a violet dusk spreads across the sky, washing across the sea, setting it aflame. Night flickers on the sea, and stars, like eyes, glitter in the darkness. Those angels have carried you away to the land beyond the horizon, to where I cannot yet follow. I gaze at your photograph, the only thing of you I have left, and shudder to think what those last moments of your life felt like.

The words fly silently from my lips, It is finished.


A Topography of Disaster

paco s

Everything falls apart, crumbles to a fine dust that leaves a bone white cloud in its wake. This bone white dust coats my throat, making it nearly impossible to breathe. I gasp, my chest heaves as I struggle to draw air into my lungs. I cannot. I feel hungry for relief, a reprieve from this monster stealing the air from my lungs.

Your sister died.
What? I didn’t even know she was dying. How?
Stage Four stomach cancer.

Disaster. I didn’t know. I had a feeling, though, because of the lymphedema – mum told me about it. I don’t think Gail didn’t want her to tell me. She didn’t want me to know. She didn’t want me to know. She told our sisters. She didn’t tell me. She didn’t tell mum, either. I never got to say goodbye. She never gave me a chance.

We have to talk about your dad.
Okay. What’s going on?
He’s got Alzheimer’s.

Disaster. Mum never told me. I had to find out from my sister. Angry, I felt angry. And disenfranchised. Shut out. Living two provinces away intensifies the feeling of disenfranchisement. I can’t say find the diagnosis surprising. I certainly saw it coming. I can’t say exactly what tripped the breaker and when. I can only say that hearing the words your dad and Alzheimer’s in the same sentence shattered me. It felt like I’d lost him. Only worse, because I knew it was the beginning of a long series of successive separations from him, each taking him farther away from me than the previous one.

He’s deceased.
What? Oh. How?
Oh my gawd. How did he–?
In the park near his apartment. There was an apparatus.

Disaster. The guilt – inexorable, suffocating, profound. The grief – labyrinthine, eviscerating, the kind that finds me howling uncontrollably in the bath. My thoughts turned to morbid things – what did his last few seconds feel like, how long did it take for him to die? And my heart shattered to think of the despair that drives a person to believe death will make life better. When I ponder the 18 years we spent together, the family we raised, the life we built, I cannot compute the event horizon of this grief.

Welcome to some of the recent disasters of my life: events that have cast me into the frozen deep sea, banished me into the darkest forests far from all connection anything and anyone familiar (even myself), flung me over the edges of my world.