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A Color of Echoes

By D. Byron Patterson  Children of the future Age,
Reading this indignant page;
Know that in a former time,
Love! sweet Love! was thought a crime.
-- William Blake, “A Little Girl Lost”


Morning.

Half-naked.

Night-beaten.

Drug-drenched.

Two lovers sit. Fatally facing each other. Woman magnetized and full-frontal. Man half-cocked and quiet. They smoke. They talk.

He leaves today.

“Tell me your dream again,” she says.

His gaze. Cold and full of godd*mn blame.

“Please,” she reaches over, brushing away auburn strands of his hair. She looks over his shoulder and begs the sun. Please, sink back below the horizon.

Total recall.

She blows cigarette smoke. Swallows bittersweet and sour sips from a half-glass of something watered down. All night bumps for days of wear and wind and descending down. Light is evil. It paints the morning Dali and Van Gogh.

One more bump.

The nose-burn and tingle-eye blinking drip-down. She watches oil and flesh upend the bloodshot canvas sky. It vomits clear brilliant blue into the dawn.

“Today is a waltz,” she whispers. Her eyes focus out-of-focus on the end of her cigarette. Beyond her periphery, just now, a small butterfly plays in the verdant, dewy grass shards of the manicured lawn. “You’re leaving today.”

“I’m leaving today,” he says. He fiddles with the white powder in the spoon. Little crystals like Gulf beach white sand bits. Clumped together in vice. He snorts the tiny piles, tossing his head back to feel the back throat drip-down.

“You’re leaving today,” she whispers.

“My dream is clearer now,” he says. “I think it’s two dreams fusing. I’m alone. Wind and heat rushing around me. Then dark cold damp. Damp like sick hands damp. Burning in my nose. Acrid. Someone grabs me and pushes me into a line of people. A Star of David embroidered on my arm, here. Nazi uniforms everywhere. All identical boys. Children. Blond hair, blue eyes. Like me but they’re not me. They herd us around a maze. At the one end of the line, this house-sized misshapen head snorts bodies in its nostrils. People like white powder, like flesh bumps. We’re frail, white cattle. I hear music. At the other end of the line, children walk up single-file to this platform. It extends into nothing. A black beyond. Above the platform, thousands of lifeless bodies hang on these hooks suspended from scaffolding all over the platform. Dangling above opened trap doors on a pulley system connected to one lever. And I’m the one pulling it.”

Silence.

Cigarette smoke and imbibed libations. Liquid and crystal sins. The swallowing of temptations. Another curse for the morning. Another for the sound of birds. One for the grasshoppers.

“Are you still angry about what I said earlier?” she asks.

“No.”

“It would explain much,” she says.

“Yes, it would,” he whispers.

“This doesn’t seem like morning.”

“No, it doesn’t.”

She laughs. “I keep telling that godd*mn sun to go down and it won’t. I want shadow. And fire. Let’s pull the curtains, hmm?”

“Why?”

She swallows a cry and leaps at him. Tears at him with hands and mouth. Spills drinks and the make-shift picnic. Cracks the vials of illegal pharmacy into rubble glass and unbumpable powder.

He topples backward.

He laughs.

“Just stay,” she kisses his face. “Please, just stay. Stay. Stay. Stay.”

He tastes her tears. “Come. Come. Come.”

Whispers in between words.

“Stay.”

A brush of her cheek.

“Come.”

Her eyes, fierce and angry and swollen and liquid-colored, filled with her trembling. Watering down, drowning the both of them. A sometimes Baptism. Lost and swollen and tired and desperate and frightened. Rummaging for light.

“Stay.”

He gathers loose strands of her auburn hair. Peers into her forehead, follows the lines there. The furrows and the microscopic hairs. Freckles that pop from the summer tan.

“It’s still early,” he says, his head in her lap.

Sight and dawn and the smells of her morning smells. Honeysuckle, faint rainbows, earth. Her smoky-sweet breath.

A tear falls into his mouth.

“For someone who doesn’t know music,” he laughs, “you know enough from instinct – you’ve been breathing and crying in 3/4 time.”

“What’s that?” she sniffs, blocking another fall.

“A waltz.”

“See?” she says. “See?” she screams. “See?” she pounds his chest.

No thought for balance.

No need for control.

No explanation needed.

“Don’t leave me,” she howls. Cracking in half pieces. The seam of her soul ruptures in splinters of broken flesh.

She bites his neck.

“I hate you.”

He squeezes his eyes, precluding the sight of her. Drinking and savoring her lingering scents. She smells like sleeping. He is drunk and high. A visceral remnant of what he might be or might never be.

Her hands lay on either side of his throat. Her mouth suckles it.

He feels juicy euphoria and leans into its frenzy of lightheadedness. Strength and baskets filled with weak knees. Remembering. The sudden yesterday kind. In this moment, the hallucinogenic replay is a flash point in his mind. A moment extended and stretched across the breath of temporal absence. Somewhere in hazy sexfog, he feels her hands move away from his neck to other regions of his geography.

He is aware again.

“Oh, baby,” she sighs through cries. For a moment she thinks he might be crying. For a moment, she thinks, he just might be. Just her own tears. Weeping enough for both. As she’s done since crawling into and out of each other’s windows.

All of their lives.

“I’ll cry for you,” she says.

“I am crying,” he lies.

“I know your weeping,” she smiles, still over him.

Her hairs trickle down. They tickle his cheeks and brows. Annoyance now. He pulls away. Too quickly. Too into his own sunlight. Too transfixed into his own morning. Standing, he watches her sit Indian-style. He lights another cigarette. Feels a tear in some secret fabric of his heart. A ripping away of its vital parts, revealing the raw and soft and chaotic.

So. This is the leaving.

No, I don’t want to go, he thinks. Not without her.

“I must make this first step for both of us,” he says it. Finality. “Into the unknown boundaries of life. For once, without each other.”

“It doesn’t make it easier,” she says. “My home is here. Your home is here.”

“My home is here,” he nods.

Shipwrecked. Storm and wind and an island. Unfamiliar, dangerous, impetuous. Come unto these yellow sands. Take hands, children. Curtsy and take hands. Kiss the wild waves wist. Full-fathom five. Foot it featly.

“Somewhere else in the world,” she whispers, “someone else is leaving. You know that? Someone else is leaving somewhere else, too. You stupid, stupid man. Deep in my heart, inside the creases and capillaries, I’ve already let you go.”

"You have?” he grins, corpse-like.


"Resolution refined,” she spits, standing, walking in cat paces to sit again. “Like my glass sculptures. Fragile hesitancy. Hot guilt. Malleable depression. Then hard resolve.”

“Come with me,” he urges.

“Stay with me.”

They stare, one to the other. A smoke-clouded impasse.

Ages pass in these brief, fiery seconds.

When you’re young, the entire world around you is crucial. In one moment the life and death of the universe -- the pulse of God -- that place in the vast when a lover’s touch or glance-smiles is tantamount to planets and stars spinning blindly into oblivion and naïve ecstasy. Time is a cruel beast. Random and synchronous and volatile and absolute.

She adjusts the angle of her face, a solar sail to catch the encroaching light peeking through the window panes.

“I thought you didn’t want light,” he says.

“I don’t know you,” she sighs. “Funny, a person can be so young and so old at the same time. I feel it. Inside me. Festering. The soup of life.”

To herself now.

Pray for me. Forgive me, for I know not what I do.

I am a fool, god of my idolatry.

She shrieks as her insides heave from inside below. Something strange and unknown and familiar and foreign and unwelcome and very welcome.

She crashes into herself.

Guilt.

Fear.

Fury.

Despair.

Despair breaks things inside you. Early memories of nameless past things. Haunted things. Un-named and never-named things. And the ticking away of your everythings. An antique clock slowing after ticking and tocking. Floating numbers without a face. Nameless hands without direction.

Ticking, those soft scratches grasping for sound with questions.

Tocking, those hollow beats of staccato keening cleaving sound with answers.

Tick-tock.

An airplane engine shatters the silent sky overhead.

Tick-tock.

A steel pipe smashes into a windshield.

Tick-tock.

A swing-set creaks.

Tick-tock.

A dog barks.

Tick-tock.

She slaps him. Hoping violence will stop the clock.

Stumbling into him, she grips his arms. Hears her cavernous voice and craves independence from her co-dependence. Freedom from the destiny of him. Of persistent destruction from looking into his eyes. She cannot breathe while she speaks inaudible words. Words unchanged and trapped inside her cadences of thought. Hands on his chest, she steadies herself.

He holds her as she shakes and mumbles mad.

“Come,” he says again, pulling her.

“All the man I will ever need,” she says, straightening.

“Please.”

“No. Go. You go. Away. Don’t stay. Maybe while you explode into the world, maybe I need space to implode. Without. Within. You. Me. Don’t ask me why ‘cause I don’t understand the logistics, but I just need time, time, time. But we’ll never be parted. Not ever. Sometimes I’m Cathy, you know, and I can never truly be separated from you. I am you. I’ll haunt you. You’ll haunt me. In everything. Everywhere. The thousand-billion memories in all of me. That’s what’s breaking. And I can taste them all over again.”

“You’re not breaking,” he says, hands to touch.

Stepping backward, watching in wild, manic clarity, she recoils.

“No,” she repeats. “I can taste the time when we first held hands. First kissed. First Fucked. First made love. When you held me to you as if I were dying. And we were floating. Together. Lost in the Labyrinth. That maze of dead ends and walls will eventually consume the universe. You are my universe. It’s folding in on itself. On me.”

He beams as sunlight now. “Remember when we were eight years old? And we played around our peach tree after supper, pretending to make movies?”

“I always remember that one,” she says, shifting with the tide.

“You fell on your head and blacked out. Terrified me.”

“And when I woke, you were crying.”

“I was crying.”

“It’s the last time I ever saw you cry.”

“Begging you to wake.”

“Praying God would open my eyes.”

“I did cry,” he says. “I thought you were dead.”

“It was so quiet, that sound you made,” she smiles. “It’s my most vivid memory. I fell in love with you that day.”

“Obsession, I think,” he laughs, “Wondering if you might ever see me cry again.”

She bends down to pick up an overturned glass.

“Do you want some more?” he asks.

“No, I can get it.”

“Here,” he offers. “I didn’t spill mine.”

She smiles, “I had a thought.”

Silence.

“What?”

Silence.

He lunges for her. She brings him to his knees. Their hands and fingers knead each other’s bodies, pulling skin, ripping off buttons and snaps. Their breathing is heavy and labored as they eat one another. This is my body, given for you. Teeth meet hair and flesh and lips over and over again like water.

They laugh, ravenous and starving. Furious. Wild. Blindly chewing. Hands and body. All at once. Skin like a thousand greedy, hungry mouths. Skin and bone and muscle, sun-dried tears, salt tracks to taste and savor. Goose fleshing bodies. Freedom. Yes. Free. And entered. And filled.

Bury.

Fury.

Fire.

Life.

Two Little Deaths.

They hold echoes and shades of graying color. Neither speak. They know what silence looks like. What it feels like. How it tastes and smells. How it moves and creeps.

He tickles her arm. In his mind, the nothingness. The final click. A spark of unreal. An irrational fire erupts in the man. A manic fire. One fueled by artificial substances and sincere regret.

“It’s time,” he says.

No guilt.

No regret.

She feels the clanging tone change and moves away to dress apart. He mirrors her movements. The sky blackens.

“Godd*mn you,” she whispers.

“Please, come.”

Swallowing, she shakes her head. “Please, go.”

Her real tears are slow in coming. She watches him pack light things. Small things. Taking bags outside. A few more to add to what is already there. In that pregnant, evil car. The thing to take him away.

A sudden doubt now. Maybe I should have agreed to go with him. Yes, I should have made the arrangements. No guilt. I’m not for him. My destiny is elsewhere.

Finished with the odds and ends of pre-flight, they stare again. Waiting for the first of the final moves. They try not to weep. They embrace their melancholy and terror with smiles. Their fates begin to mingle with the flavors of others. They do not hug.

They do not linger.

When she nods, he finally does leave.

Alone at the window, she watches him go. He opens his car and climbs inside, closes the door, and starts the engine. For a while, he sits. Staring at the wheel. Minutes pass. Or days. She’s not that certain.

Only the certainty of repetitive history.

Frozen, she searches the déjà vu memory. The gray sky, the shadows inside her breathing. All of it familiar.

“How old was I, eleven?” she says aloud, her breath fogging the glass. “When your parents took you to camp? I ran after you. I was still in my pink pajamas. You screamed my name. I heard it through the open windows. I yelled for your father to stop. But he didn’t stop. Until you were out of sight, over the horizon in my mind, I ran and ran and ran. The memory of you going. And I was screaming no and don’t and please at the top of my lungs until I felt the sting of stitches in my side. And I was angry because you were leaving me and would miss my birthday. We didn’t say good-bye because I was too angry.”

Tick-tock.

“I would have chased you forever, once upon a time.”

Tick-tock.

“Somewhere else, someone is leaving.”

Tick-tock.

“Someone in a car is backing down a driveway. Right now. At this moment someone else is watching that going.”

Tick-tock.

Tick-tock.

Tick-tock.

Impulse.

She bolts outside and runs toward the moving vehicle. He doesn’t see her as he lurches forward, the car heavy with too many things. He cannot see behind him through the thick of all that weight. All that baggage.

The car speeds forward, sputtering and grinding. She screams for him, but her voice cuts to rattles and hoarse soundless shouting. It’s been how many nights awake? She can’t remember.

She doesn’t care about things not working or things breaking.

The only thing she knows is the impulse to run. To chase him. She’s eleven again. They didn’t say goodbye. And that same little girl is now breathless. And she screams her silent shouts. All in vain. Her bare feet running on asphalt. She prays for a flat tire before he reaches the top of the hill.

Please, God.

A stitch in her side and she stands frozen, armed against the morning sun. Facing the ass-end of an empty street. Listening to the birds and smelling the intermittent breezes of scuppernongs along the trees just beyond the stop sign. Her feet burn.

They bleed.

He’s gone.

Silence.

Tick-tock.

She shambles in crashing, spastic motion to the curb. Collapsing, she scrapes her knees. She looks at her hands. And the curb beneath her legs. She hears the tick-tocking and the sound of the clocking as she sits and howls her weeping. Now, finally crying without fear. Looking up at the cruelty of angels. Remembering the peach tree. And the growing up.

And the days and nights and always were theres.

And the suddennesses of all the nows as they morph into pasts and futures as the nameless emotions have faces of strange synchronicity and five billion parallel universes.

And now the oozing, wetness pouring from between her legs.

And the nervous laughter. Her running has loosened the liquid of his seed.

And presages the end of her weeping.

And the exhaustion of a strange near-to-fainting dizziness.

And her head falls like stretching taffy onto her folded arms. For an instant she can’t breathe. Her air slips away from her. She can’t breathe. She can’t breathe. But she can see. Looking down, between her numb-burned feet, the wetness between her pools in thick, viscous red.

Congealing echoes of crimson.

And they cascade down from deep inside where some cruel god has taken a crowbar to her womb.

And she laughs again, in her airless vacuum of knowing. Seeing only drowsy black as instant sun explodes from behind the canopy of gray.
Rolling out of bed in the morning
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Upload Date: 31/12/1969

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