Thursday, March 28, 2013

Two Ships

He didn’t go around the old neighborhood anymore. It held too many memories for him of triumphs he’d missed out on and failures he’d been too big a part of. A wise man once said “you can’t outrun your past because everywhere you go you will still find yourself.” He could appreciate that on a purely philosophical basis. It didn’t mean he had to embrace his past either. 

He’d left that past behind him and made a different life for himself. It wasn’t always the life he wished for. It wasn’t always laughter and good times and good friends but it was a life he’d made peace with himself living. It was amazing how Fate had a way of taking something as innocuous as a spring downpour in the Metro and making it something more surreal.

It wasn’t hard, in a city of eight million people to collide with somebody on the street. Hell, it was harder to not get bumped, jostled or any of a hundred variants of such. Now, it was sure as hell a lot harder to bump into the one person on the whole planet who wasn’t family but had know you your whole damned life. For him…it was her…Mona.

He hadn’t seen her in what…five years? Her hair was longer, darker and she’d lost some weight, but there was no mistaking those eyes. They were the same impossible green they had always been. The years may not have been especially kind to her but, all in all, they sure could have been a lot rougher.
His arms had encircled her to prevent her falling and, in that one endless, perfect moment, he remembered how it had once seemed the most natural thing in the world for them to be so entwined. But that ship had sailed a long time ago and he shrank from her embrace in awkward silence.

She spoke and the musical magic of her voice ensnared him, insinuating its way through the metaphorical armor he cloaked himself in. Trivialities and inane small talk it might have been but for such an encounter, any common link between them would have sufficed. They were two small, tiny souls in a vast sea of urban indifference and the urge to grasp at any human contact was too great for specifics to matter.

For him, what he did not say to her was the more telling thing. He saw no point in discussing her divorce some…three? Years back. Steve had always been an asshole and they both knew it so naught was to be gained from pursuing that. He didn’t express sympathy for the baby she’d lost or her dad’s stroke or so many other things. It wasn’t from fear of offending but rather from love of what she had meant to him once. Her tragedies, her triumphs were hers alone..not his to share or express.

Her thoughts swirled in much the same manner. She knew his dream of making it big on the music scene had passed long back into oblivion. He got by on some studio work and she had no desire to rub salt in what might, even now, still be an open wound. She glossed over his stint in rehab and the car crash that left his brother, Tony, less one leg. When what felt most right…most necessary was to hold him and melt back into him in the casual, comfortable familiarity of the past, she fought instead to stay aloof. He was, no longer, hers to love or comfort or console.

As the words came less easily and the silence stretched more lengthy, they drew further apart in distance and in time until they were, once again, just two hapless souls standing in the rain and needing a cab. Slamming the door to, he watched the tail lights vanish into the neon jumble of the night.

Uncertain and uncaring if the water in his eyes was the cleansing rain or salt-sting tears, he turned away at last. Knowing she would always hold a place in his heart but never in his life, the clump of his boot heels on the hard pavement seemed to sound the death knell of hope.

This story was written for the Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge inspired by the Pogues' song A Rainy Night In Soho

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