Friday, September 01, 2006

The Loneliness of Innocence


Another post of flash fiction here; another assignment from a writers' group. This is perhaps one of my favorites. By the way, if anyone gets tired of reading the flash fiction and wants to read something else I've done, feel free to slip me an email. When I have my web page up and running I will include links to longer works of fiction there.

FROM CHILDHOOD’S END


He looked at the blank page and exhaled slowly, letting the tension run off his shoulders and all clutter flow from his mind. Completing this pre-writing ritual, he held his pen loosely and reached the focal point at the back of his mind where the contact originated. As always, he was unaware that he started writing until he looked down and saw the pen moving across the paper in a slow, meticulous fashion.

“YOU”VE COME BACK…..I WAS LONELY….”

He felt bad for her. Only he could know how unhappy she was and he often filled his empty time dreaming about saving her.

His ability to make contact had come a year ago when he sat at the kitchen table and tried to compose a letter to a mourning friend. Maybe thinking of death allowed him to make that first special connection with her. Maybe it was their shared loneliness. Whatever the reason, she had come to him, taking his hand and crossing into his world through his pen.

“I’m here,” he reassured her.

Their communication wasn’t limited to the simple words they exchanged through the pen. Every time they made contact her essence rushed through him, establishing the sort of honest intimacy that haunted his dreams.

“I love you,” he said, giving those words all the meaning he could summon.

“I LOVE YOU.”

Who was she? He once asked her name, seeking to link her with something tangible in his own world, but the question evoked pain and confusion, almost (permanently, he felt) breaking their connection. Their relationship required unconditional
acceptance of one another, as they were now, at this moment, in this perfect context.

An image came to him. He saw himself in bed, an old man, apathetic and surrounded by strangers. An old anxiety.

“THAT’S ONLY A PHYSICAL REALITY,” she wrote, her words soothing him. “I’LL BE THERE.”

“And afterwards?”

“I’LL BE THERE.”

He sighed and the tension left him.It was bound to happen.

In this unguarded moment, he spoke out loud, wistfully: “Where were you when I was a child?” And the response drifted through his consciousness like an echo, before the pen moved across the paper.

“I was there,” he heard himself whisper.

The pen moved across the paper, writing the words.

He put his head down and the pen fell from his hands, rolling to the floor, where it would remain. Bitter, lonely tears rained from his eyes.

1 comment:

Sidney said...

Nice story. There's something to be said for flash fiction, especially in today's fast-moving world.