January 27, 2014


A man walks to the middle of a stream. Like an offensive lineman, he strategically places himself. But not to hike a football or whatever is in his hands: his hands are empty; and there is no invisible quarterback hunched behind him, no other player hanging around him. He is the only one standing at the ready for this game. He lowers his hands in the water and remains very still. He waits, then waits some more. He is in perfect position when the time comes, and it comes just as expected. He closes his hands on the fish and does not let go. His grip tightens as he steps out of the water. The camera pans to the creature tossed on the ground. Its eyes bulge out; its mouth, wide open. Its movement starts to slow down, yet it is still flapping, gasping for air...fighting for the only life it has ever known until the man skewers it.

I saw the scene in a movie once. Today, I was reminded of it. She was on the bed with her head flailing and tubes planted in her mouth, hard at work, to keep her breathing. But unlike the fish, she gave up the fight a long time ago. Not in the emergency room, but in her own skin... She had often told of stories of kings and queens and the rise and fall of cities. How she loved stories and history. Yet, her eyes betrayed her as she sipped her tea. She did not want to be here, she did not have to say it; I read it as I sat across her, sipping my coffee. She had waved the white flag and wanted to leave; she had longed for it. She could not live here any more, and so she left. She had been gone, even as she continued to nurse her plants; she loved the feel of dirt, but not this earth. One day, I, too, shall pass. Though perhaps somewhere beyond this place and time, we would meet again. Maybe in the pages of history and over a cup of tea. Times would be perfect then, just the way she dreamed it. For now, I raise my cup and say goodbye to the woman I once met and exchanged stories with; I hope I did justice to her as she remains in the garden of my memory. And for now, I continue my journey.

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