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Processional

When I close my eyes I see a boy. In him I recognize myself, or someone very much like myself. I close my eyes again and see that the boy is very sad.

I cannot tell whether the boy is young or old, whether he is playing in a sandbox or working at a desk. I cannot understand the boy, cannot comprehend his life. I decide to leave him for a time. There is so much I cannot do.

The birds are chirping loudly today, wildly. A cat is out prowling, ready to wreak havoc upon their innocent lives.

Eyes closed, eyes open. There is a world, there is not. Which is true?

The world I see looks better with eyes closed. In the eyes-closed world the life of the little boy is romantic, dreamlike, mystical. It has endless possibilities. Why can’t the boy see this? Why can’t he live this magical, wonderful world?

He cannot keep his eyes closed.

He is taught that the magic is not real.

But it is, little boy, it is.

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He hears me now, the little boy. Until now he had been only a dream. But he wants to believe in what I say. He wants to come alive.

I will let him.

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I speak to his mother, for I know her well. We are lovers. Her name is Hara and I am Johan. We are together, his mother and I, in this life and maybe beyond. Who’s to say?

We talk quietly at first, for we don’t want to wake the sleeping child, the boy. If we wake him, we’ll have to care for him.

Neither of us is ready. We are young.

Hara loves me. You must accept this. If this thought, this concept is challenged, we can converse no further. So we start from there.

Again:

Hara loves me.

True, Hara has many lovers.

But I am one.

I’m happy with that.

She has loved me since I was very young, a little boy myself. She taught me love. She taught me how to experience pleasure:

To dive, swooning, dizzily, into the many soft-petaled folds of the flower.

To lie back, to accept graciously the world as it pours itself over and upon you.

To go back to these again and again.

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Now my eyes are closed again. I’m asleep, in bed with Hara. Our dreams intertwine. Her body against mine is a cool layer of hope containing a beating, rhythmic warmth within. As our dreams evolve together, so, too, do our bodies. For the ten-thousandth time, we become one in the night.

It is quiet all around us. The animals sit in silence. They witness our odd combination of tenderness and force. They do not question it. They do not think to question it. They know it well.

This tenderness, this force, alternating, blurring, until they are one and the same. Hara and I are one and the same. We recognize this. We accept this.

The violence builds. We must hold on to each other. There is such temptation to let go. I will not let her go.

We burst together into a new world. She cries but I am the most afraid. The world is familiar, yes, but seems as well to have been created anew.

World upon world, shadow upon shadow, I rest upon Hara, upon the earth. Her black hair is spread out wildly behind her. She is an animal, a demon, a living breathing fire entirely beyond me. I cannot touch her, or she will scratch. I must be, and am, content to be near her.

Does she fear me in this way?

Her eyes turn to mine and open wide upon me. The universe, the wide, gaping, attractive universe is in them.

She laughs.

Her laughter shakes the room and reverberates in me. It is not mirthful but challenging. In weaker moments, it would torment me, calling to mind ghoulish images of her other lovers, her other lives, lives which not only do not include me, but which surpass and transcend the one she has with me. Her laughter at such times shakes me down into nothingness . . .

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Into . . .

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Foul, dungeon-like existence. Pestilence . . . Water . . . no, not water but fluid, effluvium where decay and growth commingle. Disgust. Sunlight-less life, impenetrable, intolerable. As vivid as illuminated life but one cannot embrace it, merely survive it, outlast it. Meaningless, day to day, life. A fragmented world, in which only the basest, vilest, most inglorious life prevails. Is this the new world? Or the old? Where I’m going or where I’ve been?

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I cover my eyes, to force them closed. This world blinds me. If I can keep my eyes closed, and stop looking at the world as if it was there, outside of me, perhaps I can recover the sense, the certainty, that I am a part of it. How foolish, that certainties should go unperceived.

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I try to clear my head. Hara is gone. For now, for now. My love goes with her, goes out to her. Can she feel it?

My love, flown away as if cast from me, leaves me alone. Alone, with the new/old world rushing around me. I sit in its center, solitary, immobile, like Odysseus strapped to the mast. Every man, every woman, too, is Odysseus (Odyssea?) strapped to the mast. The world howling and raging around him, or her. The ship he’s aboard, the ship which, despite the bonds of his strange captain’s chair, he commands, still surges forward in the vast sea. Tied up, helpless at the focal point of the storm, attending only to the sirens of distraction singing in his ears, clawing into his mind and soul, he cries out.

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I cry out.

The wind, with vicious ease, brush-strokes out all sound. I cannot hear myself, let alone be heard. Still I’m moving forward, faster, out of control, carried along by relentless force, face to face with elemental wind and sea. No land in sight. No earth to ground me. The freedom to be exposed, annihilated . . .

I’d gladly open my arms to this oblivion if I could just free up my arms!

What’s the use?

Wild, manic scherzo drawing to a close.

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I cry out.

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A curtain falls, another is drawn aside. My cries subside, become softer and more distant. Soon, they are not even mine.

The boy, the baby boy is crying. He has come; he has returned. I have brought him to life. I, with my pain, my struggle, with my eyes closed, with oblivion denied . . . with my beloved Hara . . . have created life.

How Godlike.

How magical.

Half-Hara, half-me, in proportions unmeasurable by any human reckoning.

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He cries. Already his journey has begun; already he is being lashed to the mast. Already, in the far distance, in the future, in the past, a tiny echo has begun, is beginning, to sound; a disturbing echo of a tiny human cry, all but drowned out by the sea and wind. A million tiny humans tied to a million masts of a million ships, a(n) (seemingly) endless fleet sailing through infinity past an (assuredly) endless horde of screaming sirens . . .

Seeking landfall. Seeking a resting place. Seeking that point where futile effort can cease.

My poor son.

I open—or is it close?—my eyes. Have they been open, or closed? The boy is with Hara, protected in her arms, held by her as I have been held by her. The brief landfall we men and women seek, the momentary forgetfulness of the torments of the sea, of being hurled helplessly onward past death and madness, pushing the past, our burden, ahead of us, trailing the future in our wake; the ephemeral respite that life is, between the two foci of oblivia that are our origin and our destiny.

Copyright 2007 by Laurence Levey

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Laurence Levey writes:
This story was a fevered yet strangled expression(sublimation?) of my and my wife's desire and efforts to have children, and the dawning awareness that it wasn't going to happen.

Armed with an intellect informed equally by Martin Heidegger and "Green Acres," Laurence Levey was educated at Wesleyan and Duquesne Universities. After years and years of dissatisfying, largely unprofitable jobs, his great, longstanding love of reading and writing (arithmetic, not so much) led him, in 2005, to leap off the rat-race rails and attend Naropa University's Creative Writing Program in Prague, CZ. He has been writing and freelance editing since then, and had a story selected in the Top Ten of Worcester Magazine's 2007 Short Story Contest. He is at work, with a co-author, on a semi-fictional comic travelogue ( see: www.dosgringosgordos.net ). He lives with his wife and pets in a backwater Central Massachusetts town. His website is located at www.dosgringosgordos.net, and he can be reached via email at llev@charter.net.

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