Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler

 

premature fiction

Never For Maria Did Maria Weep

The old man’s story short circuits here. He stops talking. It is not a pause, so much as a failed connection. Mind and voice, emotions and logic cannot reconcile. The logic of an otherwise simple system fails. His lips freeze separated by the narrow width of the breath required to utter a short phrase. He stares into his story unable to look away or even take the small necessary internal step backwards into detached observation.

William says nothing. He approaches the silence as a Zen riddle, knowing that herein lays the end of Maria’s story. He must hear the inaudible, listen for a slower, deeper wave of sound, the very frequency of meaning, a vibration to equal the mystery of the human heart.

William knows before the old man rises to leave the kitchen. He could not guess at the time passed between the last word spoken and his understanding of what the silence means. He feels, not clever and perceptive, but emotionally obtuse and personally clumsy.

Pain without conclusion is her entire story and it keeps any one daring to love her from telling her story through to the end.

Without waiting too long, William followed Bergoyan into the living room to ask, “How?” He needed to know.

“What?”

“How did she do it?”

“You might just as well ask how many times did she try? The first few times she did not want to succeed. She could not have. We are too fragile, too easily destroyed. She wanted all of her scars to finally appear on her body. And so they did. That wasn’t enough. Of course. How could it be? Each morning, still she wept. Her brother. Her son. Never for herself. Truly, never for Maria did Maria weep.” Bergoyan looked up from where he sat on his couch.

William leaned against the wide archway entrance to the living room. He could think of nothing to say and was glad he couldn’t.

“They put me away for a few months after… six months… a cousin of mine found me. I don’t know how. A good man. He could have taken all I have, but refused. My life… an embarrassment of riches, of friends, of family, of life itself in all its stubborn persistence. I watched her die. Life fighting to hold her, to punish her for simply living, until her last breath.”

William felt desperate for some sunshine. The old man’s apartment felt darker than it could really be. “I need some air.”

Without saying anything, Bergoyan followed him down to the street where they began walking through downtown Fresno, seeking and finding comfort in the mundane arrangement of mundane lives in a mundane place.