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.