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Henry, the Fallen

Stefanie E.

Seething yet hopeful, arid yet ambitious, mis-guided yet determined, understated yet overestimated. His life brimmed in his mind and became a reflective mirror peering back at him with injustice and persistence. He glanced his eyes away, hoping the contemplation would diminish and a new vacancy would take its seat on the train of thought. He muttered something to himself and destroyed the cigar that had charcoaled his fingers into a blue glass ashtray. Something similar, something frayed, edged on a millennium threshold of thunderstorms and cold fronts. The early life carried little weight with its emotions and dispersions. He slanted his eyes toward the large unopened window across the room and took them away quickly, seeing the sun was at its hide-and-seek game again. Damn sunlight and all of its pitiful offerings. He narrowed his feet and evaluated the contrast of his feet and the carpet. Wrinkled, aged, curling at the edges, singed at the corners, forgotten by Tuesday, and re-lived on Sunday, were his feet. The carpet, imported at his request from England, poured over the entire room with its blended edges that were crisp and clean still. Islands of coffee stains and old cigar butts made their residence in the elegance and waged their war against its beauty; they were gaining recognizable speed and seemed to be winning. Again, to the window he looked up and fought the forceful rays this time. Again, the sun wanted to play. Back to the carpet. From the corner of his eye he could see the wallpaper tearing from the wall, a blue line cascading from the enormity of cream. The room carried little furniture or worth, even. The small kitchen at the edge was painted a punishing brown that revolted against the old yellowing appliances. Near the edge of the kitchen stood a chair. Another once-elegant import from Europe now dappled with cigar droppings. A lamp, broken and titled, hovered over the chair, scolding it for its inconsiderateness. Under the lamp, was a table that had been beaten and battered from years of use and violent attacks from newspapers and glasses. Hallowed and broken, it seemed to stand alone from the other pieces. The other furniture pieces were meaningless pieces of wasted wood and cheapened iron and nothing worth description or mention. This time, with the shield and armor of his hand, he again glanced out the window to see the school yard directly beneath it. Dots with arms threw tiny balls in which other dots caught and also threw. Other dots with moving legs ran to-and-fro across the generous grass yard. All are meaningless things that get a person nowhere in life and developed no sincerity of thought and idea. He picked up another cigar and began his dull occupation of being deadened.

           Blurred images cast in an array of thought and distraction fought against the present to make their presence known. He lived his life battling this war. The chair groaned as his bovine body fell into it. The room looked smoky and incoherent at this hour. He glanced at his furniture: meadows lacking grass, dew, and twilight, that is what they were, meaningless things. He pierced his eyes against the room to show his anger and discontent. The room stood aloof and adult and ignored his foolish bouts. The night enveloped the city and manipulated its thought and inhabitancy. He exuded thoughts which tangled in this web of confusion; the night rejected them.

           Boys in a line dressed with heavy slacks of blue and gray waiting in anticipation of the heavy monument in the directors hand; joggled and shaken they hushed in murmurs of quiet shrieks and disproportionate hollers; the man walked with a limp, of course, and purposely, slowly, gently approached the boys; the crowd knew not if to applaud or shiver; shiver they did; the old antediluvian man passed the first two, and looks of anguish and utter disappointment crossed their faces as his large body passed; again he stopped and gently, yes, gently knelt.

           Craziness, he thought, and many years ago. He questioned how that memory had found its way through the guarded, locked, iron walls of his memory. Twenty-one years old on a cold dank morning, when his mourning gave a sigh of remembrance, he set the plaque on fire, threw it in the kitchen trash, took it out the next day, and forgot all about it. Meaningless pieces of supposed accomplishments that felt like heavy weights carrying him closer and closer to that bottom line of complete lower existence and horrid living. What he did not know was this was done not by the weights but by himself. He manufactured, chained, and locked them to his body himself and now weighted and rusty, they clung to his aged, creased, and wretched body. There were as present as ever; banging against his withered body with every memory, every step, every moment like a bloomed lily of existence, they were there.

           The children ran in circles. They seemed to form circles that grew as more children entered and ran also. How their existence was summarized by ignorance, merriment, and the solid rock of all that is disgusting, innocence. They carried themselves in air and danced with the sun sparkling and beaming on their skin. Laughing and joking with their shadows, they ran from reality, or what they knew of it, and played games in which life had no meaning but love and enjoyment. They would learn; their corruption was right around the corners, he thought to himself with a small belly-shake of laughter. Adolescence, also known as "the graying period", when one sees the colorful lit life of childhood in terms of reality and distinguishes its angry miserable existence from all other periods. They would be there soon. He spread his heavy arms wide from himself as if he was disgusted with them. Like one could dismiss people when he or she is tired of them. Why can't limbs and body parts, internal and external, be detachable? He had once questioned this in his youth. Shaking his head violently he muttered that he did not want those days to enter the room with their arrogance today. How those memories had been pouring in lately through some unknown vortex of light and odd shape that had opened their grazed and nibbled wounds and let them empty. Without his permission, of course, they would override every thought, enchant the moment, and halt the universe so that they might be able to waltz their being through every corner of his mind. He'd try better next time, arm himself with something dangerous like delusion or denial.

           Entering the room with a regal flare and flowing movement, he expected a standing approval from the room, but there was no one there. He walked to his tan, torn, and tired chair, stopped in front of it to take a few puffs of his blackened cigar and fell heavily into the chair. He threw the cigar out with hard motion through the window in front of him. One can only take so much of something before one has to rid himself of it. Life or people are good examples of this. Yes, excellent examples. The streams of cars and pollution undulated and drifted beneath him. This bustling life that people took part in as endless trees of softened oak and hardened pine, tangling into each other, rustling the leaves of their bodies, and changing the contour and shape of each other's frame with each encounter. He was so detached from this world of emotion and human intimacy that people partake in. They had schedules and meetings and late night dinners; all of which textured the landscape that inhabited their days and nights. He would never again be there, where someone asked of his presence, or even experienced it. Yes, he was happier now. Alone and filled to the brim with contented solitude. Nothing could make him happier. He'd been down the halls in which the everlasting, love, would drip from the ceilings and he would drink from them to experience their sweetness. Comparing it to being feed nectar from the gods, he ran down the streets in utter pleasure. The sweet honey of the everlasting dripping keenly from the corners of his mouth. That life is over, thank god its over.

           Mother came down as if she fell from the heavens and kissed my forehead; the day was bright and piercing to the senses; she was proud of everything I had accomplished; but I knew there was more, much more; I knew the limits of humankind and the barriers that stood between progression and stagnation; and I planned to surpass them my raison d'Ítre was to propel the human race to vast new regions of thought and expression that no one knew of. Now was it just narcissism that gave the ability to say that or was I a revolutionary human being? Yes, I was. The first sculptor was put in front of the fireplace in the living room so that when one walked through the door it would be the first formation in front of the eyes; the amusement and awe in people's eyes when they first saw it gave me a jolt of excitement and pushed me to make more; October 13 was my first show; I wore a tight-fitting blue suit that made me very uncomfortable and swished when I walked; I moved non-chalant across those hard-wood floors, drinking in the discussions of my pieces and noting each compliment in my head, but, of course, weeding out the insincerities that adults will say just to please and flatter a young boy; adults were always untrustworthy; they lost their golden genuine and honest crust that every person is born with and had nothing to offer me but gray encouragement pouring thick out of their mouths and smelling of cigarette smoke and black coffee.

           He glanced out of the window and caught sight of a young man weaving through the valleys of people who were obviously in a hurry for some reason. He wondered if he was an artist or a sculptor, if that, who made brilliant pieces molded from Indian clay formed and concocted by nothing but the deepest inner corners of his mind. Was he the only to experience or construct such items that were the radiant jewels of light? No, Henry was the only one to experience such delectable adventures. No one else could complete things of such stature, depth, and form that made the mind question endlessly and throw conclusions against the gentle walls of their upper story. No one else could complete such things; only he was capable and now the world would be without his art. He would no longer pool into the many other winds in this world through his art, thinking, and ideals.

About the Author (click here) © 1999 Stefanie E., all rights reserved
 appears here by permission

EDITOR'S NOTE: the author added the second paragraph, and beyond, with our August 2, 1999 update

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