This silence was soothing. There was sound, but not that of civilization. These were the song of the earth and fed the soul. The water was expansive, still, and inviting. Too sharp in its wrath to enter, but a resting place for a lost spirit. He thought of its depth and the welcoming embrace of disappearing beneath the surface, never more to trouble the world. Shedding his cares and the pressures of endless despair. His life was spent living for himself, failing miserably at the chore. It was relentless in the demands upon the mind, cracking it as though it were nothing but a discarded egg shell. So lost in the thought of being lost to the horrors of living, the splashes were a shock that broke his reverie. Someone was skipping stones, disturbing the tranquility of his grim desire.Annoyance did not mount, but leapt up through him as bile in his throat.
He took a rapid pace along the water’s edge, seeking the source of this personal affront. He found her quickly, staring pensively into the distance with eyes that lacked any spark. She came here to lose herself as well, he thought. His wrath eased itself back, sensing a kindred spirit. What could have sought so distant a place, secluded from the demands of the selfish and self-centered? Serenity returned and he stood still and silent, now at peace with what was no longer an intrusion upon his choice. Then puzzlement took hold, he stood befuddled. These were not stones, but something glittering a deep crimson, sparkling in the morning light. Each glittering fragment skipping out further than he thought possible, some precious stones sinking into the murky depths, lost to all.
Unable to contain his growing curiosity, the man approached her. She took no heed beyond a glance out of the corner of her eye. The face was lined with the weight of so many concerns, the scars of battles fought to survive some internal horror. The jaw was set, determined, and unyielding. Annoyance crept over it at this intrusion upon her task, and the arms drooped till they hung slack by her sides. The body was rigid with a tightly bound rage, but no words escaped the lips drawn tight against righteous fury at this interloper. The hands held tight to more of the glittering things, clamped down upon them with hatred at the affront of their presence.
“Why discard things of such obvious value? They look as precious as any pearl to be had from the depths of the sea? Their loss must trouble you greatly, but what brings you to loathe their beauty so greatly?”
She turned her rictus grin upon him, growling the words through teeth clenched as a vice.
“Each of these represent betrayal, the abuse of my trust, relived over and again in an endless mockery everything I have given so freely. They chain me to the errors of my decisions, each one a piece of my devotion to the world of men. I have been misused for the last time. I have no faith left in a world that rejected my years of care and concerns for those for whom they were playthings. I have been cast aside one last time, the dimming of my beauty, the failure to be the prize of conquest. Not for another moment. Should I spend the last of my days standing alone, it would be welcome penance for pursuing what my heart knew to be faithless dalliances.”
He looked again at her hand, drawn back to fling another shard into oblivion. Her rage had taken him aback. She did not know him, but he remained a fixation of the fury that drove her in so relentless a quest. It was then that he recognized the price of the shards dancing across what had been still and inviting waters. They were a shattered heart, far beyond mending it seemed. She had no further use for them or their memories contained within each one, flashing bright with the fires of abuse. His mouth hung slack and he gasped in misery at the torment each one represented. His suffering came from nowhere, whole and sifiguring as though it were alive, yet her agony was born of the malice of the world, her heart discarded as casually as a piece of lint upon an otherwise pristine cloth.
It was a fool’s errand to stop her. She was justified in discarding such misery and the torment of being nothing more than an interlude in someone’s daily malignance. But, he was a fool and his foolhardiness was brought to life, rekindled by another’s suffering. The idiot inside of him seethed at a world so cruel to create a soul whose glitter was as nothing as a piece of glass in the gutter. He pleaded with her to grasp tightly what remained. She sneered, conveying her determination without words. He saw the last piece of her damaged existence swallowed up by oblivion. Only a fool would attempt to disturb her thought. A creeping, dreadful hope welled up at an impossible and unwelcome desire. A folly of love for another, not wanted and certainly not asked for.
He caught her gaze and they stared deep in the hollows of what had been the fires of life, and she saw his fill, a stupidity rising that could not be contained. She grimaced at this well-spring of a stranger’s misguided want to mend what could not be repaired or replaced. She sighed in resignation as the fool raced out into the biting, snarling temperatures of the water. He felt a futile purpose again, rushing to the unwanted aid of someone unknown that he will never know. His legs kicked into the air, struggling for purpose against an imagined object to force his way down, chasing the lost and precious objects, deservedly discarded, and struggling in vain to salvage what remained of that precious hard. Deeper and deeper he struggled in the darkness. His sight grew dim, a strange pressure pushed against his chest. Just a bit more effort, thought the fool. I can do what none could accomplish. He clawed at the water as though fighting a living thing, resolute in his fruitless pursuit into oblivion.