Heavy lids opened slowly. Residues of crusted mucous stuck to the base of the once thick lashes now set in swollen red rims.

Eric lay entwined in the dirty patterned sheets on the small cot propped in the corner of the derelict chattel house. He raised his head and felt a searing pain at the base of his skull. His eyes were burning. He inhaled in short staggered breaths. His chest hurt and he felt his heart making sudden erratic thuds in its coronial cavity. He needed her. Where did she go? He screamed her name, but the only answer he received was the high pitched squeak of the rat he mistakenly hit as his hand rolled off the edge of the cot.

He tried desperately to make some sense of what was going on. This was the worst he knew he had ever felt. He was cold and in pain. He inhaled. His nostrils were assailed with the skanky scent of sewage. He placed his right hand down his side; the sheets were damp and sticky. The room was dark, damp and cold. The smell on his digits was nauseating. He placed his index finger in his mouth. It tasted like shit. Yes, that is what it was, his shit. He had defecated and urinated on the sheets. Not knowing how long he had lain there, he needed her, he missed her, and he wanted her badly….

Lady Snow,
I found refuge in your offerings.
With you I was never alone.
I saw your sounds and heard your lights.
I became your eager student.
Dancing to the kaleidoscopic beat
of your white crystals, lifting and gliding.
On a thermal of nasal air I would rise,
riding the vector, low to high.
You gave me what I wanted, what I needed, what I craved,
bliss, freedom, oblivion.

Eric tried to pull himself out of this reverie. He knew he was in trouble this time, serious trouble.  It was difficult to think straight. He needed to feel her arms around him again. Fumbling to find a space for his feet on the cluttered floor, Eric used his fingers to pry open his eyelids. The pain was unbearable and his head swirled.

He heard a gurgling noise like water moving quickly down the kitchen sink drain. With a gut wrenching heave, his emaciated body vibrated with spasms as he wretched. He wrapped his arms around himself. Every hurl brought with it searing, blinding pain.

He screamed, “Oh God! I can’t do this. Why have you left me?” he sobbed bitterly as he rocked back and forth. Eric opened his eyes wide; he thought he saw movement in the corner of the hut. He raised his arm, flicking at the cockroach that was feasting on the stained and crusty bruise that was self-inflicted; he thought he saw her. She was smiling.
“You have come for me,” he whispered and lost consciousness.

His dreams were turbulent, violent and disturbing. Eric felt a burning in his arm and a warm shield enveloping his whole being. He felt his body lifting, seemingly suspended in mid-air. He heard noises, sirens maybe voices.

“Lift him gently, be careful, don’t let that IV come out!”

He definitely was being propelled but in which direction he had no idea. There was a touch. Someone touched his forehead. Someone was close, he could feel their warm breath.

“Don’t worry son, you gonna be alright, alright ya hear!”

“Lady, Lady” he tried to speak, but there was something covering his mouth and nose. “Is that you?” A meek smile behind the mask, “You have come for me. I knew you would,” he lost consciousness again.

Eric felt a chill. This time it was not for lack of warmth in the room. This time it was from the latticed metal–type pillow he saw rotating in the corner. “What is that?” His mind tried to grapple with the images that were rapidly escorted to his brain through his eyes. He blinked and then closed them tightly. They didn’t burn so much this time. He craned his neck to the right and finally understood what he was seeing. It was a fan in the corner, rotating on maybe too high a speed. This was the source of the cool air.

Eric tried to pull himself up on the bed to draw closer to the head board. Even these small movements caused searing pain, especially in his chest. He looked down towards his feet. He couldn’t see them as they were covered in the sheets. He tried to lift his arms and realised they were restrained on the sides of the bed.

“What is this? What’s going on here?” he screamed. “Help! Someone help me, please!” Eric pulled and yanked at the straps securing his wrists, jerking the bed as best he could, but with little strength.

The door at the foot of the bed opened. He saw her then. It was the same smile. She came towards him. “Hello Eric. And how are we feeling today?” she asked in a most sunny way. “You gave us quite a scare back there. We thought we had lost you.”

Eric shook his head from side to side. “What was she talking about?” his mind screamed. “Lost me? How could you, I am right here,” he snarled at the lady comforter in the blue and white uniform. “Get me out of this shit! Get me out of this! I am not an animal!”

How ironic these words were. The journey this young man had embarked on had carried him to many places: decrepit, unsanitary, destitute places. He had walked a path very few of us will ever tread. Now, he was saved, or that is what they told him. Miss Comforter sat next to him on the edge of the bed and fed him a few sips of water from the plastic cup on the side table. She relayed to him the events of the last seven days. Her voice was very soothing, he had to admit and he was feeling a little better.  The pain in his head was subsiding and he could sit up without the room spinning. Despite this progress he still felt lost, he felt depressed.

I awake this day with only one thought on my mind.
One purpose, one objective,
to join you on one more journey.
This time, I feel no comfort in your arms.
I am confused.
My reality has been shattered.
Our love has been violated
by persons who think
they know what is best for me.
Lady, they have taken you from me
I lie alone on clean white sheets
in a place I do not know,
a place I do not care for.
Within the perfect storm of my thoughts
the wind gusts and I feel the dampness on my cheeks.

Eric was raised in an upper middle class family and they lived in the heights. To most he would be considered privileged in that he never wanted for anything. His parents had good jobs that provided sufficient income to support a family vacation to North America each year, the desired gifts and purchases for birthdays and Christmas in addition to a well-stocked pantry, bar and pocket for each of the residents in the household. As said before, he lacked for nothing.

To those who viewed this well-educated, business oriented family it would be expected that the order and satisfaction perceived would be translated to confidence and happiness. It was quite the contrary. The fly in the ointment was Eric.

Eric was a non-conformist in every sense of the word. He dressed differently, ate only when he was hunger, hated family dinners and despised the elaborate gatherings with the pompous family members laughing and telling stories whilst patting him on the back telling him how big he had grown. He hated them, he hated all of them.

His loathing did little for his sociability at school. He barely passed his tests as a result of not caring, not paying attention, thinking the teachers were absolute morons and having no interest in homework, assignments or promotional exams. Eric wanted to be rid of it all and he did try to achieve just that.

On Eric’s eighteenth birthday he awoke to a morning, just like any other. His mother was prattling in the kitchen and his younger sister was singing at the top of her voice, out of tune with the music she constantly listened to that was playing on her I-touch. Her cat-a-howling was becoming unbearable so he rushed through his door, stormed down the stairs to the kitchen, yanked the head phones from her bobbing head and threw the music device across the room to smash against the wall. What he hadn’t realised in his fury was that the lead cord of the headphones had caught in the young girl’s earring and the force of propulsion towards the wall ripped the sleeper from her ear leaving a nasty tear and blood everywhere.

Her screams were deafening. His mother turned around from the stove and immediately dropped the frying pan, with the partially cooked scrambled eggs, all over the floor. She ran to his sister and tried to put pressure on her ear with the dish towel. Eric’s father came hurriedly down the stairs and pushed Eric out of the way. He was furious. When he saw what had happened he turned to his son and slapped him hard in the face. The youngster’s teeth reverberated and he tasted his own blood.

“Get out of here!” his father bellowed, “Look what you have done. I don’t want to ever see your face again you good for nothing piece of shit! GET OUT!”

Eric grabbed his haversack and ran out the door. He hopped on his racer and pushed as hard as his legs would go to get as far away as he could. Unfortunately, living on a small island, far is still pretty close.

He knew he should have stayed and help his little sis but he always hated how is father treated him. He never listened, the bastard! “I’ll show him now. I won’t go back. No I won’t!” he yelled to no one in particular.

The rains started to drizzle and the road became shiny and slippery. He was unsure where he was, but the streets became narrower.

He always tried to avoid rain. For as long as he could remember he sheltered from the rain. “The good thing about the rain,” he mused, “was the smell it left behind.” His olfactory association was that of freshness, damp wet earth: this comforted him in a strange way.

He peered into the distance, to the right side of the street and saw two youths who should probably be at school, leaning against a broken down chattel. He approached them cautiously. This was the only building that provided any shelter as the raindrops were pounding now and he was getting soaked. He could feel his socks expanding in his new high tops.

The boys looked at each other and then at this high brown dude who wanted to scotch in their space. As young ones would do, they metaphorically displayed their feathers, but after exchanging names, they helped Eric position the bicycle so it wouldn’t be left in the gutter in front of the lot.

They sat in silence after that. The wind was picking up and started driving the rain towards them. The taller of the two boys, who happened to be the skinniest with very tiny baby-like teeth, suggested they find a way to get inside. They followed him and found themselves in a dark unkempt space with broken furniture, empty Styrofoam food containers, beer bottles and cans strewn on the floor.  The room smelt of urine and cotton candy. A sickly sweet scent that made Eric want to vomit.

There was a window to the rear that was partially boarded and allowed some light to filter through not unlike spotlights on the performer who is centre stage. Tallboy crouched on his haunches and proceeded to open the small green drawstring canvas bag he had previously slung over his shoulder. He pulled out an old rusty Altoids tin and looked in the direction of his partner.

“You want a hit bro?” he smirked.

Shortman grinned displaying teeth not much bigger than Tallboy’s but decidedly more yellow.

“Yea big man, let’s roll,” he grunted and squatted on his ample thighs.

Eric drew closer, entranced by the movements of this duet. The care with which they placed the slim papers on their knees and sprinkled the pinch of dried pungent vegetable matter along the crease. Tallboy’s forehead was furled as if he was performing the most intricate of experiments. He then extended his hand to his partner who seemed to instinctively know what to do without a word being passed between them. A Ziploc bag, the smallest Eric had ever seen, was ceremoniously offered and Tallboy took a small pinch of the white substance and placed it on the bed of what looked like dried blossoms and sticks. “We gonna be flying now!”

Eric blinked his eyes furiously, was he day dreaming again? No, it was those memories of his first time. These had returned to him in a flurry this day as the rain again pelted on the window of this small room he had called home for the past six weeks. He peered through the glass pane, now frosty with the condensation of his breath; he could see in the distance a turbulent ocean.

The Centre was located on a picturesque cliff and presented an ironic juxtaposition of sanctuary and calm against the rough waters that beat against the rocky ledge on a daily basis. Eric could more relate to the turbulence than the calm. He had what seemed like forever to think and contemplate in this place. He had made his decision.

I can’t stay here!
I must go!
Away from this hell hole they call a sanctuary.
I leave now,
knowing that I shall never return.
I leave now,
for better or for worse.
I know not where I am going
but I know I will arrive
I can find me.

It took some doing but he avoided the burly orderly who sat at the front entrance of the Centre and he made his way across the garden beds, over the low fence and down the northern side of the property. He knew where he needed to be. He knew who he needed to be with.

Mother, I am here.
I stand before you now in this place.
Green and mossy, dark yet beautiful,
beneath me lie sharp craggy rocks,
caressed and teased by cerulean waters
crashing on the verticals.
Higher and higher you
baptise me with tingling sprays.

I need you, I bow before you.
Resplendent in your glory
you cry for me, your child.
I feel your tears
settling like cool soothing droplets
on my hot and trembling face.

I reach for you!
Come touch me!
Feel my being as I grip the edge
of this cracked and eroded space.
I wish for serenity and solace.
Envelop me in your turbulence.
Make me forget my pain.
Make me remember my joy.

Eric stood at the edge of the cliff for what seemed like an eternity. The intensity of the rains had lessened a bit but the water was still drenching his already sodden shirt. This time he didn’t care. This time he was searching for something else, something that was by far more important than his discomfort. He wanted peace. He could not continue living this nightmare. It must end.

remove the barrier between us.
Come for me and
hasten me to your depths.
Swaddle me and
ease my Soul.

Eric moved closer to the edge. If he leaned over just a bit, he could make out the dark jagged rocks at the base of the cliff. He tried to take another step forward, but his legs would not budge despite the pummelling wind. His body behaved like a bobbing Tahitian dancing doll the taxi-men in the village place on their dashboards. Something was wrong.

The rains intensified just a little, the wind was now singing, pushing him, whispering, moaning….
             Are you telling me
            that your beauty is not to be tarnished
            by my selfish yearning
            to exit this world?
Another body to float, support and carry
on your white water tops and tides.
Turn your back on me then.
You were my friend.
You bathed me when no one else would.
You fed me when no one else could.

The rains suddenly stopped. The wind instantly died. Grey clouds parted and a sliver of light extending from sky to the water’s surface appeared, disappeared and then, became a rainbow. Eric shivered,

I am afraid,
I am petrified.

He knew what he had to do. Eric dropped to his knees and wrapped his trembling arms around his chest. He was crying, sobbing uncontrollably.

I will take your advice
and listen.
I will open my eyes
and lift my head
as I see you reflected in that which is above me.

Eric heard hurried footsteps behind him, voices raised, concerned, yelling now “There he is!”
Before they reached him, Eric gazed out to the ocean one last time. The sky was brightening now. He smiled.

Life to have, life to hold,
My life.


Cher Corbin is a mother of two, a scientist and a silver award winner in Photography at the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA). In 2011, she received two silver medals in Literary Arts in NIFCA for her prose pieces, “Intervention” and “The Pink Slip”. In 2012, she won NIFCA awards for her writing and in the Fine Arts category for her watercolour, “Bridge at the Hole”. Cher is presently working on two novellas, Silvered Mirrors and The Pink Slip.

No comments:

Copyright 2010-2019 St. Somewhere Press All rights reserved.
Copyright of individual works contained in St. Somewhere Journal remain the property of their respective authors.