0 comments

Drama Sad Contemporary

Where the Dust Falls 

By: Mackenzie M. Hebner


He told me to meet him where the dust falls. Those were the last words he said to me. “Meet me where the dust falls.” I knew what it meant. Deep down I knew. And he knew it too, that I knew. So I suppose that makes this partially my fault. When I didn’t come, he made his decision, but it was as if I chose for him. I chose to let him go when I chose not to consider his meaning. I knew where the dust fell, where he’d once made use of such ambiguous description. I knew where the dust fell, where his mind went with such words, but I didn’t go. I didn’t go to him. And where the dust had once fallen, the cycle continued. And one by one, in perfectly measured columns and rows, with even more perfectly measured widths, lengths, and depths in which the dust may settle, the dust fell once again. 

When I got there it was too late. His lifeless mass was all that met my eyes beneath the large willow tree under which he had called me to come meet with him when he came to bring flowers to his long lost friend. He snapped. Contortion now his only friend. It was so unrealistic it almost left me unfazed. Though, I said almost. For no, it did not leave me unfazed, I fell to my knees, screams bursting from poisoned lips. 

Name: Ryan Parker 

Age: 32

Marital Status: Single 

Children: N/A

Parents: Carl and Judy Parker

Siblings: John Parker (41, married, three children)

Career: Real Estate 

Breaking Point: Hopeless Exhaustion 


May 2016

“Oh my gosh, Ryan! Stop, put that back,” I yell in between clumps of uncontrolled laughter as Ryan picks up the largest throw pillow on my bed to hurl at me for ever daring to say something negative about his “famous” waffles. Both playfully and stubbornly ignoring my comment, he continues to skip around my bedroom, following me as I make a run for it into the living room, skipping on the couch cushions, never more than five steps behind me. “Ryan! You have to fluff all those cushions now!” But, as my warnings ring out he seems unfazed and certainly not discouraged by any account as he full-fledge leaps off the couch out in front of me, wacking me smack dab on my right shoulder which brute force. 

“And that is for insulting my waffles,” he bursts out, satisfaction consuming his features as he surrenders the pillow down to his side, having achieved his goal. 

“Their waffles, Ryan, they don’t have feelings.” My eyes spin in a little dance as if to remind him that I find him silly and foolish, though in a way I don’t necessarily mind. 

August 2016

   “Come on! Open it!” Ryan urges impatiently as the Christmas present he spent months planning is only one layer of wrapping paper and a few rips of tissue away from my reaction. He’s fidgeting squirmishly as I take my sweet time, slowly pulling away the tape as if desperate to preserve the wrap, each motion timid and precise. “Oh my gosh, Anna, come on already! I’ll be dead by the time you open it at this pace!” His restlessness grows, and, knowing now that I have gotten under his skin, I tear through the remaining tissue paper in order to reveal the sincerest gift I have ever received, a photobook, of our friendship, dating back over three years, down to the very day we met in the cafe in Barner Dining Hall senior year of college. 

March 2013

   “It’s not real meat you know,” a stranger with shaggy brown hair warns as I push my plastic fork into the potential protein substance adorning my dining hall tray. 

   “Is that so?” I look up, meeting his gaze, indulging the moment to see what it blossoms. 

   “At least that’s what the conspiracy theorists say, but after seeing what the lunch people claim is homemade mac and cheese I’m swayed to agree with the theorists’ conclusion,” he winks. He’s funny. It’s refreshing after spending the last six hours drowning in assignments and presentation prep I appear to have started way too late. 

   “Do I dare to eat it?” I question, thankful for my unexpected breather. 

   “I wouldn’t risk it, could be bugged by the FBI. You know how they are.” 

   “Good point,” I laugh, shoulders and all, ending our little bit. 

   “Ryan,” he introduces. 

   “Anna,” I follow suit. 

   “Nice to meet you, Anna.” 

   “You too.” 

March 2013

   Hey! There’s a free concert in the park by Benson Hall, wanna go? I’ve got snacks! His text reads. We exchanged numbers about a week ago and have kept up nearly every day since, but have yet to actually meet up in person again. Maybe this is our opportunity. Finals are coming up and I’m at no lack of taxing classes or endless homework. But... a concert and snacks? How could I possibly say no? 

   Count me in! What time? It was one of those texts that when you finally press send you laugh a little internally and shake your head as if to say “Yes, I really did that, and I’m excited even if it’s not the smartest choice I could have possibly made.” 

Present 

And maybe it wasn’t the smartest choice, maybe it was. I couldn’t tell you honestly. All I can say is that it solidified our friendship. That after that night there was no question that we were going to be inseparable from there on out. But the question I haven’t been able to stop asking myself is this: if I never would have indulged him, would the events that followed have occurred with someone else? Or was it only me. Was it my fault. Did I allow it. 

December 2016

   “Meet me by the tree, Anna. Please hurry.” These texts had become all too common recently. And every time I ran. It was as if he was the boy who cried wolf, but the wolf wasn’t a lie, it was merely what appeared to me as a kitten, but all he could see was the wolf. They had been coming in for weeks now and I hate to admit it, but I was exhausted. Nothing was changing and I didn’t know what to say anymore. I was tired of running. I’m sure he was also tired of feeling. But, I knew that in my onsetting exhaustion I could simply stop, could he not do the same? Could he not just stop? Although I suppose he did; it was amazing how fast things could change. From pillow fights and all-night parties and deep talk about bad breakups to time-sensitive trips to “our” tree, which was really his tree that he simply brought me to. Where what I hadn’t realized in that moment, but grew to inherently understand, the dust collects. Where suddenly he deeply needed me to realize his would too. Where the dust fell, so his would fall. 

As the weeks multiplied, he couldn’t collect the words, but he tried nonetheless. He tried to tell me. Desperately attempted to give me the signal his words couldn’t find the strength to formulate. But I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand the paralyzing reality that he wasn’t complaining, he was suffering, that he wasn’t annoying, he was scared. That he wasn’t just crying wolf, he was staring down the throat of that very wolf, dripping with hunger, only I couldn’t see it. 

   The day started out like any other, but little did I know, today would be the day that I was finally introduced to the wolf. He told me to meet him where the dust falls. But I had grown tired of the suffocating routine. He told me to meet him where the dust falls. It was a new arrangement of words. I was used to, “the tree” or perhaps even the occasional “our tree.” It was the day before yesterday, actually. The day he first referred to it as the place where his friend’s dust had fallen. The words had stuck with me you see, for it’s not every day you hear death referred to as falling dust. And apparently, he had hoped it would stick with me. Apparently, it had been his final resort, his last effort to save himself. Those were the last words he said to me. “Meet me where the dust falls.” I knew what it meant. Deep down I knew. And he knew it too, that I knew. So I suppose that makes this partially my fault. When I didn’t come, he made his decision, but it was as if I chose for him. I chose to let him go when I chose not to consider his meaning. I knew where the dust fell, where he’d once made use of such ambiguous description. I knew where the dust fell, where his mind went with such words, but I didn’t go. I didn’t go to him. And where the dust had once fallen, the cycle continued. And one by one, in perfectly measured columns and rows, with even more perfectly measured widths, lengths, and depths in which the dust may settle, the dust fell once again. 

When I got there it was too late. His lifeless mass was all that met my eyes beneath the large willow tree under which he had called me to come meet with him when he came to bring flowers to his long lost friend. He snapped. Contortion now his only friend. It was so unrealistic it almost left me unfazed. Though, I said almost. For no, it did not leave me unfazed, I fell to my knees, screams bursting from poisoned lips. For I couldn’t help but know, deep down in the darkest parts of my soul, I could have saved him, if only I had met him where the dust falls, perhaps he would not have fallen too. But he fell, dust settling once again, leaving my conscience to never again feel the freedom and peace of cleanliness. For where the dust falls, so his fell. And where the wolf once lurked, hunger‘s cry was finally satisfied.

December 05, 2020 04:03

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

0 comments