Today, Tomorrow, and Forever
Sentinel Park was chilly today. The light wind of late winter, early spring, tugged at his jacket like the soft hands of a child, he flipped up his collar, so the air didn’t go down the neck.
Rolling along the empty paths he listened to the sounds around him, the sighing of the wind, the rustle of dead leaves as some animal or other pushed them aside,
He sat and watched as two squirrels chased each other around the trunk of a large oak tree, looking up he could see the bare branches, skeletal hands reaching into an empty sky. Here and there, dead leaves still clung, like flaking skin on a corpse. He felt the warm tears on his cheeks, but he didn’t care. Rolling again he pushed himself to the fishing pond in the center of the park. Rolling himself right to the edge he stared down into the smooth flat surface, like a looking glass, he saw the reflection of the grey flat clouds scudding across the sky, his reflection, the wheelchair, the gaunt face, hollow eyes and cheeks, his scrawny hands gripping the wheels. A small ripple disturbed his image and for an instant, he could see her face, the smiling lips, her waving brown hair, the laughing brown eyes.
He closed his eyes and lost himself in memory, a bright sunny day, their third anniversary, they had chased each other around the park-like kids on summer vacation, laughing and tussling in the grass.
He had given her a gold bracelet with an inscription on the back, he had told her that it was his promise to her as she glowed over it and he fastened it to her wrist, after which they had found a quiet secluded place and made love in the grass, then gone fishing in the pond, on one of her casts of the fishing pole the clasp on her new bracelet came loose and it went sailing out into the middle.
She had been devastated and he had spent hours splashing about in the water, to no avail. The bracelet was gone!
Opening his eyes again he could feel the hurt like a physical thing, throbbing in his chest, threatening to break loose, the pain was almost unbearable. The tears spilled out onto his face like water from a broken dam, he hung his head and sobbed while the water caressed his feet.
Later that night he sat in his third-floor apartment and stared out across the black ribbon of highway and parking lot which separated him from Sentinel Park, she had wanted to move here after losing the bracelet, wanted to remember she said.
He cradled the glass whiskey in his hand, stared at it for a moment, then downed it, quickly followed by the rest of the bottle, one glass at a time.
He barely managed to roll to his bed and fall into it.
He was awakened by someone shaking his shoulder, “Brandon, Brandon, Wake up dude!”
“Go away Jeff” he moaned.
“No, get your ass up, and geez, dude take a shower”
“How long has it been since you took one, you reek!”
“Leave me alone Jeff I don’t want to get up!” His yell made his throbbing head worse.
“Brandon, man, you have been lying around in this pigsty for a year now.”
“It’s time you come back to the land of the living and today is as good a time as any.”
“You just don’t get it do you!?” Brandon sat straight up, face flushed, eyes wild.
“Why should I get up, I don’t deserve to live, Lorrie is dead, and I killed her!!” his voice cracked.
Jeff backed away from his friend’s anger, he shook his head, a strong tanned arm stabbed a finger a Brandon, “No you did not.”
“That was a car accident, you couldn’t have known that truck was going to plow into you so how is it your fault?”
“It’s my fault because I was drunk and I asked her to drive is how, I should have been driving and then it would have been me rotting in the ground and not her, she deserved to live!”
His eyes glazed, the tears started to fall, “God, I loved her!”
“So, this is how you show you loved her?” Jeff replied in anger “By becoming a drunken slob, so afraid to face the world that you have to have a bottle in your hand and a poor me look on your face?”
“What happened to my best friend, I want him back.”
“He doesn’t live here anymore Jeff, he died with Lorrie” Brandon felt the lump in his throat, the flooding of tears on his face, he slumped forward on the bed and sobbed!
“I’m so sorry man” he heard Jeff whisper, then he was alone again.
When he woke again it was dark, the clock read 11:30, he dragged himself into his chair and sniffed, “Geez, Jeff was right I do need a shower”
Thirty minutes later he rolled into the kitchen, fresh and clean feeling, the kitchen was spotless, there was a note propped up on the counter, he picked it up and read:
“Katy and I cleaned up the apartment for you.” “She left some food in the fridge.”
“Sorry about earlier man, but you have to find a way to forgive yourself, a way to move on with life.
“Lorrie wouldn’t want you to keep blaming yourself, she wouldn’t want you to live like this, call you later.”
Katy and Jeff
He felt a lump in his throat and a few tears fell.
Pushing himself into the living room he looked out towards the park and decided on a midnight walk, so to speak.
He took the cargo elevator to the basement, then the tunnel under the highway, and within minutes he was rolling through the park beneath the full moon, the quiet whisper of the night was all around him.
Dead leaves whispered across his path, an owl hooted somewhere, it sounded lonely and cold, he slowly made his way back to the pond in the center.
He sat at the water's edge again, staring down at the reflection of the moon.
The water lapped at his toes and the tears came again, “Please tell me why” he whispered.
There was no answer.
He looked out across the water; a small patch of diaphanous fog appeared at the center.
The patch of fog grew as he watched, larger, it spread across the surface sending out small fingers of itself and the center seemed to glow.
He rubbed his eyes thinking it was the tears in his eyes, but it didn’t help.
The glow seemed to grow and expand, drifting to and fro, seeming to search, the main body drifted toward him dragging the rest behind like the train of a wedding dress. His hands became sweaty, and he could suddenly see his breath, fear gripped him.
As the fog drew nearer it began to spin and grow denser, it seemed he could hear a voice whispering and then his blood froze!
“Brandon, Love, where are you I can’t see you?” the voice beseeched.
“Gah. Gakk” was all he could utter; it was HER voice!
The fog grew denser, and features appeared, her eyes, her lips, her flowing hair, it was almost touching him now, he could smell the mustiness of the water vapor, yet there was the hint of her perfume, he felt its coolness caress his face, the rotating stopped, the eyes fixed themselves on him.
The sweat poured from his face.
“Oh, there you are baby, why didn’t you answer me?” her voice was clear but echoed.
“Buh, Buh, Buh,” was all he could get out.
“What’s the matter, cat got your tongue? She laughed her high tinkling laughter. “What’s wrong baby? You look like you’ve seen a ghost?”
“But you’re……you’re, dead Lorrie” Brandon finally managed to sputter out.
“Yes, but you, your love, brought me back, somehow I could feel your need and heartbreak and it drew me here tonight”
The pent-up loneliness and ache burst from him in one sentence.
“God how I’ve missed you, I love you, why did you leave me alone?” the tears flowed fast, blurring his vision, he hung his head, he could feel her now, surrounding him, soothing him, easing the ache inside with her presence.
“Oh Baby, I know, I love you so much too, still, even now, after, I don’t know how but I do, it’s just there, a part of me.”
I’ve been watching Brandon, you have to stop this destructive behavior, accidents happen, it doesn’t stop my love for you, you have to go on sweetie, you have to try, please tell me you will?” Lorrie pleaded.
Brandon looked up, into the eyes of his love, through her, to the moon above.
He could almost swear he saw a tear in her eye, sparkling like a diamond.
“I promise I will try” he whispered.
The world exploded into tiny shards of bright light, and he could feel himself passing out, but he heard her voice, distant but clear.
“Remember our promise!”
He felt something hard and cold in his hand before the world disappeared.
Brandon awoke face down on his living room rug, with no memory of how he’d gotten there.
He just lay there for a few seconds, not moving.
He looked around, yes, he was in his apartment but he didn’t remember how he got there.
He pulled his legs under him, white-hot piercing pain shot through them. Previously he couldn’t even feel his legs, flopping down on his back again he thought about Lorrie and last night.
The hurt seemed gone now, only peace and love remained, he didn’t feel like crying anymore.
Remembering something he lifted his left hand and slowly opened it.
The glitter of gold caught his eye. There in his palm lay the lost bracelet, flipping it over he read the inscription, his promise to her……….
“Today, Tomorrow, and Forever” he smiled. Today was a good day to begin.