A Fictional Account
Written By Erick James Conard
Supporting me were three sets of luxurious goose down pillows covered in designer fabrics. The fabrics, golden threads shimmering, coordinated with the plush bedspread lying warmly across my legs. My eyes drifted along the wall of windows and across the spacious bedroom to the massive gray stone fireplace flanked on both sides by floor-to-ceiling burnished oak bookcases. The gleaming shelves displayed leather bound books and priceless mementos we'd discovered together on numerous trips we'd taken and enjoyed. An immense wooden chair and a matching footstool, handcrafted from hundred-year-old pine salvaged from an abandoned barn and lined with beautifully colorful cushions, angled toward the fireplace. Surrounded by the beautiful past made visible by shifting moonlight, I felt frozen by my fear of the future.
Abnormally still, feeling anxious, I lay alone in bed. Removed from my body, my mind seemed to drift upward and I looked down on my motionless form with abstraction, reminded of a beautiful yellow tabby, locked in the bedroom of a recently abandoned house, without food or water, lying motionless on a shiny satin down comforter, tail twitching lightly, waiting hour after hour in quiet impatience to be released, trusting in love to set her free.
Although my body lay motionless on the bed, held unmoving by force of will, my mind fought itself furiously, struggling between fear and hope. Time passed. Motionless tension turned into motionless exhaustion. Shifting moonlight glittered off polished oak window sills, illuminating my rigid body. Feeling dead, I filled passing hours imagining myself to be a new corpse - empty inside and forever still. The thought fit my mood.
Abruptly, finally, the phone rang, breaking the loud silence in the room. Purposefully, with quick, nervous energy, I reached across the bed for the phone. In a breathless, scared voice I said, "Hello?"
When I recognized the caller, energy surged though my body. I came alive. "Oh Hi! It's you!" I said, happiness wrapped around each word. Eagerly, I asked "Are you coming home soon?" As I listened life and energy drained from my body.
"Why not?" I asked confused disappointed. I listened again intently briefly.
I sank back into the softness of the protective pillows, deflated by depression. "Please don't spend the night at your parents again, OK?" As I begged without shame, I heard terror touch the edge of my voice, weaving fear into each syllable of my voice like a badly damaged strand in an otherwise perfect rope of sound.
The tension in my throat made speech difficult. I bravely fought it. People like winners, not losers, I thought desperately, working on self-control. I struggled to sound calm, to sound secure, but I could not keep the overwhelming fear from my voice.
Abruptly, I jerked up, focusing my total attention on the hard voice that hit me through the phone.
Fighting hysteria, I exclaimed, "You're not coming back! What do you mean, 'not coming back?' I don't understand!" The world spun beneath me. I breathed rapidly. Tension and fear flashed across my body in the sparkling moonlight as I struggled to regain control. I listened in silent intensity while the voice I loved brought me unbelievable pain.
Fear spiked thorough my body. My body's exterior response was an exaggerated, unreal calmness, a calmness covering the real terror racing through my fearful heart. "You mean back here tonight, right?" I asked serenely. Even as I asked, I knew I was wrong. I held my body abnormally still. I cocked my head tightly into the hard phone. I listened to the unwanted answer. My breathing was shallow.
"Never?" I repeated, still pretending confusion. "But it's your house too! How can you never come home?" I asked, actually feeling confused. My calmness was not holding.
With trembling lips, I pleaded, "Please don't do this to me. Please Please Please don't do this!" And once again I listened to the voice I loved so dearly, fear tightening around my breaking heart.
Surprisingly, in a nearly normal tone that apparently kept my childhood fear of abandonment from my voice, I asked, "Don't you want to talk about this?"
However composed and in control I sounded, I was going into shock. In my head a voice screamed repeatedly at me, "IF YOU'RE ABANDONED, YOU'LL DIE!" In that moment, I felt my life depended on every word I spoke.
"Well let's talk about this tomorrow, then, OK?" I said, imagining I sounded reasonable. I listened intently, clamping my bottom lip tightly between my teeth.
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" I burst out in apology, childlike. "I'm not trying to argue with you, I promise. I just thought we could talk about it," I wanted this nightmare to stop.
Further confused by this new attack, I wondered "Why do I need to be forgiven?" I felt myself fracturing. Part of me became detached. That part evaluated and judged my reactions; it provided me with feedback. Unemotionally, my detached self reported that things were not going well.
"OK," I said, "If that's what you want." I listened again briefly.
"Bye," I said softly. The sound of the phone being hung up on the other end seemed so very loud, so very final. Slowly, I moved the phone from my ear. I looked in confusion at the dead phone I held in my hand. With deep tenderness and feeling, still staring at the lifeless phone, I said, "I love you."
Gently, carefully, I cradled the phone in its rightful place on the hook. My eyes remained wide open, staring in the darkness as I sank back into the soft protectiveness of the luxuriant pillows. Slowly, I put my hands together, carefully interlacing each finger, almost as if I were about to pray. Calmly, deliberately, I placed my joined hands upon my chest, just above my thundering heart.
Without moving, almost without breathing, I remained on the bed. I might have been dead. I was so completely, so entirely, motionless. I felt dead. As time passed, the moonlight shifted across the silent room.
I had dealt with pain my entire life, but this pain was the greatest I'd ever tried to control. I felt the pain as a pressure deep inside myself - unbearable, but safely locked away. But the pressure created by this new pain was too great for me to control, to contain. One large traitorous tear formed in my left eye. Rolling down the side of my face, it fell thunderously on the pillow next to my ear.
I knew I'd never forget the sound made by this one tiny tear. How did such a small drop of water make such a loud sound? Other tears followed quickly, until a large torrent streamed down my unmoving face, landing loudly on the beautiful bed on which I lay completely alone.
I sat up violently and screamed, "Why, God? Why are you doing this to me? How can you let this happen?" My angry voice, impossibly loud, echoed through the large, empty house, pain surrounded every word I spoke, anger mixed easily with tears.
Mercurially, I changed tactics and begged through my angry tears, "Don't' do this to me, God! Please! Please don't do this to me! You know I can't stand it! I can't stand being alone, God! Please, God, don't let it happen to me!" I began methodically hitting the mattress with my fist, over and over and over again, crying as my fist pounded the uncaring mattress.
The pain in my voice sharpened as I screamed without control, "I loved you! I loved you! I loved you so very much! How can you do this to me? How can you leave me like this?"
Without a plan I snapped the covers off my legs and abruptly left the bed. My muscles were stiff and tight, as if my body already had begun to die. Jerkily, I stumbled down an arched hallway into the great room of our beautiful home, into the heart of the house. Salty tears streamed down my grief-stricken face. Anguished sobs erupted from a place deep within my broken heart.
The great room was stunning. One wall was dominated by a gray marble and limestone fireplace. It rose twenty towering feet to meet a broad oak beamed ceiling. The ceiling arched protectively high above an imported Spanish marble floor that gleamed with polished facets of black and white stone and reflected the moon light streaming through enormous arching windows. The room shone with a golden glow emanating from oak block paneling and an oak stairway leading both up and down.
I, however, saw only that the house was empty and that I was alone: in that moment I knew only pain and fear. The pain and the fear surged through my body in impossibly physical waves. I believed the pain and the fear were overwhelming and extinguishing me; I felt certain I was going to die; I wanted to die.
In the center of the great room, I staggered and fell to my knees on the polished marble floor. There on the floor at the heart of the house we had both built, on my knees, I cried in terrible pain to both God and my lost love, begging both not to abandon me, feeling abandoned by both.