What haunts you? Prompt #284

Sit still for a moment. . . take a few deep breaths. Relax into your chair.

For this writing experience, tap into what haunts you. As Rebecca Lawton says in Cool Writing Tips:

” See the detail of the memory with clear eyes and write it down as best you can remember it.”

Becca RowingThere will be a repeat series of Becca Lawton’s Cool Writing Tips. This will only be available for the month of September, 2016. Sign up now so you don’t miss a single inspirational tip.

Write as if you were dying” features Rebecca Lawton as a guest blogger and highlights one of her Cool Writing Tips. I found her friendly style of writing about writing to be affirming and inspiring. I think you will, too.

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  1. Ke11y

    What follows is a true account, set down as accurately as my minds recalls.

    July 10, 1985

    She’s gone. I’ll never know the like of her again. So much we’d travelled together, good and bad, but never dull. I’d seen her as only a few ever had, lying at rest under a sinking sun, sailing through storm-torn skies when lightning was so sharp it stitched clouds together. She was not mine, of course, she belonged to the world, a symbol of man’s hope.  Now, whenever I sit on some windy shoreline cliff, looking out across any ocean, I can hear it all come back to me, the sense of smell, long after the burning, still lingers in my nostrils.

    “Lay still…lay still, lay perfectly still.”  It was the voice of my friend, Steve. I saw tears down his face.

    “Steve,” I said, “I can’t feel my legs.” He was holding my head on his knees. “You must not move, do you understand?”  Sirens were sounding in far off streets. The hissing of steam filled the air as if someone had placed a red-hot poker into the water just behind my head.  “What happened, Steve?”  He didn’t answer. My fingers were burning with cold.

    I saw myself in the reflective glow of Steve’s eyes.  It occurred to me I might be dying right there in my friend’s lap, and I began to think of all the things I wanted to say so as not to die unforgiven.  “When my kids have grown, Steve, tell my beautiful kids I loved them.”  Steve heard my prayer and looked down at me.

    “Listen, you’re going to be all right. Don’t think about anything else. There’s a chunk of metal in your back, do you understand? Don’t move – don’t attempt to move. Do you know what I’m saying?” And there was no more to be heard.

    I woke up in the hospital. For three months I lay still while surgeons played around with my spine. My wife had made the worrisome flight to New Zealand before I was aware of anything. When I became aware, she refused to look at me, look at my broken body. I was loved so deeply that the face of the woman who loved me could not look at me in pain. It is something I could never forget.

    She wasn’t going to be loved this way. No man was going to occupy a place in her life or the lives of her children and risk himself for principles.

    ‘Damn you,’ her eyes were saying. The same eyes that went deep into my soul and saw there a kindness. But what if that kindness was nothing more than a mischievous elf in my soul. Why was I so bloody difficult? Why couldn’t I just love her like other men loved their women, adore her the way other men adored, lust after like other men lusted. But that was never my way.

    I had sailed into her life at twenty years of age. She took my breath away. She was an exceptional person. A beautiful woman. I was reckless and wild, carrying false courage but she saw through me, through my passions,  my naiveté, and loved me regardless of fault. I was a young man who had dared to enter into her life, stirring her romantic Scandinavian soul, shredding her feelings and laying them bare. I wanted to be with her forever, stand at her side as real as a mountain. I wanted to hold her and fire blue and white electricity into her heart…but that was then. I was no longer twenty. I had two sons, a home on the island, elderly parents, and mounting responsibilities to business people.

    Those two weeks when she never left my bedside, yet worried about the children, I knew she was thinking about the unpredictability of me in her life? Would she be happier for me at home?  I knew she would have to say something but, of course, I was all I said I was, and that truth affected her and touched her. She rested her head on my chest and sobbed. ‘You’re a bastard.’  She whispered. And of course, I was exactly that.

    I lay still, knowing her pain, feeling her heart beating heavy on my chest.

    It was on the sixteenth day she left Auckland. I watched until she turned the corner of the ward and that disappearance broke every barrier that held up my dignity and pride. Sobs rose from my stomach and caught in my throat. They were still there when she walked back toward me. She took a tissue from her bag and held it to my face.

    “I’ve never seen you afraid before.” There was no wild fury left in me. I was indeed afraid. “It’s done. Your time is done. No more. We are your life now. You come home, and you stay. You stay. You be a father and a husband. You will not put us through this again.” She had walked away without saying it, and now, having turned back, she was going to say what she had wanted to say on the first day at my bedside. She held my hand and kissed my mouth. “No more or we cannot make it. You’ll walk, I just know it. I just know it, and the doctors say you will.” She straightened, then walked briskly away. I never saw her tears, but I knew her heartbreak was unimaginable and fierce.

    I’d seen every kind of heart; purple, broken, paper, even the majestic half-ton heart of the migrating blue whale, but I’d never known a heart like the one inside my wife, beating so hard for someone other than herself. I had hurt my wife, the pain of love tearing her heart out of her chest and blown away in fragments. She’d been hurt by storms, by children, by God, but she’d never been more hurt than by the ideals of her husband.

    I’d seen so much. The breathtaking beauty of the Arctic-bound humpback whale, the mermaid on the rock in Copenhagen, the sensual Kiss of Rodin, the Alpine Clematis bending in the mountain winds, but I’d never seen so deeply into the heart of a woman until I was on the verge of losing her through recklessness.
    The surgeons played it right. Four months later I walked out.

    Together we lived through the aftermath.

    I don’t know why, when I look out from my home in California, it should all come back to me. There are so many beautiful memories of the Rainbow Warrior, how she handed me friendships and adventures, and now she is gone.

    There is no question in my mind that the world loved the Rainbow Warrior. The original crew has grown older, grown beards and bellies.  That was their time. But it was also the time of hope – and that time is never passed.

    End Note:

    On September 28th, 1994, my wife and youngest son were lost in the Estonia ferry tragedy.

    This was not placed here as a plea for sympathy. I am a fortunate man to be loved as deeply for a second time. Very fortunate.

    1. mcullen Post author

      Kelly, usually I reply right away. But this one. . . this one haunts me . . . and I’ll need time to think and then I’ll respond. Thanks for posting.

    2. mcullen Post author

      Thought-full writing, Kelly. I can tell this was carefully written . . . words placed with precision . . . with purpose . . . to tell a story in a way that makes it unforgettable. Poignant, serious, honest and intimate. . . this is some of your best writing. Beautifully written, especially beautiful, considering the sad parts . . . Thank you for posting.

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