I decided to let my readers revisit this story because I’ve been posting a lot of poetry for my Story Time Friday posts, but not so much “story” as I’d like. April is National Poetry Month. While I’ve challenged you all to read more poetry (click here to see challenge), I’m giving you a story with a poem inside of it. Does that sound good? Mixing things up, and maybe some feedback from everyone can get the rewriting process started on this thing.
by Robert Zimmermann
Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Boom!
“Why won’t that dripping stop?”
Drip. Drip. Boom! Drip. Drip. Boom!
“Damn it, why does there have to be a storm tonight?”
She lay in her bed, alone, as she had done every night since he left. She couldn’t sleep, as usual. The nights when sleep did happen to come, it wasn’t too great of a payoff for her. Those nights were filled with tossing and turning, screaming and fighting. Pillows and sheets were thrown every which way. When sleep did come upon her, restless nightmares often clouded her mind. On this night, though, the sandman wasn’t in her room.
The following day started out with a fine morning. The sun was shining and a cool breeze gave a hint at what the next season had in store. Becky set out to enjoy this day.
The young mother, pushing her child in a stroller, took a walk to the nearby park. There, in the shade of her favorite willow tree, she took out a collection of poems from her bag. Aloud she read her favorite poem to her daughter:
The first light of morning
Gave much joy and love.
The womb of my beloved,
On this day,
Brought forth a child.
A goddess, born of man and woman,
I hold here in my arms.
For what deed does this blessing come?
I am merely a man, only me.
This child, I hold, must be a sign,
Dear Epifiny, my child,
I hence forth shall work,
Work to deserve you.
I love thee.
This selection was written just a few months before. He had written it; the one she loves the most in the world. The man who left too early in Epifiny’s life for her to know. Luke had to leave. His heart yearned to stay. His heart, the only thing, he left them. The rest of him was shipped off. There was no way to avoid the terrible journey he was forced to endure.
Becky looked at her daughter’s eyes. They reminded her of the girl’s father. Her child was still laughing at the strange sounds she heard when her mother read the poem. The good part of her day was over. Tears streamed down Becky’s face. They flowed down her cheeks and into crevasses not meant for a face so young. This, then, caused Epifiny to stop her laughing and to start crying. Endless heart tearing screams of pain came out of the depths of the little girl. Epifiny seemed to sense the loss lining her mother’s voice.
“When will my husband be back?” She asked herself aloud, “They said it’d be a while, but how much longer can we stand this?”
In her soul, deep in the depths of her heart, in the place where feelings truly are felt, she knew the answer. he knew that she would wait until the end of time to see him again, even if that meant waiting until Armageddon for his return. She knew that true love knows no time. It only knows the periods of time from when you first see that special person to the time when that person is not there, and it even continues on past that.
Becky decided it was too much for her to be in this place for any longer. It was under the shade of the very tree which she sat under that Becky and Luke had shared many nights. In front of her laid the field where they had watched the stars many of those nights. On those nights the grass wouldn’t have been green the way it was this day. The lights from the night sky, be it the stars or the moon, would cast an otherworldly silver over the field. It was on this grass, bathed in silver light, that they used to wonder when they’d be free from the problems of the world. They spent many nights wondering when they’d be part of the stars’ canopy together. This they never spoke to one another, but the issue arose in both of their minds the nights before Luke was sent off. Her nights with Luke are just memories, now, not reality. No more nights together, no more stars, no more anything….only the love they share is present. This will always be evident.
Becky reached her house late in the after noon. She was too upset to even walk the same streets she had with Luke. Because she decided to take the long way around town she it was later in the day than she had planned. She went inside the house, fed Epifiny, and then put her down for a nap. Afterward, Becky went into the bedroom were she laid down in the darkness sobbing herself into a dreary sleep. The sleep she fell under wasn’t really sleep, but wasn’t really being awake either. Insomnia is often like that. She was stuck in between two states of consciousness where the real world is like a dream and dreams are like the real world, or they seem at least much more real than the dreamer wishes them to seem.
She heard another storm coming near. The tears, or the rains, fell. In her mind they were the same. She was one with the storm, but hated the very thought of it being so. It teared and teared, causing her to scream out his name.
She snapped out of her dreamlike state to the sound of Epifiny crying in her crib. When she headed to soothe her child the past flashed through her mind.
Why’d they have to take him? This war isn’t our war, not for us to fight. We are just two kids in love. Damn them. Why’d they need to send him off to that hell?
When she entered the child’s room her thoughts calmed down from the rage she had just let out. Looking upon Epifiny, she smiled.
“It’s alright my sweet Epifiny. There’s nothing to hurt you now. Sleep my baby.” Becky sat in a chair rocking softly to the rhythm of a lullaby she often sang to her child. “I’m here now. Nothing can hurt you, nothing…”
In mid sentence Becky stopped. She was halted by the sound of knocking on the front door. It was hard to hear over the storm outside. Thunder was crashing and the rain was drumming on the roof. She realized that these noises weren’t just part of her imagination.
But this knocking can’t be real. Not at this time of night.
When she walked to the front door questioning the call from outside, she noticed that it is only 5:30 in the afternoon. A slight sense of relief washed over her.
“Sue is that you?” She called out to the door as she approached.
Sue was one of the few friends Becky still talked in these days. She came by every now and then to check up on Becky. Maybe she felt that Becky would need some help with Epifiny during the raging storm.
“Sue, give me a second. I’ll be right there.” She checked herself in the mirror trying to hide her tear-stained appearance. The knocking continued some more times.
“Alright, alright I’m coming”
Becky opened the door with a smile. There was nothing to smile at. Only a stormy scene over the houses across the street was in view. She stood getting attacked by the wind in wonder, thinking that maybe she was going crazy. Just as she was about to turn back inside against the rains she heard a car coming up the street. It was a black car. On its side door was a symbol of some agency. Becky couldn’t see it clearly. It was hard to distinguish in the dreary weather. It came to a rest across the street from Becky’s house. As it stopped so did Becky’s heart.
Two uniformed men stepped out of the car and began the walk across the street. Before they even stepped onto the walkway leading up to where she stood, Becky knew what had happen.
“WHHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYY?” she cried out, as she dropped to her knees at the edge of the porch.
It was there that she stayed even as the men approached her. What they said was a mumbled sound to her. Maybe it was drowned out by the sounds of the storm. Maybe it was her sobbing. Either way to her it was an insignificant speech she had no wish to hear or remember. She felt the same about the letter they placed beside her as they turned sharply and walked away. They walked back to their car as if there were no winds or rains, got in, and drove off. Every movement they made was mechanical in nature as if oblivious to what they had delivered.
Becky still knelt on the porch, her face in her hands, doubled over in agony. The envelope containing the letter lay beside her still, as well. It bore the insignia of an eagle. That was all that was still decipherable of its symbol as the rain washed away the ink that had once meant something to people.
Becky was unconcerned as the letter was swept away. Off the porch it flew and drifted down the street into a stream of runoff water and down a storm drain where it was lost forever. Maybe the letter found its way to the ocean as a final resting place. She didn’t care. She knew what it said. She knew that Luke, Epifiny’s father and her husband, was dead.