The next eight days he kept inside waiting for Lillian to return. The next eight or so days he stayed inside, did the maths, tapping the numbers into an emotional calculator, trying to reach for some formulaic conclusions. It was eight days and nights in which nights screamed upwind the way stars lose their valid phantoms. He survived on a meagre diet of horizon off the windows, asking for the sky, hodden grey some days, to unravel morning, to set free the imprisoned sun, to strike bargains with the sun. The sky, grey-pinked some other days, in the arc of a glow; and some other days, chain-link grey- were like broken promises marrying pain and deep sighs. He passed himself several times as he was herding out to go back, going up to go down, going from home just to get to home. He was a forgotten road coming from nowhere.
At least he still had the clock on the walls to tell him it was bed time.
In those eight days, he survived by attrition, emptying out his heart and laying it bare on the table as he dealt with too much psychic traffic. His mind became a rain-fed river, a broken barometer, an industrial diamond lost in the cargo.
Maybe, he should have left for another place or even go abroad, forgetting or remembering who he was or who Lillian was to him but he stayed home. Yet, he knew, he couldn't stay inside forever, a guardian of rooms, the purpose of his existence! No! There were no guides for him, none at all home. All his enquiries were coming back unanswered. He discovered that she wasn't coming back. He had to trust anything else, but a new day. It was tomorrow which was like today that was coming back every morning and that tomorrow was uncovering the emptiness, the fear of aloneness, of life and life waning.
That tomorrow's world was squatting snarling, teeth bared in savage hiss of blood and conflict, waking him back everyday to the reality of his life behind those concrete walls. Only for him to rudely discover that he was always alone. Everywhere he looked, on everything: dark, dark, dark… until another morning had its say.
He discovered he had been turning into a malevolently distorted zombie, parleying with God in those frigid rooms, full of hatred. Maybe he had been like that since the day he saw Lillian lying behind that small bush in the park? He discovered that this desire, this grief, this anger, this pain that he had been holding onto in its own heat had now turned into spite. When we desire anger, pain and grief as love and that when such slight hope of finding that love faded, then nothing would remain. When we hand tie these barbs of grief into soft strands in our hearts we will as well be twisting these strands tightly until our hearts were bleeding. We would strangely admire our handwork at that, unable to understand, or express our loneliness.
Grief, guilty, in that spot that was so raw and open, that felt like the skin was coming off, weighed heavy on him like an eternity ring of habit settling on a good address, a wife, children, home and dusted down acquaintances.
He had to come back to some kind of reality. How about starting by opening up her shopping bag? Don remembered Lillian had promised him something for the past Christmas holiday.
He went to find her handbag in the drawers. It was there tucked clean from the blood. Someone had cleaned off Lillian's blood. He opened it with bathed breathe. In her bag were a few of Lillian's own things that helped him search through a winter long of memories, discarding endless nothing-like-her-things and a bran-new gold watch. It was her special gift to him. The one she had gone to buy him when she was murdered by Bones. He couldn't help visualising seeing Lillian presenting it to him with that serene infectious smile. He knew she wanted to enjoy the wonder that would come across his face as he opened that gift.
Now, her image in his mind had a scowl against time looting the seasons. Then below the bag was this card. It was one of her own and not like those colourful ones but simple, like her; infringed with purplish red roses. Very simple roses and inside the card were these few words
"I always will be yours" Just those five words and nothing else! Her pen running dry, that was her last method and now he missed her stroking a pen. Always being mine; what had become of that promise? Maybe Browning was correct when he caused these words.
"Nay blame grief that’s fickle
Time that proves a traitor.
Chance, chance, all that purpose warps.
Death who spares to thrust the sickle,
Laid love low, through flower which later,
Shroud the corpse! "
Maybe, he felt, he had to blame grief, maybe time, maybe death, maybe God, maybe himself…
MAN: Him, Himself, Don, maybe the human condition, the condition of humans, conditioned to failure. Maybe he had to disagree with Browning.
He had come to believe in things always being the same and never expected things to change and he himself, being alone again. That one day, he could be facing all these things alone, all thorns and thistles of life, all alone, and of course, he couldn't have thought of anything being different... and that's expectation in us. Now, he was feeling the pain and anger and who wouldn't have had given that they had lost their loved ones. For the first time in his life he felt how painful it was to miss to be missed. He also felt how painful and foolish it can be to surrender hopes of ever getting closer to the names and shapes that one has depended on to live.
Suffering is contractive, unintelligible, maddening, strange…
Since his anger had been arrested for the past eight days it now reared its ugly head up in fury, backward crested within him. The storm within him was fiercer yet soaring, swelling and roaring like a released cauldron's swirl. It was a frenzied beast. Every resistance within him was swept into an instant void. He felt beset, besieged, deadlocked, sandwiched in grief, anger and guilty. All these were surging eddies and cesspools of resistance emptying into madness, into a madness that no longer was containable. These dark energies were exerting an enormous force in his universe, bringing back the forgotten past of twenty four years ago, jazzing up the anger all the more. There was only one missing mass to make it complete. Dare we call this missing mass, spiritual? But, who is to say Eve's apple wasn't a nettle seed, an aloe seed, or even lemon?
Twenty four years before, his home, now miles away in the eastern highlands where he was born, and the heart heavy as lead; he was all alone on this lonesome road. Walking, as if walking in the hard rain, the hard raindrops beating the road just as loud as young lovers kissing, he now had nowhere else to go. His parents: Long dead parents, their souls fished out, their legs buckled and spent, were buried under the dirt. Twenty four years before, the parents he loved had died.
Maybe it could have been fair had he gone to bed with them that night. He couldn't be facing all this alone! He knew of a fate worse than death that couldn't allow him to die with his parents getting involved in his destiny. It was a fate that would wake up on the doorstep of death. The smack of that competent fate had a lot to show him. That fate wanted him to face everything in this world alone. Maybe that's why he refused to share bed with his parents that night.
That's why, all of a sudden, he wanted to own his own place and slept in that kitchen where he always feared being alone in at night. Yet that night, he wanted to be alone, to be at his own, to grow up, breaking out of his parents' clutches at the treacle age of six. That's what he did. He seemed to have grown up, however, as he opened his eyes to see, everybody was dead, but only him. They had died and left him alone in such a terrifying world. He had to grope around, sometimes holding onto small ledges, never bigger ones for that matter! He couldn't help holding onto them and one of them was the orphanage. In between, he had come to believe that it would always be there.
Small ledge that it was, four years it was, the ledge all of a sudden vanished. Leaving him in total darkness, in the middle of nowhere with nothing to hold onto; always falling this way that way, swirling. The dark beginnings of a terrifyingly awesome dream, in Harare, after the orphanage, the road had been a lonesome one, but still peopled. The road was as much inhabited as was his mind, and all of which resembled the other when they could act kindly towards the other. He did hold onto that road of aloneness for far too long.
He couldn't move a step and if ever he did move it appeared as if he hadn't taken such a step. He was still there where he was when he woke up suddenly in that night. He couldn't breathe in the heat, in the smoke that enclosed him, in that smoky trance-like dream. Visionary though, not so far away; the smoke seemed to lighten. He had started to move toward that point. He had been moving and choking from the smoke when it started hotting up all the more. Then, flames started erupting from all around him, circling him in. The heat was too unbearable and breathing was of the suffocating and choking kind. When he had been thinking he was passing out, suddenly he woke up. Surprising though, it was so hot and smoky! He could hear faint cries emanating from his parents' hut so he went out to find out…
What he saw and felt that day: he just felt something in his chest giving way like a hand releasing a pigeon into air. His gut seemed like it was sinking, like an echo after a fall. It was his Mom and Dad, being held in their moaning by the fire's chilling breath. Radiant gas was steaming like a jet of vision out through the doorway. Through this small doorway, he observed the process of dissolving into ash, his parents covered in flames and gas of smoke.
The smoke rose and rose with surcease. He could also hear the burning in the form of a low bass-note, and the almost noticeable smell of the flesh burning, the meat frying, roasting, strong in his nose. A little later, he could see the wing-like flames billowing, a lava of flames out of the margins of their bodies. Then their disintegrated skeletons, what's left of them: were two burned bodies now unrecognisable that had survived temperatures of above five hundred degrees Celsius.
Hip joints, four pairs of forceps, a femur, an ulna, a scapula, a patella, pebbles of metatarsals, pebbles of metatarsals, the skulls glowing in the heat of the burning. Those skulls, still recognisably human's skulls, were still burning to a jaundiced yellow-blue, an aura between lilac and or cornflower. These bestial pieces that couldn't fill a plastic bag, tortured by their passion and love of each other! And then the two plastics lying on the grounds, both of bits and pieces of his parents' leftovers, salvaged from the fire, now arranged perfectly in an impossible syncopation.
The silence between them was a wet blanket. It was as if the end of life was really about shedding one's identity along with the physical form that holds it. The memory of it all! He had came to hate any kind of burning, even lights in a room he slept in had to be put out before he could go to sleep. It represented to him, uncannily steady flames separated from smoke. He would wake up in the middle of the night, his heart thudding violently, if he leaves the lights on.