The Great Bear: part 1

by jamesmerolla

Every morning, in a room dyed with the heavy blue of dawn, Wayne examines everything around him. He stares at the dent in the plaster ceiling made when he and his wife, Margo moved in seven years earlier. He remembers his promise to fix it, but Margo doesn’t care anymore.

He stares at his hands, looking for scars or any other signs of life. He looks at the ceiling again, and wonders if anything looks back at him.

He looks at Margo, still beautiful, her brown hair scattered over the white sheets.  While he lays awake at night, he can feel her pretend to sleep. He wonders if they stay awake out of fear of showing inadvertent affection when unconscious.

He thinks about the past, digging deep enough until he finds the warm center of nostalgia, his parent’s house, happy faces with silver hair, and the smell of holidays.

Margo rustles and tucks her head under the sheets as Wayne sits up and dangles his boney legs over the edge of the bed. He leans over and pulls the blinds down enough to look out the window.

Margo’s twin sister, Laura, is standing on her porch. She cups her coffee in both hands, and holds her arms tightly against her body to shield from the cold. Every morning she has her first cup of coffee out there no matter what the weather, and Wayne watches her.

She is different from Margo. Her eyes are brighter, and there’s a sad naivety in her every action. She speaks in soft riddles, and always seems tickled by the frustrations of life. She once declared she was the ghost of a better life.

Wayne imagines her confiding in him. He fantasizes about knowing her better, and in his most hidden thoughts he loves her.

She rests against the railing, her coffee close to her face. Wisps of yellow hair sneak out from under her knit cap. They dance an aura around her in the wind.

With a short surrendering breath, Wayne stands and stretches. He looks through himself in the mirror. There is nothing to see. Margo rolls over and watches him. He looks back at her.

Margo likes to observe her husband’s routine in the morning. It is a curiosity the way he seems to follow in his exact footsteps. She listens as he slumps down the stairs at the same pace. With every lurch towards the kitchen, he plays the same song on the floorboards.

He watches out the window above the sink, tapping his wedding ring on the outside of his coffee mug.  He likes to watch the birds. When that cup is gone, he pours himself another, and shuffles back upstairs to carefully lay out his clothes for the day.

Margo and Wayne haven’t spoken to each other in five years. The last time they spoke was while Margo watched him lay out his clothes. 

     I like the blue one.

     Me too.

Their communication has devolved slowly since the day they met. Early on they had beautiful fluent conversations that explored the deepest black of the universe, and caressed the softest whispers of life. They were madly entangled with each other, their muffled lives escaping through every wall they loved behind.

After a while those conversations grew lazy, and became less frequent. Then one day they died. Their lives were ended with the same thoughtless energy as pulling an old dusty curtain closed.

Communication became a mindless obligation.

     Pass me the salt.

     How was your day?

Hopelessly their words were choked like a dying stream. Now their fingers dig through the mud left behind for the smallest glance, or the gold of a smile.

continued in part 2…