FathomOnline

 

 Fathom 2007

Cover

 

Inside Cover

 

Poetry

Kirby Best (3)
Michael Da Silva (2)
Jean-Marc Prévost
Heather Ingram and Alana Paul
Eli Burnstein (2)
Chris Rice
Benjamin Mitchell (2)

Prose

Amos Sarrouy
Vincenzo A. Ravina
Jesse Hilz
Ashleigh Gaul

Artwork

Alex Picot-Annand

[PDF]

Vincenzo A. Ravina

 

 

Symbolic Gesture

     And this is how it all ends, or how it all begins.
     My arms are stretched out in front of me, hands on the wheel. This is the only way I can keep them steady, that’s how hard I’m shaking. I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know if I can go in. There’s a blue elastic on my right wrist and it’s weighing me down.
     My mouth feels dry at the back and I’m chewing on the inside of my cheek. I’d be biting my nails, but they’re bitten all the way down.
Looking to my left, through the window, is the church. I can’t do this. I can’t go in there.
     In my house there’s a drawer and I haven’t been able to open it for months. In the drawer are CDs I can’t listen to and pictures I can’t look at. In there are the books I can’t read. It’s supposed to make me feel better, having it all put away. If I don’t see it, it can’t hurt me.
     My head hurts.
     In the rear-view mirror, I’m fixing my tie. The one thing I salvaged from the drawer. This is a rental car because today is special, I guess you could say. The tie is messed up. It’s made of rough wool. I tied it too short, so I pull it off and start tying it again. The rabbit hops around the tree twice and jumps down into the burrow. Or something. The church bells are clanging away and I pop some Aspirin.
     December’s already somewhere inside the church, but I can’t see her, yet.
     I’m still considering not going in. I’m considering running away to Aus­tralia and reinventing myself. I’m considering pretty much everything that doesn’t involve entering that church.
     I reach down with my earthquake hands and jimmy open my pocket watch. I’ve got one half hour. I wonder if it’s better just to forget, just to leave it all behind. I close my eyes.
     The plan to track down December at the train station was half baked, I’ll admit that. I didn’t have anything to lose. I just thought, “If this is my last shot, I better take it. It always works in the movies.” And it does always work in the movies. Boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back. That’s the for­mula and you’d be hard pressed to find a romantic comedy that deviates.
     Unfortunately, life doesn’t stick to that formula. Abutterfly beating its wings in China causes small changes that add up and cause big problems. Chaos. I’ve got a damned butterfly following me around.
     First off, boy gets girl. I’m boy. December was girl. There was one golden year, everyone was happy and I was beating that horde of butterflies off with a crowbar. Joni Mitchell was right. You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. Looking back on that year, the memories are hazy. It wasn’t that long ago at all, but details are lost in the mists of time. If I close my eyes and concentrate really hard, I can remember lying on a dandelion infested hill. On a summer’s day, with bees buzzing around us, we just talked, mostly. Her head on my chest, lying there lazily, it seems like so long ago.
     Every memory I can summon involves us lying on something. The numer­ous days we’d stay in bed, where it was warm. When I’d hug her tightly and not want to ever let go.
     Boy loses girl. That’s the part that was unexpected. There was no warn­ing. It happens to people all the time, but it’s fresh and new when it hap­pens to me. Additional twist: it was on our anniversary. And we were happy that day, I thought. She seemed happy. There were no “tells”. Everything in her manner seemed to indicate that she would not be dumping me in a few short hours. It felt like some kind of war tactic that Sun Tzu left out of his book.
     I lost it, for a while. I filled up a drawer with the stuff I found around the house that reminded me of her. All except for a blue hair elastic. I put the elastic on my wrist and that was my symbolic gesture. Keep it on until you’re over her or you can leave it all behind. It’s been on my wrist for a month or two, now. It has little bits of white elastic protruding from it.
     And it was just four days ago that she told me she was leaving. We kept in contact after the dumping. We stayed reluctant friends. Reluctant on my end, anyway. It was like building a new relationship out of the remnants of the old one. Just like they don’t build new planes out of old ones. It doesn’t fly.
     Four days ago, she said she was leaving on a train. Moving elsewhere. Out of town. It didn’t matter to me where. It was away and out of my life. I looked at it as a mixed blessing. On the one hand, if she’s away forever, it’ll be easier to get over her. On the other hand, she’s moving away forever.
     This is where I decided the situation was win/win or lose/lose. Either way, it didn’t matter what I did. This was an ill advised course of action. I made a mad dash for the train station, just like they make a mad dash for the airport in the movies.
     You can pretty much guess how it transpired. Think clichéd unprepared speech professing undying love. You’ll have the gist of it. Instead of taking me back, staying here for the rest of time and marrying me, there was a brief awkward silence. She turned me down. She said she was sorry, but she had to go. In essence, she dumped me for a second time. It’s like being punched really hard by some guy, then chasing him down at the train station so he can punch you again, right where the bruise is.
     , I managed to do what I went there to do. I watched her train pull away and felt like crying, but didn’t. It felt like an out of body experience, except backwards. When your soul leaves your body and you can see your corpse on the ground, it was just like that. Except I was the corpse, watching my soul disappear. As the train vanished from sight, I was left numb inside. Emotional anaesthetic. I hoped I wouldn’t have to feel.
     Back in my car in front of the church, my hands are still on the wheel and my eyes are closed. When I open them, the light hurts my eyes and I see that I’ve only got seven minutes before I have to go in. I’m not shaking as much.
     I have to forget about it all. This elastic feels like an anchor, keeping me down no matter how much I struggle to free myself. It’s the only connection left.
     Four days ago, I admitted defeat and I went home. Four days ago, a few hours later, a train derailed. Jumped its tracks.
     Now I’m walking into the church and it’s quiet. Not everyone has arrived yet, it’s still pretty empty. Putting on my poker face, straightening my tie and stepping towards the coffin, I take the blue elastic off my wrist and drop it onto the oak lid.
     And this is how it ends.

 

last updated August 17, 2007 | © 2007 Fathom Publishing
poetry, prose, and artwork © individual authours | website created by Alana Paul