He had been there for days although he’d stopped counting since it didn’t ultimately matter. He would leave when the time was right although he had no idea how he would know when that moment arrived. Some things you do on faith he assumed, and this had to be one of those things. He wasn’t sure why he came but he knew he had to be there, And he knew that the cave provided him shelter and there was an allegory hiding deeper in.
Along the shore, this morning, the clouds piled up, refusing entry to the promised sun, which hung back forlorn. The waves charged onto the sand like so many two year olds in full tantrum, banging against all in sight and retreating, only to charge again, pushing away any and all in their path. The wind pummels the sand, and as we walk along the street the wind borne sand tears against our skin urging us to take shelter, reminding us that nature does not bend to the weatherman, and will from time to time play havoc with their forecasts because nature speaks, she never listens.
The old bus shelter has spray painted walls and a broken metal bench. Each morning he shuffles up the hill, a battered leatherette briefcase clutched tightly in his right hand, a copy of the Seattle Times “Nixon in China” in the other. He sits calmly on the bench case between his knees and waits patiently for the bus that hasn’t run this route for the better part of sixteen years. Still, he waits until the sun sinks behind the 7-Eleven, when he shuffles down the hill toward his small apartment satisfied with another day successfully done.
She imagines life is much like a cocoon in which she must remain or risk instant death. She does not recall coming here but know she must have done so in the not too distant past. That is the problem with cocoons, there is no memory prior to finding yourself within, but she doesn’t mind for she has grown accustomed to this life, likes that shelter her home affords her. She is certain she will emerge some day, when the time is right, and she will take flight leaving this life behind in the receding darkness.
What do you say to those who turn their backs on those broken in battle, or broken at the sight of battle, who were left to clean up the collateral damage, or who were collateral damage, were pierced by IED’s, or shaped charges, who had inadequate armor, or no armor at all, who were left in moldy rooms, were dropped on the street, who don’t want to go back again, and still again, who see clearly with their eyes closed, who cannot find shelter in a maelstrom of thoughts, who did what was asked and wish they hadn’t, who asked for leaders and found only followers, who asked why and were told “just because,” who never came back, or who were left here.
Previously appeared in SNReview, Vol. 9, No. 2, 2007 and in The Right to Depart, Plainview Press (2008).