Thursday, June 24, 2010

Aiden I

He was accustomed to being awake at all hours of the night. His ever-loving and faithful relationship with the moon was always a source of aggravation for his parents when he was a child. Aiden did not deliberately haunt the dark empty spaces of night. It wasn’t a choice that he had made as a toddler that he preferred the company of the gentler celestial bodies. Being awake at night was just as natural to him as breathing. The moon and the stars, after all, never burned him, never harmed him. The moon never drew sweat from his body like the hellfire of the sun. Aiden had always been cool and comfortable in the peaceful night, until now.

“Aiden! Help me!” she cried. It usually began at midnight. Her scream ripped through his peace. “What’s the matter Gram?” he asked as he walked into her room. “Help me get in the bed,” she mumbled as she kicked her feet like a child and flailed her arms. He held her hands as she wobbled into the upright position and she danced a made in China imitation of the Charleston to the bed. He loved Gram with all of his heart, but was torn between her and the night. He settled her under the covers, kissed her on the forehead and walked back to the room where he slept at Gram’s.

“OH! I’m so tired!” she yelled in her sleep. She never yelled when she was awake. Aiden contemplated making her scream for ten minutes straight before bed. Perhaps her inner victim would be satiated with the pregame screams. “Ohhhh wweeeee!” she cried. I don’t know what the hell gets after her in her sleep but it better not fuck with me, he thought to himself. “Aiden!” and again he went to her.

As he lay in bed Aiden thought about how he had ended up there. Had he followed through and achieved his goals from his earlier life like he had planned, he’d have graduated from law school this year. He thought about his year in Montreal and how he wouldn’t have given away his time there for a million dollars. He had not necessarily squandered his dreams by taking the internship in Quebec. He had, after all, learned French and gained invaluable experience in international relations. Gram’s kidneys failed her the following year when he was touring France. She spent four months in the hospital and rehab center and he had not been able to be with her and his family. Now it was payback time he supposed. Reconciliation for his two years abroad came at a heavy cost.

He had felt trapped in his little town since he had arrived in June. Everything from that point seemed like a lucky break to him. He landed a job teaching. He had a free room at his mom’s even though over half his time was spent tending to Gram. He loved her and was glad to help her, even though she sometimes stole his nights. He was not, however, content. He hated being tied to the dead little place he called home. He dreamed of being somewhere else. He dreamed of having friends near him again. Although he had attended school and lived in Janson his whole life until college, he found it difficult to build anything substantial there. His friends from school were married, had moved or were wholly unsuitable for socialization now.

The last time he looked at the clock it was four in the morning. He lay on his back and stared at the moon whose light was drowning him in her serenity. She was the same moon that caressed his face when he was in love in Montreal. She cooled him on the island in Ibiza after the sun had abused him for ten straight hours. He closed his eyes and fell back gently into the arms of Morpheus.

“OHHHH!!! OHHH! AIDENNNN!” He had the sudden sensation that he had fallen off a precipice and was careening into an abyss. At some point he hit the bottom and felt the green shag carpet drag across his infrequently shaven face. “Gram, what? What’s wrong?” Luna would forgive him for drawing away from her caresses but the Morphean arms sent him lurching through dreams and hard into reality. He walked to her room. Though he would not admit it the following day when he complained to his friend on the phone about the nightly excitements at Gram’s, he was afraid each time she yelled. When would her moans and screams be the end?

“Gram, try to sleep. We both need it…” he reasoned with her and then turned to walk to his bed. He heard her deep breaths and knew immediately that her sleep came and went like that of an infant. It was deep and real and then all of a sudden it was gone. His sleep held on. He rested his body lightly onto the bed and sunk into the old mattress as found himself again being loved by Luna. He woke again only to hear Gram mumbling that she was not going to eat the oatmeal and that “she may as well go ahead and cook me some grits. It’s my money that pays her…” Poor Maggie…he thought to himself as he turned over for another hour of sleep.

He dreamed. He looked to his left and he saw a bricked street with streetcar rails and colonial buildings with chipped pastels coating their walls. He walked to the massive mahogany door of a church that he had once frequented in Panama City when he spent a month with a friend of a friend. He pushed open the door and stepped inside. He walked into the nave and saw the sanctuary ahead. He genuflected adoringly and made his way to the front. There was a man at the altar kneeling in front of the exposed Sacrament and it looked as if he was being lighted by a glow from the Holy Eucharist that was enclosed in a moon-shaped monstrance. As Aiden approached the man turned and his eyes pierced him as if the glow from the Eucharist shown through him and into Aiden. The man smiled and said to Aiden, “Ask me child, once and only once, a question which plagues your soul.”

Aiden thought for a moment and then he asked the man, “Sir, why can I not find contentment?” The man’s eyes ceased to glow. He walked to Aiden and rested his hand on Aiden’s shoulder and whispered to him. “Parce qu'en général l'enfant comme l'homme, et l'homme comme l'enfant aime mieux s'amuser que s'instruire.” Immediately the altar and the pillars faded and the space melted into the form of Aiden’s room. The blinds were open and the moon was full and bright and it filled the room. Aiden turned and looked into the mirror and repeated the words the man had told him. “Because in general the child like the man and the man like the child likes better to have fun than to inform himself.”

“Aiden!” Maggie called from the den. He jumped awake, slightly startled, and made his way to her.

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