The music rolled into his ears like a sad melancholic fog rolls over the sea at dusk. It filled his body, lingering around his heart.
anche se il mondo non ci vuole bene,
anche se siamo stretti da catene
e carne da crocifissione
As the music spilled from the speakers he felt in himself a great pressure building. It was one with which he was quite familiar. His heart beat a little harder and his breath became a little more rapid.
Presto noi sogneremo
distesi al sole di mille primavere
senza il ricordo di questa prigione,
di un tempo lontano ormai.
Each note of the music numbered the cracks in his broken heart as he opened his eyes to look out into the darkness. The clouds had parted and the moon was now shining on his face. Little specks of silver, like some sort of cosmic glitter were reflecting off the tiny windblown ripples on the lake.
Abbracciami e non lasciarmi qui
lontano da te
He cried. He cried, alone, listening to an Italian singer sing an Italian song that no one he knew would know. Who is Neffa, they would ask, puzzled. It was fitting that only he should know the song. As it was, he was the only one who knew himself, really.
He longed for a soft word, a warm embrace or even just a knowing look. He walked to the lake and stripped down to his boxers. As he stood over the water the lake looked up at him, glittering, and he felt ashamed. He lay down on the dock and looked out over the water. He made love to the lake, softly dropping tears into her peaceful cold.
He stood again and pulled his boxers off over his feet and he felt a cool wind tickle all the hairs on his legs and chest. He dipped a toe into the lake wanting her to feel his warmth before shocking her by diving in. "I'm going to jump," he warned her as he picked his toe up out of the water. He never liked to show up unannounced. He dove and the water splashed. The lake shivered around him as she tried to adjust quickly to his warmth.
He sank down into the water letting his feet touch the slimy plants on the bottom. He held his breath and contemplated his next step. Should he even bother to return to his world and take a breath or should he live forever inside the cold embrace of the lake? He was using his last seconds of consciousness debating when instinct turned to panic propelling him to the surface. The lake, having gained a warm lover, held on to him tight. She had reached out and refused to let him go. One of the slimy plants on the bottom had wrapped around his foot. He kicked frantically, struggling inches from the surface. His hands were touching the crisp, beautiful air that he now longed so to take inside of him. He grasped at her but she would not help him. He was the lake's now. He slept.
He felt the rope-like plant loosen from his ankle but it was too late. He commanded his body to kick, to swim to life. It could not. He faded.
He awoke to a blistering iciness on his skin. He was lying face up on the dock and the silver moonlight was covering every inch of faded wood around him. The thousands of reflections from the water were dancing in the trees above him as he drifted in and out of consciousness. He was numb and could not feel his legs. He wanted dearly to get up and put on his clothes so he could get away from this place and go back into the house.
He was wet and naked, and even though no one was around he was burning with shame. Splinters from the dock were pricking him in his back. Curiously he was not afraid as he thought he should have been. Perhaps, he thought, if his body was paralyzed then his sense of self preservation must be as well. He gave no thought to the fact that he had, only moments earlier, contemplated becoming one with the lake. Perhaps he was not afraid because subconsciously he knew that the worst occurrence would be death. Any normal person would have been afraid of a visit from death. Death, however, had been his friend for many years. Death was the only reason he was alive at that moment.
His grandfather, Justice Hill, had died on his mother Marta's forty-second birthday. He suffered a massive heart attack while fishing on that very lake. He was rushed to the hospital where he was treated by a young cardiologist named Sebastian Pike. The old man died as Sebastian pounded on his chest and searched for life in his eyes. When Sebastian finally gave up, fifteen minutes later, he crumpled to the floor clinging to Justice's lifeless hand and sobbed openly and sincerely. It had been Sebastian's first official patient, and he lost him. Nothing in his twenty-nine years of life could have prepared him to experience life slip through his fingers. He would later confide in Marta that the end of such a noble figure demanded a deep grief and so, compelled by his sense of honor he paid his devoirs to Justice in tears.
It was in seeing Sebastian, kneeling and crying with her father's hand pressed to his face that Marta fell in love with this boy-doctor with the curly black hair emerald green eyes. They were married only three months after Justice resigned himself to peace and Marta gave birth to Justice Sebastian Pike at midnight, one year from the day her father died. The lights were dimmed at Sebastian's orders so mother and baby could rest. The light from the full moon showered into the hospital room and reflected off her baby's emerald green eyes as they darted around the room. If only the nursing staff had been as alert as baby Justice perhaps his mother wouldn't have died.
She rose from her bed and felt a sharp pain in her abdomen. Dismissing it as post labor pains Marta waddled over to her baby's crib and scooped him up in her arms. She backed slowly to the rocking chair and lowered herself. The bright full moon caught her gaze and she stared. She had never been so happy before in her life and yet she was grieved by a nagging sense that her joy would not be long-lasting. She looked at her baby. As she contemplated the shine of the moon in her baby's eyes a song welled up inside of her and she sang to him.
Look up to me child
from right where you are
I dreamed you to life child
God set you apart.
I looked for you, love,
and I found you alive.
I found you inside
your daddy's emerald green eyes.
Marta attempted to stand but the pain came upon her again and this time it was so sharp that she nearly dropped baby Justice. She fell back into the rocking chair and tried to call for the nurse but only a whisper escaped her mouth. She could feel her baby's tiny cool hand brush her wrist. She looked down at baby Justice and saw him, wide awake and staring up at her. His eyes were wet and shining. In her peripheral vision she noticed a shimmer of light from a dark spot on the floor where she had been standing and she looked up. There was a puddle of blood and she tried to call for the nurse again. She clutched her baby tight against her and she withered.
Sebastian found her a half hour later staring at the baby in her arms. When he called her name she didn't respond. He walked around the bed and immediately saw the blood. He screamed for the nurses and put baby Justice in his crib. He and the nurses carefully put Marta into bed. Sebastian ordered blood for his wife and called in a surgeon to see to her. She was rushed into surgery and brought back to her waiting husband and baby three hours later. She asked to hold Justice and Sebastian obliged her by handing her the baby. After a very long night he sat next to her and drifted off to sleep. Marta held Justice in her right arm and weakly placed her left hand on Sebastian's that was on the sheet next to her. "I love you, my green eyed boys," and she drifted into silence. Baby Justice, for the first time, cried. Sebastian awoke to the baby's screams and found Marta dead.
Justice lay on the dock and drifted in and out of sleep. It had turned cold since he arrived at the lake at dusk. He was shivering now as his naked body fought to conserve its own heat. He still could not move his legs even though he was sending every mental command he could muster. As he resigned himself to join his grandfather and his mother, whose ashes had been scattered over the lake, he felt a small warm hand touch his cheek and he felt blood rush into his legs. A tear ran down the side of his head from the corner of his moonlit emerald green eye.
to be continued...
Justice didn't know what had happened since he felt the warm hand on his face. He awoke sitting on a small worn leather couch in front of a blazing fire. It must have been the middle of the night because the house was dark except for the celestial lights peeking in the window causing the gold impressions on the spines of his grandfather's old books to sparkle. There was a trail of splinters and bark leading to a little pile of scrap wood laying to the right of the fireplace. To the left of the fireplace sat a small white saucer with a half eaten cookie and crumbs trailing away from the plate just like the splinters from the firewood. Next to the plate was a small glass of milk and an open book sprinkled with crumbs. The sides of the pages had little greasy fingerprints and smears of chocolate.
Justice ached all over. His feet prickled with a weird electrical soreness and his angry cramping muscles sent waves of pain that resonated into his scalp and through his hair follicles. Even the air around him was sore. He was curious about who had brought him into the house and started the fire. He had been certain that he was the only one at the lake. He bent down to look at the book. He picked it up and turned it over in his hands. It smelled like cherry pipe tobacco and cookies. Winnie the Poohby A. A. Milne was etched into its spine. Justice carefully put the book back where he had found it and slowly stood. "You wanna cookie, Justice?" he heard the small voice ask.
...To be continued