A walk by the sea (58)

I believe, this was the deepest she could have gone.
If she went any further, she would not be alive now!!!
I know you’re all impatient to see how the story will go, but I needed to write this chapter. Short but important one.
I won’t say enjoy… but endure! Stuff to happen shortly, promise!

Chapter 58

The long dark night crawled forward as slowly as a rusty hour hand in hell, invisible, unnoticed, merciless. Set to eternity’s minutes, that clock never moved, hovering in one place, freezing a moment into the soul of an old woman who wanted to die. Her most horrible moment had come, undoubtedly, and she knew she could never live to see its grip loosen on her heart. The worst that could have happened did, indeed, happen, and she had nothing left to hope for.

She was lying half unconscious in Andrew’s arms, who was on the brink of falling asleep, but woke himself up ever so often to comfort her without words. He had refused to go home; she did not think too much into his actions, as her capacity for thinking and feeling was significantly ruined. She heard his words and her brain grasped them, but she didn’t care any more. She knew that he could have easily left her: she had no power left to do anything, anyway. Not even pray for release.

All her mistakes, her stumbling, her bad moves and horrible decisions came together to flood her conscience and drown it in an ocean of remorse. She had mutilated a human being’s ability to love, she had probably chased a man into loving other men (in her frenzy, she accused herself of forcing Jeff to become a homosexual), and she had abused a wonderful man in ways that were unpardonable. It was only right that she should receive her punishment now, finally, on the last solitary walk of her life. She hoped she would be left to die; there was no one she knew who could have cared for her, and she didn’t care for anything or anyone she had ever cared for. Pain and remorse exhausted her, making her breathing difficult, stopping her mind from giving her reasonable arguments against her dejection: there was no consolation and no easing of her burden.

She didn’t want the exhibition, she didn’t want Andrew to hold her, she didn’t want to stay in Joseph’s house any more. His accusing look would follow her to her grave, and her self-hatred would probably make her twist and turn inside it, too. Without end.

-Please, please go and leave me –she told Andrew at some point.

-I’m not leaving you –he whispered loyally, holding her like a child. –He was wrong, my dear… don’t accuse yourself of things you haven’t committed.

-He has all the right to hate me –she replied without feeling. The words didn’t cause her pain any more: she had shut off the dams of her emotions and she lay impassively in the arms of a man she hardly knew.

He kissed her hair and tried to hold her as gently as he could, but it was all lost on her. It was in vain, she was in vain, her life was a waste, useless. Every feeling she had about herself, ever, had been a waste, and she wished she could stop feeling, put an end to the morbid clowning she had considered purposeful. Art? Who was she fooling? There was nothing left to be inspired by, there was no one left to be inspired for. Who would want to understand the expression of someone who was as callous as a rock? She was closest to wanting to die than she had ever been, and desperately longed for her final peace.

In her sleep, she dreamt of floating on the waves of her beloved sea, the last friend who received her without questions, without reproach. It was endless and peaceful, rocking her to eternal rest, washing away all her sins and mistakes, giving her a new existence, returning her to her once happy life, when she was so young and pure.

Later, she was hurled against the rocks, torn to pieces by the endless forces of her self-loathing and remorse, her self-inflicted punishment. She felt the pain now, each time she hit the rocks, but it was sweet pain: she knew it was all deserved, and she wanted so much to pay for what she had done. Let the sea throw her across the hurtingly sharp clif-shards, let her heart be pierced, let she be eaten by the waves and rocks for all eternity as a selfish Prometheus. She had stolen fire, abusing it, feeding off it, using it for her own purposes, warming her immovable limbs at its flames, keeping it all for herself. She had used everyone to keep that fire alive, not sharing it with anyone, but throwing live, breathing wood onto the flames, sacrifices she had made without thinking. Her art had only been hers: when she painted a sunset, she painted it for her own pleasure; when she gave birth to anything, it was a still-life, or a pale landscape, or a turbulent storm. All depicting her, and her alone. Little did she care who saw her art… because little did she care who saw her soul. Hiding from humanity was her only way, and the fire stolen from the gods had kept her alive for as long as she could stay unnoticed.

And when she was noticed, she lost the fire to all the greedy humans who wanted to warm themselves by the flames, and she was selfish enough to mind, and also, to be frightened of losing her freedom. Her solitude.

It was over now: there was no peace, and there was no warmth left. She was cold, so cold, freezing under the icy weight of punishment, a life thrown at her like shreds of putrid flesh, her own remains from the repeated encounters between sea and rock. She knew there was no Heracles to come and free her.

-Please listen to me- Andrew tried, so hard, to keep her alive. –You are responsible for your own actions… but you can’t punish yourself for sins that you did not recognize as sins at the time. You were torn between a broken marriage and the unfamiliarities of motherhood, all of it thrown at you out of nowhere, when you had your own artistic vision to discover. No human being could have succeeded in keeping all of it intact. Please believe me that my sins are no smaller than yours…

She let him hold her and comfort her, mostly to ease his pain: he was so fragile, so helpless in the face of her suffering, that she took pity on him and made an effort she did not think she was capable of, for his sake. He was so kind to her. She owed him as much. Turning to him, she held onto his thick arms, letting his tired breath to sweep across her tired hair. She would redeem her death. By making him happy, the last breathing soul who ever wanted to lay eyes on her. Perhaps if she gave his peace back, she would receive hers, too, as a grace.

Comforting him as he comforted her, they lay tight against each other in an entanglement of selflessness and longing, of need and generous love. It was hard to say who each feeling pertained to, but it did not matter, either: a storm was to be calmed, a sacrifice was to be stopped, and hearts had to change for a new start to be possible.

When her tears finally started to flow, he hugged her tighter, and the night set out on its slow journey. Stars moved across the sky, wind blew the clouds into oblivion, and the sun lifted his head to blow a rosy tint on the horizon. The heavens were clear and light, a soft grey above pale orange and pink, the last stars twinkling feebly.

Dawn found them at peace, embracing each other, clinging like two children, both wanting to give, yet neither aware of it.

Without realizing it, Mary had offered her heart as sacrifice, and it was accepted.