The Woman With Strange Eyes

The Woman With Strange Eyes

BJ Crisostomo

Her eyes were strange, this much I remember. The right eye was the red of passion, of bed sheets and candlelight. The left eye was black, the black of void, of hopelessness, of nothingness. And in those eyes I saw myself reflected in the clarity of a vision. All else is mist and mirage, sifting from the formless to the palpable. My memory is at the mercy of these apparitions which when they appear, I open my mouth and drink my full to only have a fleeting taste of her shape, her touch, her name.

You see, this girl and I met only thrice in my lifetime. Thrice and a mere day a piece: once at sunrise when angels sing ancient songs that they only remember, then in the afternoon when the droning affairs of man take place, and finally at witching hour when the devil’s laughter lingers in the darkness. Three days of joy, of bliss, of euphoria! Yes. Three days. Between those days I am set in a wild goose chase searching for her in a futile glimpse at a passing crowd, in a mad call to God, in a relentless rampage through the streets of every city of every country. I am purposed only towards her.

Now I am old, and my eyes are tired, my voice is stretched, and my feet are swollen, yet I go forward. A droning push towards eternity for the possibility a fourth happy day.

My life is pieced together by three mere days.

***

“JASON!”

My eyes are wobbly walking on a tightrope between dream and reality. My eyes quiver in the wake of an early morning sun. “Protest!” they scream as they glance on the beaten up clock, “6am. Too early. Go back to sleep.” it says.

“JASON! WAKE UP!”

This time a loud banging accompanies the deep booming voice. Finally beat accompanies vocals, and I wait. Groggy, I lay at wait. Waiting… Waiting…

Yes, there it is.

I hear the rasp of a vintage guitar, of a key turning, and boom!

“JASON! YOU FUCKING WAKE UP! WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY FUCKING CAR! WHAT IN GOD’S FUCKING NAME DID YOU DO TO MY FUCKING CAR?”

I am unceremoniously lifted from my bed, and am met by popping red veins, humongous bulging eyes, rotting gnashing teeth. I think to myself, “fuck! I’m going to look like that in twenty years.”

“I’m sorry dad.” I say, half of me still singing songs in dreamland, “Look, I’ll pay for it.”

“PAY FOR IT? PAY FOR IT WITH WHAT? THE MONEY FROM MY POCKET? “

“Well, if you give me a bit more than the dog feed you call my allowance then maybe, just maybe I can pay you in the next millennia.”

And then, I am fully awake as a fist almost the size of my face hits me square on the gut. What a beautiful day it is. Good morning world, am now fully and totally awake.

“DON’T YOU GET SMART WITH ME, BOY! DON’T GET FUICKING SMART WITH ME YOU FUCKING STUPID BOY!”

As I lay squirming on my bed, grasping for breath, my face contorted to an ouch, I hear the door close but just before, I hear the old man say, “JASON, I HOPE YOU KNOW, THIS IS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD. NOW DRESS UP, YOUR GRANDMOTHER JUST DIED, WE’RE GOING TO THE HOSPITAL.”

Good morning.

The drive to grand mama was fairly uncomfortable in dad’s recently crashed CRV, and every weird sound that the car made only highlighted the fact that I am an ungrateful son. My sister beside me on the back seat, my parents on the front, my father more red than he usually is, we made our trip to the hospital in a cocophony of 8am traffic, the bumper grinding its weight through the pavement, and My way playing full blast on the radio. The affairs of two hours ago no longer seem to matter. A huge bill in the car fixers weighs less in comparison to the death of a loved one.

My grandmother was the grandmother you’d only see in Hallmark specials. She was perfect. She’d cook up brownies, and they’d taste just right. She’d pinch your cheeks and call you “Jay-Jay, my favorite Jason,” and you wouldn’t even mind. We all loved her.

The steps to her room are slow and definite, a funeral march of four in a stainless white hospital. We passed corridor, after corridor with our faces down, a tear held somewhere in the recesses of our souls. We open the door, to greet the dead, an empty carcass of one we used to love. The whole clan is there. Faceless uncles and aunts hugged me and cried but still managed to say how much I’ve grown. Complete with cousins who I’ve never seen before segregated quietly in the corner their hand held consoles.

I kiss her cheek and tell my parents I’d just wait outside.

I walked and walked. My feet started to ache. My feet ache. I went to the nearest exit and took a secret cigarette case from my back pocket. Inhale. And then I exhale, the weight of the world passing through lungs, trachea, and finally my mouth. I am weightless. I am flying. I am not me. I am the smoke from my cigarette, watching my body sitting on the pavement crying.

A taxi parks right in front of me and a girl comes down from the passenger seat. A girl with strange eyes. The right one, red. The left one, black. She looks at me, and smiles. She comes to me and sits beside me.

I tingle as she places her arm around me, and I shook when she suddenly cried with me.

We sat there for hours. Not a word spoken between us. Nothing but tiny sobs, snorts, and all the awkward sounds which come with crying. And in my heart, I know that somewhere angels sing with us. They sing a song of sorrow. They sing a song so ancient, so primordially human.

She kisses my cheek. Stands up, and leaves.

***

It is night time, and I look down from my tower of steel and concrete, my feet two steps from the ledge. Twenty years from college and I have won over the world. I am now Lord Jason. I am king, and god yet I have forgotten how to dream. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be a poet. I wanted to play with the heart strings of the great masses and be remembered as a great thinker after my time, and yet I have grown up to be a businessman, a president of an international corporation of thieves and liars. How the affairs of man take over childhood fantasies.

The brandy burns in my throat.

It is now that men of my age learn to recollect, and look back, this fragile age of forty. It is now that grown men relearn the sad process of crying, of defeat. Rain starts to hit my face. Rain a funny thing always trickling down like memory. And I decide, to take a step forward.

I look at the whirling world of car lights, and people who are just passing through.

“Hey! Stop!” A woman with strange eyes calls from the opposite building. “Stop! Don’t take another step forward. I’ll be there in a while.” I remember her or someone who looks like her, and I respect her call, her plea for my life as I remember her or someone who looks like her from a street pavement somewhere from twenty years past. I sit down, and wait for her.

“Are you stupid?” She asks from my back, “Come inside. You’ll get sick.” We walked in, her arm carrying my shoulder, me shivering in the cold.

“I remember you.”

“I remember you too.”

And she kisses me. I remember that too.

In my office, we made love. Her back arching. Her voice. Her lips. Her smell. Her humanity. She whispered as skin hit skin. She spoke of lovers long past. She spoke of dreams lost and gone. She spoke, and I imagined my lips moving with hers. I imagine my lips moving with hers, and speaking those same words of dreams long lost and gone. She spoke of never giving up, and moving forward. “Men are more than lines,” she said. And we came, our voices adamant against the rain.

The morning after, I woke up alone with a memory of her left on my lips.

***

The midday sun, hits my face. It is hot and I have ravaged through the streets: my every Sunday pilgrimage through the city, looking for a girl with strange eyes. A futile hunt for a girl whose name I do not even know.

I sit down in a café, and order my coffee. I take a pen and a piece of paper, and I draw her face, at least how I remember it. Again, and again, page after page, I fill my notebooks with her lips that once whispered to me and kissed me on the cheek. I sketch her nose, her ears. I make a perfect curve, remembering how once her back arched in my office twenty years ago at midnight. Finally, I take a red pen to color in her right eye.

“Perfect likeness.”

I look back, and I see her.

“What’s your name? Where do live? Are you married?” A barrage of questions suddenly leaps from my mouth.

She smiles, the same exact smile she gave me forty years ago.

“It is too late for introductions. It is simply too late. Tell me how you’ve been. What are you doing nowadays?”

Silence.

Twenty years of looking for her, and she tells me it’s too late!

Silence.

We sat there in total silence. At first I was mad, and then I wasn’t.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

I kiss her on the cheek. I stand up, and I leave.

As I walk towards my apartment, I sing song I heard when my grandmother died. I close my eyes and remember the rain on my building twenty years ago. I remember what her cheeks felt like on my lips. And I said, to myself that I’d look for her again next Sunday.

***

Now I am old, and my eyes are tired, my voice is stretched, and my feet are swollen, yet I go forward. A droning push towards eternity for the possibility a fourth happy day.

My life is pieced together by three mere days, and I am happy.

END

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