Between Light and Dark, I Breathe

Enjoy my short story, published in Biji Magazine 2/2012:

Between Light and Dark, I Breathe

Every evening, I come down here and sit by my water.

Just me and my chair, in my own back yard, on my own patch of land. My own piece of this world.

I recline and look at the water travelling by in front of me. The ungenerous and unworldly may call my water a marsh or worse yet, “a swamp” but they don’t understand the beauty of what lies before me. The humidity and the wetness, the sound of water slapping on trees, the rustle of the cattails in the breeze, this is what makes my patch of land wonderful.

Folks who live around here don’t use the word “swamp” or “marsh.” We use the word “river.” This green steamy river makes our place in this world precious. In my ‘evening sessions,’ I perspire, stare in awe at the Cypress trees that hug the water’s edge, and mentally log the water lines on their trunks. They let me know where the water has been. Has it travelled up the tree some? Has there been any change from last evening? Will there be any change tomorrow?

There’s always change. These Cypress are nothing short of majestic. I sometimes stare at the mangled twisted roots at their bases and get lost. Trying to find some fairytale in the woody tangle and braid that disappears into the water. Sometimes, I see an elegant city that belongs high upon the treetops in some lost world, or sometimes it just looks like two skinny children tussling in the summertime, a mess of knobby knees and elbows, frozen in wood and water. Whose knobby knees and elbows?

I suppose one would call my special time by the river an escape from the day, but it’s much more than that. You see, I have money. Lots and lots of money.

Did I make myself clear? I have real genuine money. I buy things. Lots of things. Clothes and shoes that I couldn’t buy before.

Sometimes I buy pretty things just because I can. I have a car. I have a mansion with more rooms than I will ever need, and they all have lovely, expensive things inside them. People clean my house and do my laundry. I travel. I donate money. I do whatever I damn well please and I like it.

Often, I remember that 10 years ago I didn’t have two nickels to rub together. I have begged my mind over the years to forget how hard it used to be, but the mind has a way of making you always remember and when I remember it almost makes me cry.

You see, one day I just found myself a widow. Just like that. With children and no money or house. I didn’t have time to think about it then, I only had time to survive.

And I did, for years. I don’t know how I managed to get through it. I really don’t. It fills me with a great sadness when I think of myself so broken but trying so hard to get through. In the end, I did get through.

I guess when you have absolutely nothing, you just “DO.” You do like me and take any job that you can get, up to three jobs at a time if need be. I mean to tell you that you just “do.” And I did, for a very long time. Then as quick as I lost my husband, my money and my house, I gained a fortune.

I woke up one morning and made something sweet for my daughter’s birthday. There was no present, no cake to be had, but I had to do something.

So, I used anything I could from my pantry to make something sweet. With what was there I ended up making chewy candies. She loved them. Her friends loved them. The neighbors loved them. Next thing I know the world loves them and I have a fortune. I have a fortune because I was poor on my baby’s birthday. Isn’t that something?

In the past few years, in what I’ve heard referred to as the “winter” of my life, I have come down here to my water, my river, my patch of land just about every evening.

Here’s my secret. At the right time, the precise time between light and dark, it becomes magical. Like the stars aligning to make a perfect moment in time for me.

The stars, in my case, being dusk, water, me by myself, a barely tolerable amount of humidity and a warm breeze.

Everything is silent as the Sun trades places with the Moon. The air is still, the light entrances, and my body just melts into a warm pool of peacefulness.

You see I need that feeling, It mixes up my head when I think too long of my journey. So many hills climbed up and down. Up and down, up and down and after that birthday, I never came down again. So, I come down to this here river and I know there will be a few moments where everything stands still for me. I can remember who I was and accept who I became. In this small amount of time, I bask in the ethereal light, I bathe in the silence, I cleanse my thoughts with the warm, sticky air, I touch my hand to my clammy, moist chest to acknowledge my heartbeat and I can feel peace.

I inhale my surroundings and I feel free, if only because I’m protected by this tranquil undisturbed space that lives between the light and the dark.

And then it’s over.

I get up and leave the Cypress to the water, I go back into my large house, pick a room, and enjoy my pretty things.

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