Thursday, September 20, 2018

His Life's Opus

by Jack Bates (writer), Alameda, January 27, 2010

Credit: Vineyard Sunset
Craig Camp

A short story of passing from one phase in to the next that tries to capture longing, remembrance, embrace, and a new anticipation in the face of death.

It was a brisk spring day. The wind danced across the face of the pond. The morning sun betrayed the rippling foot prints of the wind upon the water's surface. A beautiful ritual of awakening began at the pond. Fish chased the wind, only to catch a vaporous footprint. Birds serenaded the sun as it rose from it's resting place behind the mountain's peak.

Even as the world awoke, the night's chorus came to an end. Bull frogs set aside bass and kettle drums. Water walkers and dragon flies stowed violins, flutes and piccolos. The spotlight dimmed as the moon set. The curtains parted for the next act as dawn led to tomorrow. This is the way it had always started, the Day. Each Day started the same and ended the same. Two ancient bookends that held in place the Library of His Life. Over the decades he gained the ability to truly appreciate that which held his life together.

His family was the ground. Hard working parents had raised him from a mischievous boy and shaped him in to a creative success. His wife had encouraged and filled him with strength that allowed him to surpass all his wildest dreams. His art was world renown, his bank account was bulging and his family would never want. All of these he saw as second to the success of his own progeny. This his wife gave him and together they struggled and toiled and loved their children. They cherished the only thing that was ever lasting, love.

As the sun fully cleared the summit of White's Peak, the forest was coming in to focus on the pond's surface. He realized it was time for breakfast. The basket at his side held some oranges, cheese, bread, and a small bottle of homemade wine. Taking the bottle out, he remembered the first bottle he corked with his son. Passing down the family tradition from the old country, he instructed his son in his family's original art of wine making. His vision shifted to the day his son passed the heritage to his own son and the grandson corked his first bottle. The bottle he held before him was of the same vintage. The third corked. For the father always receives the second, the first to the son.

Again visions shift and he is drinking the second bottle of his son's first corking, the day his wife died. Taken too early, she missed so much of the grand children's lives. He always hoped she was with them in spirit, but he never had the strength of faith she had. She recommended they should take the children to church, and he was glad for it. Because of her, the children learned faith, something he was utterly weak in.

The full bodied red warmed his throat and gradually the rest of his body followed suit. His joints loosened and allowed him a moments peace. The tang of after taste graced him like a kiss from his wife. This produced a single tear that rolled out the corner of his eye, down his cheek and bitterly mixed with the wine upon his lips.

He knew the signs. Today was the day. As the sun rose, so did his pulse. Heat of the day blessed him, relaxing his muscles and loosening his joints. It also drained his frail form of hydration. This made his old blood run thick. His ticker had already undergone several major over hauls. New, foreign cogs had kept him going these past few years. Now even those were worn through.

-He dozed-

Drifting back to the world, siesta left behind, he realized he should be hungry. He wasn't. Then he recalled that hunger had left him years ago and that now eating was an act of will. Will that finally wavered, and today has failed. Worn thin and broken by the relentless nature of time.

Time, he thought, might be constant, but the perception of time was far from constant. His life felt like it took the beat of a butterfly wing to get to this moment. While today's heat was glacial in its movement toward tonight. Tonight was approaching though, sure enough.

"Inevitability is a bitch" he thought. That is why certain moments in time are referred to as inevitable, unstoppable, and unavoidable. Even as dawn was a blessing, so was twilight. For the day was long and hard. The work, as always, lead to enjoyable moments. The pain was forgotten and the happiness of the day had won out, as the spotlight started to shine on him, one last time.

The bookend of night shifted just enough to allow the book of Today to be added to His Life's Library. As he shelved the last volume, the night's orchestra began tuning up for a farewell performance. Basses boomed, violins shrilled, thrilling the air, raising hairs on his neck.

Fire flies guided the spectators through the night. One firefly caught his eye, held it and guided him to his place in the night's chorus. This was his debut, his opening scene. All was right as he was surrounded by friends tuning for tonight. His best friend gave him a kiss for good luck. This kiss, as it always had, inspired him. It lent strength and brought out the best in him as he got set for the performance of his life. The Conductor was calling.

About the Writer

Jack Bates is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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