John 1:1. In the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Sitting on the ridge, she stared down the valley ¾ a valley that belonged to the wind. It was a gentle wind, caressing each mound, rustling withered leaves, and finally falling into stillness. She didn’t bother to sweep the strands of hair away from her eyes, her vision distorted, looking through a personal bar code, imagining the ancient glaciers which had sculpted these rocks. She listened, straining to hear a warbler’s whistle, the chatter of a chipmunk, the rush of the river far below. But only her heartbeat pulsed and then tumbled into the chasm.
Out of the corner of her eye she sensed movement. When she turned a flash of red fur trotted confidently across the meadow. A fox implied she would need her wits about her. That’s what her grandfather told her, years, decades ago when things were . . . uncomplicated. Ten days, she had only ten left.
Traffic whizzed by the café window. Water ricocheting off the tires, umbrellas clogging up the sidewalk. The chaos made her dizzy. Would he show this time? How long would she wait? How many espressos would she drink? The large steel machine let out another puff of steam as a young man in a pinstriped suit waited for his oat-milk latte. She felt clammy and wriggled out of her trench coat.
She stared past the intersection into the greyness of the city.
She was sure he wasn’t coming. But she remained, listening to muted conversations between the clatter of spoons against tiny cups. She inhaled the scent of cinnamon, sipped her coffee, and tried to forget.
It was an open coffin. He looked frozen in a summer suit. A Windsor knot was wrapped tightly around the collar. She thought about reaching in and loosening the tie, wanted to cradle him, keep him warm until the angels appeared flapping their wings. Instead cicadas descended and planted themselves within her brain¾high voltage relentless buzzing, the echo of loneliness.
She closed her eyes as if she could submerge herself, plunge into reticence. Warm breath on the back of her neck had the aroma of garlic. She had overstayed, here on her knees. She rose and let the impatient mourner have his moment with mortality.
Outside, the late fall air slapped her cheeks, the traffic dulled the cicadas, and steam rose from the subway grate.
November usually brought death. She used to hold her breath for the whole month. Turn blue and then black. Who or what would it be this year? Brittleness inhabited her bones now. Pain she had embraced. They had all gone, one by one. How to fill a life with hope when each attachment tore you open? The dog lay across her feet, his warmth the architect of her tears. Ten days, ten years, decades. Time existed only within her memories. The wind, the valley, his touch, the angels, it had all been her creation.