the willow

Short Stories / Sunday, June 24th, 2018

There’s a tree outside his window. It’s a willow, strong and bony, her hair reaching to the ground in tearful sorrow. She makes him sad every time he looks at her.

He’s not sure if that is her fault or his.

Might be no one’s in particular, just his mind sometimes. It’s worst of all when the sky behind the forest line, the moving gaps in between branches swaying in the wind are turning grey, minutes before the great storm starts to roar. When a cold breeze sneaks in from the half-closed window and makes him shiver in his head and makes him feel like the evening stretches before him endlessly, sand in an hourglass, running but never running out.

He used to think that time was not enough when he was young, something he needed to preserve, at all costs, urgently, to steal away from the face of the earth, just for himself, just for a few minutes wrung from the hands of a too busy world.

With age and maturity, he thought that time was something he’d have abundantly, to keep and to give. It’s a lovely thing to have time on your hands, to watch the hands of a clock moving, all the while knowing that tomorrow is another day and that after the last hour of the day has run out, the glass will be refilled and running for another twenty-four hours, and then another, and then another.

But by now, in the zenith of his life, it’s starting to become a burden. All this time, all these hours left in a day to mull over all the thoughts in his head. To ponder the things that he can’t change, to be hung up on the things that he could change but doesn’t dare to. At some point in time between here and there, something in the way he perceived time changed and it didn’t seem fluent anymore. It was no question of too little or more than enough now, it was a question of too much and not knowing what to spend it on.

“What do you want, really?” he’d asked him, infinitely loveable in his old days, much softer than the father he remembered from his childhood years.

“I don’t know,” he’d answered because It was so much easier to always tether on the brink of not having made a decision yet, contrary to diving head-first into a choice that could turn out to be the wrong one.

“How much do you love me?” she’d asked him, as if what he felt was something tangible, something measurable in ounces or litres.

“I don’t know,” he’d answered because he didn’t know how to say the thing that was on the tip of his tongue, almost slipping out under his breath.

“Why do you always leave me hanging?” he’d said, the hurt not so much showing in the eyes that he’d known for so long, but in the voice that used to carry up to his window to lure him outside; little boys with scraped knees and a football between the two of them scouring the neighbourhood for adventures.

“I don’t know,” he’d answered because he couldn’t unlock the chamber inside of him that was darkest, not even in front of him, his oldest friend.

‘I want happiness without its inevitable companion, heartbreak. I love you so much that when I think of your death the thing that hurts most is your lost chances, not mine. I leave you hanging because I can’t even bring myself to get dressed in the mornings these days, much less leave the house,’ he answers in the small, endless hours of morning when he looks at the willow outside his window and not a soul is there to hear.

Leave a Reply