He jumped up.
He was engulfed within a white bright light; he covered his eyes and then felt a warm breeze blow. The breeze was incessant and slowly the brightness began to dissipate.
The was a distant sound of a song once played on a radio – from a different time – he knew he had heard it before but could not place it. It had a familiar beat and the piano seemed to be professing some sort of hurried, buried sadness from deep within the player. Henry felt it and suddenly he was on the floor and he was crying. Crying for his father, for his lost relationships, for the chances he never took and for the choices he had made. He was crying because his daughter did not care enough to drop everything to be with him before he would be gone forever. He was crying for the broken dreams, the broken hearts and because his wife pointed her fingers at him as an excuse for her fucking around.
The wasted years kept on tearing up his insides…
The wasted love kept on ripping his heart into shreds in shapes of music notes that can only be heard within the mind of the broken.
The piano was being pounded now as the player kicked back his chair and it fell to the ground.
The beating of the drums outpacing the rhythm of the music, the bass was deep and overwhelming but it was the piano that permeated the atmosphere and caused the rain to fall,
Henry lay on the ground crying…
For the lies that were told to him by the people he trusted – he cried.
For the choices and the voices that led him to this dead end in his life – he cried.
For the vision of his wife promising fidelity only to find her asleep with her lover – he cried.
He cried for his failure as a father, a teacher and a friend.
He cried because he was dying but had yet to live at all.
Soft whispers, like a soft breeze, the words unintelligible with a voice soft and soothing.
“Who is speaking? What are you saying? Are you talking to me?”
Voices louder now – still wordless but full of accusations and condemnations.
Suddenly silence. He opened his eyes and he was in a park, alone, sitting beneath a tree by a lake. Empty row boats in circles, ducks and geese separated by a break in time as if both within two different time periods at the same time.
Suddenly people appeared dressed in clothing from the past – what he somehow knew was from the past and the faces were familiar. They all one thing in common…they were people he had known who were now deceased.
Dogs appeared along with birds and squirrels. Flowers blossomed and the hill across the lake began to be covered by tulips of millions of assorted colors. Different hues of red, brown and yellow. Suddenly dark clouds appeared and the earth began to shake beneath him.
“Henry, your brother is the valedictorian of his class! What will you be?”
“Henry, I love you but I have been seeing another man…but its your fault.”
“Henry, Henry, Henry – no, no, no – you are not good enough, not strong enough. Its not possible, no way you can do it if your brother cannot. Your too, scared and weak.”
“Daddy why can’t you just try and understand? You are so absent.”
“Henry, your situation is dire – inoperable, you are dying, you will be dead soon. There is nothing you can do – nothing we can do – you are dead already.”
“Daddy I am too busy to come to your funeral – can they change it to next week? But not on Tuesday…”
Clouds formed, the sun all but disappeared and the breeze became cooler. Dark clouds above him – but no rain. A bridge loomed ahead, from clouds to sun. Beneath the bridge there was fire and across the bridge there was ice. In the distance he spied a couple walking – between them there was a wall of fire separating them. They continued to walk across the bridge until the ground beneath him began to shake and they were gone.
He saw his father walking towards him with arms open wide and a smile.
“Hank,” His father was the only one who called him that. “I want you to live, son. I understand the pain you have inside of you – but you need to reconcile.”
“But I am dying, Pop, or maybe I am dead already if you are here.”
“You have been given time on earth to live – but you have not lived at all.”
“I am scared…”
“I am scared to fail, pop.”
“Oh son, if you fail what happens? You brush the shit from your clothes and get back up to it again and again until you get it right. But only you can know when its right. As long as you are doing what you love how bad can it be?”
“When we reveal ourselves completely we are are disarmed and unshielded. We are at our most vulnerable and open for attack from the enemies of happiness. Arrows are cast towards us by the jealous and bullets shot by the ones who are living in fear. I am scared – I have been hurt enough.”
“Living in fear is an oxymoron. How can you be living if you are full of fear?”
“Dad where were you when you were supposed to be with us?”
Suddenly his father faded away and there was a complete and deafening silence.
“Henry wake up, are you ok?” It was Wendy.
He opened his eyes. He was alive and back outside with Wendy, his mind was clear and his heart was lighter.
“How long was I out?”
“Less than a minute – the ambulance should be coming soon, stay down. Maybe you had a stroke or something.”
“No I am fine – its a long story. Wendy, yesterday I went to the Doctor…”