By Clinton McMurray
As he parts the overgrown shrubs, the vast, salty ocean comes to view. The brisk, cool air of the water fills his nostrils and surrounds him with waves of purity. The worn path beneath him is almost routine and he neednt think of where he places his feet. Dusk is approaching and he hurries along the rocky path with dense weeds and grasses at his sides and the forest of oaks, pines, maples, and who knows how many other species of vegetation behind him. The brisk wind whips at his old green windbreaker. His sneakers, worn and battered, lightly press the sandy path with ease as he hurries along. He feels the gritty sand between his toes as it fills the holes of his shoes.
The apple tree hes so often seen approaches and he hesitates, and then stops for a moment. He stares with great thought at the old tree. Oh beautiful apple tree with your wild fruit and your beautiful blossoms of pink and white. How often you see him pass and on occasion snatch two of your weighty gifts. You must so often ponder his presence. But alas, you know why he passes so often. Deep inside your soul you feel him speaking of passion, beauty, and flawless love.
He continues along and allows his thoughts to run. Yet, still, they focus on one thing. Something that makes his breath deepen and his heart lose precision. Still, he continues on, seeing all too much of what he has seen before. He peers across the graceful water and watches the burning red ball lower itself, barley moving but, from knowledge gained when he was young, he knows it moves. As its edge reaches the ocean surface he strains to hear it. Hear is sizzle and hiss from fire approaching water. It crackles and steams, slowly plunging itself more and more into the ocean. He knows the light will soon be overcome by the cold, damp darkness. He hasnt much time. He must hurry now.
Continuing along the path; its not much further. As his steps bring him over and around the seemingly never-ending bend, he spots it. The secret place; almost more dear to his heart than what he would find there.
As the salty ocean continues to swallow the burning sun, he continues down the dusty path to the pure, heavenly place. The only place where sweet music was played in his mind through the silence. The only place he could be loved so perfectly. It was flawless and so was the love he found there.
Finally clearing himself from the light grasses, he emerges and stops. There it is. That place upon the sand where the only truth he knew existed. He approaches the familiar spot. A soft sandy patch near a large gray rock. Taking off his windbreaker, he bares his nicely tanned and toned arms. He had been so proud of his body and so eager to show it. But now, that wasnt on his mind. The salty spray of the ocean wisps his face as he sits and leans against the large towering boulder. "No time for tears," he tells himself, "not yet."
Something is different about the trip to this special place this time; something sad and empty. The space next to him. Empty. He stares into the descending red ball and his memory flashes through his mind. In a flash he sees the first time he met Jonathan and remembers the fluttery beating of his heart when their eyes met. Their instant chemistry and knowing that Jonathan shared his same understanding of love. The memories of excitedly darting down the path knowing hed be waiting and laughing and touching as the ocean swept over their purely happy bodies, paraded before his eyes. He can hear Jonathans violin playing sweet melodies as the orchestra of ocean waves accompanied him. He sighs, remembering Jonathan played the most beautiful pieces for him.
Being in this place with Jonathan at his side he always knew they would be together, in each others arms, for eternity. No matter how little the rest of the world understood, Jonathan always knew and always understood. He could get lost in Jonathans deep brown eyes when he looked deep down into their swirling curlicues when the two of them were in this place. He could only know Jonathan in this place, their secret place, where their love was true and pure and endless.
But without warning the memories of the incident yesterday come crashing into his mind like the waves upon the rocks. He presses his palms to his temples in an attempt to force them out but its no use. In flashes he sees himself speaking to Jonathan. One of the few times they were seen together outside of their secret place. Jonathan mumbling something about errands and giving him a farewell wave as he stepped out into the street. In one instant: happiness, peace, and the warm breeze comforting him. In the next instant: screeching, metal, screaming, and blood.
In his memory, it all happened so fast that he couldnt have taken another breath. He feels a knife through his heart as he remembers Jonathans body splayed upon the pavement and running to his side. " instantly. He felt no pain." The words echo in his mind. Numbness overwhelms his body as the memory drifts away in the salty breeze.
"You said youd never leave me!" he screams. But Jonathans soothing voice is not there this time to answer him and comfort him.
The fiery ball has been completely submerged and now he rises from his place in the sand. One by one his articles of clothing drop into a pile on the sand. Forgotten and without life they lay there. He pulls something from the pocket of his lifeless trousers. It sparkles in the starlight. He had intended to adorn Jonathans finger with it on this very night. The anniversary night of their first meeting. He places it on the sand in the spot Jonathan so often laid, as they would watch the stars. Covering it up with a blanket of sand he hears Jonathans violin serenade playing in his mind.
He turns to face the endless dark waters. The twinkling stars illuminate his perfect bare flesh in the cool night. He begins his trek towards the water and as he reaches it he trembles with a chill from the coolness splashing his feet. Jonathans violin is entrancing him with its smooth melody. It grows in intensity within his mind. Playing on and on, up and down. The cold fluid reaches his knees, his waist, then his perfectly chiseled, broad shoulders.
Stroke after stroke he continues out into the cold, dark ocean and the violin surges onward. Finally, satisfied, he whirls in the water and floats upon his back, facing the endless dark sky. He gazes at the stars and the violin softens. His tears stream down his face and become one with the salty water. The water dances about his bare body, rushing forward then swirling about. Oh how often he and Jonathan danced in each others arms with the dancing waves joining them. Water rushing about their bodies as they clung together in a flawless embrace.
The violins serenade climaxes and then slowly begins to fade. He swims further and further into the endless water, away from the land, always keeping his eyes to the night sky. His body is numb, the violin plays its last string of notes, and he closes his eyes. Never again to open them until Jonathans soothing voice calls them open and he can look upon Jonathans heavenly face once more.
Softly he whispers, "Wait for me." And the darkness envelops him forever.
Clinton, 19, is studying dance performance at Western Michigan University. He can be reached at aldebaran034@ softhome.net