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Ocean

October 1997

"Oublier (die vorzeitige Tilgung)"

'The rest is silence." - William Shakespeare

I can't forget that from his seat, the boy quietly ate his food while staring out the window in observance of the autumnal tempest. It was day, proven as a mother dared to brave the weather and walked down the street with a stroller. The baby inside nestled between the safe confines of his sheets, clutching his blanket in fear. The clouds had clothed the sun, allowing the day to succumb to darkness. Warm asphalt retained heat from the sun now taken hostage. Lonesome leaves danced to the shrieking storm, which hastened in its fury, igniting celestial fireworks. A bright white bolt bridged the clouds and ground at the other end of the city for a split-second, temporarily creating visions of a firestorm of damnation. The tiger's roar that followed rumbled ominously, with claws tearing and ripping away at the remnants of light.

The boy shifted his gaze to the grass in the courtyard, now glistening in the downpour. Something solitary and lost amid the wilderness of weeds caught his attention. The tree stood tall, a neglected growth swaying violently, caught between heaven and earth. At its base, the fetters, once thirsty, now drowned in the sudden deluge. The rain scraped at the soil, exposing the roots as the tethers loosened. Nearby, dying flowers bared their breasts to the skies, and sighed for their forgotten youth as the weeds snickered and the tigers continued to roar.

Inside, a chaos of activity threatened the spell of nature. A swinging of the washroom door. A squeal of a window being open and shut, fostering an exchange of money for food. A clang of pop cans hitting the counter, metal hitting metal. A whir of fans. A sizzle of meat cooking. A giggle of girls. A boast of boys. A lamentation of ladies, who ignored the whistling winds outside and spoke of songs unsung and desires of others they let blossom despite the suppression of their own. A meddle of men, old and jaded, growled about dreams that were made and used and wasted. Small girls flailed their arms, demanding french fries, as their mothers rolled their eyes.

A sudden tapping on the window took the boy by surprise. A man outside peered into the window, straining his eyes against the light inside. He then drew back and pointed to his barren wrist, incongruent with his expensive, albeit wet, business suit. The boy understood, and flashed his watch which read a quarter past twelve. The man mouthed the word "Thanks" and made his way around the building, to the front door. The door swished open and the man trudged slowly to the opposite end of the room, tired from the morning hustle bustle, his Judas feet exhausted and betraying their owner. Slip-slop, slip-slop, slip-slop, slip-slop went his shoes across the floor, but nobody noticed. The old ladies were still chatting about shaken convictions and storms to overcome. The old men prattled on about dreams that turned to shame. The boy, sipping his drink in the corner, knew of dreams that cannot be and storms we cannot weather. The wind outside whipped up dust and dreams and fear, and brought back the air.

A lighter flickered from the businessman, and soon tendrils of smoke danced deceptively across the room, grasping at flesh and raping nostrils before being swept away in a white-grey whirlwind by the vents above. With each new opening of the front door, the faint smell of rain entered. The scent of damp earth was also in the air, brought in with the soil on shoes, and mingled with traces of bleach from the freshly-washed floors. All of these smells fought amongst one another, but were no match as the waft of scents from the cooking whetted appetites, conquering all.

An old woman licked off ice cream from a spoon, and discarded her plastic sundae cup into the garbage can before heading for the washroom. The boy sipped some more of his soft drink, now a bit flat. The taste surprised him somewhat, teasing his tongue and tickling his teeth, overwhelming in its sweetness. But he liked that in a soft drink. He sat and drank, and stared out the window, waiting.

Outside, the storm was beginning to die. A man walked by, covering the top of his head with a newspaper to guard against the trickle of rain. A sudden gust of fresh wind battered the man's cheek, and the chill gave him goosebumps. The boy's eyes darted over to woman at the entrance who touched the cold steel of the door with her even colder hands, and swung open the door in eagerness as her fingers ached for warmth. A small girl outside ran up to the window pane, smiled at nobody in particular, widened her eyes in surprise when the rain suddenly stopped and then squished her face against the smooth glass. The cashiers hated when people did that.

The boy finished up his meal and dropped the leftover contents of his tray into the garbage can. Behind him, he could hear fragments of conversations.

"Sandra, umm, could ya order a hamburger and a sundae for me?"

"With nuts?"

"Nuh-uh, you know I'm on a diet..."

He made his way for the door.

"Ma'am, what would you like on your ice cream?"

"Oh, can I please have those red candies?" None of the pistachios or almonds. I'm allergic to nuts."

"Sure thing."

The red candies silently cheered. The pistachios were green and the almonds bitter. The door swung open yet again and the boy stepped outside. He walked away in anticipated redemption, knowing that the storm would be quieted and the tigers tamed. Minutes later, people were eating hamburgers and sundaes; a girl gobbled on pink-candied ice cream; old men and women rambled on about created opportunities that destroyed their own.

I can't forget that, then, just for an instant, everything was quiet as pale, beautiful, silent sunbeams broke through the windows and punctured the dank air of the room. I can't forget that somewhere, in the crowds of the city, a boy smiled.

'I know silence better than anyone.' - Tara MacLean

catching@hotmail.com

Oasis Cutie of the Month: Doug Ferguson

Article: http://www.oasismag.com/Issues/9605/col9605-ferguson.html


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