The sound of the wooden stick treading the hard asphalt of the street reverberated through Darwin’s head. It was like music playing in the background, yet powerful enough to let any other sound drown away and fade. And there was no way to hush it; if it did not exist materialistically, the numbness acted as a reminder.
It started in his left leg, then, slowly, fulminated through every part in his body all the way up to his head, paralyzing every sensation. Though he had no choice but to always be there, he was never really there. Images flitted before his eyes, then they would be transmitted to his head where they fused with its darkness producing grey memories that faded the moment they were born. And words were spoken only by his larynx having no reference to his head. The wires had long been cut and his body lingered where his head did not.
He had shoved a jacket out of the closet without bothering to look which one he had been about to wear. That did not matter, He had wanted to be out. He had wanted to see and hear other things than the sobbing children and the infuriated mother; things he had not the least connection with. He had connection with nothing.
He could see the park from where he stood, only few feet away. He abruptly halted considering going somewhere else; more children was the least thing he needed. But his body could not, and would not carry him any further. He gave in and entered.
He collapsed into the only empty seat. Other sounds filled his heads, but nothing was distinct enough to be followed. He took off his jacket and put it beside him. His eyes focused unseeingly on one spot, and, already, he was drifting away.
He saw a dark silhouette approaching. Now his jacket was thrown on the floor.
“Who on Earth is stupid enough to ــــــــ,” he trailed off, astonishment taking place instead of anger.
“Emilia, nice to see you again Darwin,” a crooked smile was drawn upon her lips while she stretched her hand to shake his. Still confused, he let her hand touch nothing but air.
“Okay, okay Mr. Angry Boy,” she bent down getting his jacket, “I didn’t think a little fun would hurt anyone” He was now over the shock and made place for her to sit.
“Sorry, I didn’t know it was you,” was all what he was able to say. Speaking was not a thing he did quite often, the word “sorry’ was uttered even less. He got quite used to letting anger possess his tongue and no one objected. Nobody wanted to nag him after the accident, yet he was positive, most of the time they felt like chopping his head off.
Curiously, Emilia eyed the stick lying beside him.
“What’s up with that,” she said pointing one finger towards it.
‘Oh, I just use it to scare the kids”
“ I never though it’d get that bad. Then, it must be a good thing I got no kids,” she replied , her voice suffused with sarcasm.
“What do you mean by that? Wasn’t that why you left me, because I didn’t want kids” Though that happened years before, the memory of it was clearer than that of yesterday.
“I had a couple of miscarriages then the doctors said it was a hopeless case” He thought there would be bitterness in the voice of someone who talked about such things. But there was not. And then he recollected how cold his own words were while talking about his own experience. As though her words reminded him of the numbness, he blurted, “Half my left leg is paralyzed”
“And you job ـــــ”
“I lost it”
“Wasn’t that why you left me?”
“What’s your husband like?” The thought translated itself into words before he could stop it.
“My husband?,” Her mouth twitched , “I’m filing for divorce tomorrow”. Reading the thousand question in his head, she explained, “I caught him cheating on me”
“Stupid guy,” he snapped.
“What’s your wife like?”
A chain images of Lilly passed before his eyes and all that he could say was, “Stupid lady”
“What, she too is cheating on you?”
“Nah, she’s just stupid”
She laughed. It never went, how her laughter refracted on his face making him laugh too, no matter how bad he felt. It never went.
“We are so messed up,” she said, with traces of a smile still evident.
“We are so messed up,” he echoed her.
Then, he found her head lying on his chest. Tears soaked his T-shirt, and, he too was in pain. She sat, silently letting the tears slither down their faces. It would take them nowhere, they knew. But they held on to that moment until it went, marking a second parting.
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