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Vanishing Perspective



Vanishing Perspective

Every time she crossed the bridge taking her out of the yachting complex in which she lived, she would look out over the water surrounding her. To the one side were the two rivers that met before getting caught in the inlet’s channel that handled them so roughly. Behind her was the lesser river drawing around the bend of her island community, and having come out of the spawning marshland to the north. And in front of her was the causeway connecting the bridge to firmer ground that would take her over more marsh on the way into town. At high tide the saw grass cut into flood water’s reflections like so many razor blades scratching a mirror. And at low tide it was the exposed marsh bottom with its crenulated beds of oysters jutting out from hammocks of black mud.

Sunset was her favorite time to glide between these molten elements of the marsh. It was when the flamingo pink of late tropical light stretched out in tendrils going to violet. and when all of her senses were satisfied in a way she had never really known before. She knew then she had made it, and that, after all of these rearing years of care, she had finally arrived at a place she could quietly call her own. Without feeling guilty for thinking so, for maybe the first time in her life, she could agree with herself that she was happy. And she would drive her car onto the mainland without reaching for a nervous cigarette. Which was all the more reason why, this evening, as she entered beneath the live oaks, the bays, and the sycamores, she couldn’t understand the sense of the implosive thing welling up inside her. Or of the flooding in her veins. For the first time in the three years here she was feeling at odds with herself.

She entered the premature darkness of the trees, and she saw how the light trickled through in thin and liquid streams. But it was a transformational light play that only served to increase her uneasiness a little more. So what was there in this night to disturb her? The old frame houses were mostly the same as they always were. Maybe they looked a little older, but that must be all. Their tin roofs were turning from a silver-gray shade to an evening’s blue, and the fading white fronts were gradually fading on schedule. But still there was something reaching out for her, she began to realize, while passing inside the wooded neighborhood. She almost had a feeling of something pushing up between the palms of her hands on the steering wheel, like a red seed pushing up between the layers of dark loam. And she suddenly had half a notion, to turn her car around and drive back to her island townhouse in the middle of her safe and soothing river. Only, she didn’t know how to respond to a thought she couldn’t name. And so she hunched her shoulders a little further over the steering wheel, and she drove on. Besides, she knew she would soon be emerging from inside these deeper shadows. She would come to the stop light, turn left, and she would be on her way to meet her husband at the restaurant where they were entertaining friends tonight. And it would leave her, this queasy feeling mounting inside her. With a few glasses of wine, she would force the feeling back down, or diffuse it in haziness. But now she was beginning to hear voices, and she really could feel the sprouting seed she had been imagining. Or was it something in the breeze that spoke through the open window of her car? And not voices exactly, but a voice. It’s just that it was echoing a little, making itself larger than she hoped it actually was. It somehow kept in her path as she drove.

It was a voice she recognized as belonging to a woman she met some weeks ago while working on the sailboat she and her husband had just purchased. The woman who belonged to the voice had stopped by their new boat to ask about some particulars concerning the yacht club. She was one of the leisure class sailors that always come in this time of the year as they weave their way through the spring time circuit of harbors and coastal waters leading south. She more or less invited herself aboard, saying her sailing companion had hitched a ride into town for some necessities. And over a mid-day’s gin and tonic, the two women entered into one of those careless conversations, jetsam-like in the way they will bob around, that are met with down on the docks. Where they each had been, and where the itinerant was heading, fairly well met the apparent horizons that described these meetings between boat people. But the woman didn’t have the same salt cured quality she usually found in these people coming into port. It was always something in their complexion, and in the way they bent themselves into an imaginary wind while walking on dry land, that made them look like driftwood some magician had coaxed into taking up the strides of life.

The woman closely resembled her, the driver remembered now. Enough, it seemed to her, so that the two of them could have been sisters. They both had hair that was blonde and almost lemon touched by the sun, and their skin glowed with the warmth of amber light. She noticed, too, the other woman had the same high cheek bones. The risen points that a poet she once read, but whose name she could no longer remember, likened to the twin stars of Venus, evening and morning. It also seemed to her that her new found friend was the same age. Neither young or old, she liked to tell herself, just rounding to full. And the only difference she could see between the two of them was in their eyes. While hers were an earth brown shade flecked green, the other woman’s eyes were the palest color of Mediterranean blue. A blue that had always been impenetrable, for her, in spite of its clear looking. And the voice she first heard then, was hearing again, was maybe what brought her to her present uneasiness. just as it was the same words running now inside her towering grove.

The woman had left off in her floating chatter to look down the vanishing perspective of the dock. She was looking at a young man slowly approaching them. She then said she could never understand why people didn’t do what they want to do. Realizing what the woman was really saying, while following the line of her gaze, her hostess then asked what would happen if what you wanted no longer wanted you? And without looking at her, without even noting the doubting, safe-place judgment in the question, the woman replied that, for herself, it was preferable to have what she wanted once than to keep what she didn’t want forever. She then thanked her hostess for the drink, and she stepped onto the dock to meet the younger man, her companion, in mid-distance.

But how sad, she could remember thinking while she watched the two sea wanderers stepping onto their boat. To live only for what you want, and to be chasing after an uncharted scheme. But if it was so sad, she was thinking again, why was her sister’s voice still chasing after her? And why wasn’t she hearing the other voices that had taught her to accept what she had been given, and to stay with the things that had always admitted her into protected harbors? It must be the interfering influence of these old trees keeping out her more level headed views on how to proceed. But soon she would be out of here too, she assured herself, and away from this whispering voice like an off-shore wind. Do what you want, that railing voice kept insinuating. And she shuddered just a little in the way the whole world shudders when the wind falls off at night. But she has always done what she wanted, she needed to remind herself, when she could finally see the red traffic light, and the other, earth slanted beams of light from the crossing cars in front of her.

She came to the stop light, and she waited to make her turn. Seeing how the city lights pushed up their walls around her, she sighed in relief and straightened her shoulders. She started thinking of her husband, and she was looking forward to his reassuring company. But as the light turned green, and she crossed over into the lane that would lead her into town, she knew she would find no safety from her own tree lined darkness at his side either. Except for maybe the habit of steadily increasing wealth they made of their lives together, and for the devotion in his eyes. And even as a young girl of eighteen she had understood the logic of her choice, and that, with him, she would be able to lead her life unimpeded. And she realized now that her longstanding love for him had always been less a passion than it was a conviction, and that she had done what she had wanted.

That simple desire so long ago pronounced, that desire to be left alone in the only way available to a poor mechanic’s daughter, had brought her to this seaside town in the ripest moment of her life. It also brought her to a chance meeting with a twin sister at whose existence she would never have guessed, and who has probably spent her life wanting all she herself avoided. And tonight she knew that what, some weeks ago, seemed so sad to her, was really the most frightening way to go. The very possibility of entering into any sort of sea swirl, emotional or otherwise, whose sides she couldn’t easily reach, made her quiver and sent a tingling fear up her spine. Better, she thought, to reach the crowded tide pool of a restaurant busy with familiar faces, or meet with the appointments of a day that could keep her even busier, than to follow the lead of her sister. Better also, she was thinking as the restaurant came into view, to root the forest out, and to find a way around its deeper, darker places, if it meant she would have to meet with herself so queerly every time she left home.

And so driving into the parking lot, she saw that her husband’s new sporty convertible was already there. Parking her own car, and turning off the ignition, she stopped for a moment to empty her head of its disquiet. She had always been good at composing herself, at wearing a face that would keep her untouched forever. And she was counting on her automatic self now to do what she needed it to do. Not that anyone would notice, she thought sourly, or see much more than an outline of her. But if it had always been important for her to stay in practice, tonight it was especially important to keep these things hidden. By bending the rear-view mirror to face her, she saw she could easily do this composition thing of hers. By relaxing the muscles in her forehead, she could let her brows arch naturally again. And by releasing the tension around her mouth, she could make of her cheeks their blush tipped peaks. She could safely do all she needed to do except allow her eyes the reflections of their green flecks. What she was feeling there, she knew, would have to stay there. She couldn’t even begin to tamper with the well springs they covered. Which was easy enough to do, given, she still didn’t know what the feeling was they covered. Sadness? But why should she feel sad for being where she wanted to be? And anger? But why should she be angry, since, no one had ever really bothered to complicate her choices? So maybe it was just an uncertainty moving her, an uncertainty she had never known before. Or maybe it was this seed-thing sprouting up inside her, and that she seemed to be conceiving all alone. She would leave it buried where it was hidden, she decided as she opened the car door. If only she could leave it on the car seat where, in due time, it would shrivel and wilt on its own. She didn’t know if she wanted to nourish it in her season, or what she would do with herself if she did.

Terreson
Apr/27/2013, 4:35 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
queenfisher Profile
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Re: Vanishing Perspective


excellent stuff tere!
 have been reading your other short stories too - lovely language - much has been said about a woman thinking like a man - but a man thinking like a woman - is even better!
May/23/2013, 3:56 am Link to this post Send Email to queenfisher   Send PM to queenfisher Blog
 
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Re: Vanishing Perspective


Glad you enjoyed the story, Queen. Not exactly sure why how women think has always interested me. Just know it has.

Tere
May/25/2013, 12:17 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 


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