Soon, I'll fade into nothing.
|I can't smell the leaves.
The autumn perfume vanished long ago, pulling everything else with it - the gentle tickle of the wind, the prickle of the grass beneath my feet, and the vibration of ecstatic laughter. Days and nights have faded into monochromatic grey, washed out and dull. The swaying pines, overgrown paths, and secluded clearings were once wonderful discoveries and sought-out sanctuaries, but now they are a sprawling tomb.
The visitors don't mourn me. They sit on my chipped, wooden bench and embrace or kiss. They talk about their dreams, hopes, and fears - nightmares of not having the car they want, hopes they can stick to a diet and fit into that sexy size one, or something more meaningful like the nightmare of losing someone they love or the hope their cancer will go away. Some of them make love on the oak slats or join like primitive, grunting animals, unaware of the voyeuristic event that is taking place.
It used to make my insides simmer and skin blister. Why do they get to be happy?! Why do they get to live?! Why did this happen to me?! Screams wanted to claw their way out and tear existence apart, but every sunrise burns away another layer of my soul and chars the emotions that tether me to this world.
Now, all I do is watch.
I watch them come and go, smile and cry, laugh and yell, wondering if they can feel my draining essence and invisible touch. Swaddled infants usually do. Their eyes light up with recognition, while their parents coo and think their "little miracle" is in awe of a fluttering butterfly or bright flower.
A blind man once sat beside me. He talked about the ache in his leg and reminisced about his younger years and better times. Afterwards, he thanked my indulgence and hobbled away, oblivious to the monumental occurrence and how special he was.
Today, a golden haired angle strolled down the path - a perfect smile that seeped worldliness and irresistible charm. A plain woman with long, chocolate hair clings to his muscular arm and follows with stars in her eyes. Her thoughts are clear. "How, by god, can someone like this, love someone like me?"
He leads her to the bench, listening with an attentive ear to all her ramblings and throwing in the occasional, perceptive comment or compliment to make her swoon and fall deeper in love.
I remember that feeling, the elation. It had coiled with the silk of the expensive, blue dress my prince had bought, and the rib-rattling pounding in my heart. Every time he had looked in my eyes, I wanted to die, to throw my arms around his neck and beg him never to leave me for a prettier girl who wasn't plagued by social anxiety or a crippling lack of sophistication.
He had promised to love me forever.
I watch this golden prince kiss his dark haired girl. He promised to love her forever.
His fingers trail up her neck, so soft and gentle, as his tongue slides past her lips and coaxes for more. Her cheeks turn flush, red as roses, and the lock between her legs springs open upon passionate command.
Limbs wrap around quivering bodies and heat explodes.
I wonder how long it will last - fleeting moments that could outshine the brightest summer day or hours that feel like they could stretch into countless, bliss-filled days. I run my fingers across her forehead, wishing I could dive into the thoughts of others. How many perversions had she willingly, succumbed to so he would stay happy? How many vows had she made?
I should be angry. The rage should pump from my heart and spurt from my veins, twisting and breaking me into something darker.
But there's nothing. Only stillness.
I see a secret smile crawl along his perfect face, silver-soft and trembling in anticipation.
I know that smile.
His hands run from her waist to her throat, and he gives a gentle squeeze. She gasps and moans.
He grips harder, until her ecstasy fades and her eyes turn wide, begging him to stop. The truth drips from his lips like acid that eats away at her fragile illusions of love. The tiny bird struggles, kicking up gravel and grass, while his vice-grip hands steal her breath and soul. Frantic, confused tears drip from her rolled-back eyes and down her cheeks.
Not long now.
I wonder if he'll bury her with the rest of us.
It doesn't matter. The wind blows through my empty form, and nearly nothing remains, not even sympathy.
Soon, I'll fade into nothing.
Then she can take then next watch.
Written for "Night & Day Poetic Prose Contest"