For Reasons Unknown

For Reasons Unknown

It was beside the clouded window on the way up to the second floor that the dark floorboard grabbed your feet with unyielding hands and stitched you onto the dusty staircase, and you gazed out through the glass where your poems and stories became shrouded in fog, beyond the stalks of wheat and assaulting country hills. You didn’t understand why you so rapidly rearranged your life without thinking for a second of what you’d miss when you did.

Your hair was cloaked in Mormon rain, the remains of every memory you sold at the severance stand. Something weaved in between your rib bones there like a flood, and left a gaping hole in the middle of you. You sold them in their own boxes by letters, photographs, and books. They needed to be together, but you divided them like summer does to school children. They didn’t need to be any more than that; they couldn’t.

They described you as a ‘marked woman’ in muffled whispers during church service, in grocery isles, and even at the park where they watch the children tickle their ankles in the grass. You had no children of your own, but you still sat beneath the trees every Sunday after church on the bench, the reflection of falling leaves in your eyes. They came down through the highest branches like you did form your social status.

The beginning was like any other quick, fall-in-love. You were young, and you didn’t seem to mind the wind that grasped you with a cold hand, and tied you to his body. His smile was an earthquake fault you fell into every day. The summers came and left too soon, the winters were no different. Autumn was your favorite time of the year. It taught you that death was not harsh, or cruel, or gloomy, but gentle, and somewhat relieving. You never got tired of having the blood red leaves sleeping in your hair, and although your marriage began to lose its very purpose, you couldn’t help but press your lips against his like birds do at dusk when they rest in the trees.

You didn’t understand why he looked at his shoes, the floor, or the walls, but never looked at you. Maybe it was because you greeted some grey locks too early, or that you drown yourself in daily life: cleaning the house, shopping at Woolworths, and even drinking tea with the neighbors. You separated like continents, slowly, creating faults and juts out of your skin. You never called them wrinkles.

One day on the way to a fair, you both were driving through the scheme of the fall, the wheels of your black automobile kicking up the layer of leaves on the beaten road. It tore through the picture like a bullet, but so silently you hardly noticed you were even awake. You held your forehead against the window, something your mother told you was unladylike, and you caught the blurs of the trees in your eye before turning to your husband and telling him you wanted a divorce.

It wasn’t as painful as you thought it’d be. He kept his weary eyes on the road, both hands unmoving from the grip of the wheel. His eyes were dying, or already dead. You both became what you sold at the severance stand; you both divided. Your eyes did not recognize each other any longer, your lips didn’t kiss the way they used to, if ever at all. Your hearts didn’t beat the same, like they used to.

That was it. Neither of you spoke a word, even though your minds were cluttered with confusion and you wanted to scream. The only words you shouted were scrawled out across the paperwork. “Irreconcilable Differences.”

You sat here on the rickety wooden staircase of your old house where the spiders dangled from their webs, like you used to during your marriage. You ruffled your graying hair, sending a snowfall of dust across the acreage of wood. You didn’t know how long you have been sitting here, but long enough for the sun to have touched the earth, and rise up again many times. Against the orange, yellow, and red landscape, everything blended in perfectly like the painting on your wall in the bedroom you used to share. The rain from the night before had settled, and left trails of tear like patterns against the windows.

You peered out thought the cracked and stained window, outstretching your neck, and your eyes found the top of a tree close to your house. The wind plucked the red leaves from its branches with tender fingers. With its lips against the picture of the desolate little farm, it wrapped your country house in dead leaves, and disturbed the surrounding trees and bushes. You cocked your head to the side when you saw a bird. It was a brown and white bird. You couldn’t tell what kind it was, but you saw it rolling across the Virginia skyline, alone. Another popped out of the trees. It headed in the opposite direction of the other. It was an odd thing. Birds were supposed to travel at this time of year, together.

You didn’t know which of the pair left first, but you knew they were headed in opposite directions…for reasons unknown.