Impressions of Maria (Author’s Novel – Work in Progress)

Chapter 1: Hole in his Mind

       There are many reasons to fight and many reasons to love.  It was a City like any other – loud and beautiful at times but always beautiful when quiet.  Sometimes there is silence at exactly the wrong times – right before an insult is unfurled and before a heavy hand on one’s collar.  There is silence during war.  There is silence when tears have gone and the person is gone and death invades one’s life and thinking.  Every moment is a realization that the living and the dead are only breaths away.  Jupiter is one of 21 states in Ox.  The City was ancient.  Maria was now an old, sad woman with blind, kind eyes.

          Maria told stories by the quiet garden.  The little kids would gather around and watch this ancient woman tell her stories – about her favorite things, about the love that she lost – her beloved Donald.  She met Donald when she was twenty years old.  Her friend told her “Maria, Donald is a fine man but it’s like he has a hole in his mind”.  Maria did not know what to say about this.  What exactly did she mean?  “Well, Donald forgets – he acts like things simply fall into a hole in his mind and he never remembers those things”. 

Donald and Maria were together for forty two years until Donald succumbed to cancer one sad day.  Maria lives with his memory weighing her down.  Her stories come to life and she spoke with a passionate energy longing for the days that are no more.  She thought about Donald coming home from a long day at work.  The children stirred in the backyard and climbed to the front door hoping for little candies or for a smile or for Donald to pat them on their heads.  They moved around and played after doing chores.

They met on a cool day by the plaza.  She met him through her sister.  Donald was a friend of her sister’s.  There was a large fracas – a politician had been murdered.  Paranoia engulfed the City.  There were great big crowds with laughing children.  Maria stared at a little girl in the crowd.  The girl looked at Maria as if she knew her.  She stared and smiled and looked away as if they were once linked together by another set of circumstances.  Donald introduced himself with steely dark eyes.  Maria had never seen a more handsome man.  He was tall and wiry and smiled with great ease.  He looked Maria square in the eyes in a gentle way.

Maria knew that he would be lingering around her mind a while.  He didn’t have a forgettable way about him – his words were crisp, his manner was warm, his voice was peaceful.  She thought about him that night – she will always remember that night.

That night a ghost visited her.  It was a little boy.  His name was Ralph.  He acted very tough but had a lilting voice.  He spoke to her about the land and the people.  He had wild eyes.  He had been very badly hurt – everything he ever wanted was taken away from him.  Ralph explained to her why Donald had a hole in his mind.  Donald had a whole life before he was a man.  He had a hole in his mind to cover up the pain.  There’s a piece of him that went through war.  Nobody can explain it like a huge sinkhole in the middle of the road.  Ralph pointed to Maria and said – “you will love him impossibly but he will cause you many years of tears and sadness because of that hole in his mind”.  “He doesn’t mean to”, Ralph said.  Maria had just met Donald and didn’t want to imagine a whole life with him – she had only known him for a few moments.  “Ralph”, Maria thought, “he can’t be trusted”.

There were big, billowing clouds by the church a week after Maria met Donald.  Maria loved being at church – it was the perfect place to pray.  The church was monumental and quiet.  The cross stood up strong illuminating with the power of belief.  Jesus Christ was never an old man – he was a young man.  She thought that he being a young man meant that he was pure.  She watched the cross for many hours in her youth.  There he was on the cross in this great big sanctuary.  And life goes on around Maria outside of the church – peaceful, quiet, normal.

On her way home from the church, she saw Donald having lunch.  He looked dapper and nice.  He wore a baseball cap.  He had a gentle smile and asked very politely how Maria was doing and what brought her to this part of town alone.  She had been with her cousins earlier that day but they drifted away from her and she prayed and now here she was, in Donald’s life and they would never be separated again.  It was love – unmistakable, magical, unreliable, precarious – Donald with the hole in his mind.  He paid the bill after talking for a bit by the fountain and the footsteps and the chirping of conversation at the lunch spot.  Kids looked to him for a bit of change or anything to help their family.  Maria liked Donald and his very calm reactions to the world around him.

Donald worked at the department store.  He had very gentle hands – not suitable for hard work.  Donald was a great talker.  He stood about six feet tall with a slight tilt to his head.  Nobody knew that this quiet gentle man could take the whole city down.  He was crafty and calm – patient and serious but very gentle and sweet.  He earned the nickname – Sugar.

Maria was content with the gentleman with the long physique and the fine moustache – not the notorious Sugar.  Donald worked at a department store selling women shoes while Sugar was a villain.  Donald was a fine man.  He was the man with the gentle look and the man with the harsh mind. 

Donald lived two lives for most of his life – he was the person that he despised with “Sugar” tattooed to his chest and he was the person that he loved which brought him a loving family and his lovely Maria.  She loved him for forty two years like no other woman can love a man – a man that spent his whole life forgetting and trying not to unsettle Jupiter.

One day Donald drove to the shopping plaza but, as was his way, he forgot his wallet and Maria had a big dinner that night to celebrate her nephew’s birthday.  He smiled and gestured to the store – “Maria, stay back here”.  Maria had no idea that Donald left his wallet at home.  Maria sat down and read through a magazine lying next to her feet.  He walked into the store and walked out with a fine dress that Maria wore to the dinner that night.

Chapter 2: The Blob

  Maria woke up screaming – seeing the blob again.  The blob looked down at her with a very menacing look.  He made her talk, screamed at her, brought up every sad thought she had ever had, attacked her about Donald who he called evil and relentlessly diseased.  The blob had to stir Maria up.  The blob was cold-blooded, red and green around its cold blue eyes.  It stood about twenty feet high and droned on and on reciting codes and laws and regulations.  Maria was involved in all of these infractions and she will have to pay for it.  She had to pay for all the pain that Donald was responsible for.  She had to have a broken heart until she died.  She was so terrified in her brittle old skeleton.  The Blob pointed at her and pushed her and grabbed her until she couldn’t even scream.  Maria could only look on and wait for this violence to end.  Maria could only wait for this horror to stop and she could curl up like a little girl or a little hurt puppy.

The blob would visit her throughout her life.  She first met the blob when she was five and she had to crawl away from her bullies.  She had to walk on her knees and drag her palms on the ground and go to work.  She had to make the bed and clean the dishes and fold the clothes and iron every single item in the house until everything was crisp and clinging onto perfection – an imperfect mess.  The blob walked in and dropped his jaw showing his ferocious and ugly teeth.  He talked to her – and Maria remembered everything it said.  The blob calmly introduced himself: “I am sir, I will be here to remind you what you are – you are a product of me, you are a product of the world – you do what everyone says you should do and if you get sick you have to beg for me to help you fill out the paperwork because you will never know how to write like me, your executioner, Sir”.  “I am sir!  I am every dollar you will ever make.  I am every piece of clothing that you will ever wear.  I am every candy you will ever have the pleasure to suck on for that brief moment of sweetness.  I am the hard life.  I am the street life.  I am the bank.  I am the hospital.  I will calmly look you in the eye and tell you that Donald will have cancer and leave you forever.  I am everything and yet I am nothing.  You can choose to ignore me but you will never be able to shower or buy food or sleep on a clean bed.  You will kick your dog and I will not do anything but laugh at you and explain how miserable you will be when you will become an old hurt woman.  If I were you I would hide in the university and beg for food from the rich kids because that is the only way that you will live and breathe.  I’m sir and I will take your breath away!  I might not be pretty to look at but every woman wants me to protect her.  Maria, I know that you are a little girl, but would you like for me to protect you?”  Maria remembers looking up and fighting all the tears in the world she said quietly, “I will be yours, sir”.

Chapter 3: Maria loses Donald

She watched him become a bag of bones.  He was a stout and powerful man that was reduced to a sickly mess on his bed.  Maria stayed by his side and brought him soup every night.  Donald looked on at his wife with the dearest and most precious look.  He was suffering so much but he watched her wanting to stay with her forever.  He clinged onto her one morning and would not let go.  He cried and cried not wanting to let her go because if he let go he would be letting go of life itself.  Maria was furious at Donald – “don’t be weak!” she thought. 

Maria pushed her hands through his scraggly hair and looked him in the eye – “You did a good job in this life, Donald, and I love you like I love anything good in this world”.  “I will never leave you”.  “Anything that you have done to me with your sad and harsh words do not define me!”  “I am proud to have been your wife and we made it together because many men would not have treated me the way that you have treated me.”

TO BE CONTINUED

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