In between two incongruous worlds, the vibrant nature seemed to erupt in cheers. Hand in hand, they tried to absorb the nascent shimmering golden rays of the sun. They watched the sunrise usher in hope and light, impaling the prevalent darkness. The crimson ball of fire exuded a radiant tangerine aura, before settling into a dazzling ochre as if to celebrate them.
Ryan drew Rhonda closer, amidst the newness of nature. Rhonda blushed; her ruddy supple cheeks divulged her inner ecstasy. Her eyelids fluttered as Ryan’s hand cupped her face drawing it further close, before tucking in a strand of her auburn hair behind her ear. Closing her eyes, Rhonda tried savoring the moment as it was the moment they had been waiting for. She inhaled his scent as he placed his lips gingerly on hers, with one hand caressing her neck, the other holding her tightly at the waist. She felt like she could drown in his love, as a deluge of emotions swept her.
After their lips parted, Ryan wrapped his arms around Rhonda, while marveling at the newness of it all.
“Did I tell you; you smell of the ocean?” effused Rhonda
“Ahhhh! Maybe because I, similar to the oceans, move over horizons unmeasured and unfathomable,” affirmed Ryan, only to digress to the scenic view!
“The view is regal, ain’t it?”
“Which one are you talkin’ about, nature or ….?” Rhonda retorted rhetorically with a cute wink.
“Tell you what, Sugar? I’ve been waiting for this moment since our hush-hush engagement last month,” Ryan exclaimed with wide glazed eyes and a hint of ecstasy in his tone.
“That’s it!” He exclaimed.
“Tomorrow, we follow our schematic itinerary and make this trip memorable. Okay?”
For a few minutes, the silence seemed to stretch to eternity. The disciplined flock of seagulls overhead disrupted their silence, when Rhonda with an inquisitiveness of a child questioned “Why do you always adhere to maps and itineraries? Why won’t you go with the flow?”
“Maybe because I do cartography for a living and I’m passionate about it. Or maybe I was raised thus,” Ryan answered with an unceremonious shrug and a smile that would always comfort Rhonda’s perennial inquisitiveness.
Winter is synonymous with rain in Yosemite. Rain trickled down the windowpanes, creating a mellifluous melody. The soughing of the wind in the canopy of branches stowed in the cool waft of calm within their heated love nest. Ryan and Rhonda had a night to remember.
Puncturing the darkness came the sun rays as nature’s easel, rendering radiance to what was hidden under the slate gray clouds of last night.
“Here’s your reward! A souvenir of our first trip as my naughty naughty fiancé,” Rhonda bubbled erotically, still reeling under the euphoria, raking her fingers on the hickey upon Ryan’s neck.
Ryan sat up and leaned forward to kiss her forehead. “You seriously amaze me, hon!” divulged Rhonda.
“Sometimes you are utterly depressed, sometimes you are euphoric. Sometimes your anxious distress makes me irate and sometimes you are this endearing fiancé, for whom I’d give up everything on this God’s green earth.”
“So sometimes you don’t love me?” quipped Ryan letting out a coy smile.
“Naaaahhhh,” Rhonda tsked. “You’re a li’l dinged up, but you’re still at the top of your game.”
Salt Lake City, Utah
Ryan spent his early years at Central City. Nestled between the stunning Wasatch Mountains and the massive Great Salt Lake, Ryan had the rigidity of the mountains and the mystery of unfathomable lakes.
Akin to the mountains he could be as hard as a rock, meeting his zenith and nadir within a fraction of a second like those restive and choppy sea waves.
Ryan’s mom Mrs. Ava Predmore was an austere disciplinarian (at least she thought so) with a rigidly puritanical outlook. Working at a local diner, life wasn’t easy on her; that probably robbed her of her maternal feelings and emotions. Her suppressed grudges involuntarily manifested their horrific side in a myriad of inhuman forms. She’d always believed to have power over Ryan, unable to realize that any power sans restraint, always leads to abuse. Although she was never charged of any crime but hidden behind, in her background were whispered accusations. Incidents that were swept under the rug and ultimately became time-barred.
Ryan never knew who his dad was, hence growing up in the company of an austere and illiberal mother, his personality developed some unwanted traits. He’d always felt trapped and was overwhelmed by the feeling that his life wasn’t his anymore. Principles and morals were gradually becoming a luxury that he couldn’t afford.
“You still haven’t made a detailed itinerary, nor have you seen the map to figure out the places we’ll be visiting for the long weekend next week!” hollered Mrs. Predmore furrowing her eyebrows and displaying her normal rancid demeanor.
He stood a few feet away from her, and yet her powerful aggressive eyes stabbed his sanity.
“I’m just nine, why would you impose so much on me?” Ryan snapped back, defying the aggression, rolling his eyes, and pumping his hands into the air. Sheer disrespect and disdain oozed out from every pore of his body.
That night Ryan was flogged black and blue and tethered to his bed stand. He tried moving his legs screaming in utter defiance, livid and boiling with rage. Finally, he succumbed and stayed motionless for the entire night.
The following morning, one look at his mom and Ryan had a bazillion command voices in his head telling him to do things. As if they yelled at him “do as I say, or your suffering shall be inevitable.” The dreadful voices were so loud sometimes it’d be difficult for him to shut them out. He was exhausted from chasing his inner demons, as it was akin to chasing shadow warriors.
Camouflaging his disdain and suppressing his inner diabolical voices, he let out a question in his faint, feeble tone “Mom, why would you whip up an unnecessary storm, what’s my fault?”
“When you’re in a storm, you need to find your peace below the winds,” Mrs. Predmore thundered with sheer nonchalance.
Ryan was not the only one to grow up, his problems also grew commensurate with his age.
“Here are some dollars, I managed to save for a Christmas Gift for Uncle Flenoy. We’d be visiting him soon, as he wants us to spend Christmas with him,” Mrs. Predmore uttered. Before Ryan could react, she continued, “Get your timetable sorted out, and keep those maps ready for our travel,” she commanded. “Tomorrow will be a busy day for me, the holiday season is stretching me thin. You’d need to pick up your medication refill from CVS Pharmacy before you leave for work tomorrow.”
Based on selective hearing, Ryan yelled “But mom, why would you always adhere to maps”?
That night yet again, Ryan was scourged for his impertinent question.
Suddenly, Ryan let out a calm smile on his bleeding lips. Jarring and screeching voices in his head benumbed his senses. His mind was clouded with perplexity and incomprehension.
“You are sick, you manic bipolar wretch!” Mrs. Predmore’s grating voice reverberated in Ryan’s benumbed ears.
“Ryaaaaaaann… noooooo……wwwaait…!” Mrs. Predmore pleaded.
Ryan returned to reality after a short break, holding his hurting head. He could feel himself slipping down into the abysmal depths of darkness.
What met his sight, caused him to let out an involuntary sinister smile.
Mrs. Ava Predmore lay in a pool of black blood, face down near her bed. The desk near her bed had a tattered map where thick dotted lines of black blood connected Utah and Arizona; a few one-dollar bills along with a photo of Mrs. Ava Predmore. Her face in the photo was clearly crossed out with fat, bold black lines.
Suddenly, with his wobbly and enormously distorted brain, he saw the Eye of Providence on the back side of one of the one-dollar bills turn into the evil Eye of Horus.
Wasn’t the Eye of Horus associated with the occult, then why on the dollar bill? I’m sick of feeling sick, I fight the urge desperately, yet it ricochets back to me. I’m bewildered and stuck. Concentric rings of jangling voices consume me, I’m helpless; I’m vulnerable. But today, I found my peace below the winds…. Mamma, like you’d wanted me to!
A few minutes later he was abnormally upbeat, jumpy, and wired. A sharp tingling loud noise emerging from his head banging in his ears, started getting louder and louder making him dizzy and his eyes blurry.
Even the jocund memories of his childhood warped into a fuzzy haze in front of his blurry eyes.
The eerie silence of a dark night was impaled by the muffled lyrics as Ryan jolting his head, sang lines from his favorite song:
Bring Me My Chariot Of Fire!
I Will Not Cease From Mental Fight
Nor Shall My Sword Sleep In My Hand
Yavapai County, Arizona
As an honors student with an enviable IQ, Ryan was considered an eidolon by many.
He was known for being ambidextrous and for his extraordinary abilities to multitask.
He’d rejected umpteen high-paying job offers, as he wasn’t comfortable with the authority or company of any female around him. They always made him feel like a low-life imbecile.
In the Spring of 2018, he moved to Arizona. The offer from the Yavapai County Government as a cartographer successfully checked all his pre-conditions. Life wasn’t smooth, but with his medications helping him control his mood swings and leash his inner demons, he was at least putting in some serious effort to have a blithe life. And then came Rhonda helping him rise up, rise like the day even after the darkest, blackest, stormiest night.
A chance meeting with Rhonda, at a gas station, swept him off his feet. Her not-so-gorgeous smile, her messy bramble of frizzy auburn curls, her freckles and her ordinariness are the factors that calmed him.
Yavapai County, Arizona
Elusive happiness was finally within his reach as Rhonda’s magnetic charisma always offered him much-needed solace. Ryan was able to collect a little bit of joy for himself, the joy that he’d been ardently scouring for. They never exchanged social media handles, nor did he ever talk about her uniqueness that pulled him to her. Yet love happened.
Ryan’s dormant social life gradually started to blossom in a way he’d never imagined. Rhonda invariably would drag him along to the shopping sprees, cocktail parties, and even for her trial makeover sessions for their upcoming wedding.
“Left leg forward, right leg to the right,” Rhonda slid her instructions between the ‘I love yous’. Friday evenings were reserved exclusively for dance lessons, considering Ryan had two left feet. Rhonda was reluctant to give up on her dream of having a dance with her fiancé with perfectly matching steps post their reception.
“Oh, hon! You look flushed. You, okay?” Rhonda questioned with widened eyes while grazing her fingers through Ryan’s unkempt hair.
Before Ryan could answer, she continued “Let’s stop our practice, you get some quality rest. You don’t have to; I’d be visiting Prescott to finalize the venue near the Presbyterian Church for our reception. Tonight, I’d be calling Michaela and asking her to be my maid of honor.”
Ryan answered back with an exhausted but content concave curve on his lips “Not bad. Not bad at all.”
Ryan crashed into his bed after a quick shower, with his routine medications lying untouched on the bed stand nearby. Rhonda kept waiting at the dinner table, only to walk up to their bedroom and watch him sleep like a baby. Covering him with the duvet, she planted a kiss on his forehead and whispered, “where have you been this long?”
Reluctant to bother him, Rhonda sat on her work desk to jot down some details about her impending wedding. Distracted by the chirping of crickets, she pushed the window blinds just to watch the land and sky become one in the darkness. An eerie feeling enswathed her as she felt a penetrating emptiness. An emptiness that called out to be explored, an emptiness that yelped for wholeness.
When Ryan returned after a short break to his usual being, reality struck him hard. Holding his abnormally hurting and dizzy head, he let out a sigh of exasperation.
Rhonda lay in a pool of black blood, face down near their bed. The desk near her bed had a tattered map where thick dotted lines of black blood connected Arizona and Idaho, a few one-dollar bills along with a photo of his fiancé, Rhonda. Her face in the photo was clearly crossed out with fat, bold black lines.
Suddenly, with his wobbly and distorted brain, he saw the Eye of Providence on the back side of one of the one-dollar bills turn into the evil Eye of Horus.
Chaotic and highly convoluted memories washed over his groggy mind. He started to see visions of his mother with her aggressive eyes piercing his vulnerable existence.
He even heard Mrs. Predmore questioning in her usual rasping tone “Did you find your peace this time?”
A shiver melted down his spine and the agony in his eyes settled to an unidentified calmness. Tears of silence echoed in the well of silence.
The eerie silence of another dark night was impaled by the muffled lyrics as Ryan jolting his head, sang lines from his favorite song.
Bring Me My Chariot Of Fire!
I Will Not Cease From Mental Fight
Nor Shall My Sword Sleep In My Hand.
In between two incongruous worlds, Ryan continued to chase the elusive peace as a new job offer from Idaho awaited him.
*** The End ***
Your MC returns from a break to find a map, some money and a photo of their fiancé on their desk.
CVS Pharmacy: A chain of American Pharmacist/ an American retail corporation
Bipolar: A psychiatric illness or disorder characterized by both manic and depressive episodes, or manic ones only. Can also be used for a person suffering from bipolar disorder.
Eye of Providence: or the All-Seeing Eye of God is a symbol that depicts an eye, often enclosed in a triangle and surrounded by rays of light or glory, meant to represent divine providence, whereby the eye of God watches over humanity.
Eye of Horus: In this story represents power and violence for its association with the occult. Its roots trace back to the ancient satanic Egypt. Also related to death and funeral. It is also considered to be the opposite of Eye of Providence. Some mystics identify the shape of the temporal lobe of the brain as the Eye of Horus. In most cases of bipolar disorder, the temporal lobe of the brain is affected.
Bring Me My Chariot Of Fire…. : A controversial song related to Satan/devils.
Cannot wait for this story to be out in FB. Best of luck, and fingers crossed for good reviews (incl constructive ones)