Paramour J.N

The Paramour

The morning was cool and shrouded in a veil of fog, casting an eerie shadow over the already somber dawn. While most of the world was tucked soundly in their beds, dreaming the sweet and naïve dreams of spring and love and all the other irreverent fantasies that dreams are heir to, I stood contemplating my actions and the inevitability of loss. I swam through an acidic sea of alternate endings, each of which pierced to the quick and left me completely and utterly lost. But in the midst of this terrible contemplation, at the pinnacle of my woeful ponderings, I noticed a bird. It was not unlike the others I had already seen this morning, but there was something about it that drew me. Oh, how I remember longing to be that bird...He landed on a post not even a foot away from me, and his mere presence, his majesty, reminded me of everything I had once dreamt of being, yet had thrown away for the fleeting joys of lust. For a second, he looked at me, and I stared back. He was so majestic perched there in that proud way, surveying the scenery with a keen eye and sounding his commanding call across the morning horizon. As the veil of fog thickened around us and all I could see was his silhouette, this bird manifested into an alabaster phantasm of what I would never be, and as I looked into those crystal ball-like eyes, I was momentarily diverted from my harsh reality. But as the bittersweet siren-song of the horn began to sound and pulsate through my very being, beckoning me towards my departure, my savior, the apparition of my lost self, fluttered away to join the rest of his flock and left me to myself.

However, I was newly rejuvenated. The prospect of what I was about to embark on, and the reminder of who I was travelling to meet made me realize how much I needed this adventure, and thus propelled me towards my future. Just as I reached this revelation, as I surmounted the gloominess of the breaking dawn and took the first step on what would be an undoubtedly long and wearisome adventure, I felt a light tap on my right shoulder. I knew the lightness of this touch, so gentle, so soft, that if you weren’t expecting it, weren’t nervously anticipating it, you would never be able to feel it, be able to fall in love with it. I peered over my shoulder, down my worn gray smock and right into her iridescent amber eyes. Oh Tera, sweet Tera, I knew you would come…

“Don’t go…please, please, please don’t go!” was all she managed to sputter to me. Her face was contorted into an expression of resilient resistance which is normally reserved for either the mortally wounded or the heartbroken, but in this case, it was for neither, yet both. I could tell she was trying to hold back the tears, but it was a feeble attempt, and as we stood there together in silence, a stream of tears began to roll down her cheek. She was beautiful even then as she stood there fully vulnerable and stripped to her bare emotions, and by all rights I should have told I her I loved her and that she was the only one I loved and that everything would be alright and above all I should have told her just how beautiful she really was, but I simply kissed her. For a moment her face relaxed and I surged through her like I had so routinely done for the past five years, and like my encounter with the phantom bird, I was mercifully unaware of just how severed the ties between us had become.

Then, I left.

I left Tera and everything else from my tired worn out life behind and I was gone. I was gone for a long, long time. But every day was the same beautiful fantasy all over again, so to be honest, I didn’t mind it much at the time. I would awake perched high above the world, floating in and out of consciousness, and often times I’d become nauseous and vomit, and as I scraped the taste of the previous night’s dinner from my tongue—and much like the impermanent pin-prick of love it always seemed to linger and sting longer after its second-coming—I would watch the sun come up over the horizon. But it did not rise to light the world or to guide man on his eternal trial of life; oh no, it rose simply to cast a brilliant glow over my lover as she sighed and rolled quietly in front of me. I would stare at her for hours, or perhaps it was merely minutes and I simply became so enwrapped in the eloquence of her beauty that I lost track of time, and she would simply roll and sigh there in front of me as I intently gazed upon her peaceful and reposed figure. Then, as if out of nowhere, she would open wide those beautiful azure eyes of hers, one after the other in that gentle and longing way that she always did, as if she had known I had been staring at her for so long, and she surely did, for it was the same way every day. Yet we both acted, perhaps simply for the sake of novelty, as if this was the first time we had ever awaken to the penetrating eyes of other. She would playfully cast me a smile which I am sure would have put Helen herself to shame were they to have ever met (and undoubtedly, they had), and she would blow me a kiss, and it would land with a silent, soft brush against my cheek as soft as the grace of God, and then, as routinely as sun does rise, we would begin the routine of our spin-cycle love. All day we would roll and sway under the comfort of a beautiful blue blanket that not only accented the color of my lover’s eyes, but began to blur into them until the two became almost indistinguishable from each other, and everywhere I looked I saw those stunning blue eyes. We were completely absorbed in one another, I a part of her as much as she was a part of herself. Oh sweet, beautiful Marina…never shall I forget the wonder of our tryst. But, like all good things, after almost nine months of endless love, my fantasy (or fallacy, depending on how you view it) came to an end.

I remember returning. I distinctly recall taking a long contemplative walk back to where I lived. But make no mistake that this was not my home, for as it is known, home is where the heart is, and that case my home was with Marina. Yet, I still found myself there, standing in that once again foggy mid-morning solitude as I reluctantly contemplated the past nine months and love and life and love again. However, like that morning that seemed so long ago, with the phantom bird with piercing eyes, I summoned the courage and began the ascent of my apartment stairs. I took each step slowly and deliberately, for I was scared of what awaited me inside the door at the top of those stairs. I almost could not bare it. But, despite my efforts, my feet carried me where my heart would have otherwise dared not to tread. I stared at the door to my apartment for a moment, almost with the same intensity which I habitually had for staring at Marina, but it was a different kind of meditative stare. It was one of disinclination, of fear.

Then suddenly, without warning, the door swung open. Standing there was

Tera with her deep, penetrating amber eyes staring right into me, into my heart, and she knew. She had begged me not go, pleaded almost unendingly, but in the end she had trusted me, and I, being the weak-hearted romantic I was, had let her down. She never asked me about it, she never needed to, she just looked me in the eyes with a stare that burrowed into me, past my eyes, through my brain, down my spine, and eventually clawing its way right into the very core of my being, into my heart (which now belonged to someone else), and she just knew. I stood there in the hall with the briny scent of infidelity about me, reeking to high heaven with the permeating odor of betrayal on my skin and the brackish taste of disloyalty on my lips, and could do nothing but force a feigned smile and pretend like nothing was wrong. But she knew. She knew all too well. She was kind, forgiving as always, and kissed me on the cheek and faked a smile right back and welcomed me to come inside.

As I crossed through the door frame though, I was instantly hit with a very unfamiliar smell, one of sanitization, of youth, of birth.

And then I saw him.

He was curled into a little ball on the carpet, staring at his toes as analytically as I had just stared at the familiar door to my house. He studied them meticulously, taking in every detail, however minute, and truly taking them to heart. He reveled in how his little toes curled from the cold winter air seeping into the apartment through the half-open window; he giggled at the little wrinkles made as he moved his foot back and forth. I made a step towards him, and he immediately turned his head towards me, his green eyes agape and studying me as fixedly as he had his toes.

“His name is Adam,” Tera proclaimed. Adam…the name seemed appropriate. The name given by God to the first man at the beginning of time was also the name of my son, who came into my life to engender a new beginning. He gurgled and cooed and laughed, and all the while, I just kept on staring. Then I approached him. I sauntered up to where he lay so carefree, so blissfully on the carpet and picked him up. He wriggled a little at first, even let out a little sigh of ill comfort, but then, as my eyes caught his evaluative stare, he stopped, and, like his mother once had before him, stared unblinkingly into my eyes. It was in that moment that I knew I could not leave again, not with him here now. As I cradled my newborn son in my arms, I made a silent vow to protect him, to love him with the passion I had once lustily had for my paramour; and in that moment, all the love I had previously had in my heart was transformed from the deterioration of evanescent lust to the everlasting and dogged strength of the love a parent unconditionally feels for their offspring. It was my renaissance.

So for many years I stayed there with Adam and Tera, I even began to think of the apartment we rented as home again, for truly my heart was with Adam, and as he grew, so did my love for him. And not only was this little babe the savior of my previously covetous life, but he was also a panacea for all of the tension between me and Tera. She and I reveled in the act of watching our inquisitive little boy grow and blossom into the stoic young man that we always knew that he would be; and in the ecstasy of family life I found myself almost completely devoid of nostalgia, almost entirely rid of the erotic recollections of my past. Yet there were always those fleeting moments—perhaps a remindful scent caught lingering on the upper of my lip, or the familiar brush of the wind which I often mistook for the enticing touch of a former lover—and in them I would momentarily stop, and with me time itself would halt, and have to catch its breath as I attempted to regain my composure; but then Adam would gurgle, or laugh, or cry, and instantaneously I would be ripped from the illogic of my fantasy and back into the tumultuousness of fatherhood. I did miss Marina…but I was far too enwrapped by my responsibility as a parent to allow myself the physical pleasure of promiscuity.

Things were fine then. Except both Tera and I were hard up for work, and try as we might we had quite the struggle simply trying to put food on the table each night, let alone pay the rent each month. But we managed. We managed for seven long years of constant toil and turmoil just to keep a roof over our heads (even if it did leak on rainy nights and let a terrible draft in during the cold seasons) and food in our stomachs (even if it was often times the souring leftovers from a meal prepared a week or two ago). But after Tera fell ill, became irreparably debilitated from the flu, and I lost my job at the local bar, things seemed bleak. However, I was approached with a job offer, one that would not only pay for food and rent for the next few months, but also help pay for hospital bills, help pay to improve Tera’s quickly deteriorating health. So, foolishly, I accepted the offer.

I stood in the street with my bags in hand and waiting for the buggy to arrive and take me to meet my employer. Adam stood next to me, clad in a blue and green striped shirt and tattered jeans, staring at me with the same penetrating intensity he had when he first saw me. Those eyes, now morphing from the illuminescent emerald of his infancy to an almost fading cerulean, stared straight into me, read me like I was an entrancing novel with a timeless story quickly scribed on worn out and fraying pages—a trait that he inherited from his mother. We stood there together in the morning fog that always seemed to accompany my departures, both thinking in sync with the other, neither of us needing to say a word, for we both knew that we were thinking of the same heartfelt goodbyes and that simply being there together and taking in the welcomed aura of the sunrise was good enough of a farewell. Adam heard the sound of the buggy first, but I was quicker to see it round the corner. It was a ghost, a silhouette floating through the veil of the morning fog with the same fearsomeness of a hell-sent demon. He turned his head up to look at me and cast me a glance unlike any I had ever seen him give before. It was the same look I imagine a soldier would give on a cold, pallid morning as he lay belly-down in the crimson-carpeted landscape of a heated battle and watched in haunting dismay as his best friend is blown to a thousand pieces in front of him. He did not want me to go. But, for his sake, and my sake, and his mother’s sake, I had to. So, as the buggy pulled up to the curb and opened wide its doors like the arms of a father welcoming home his prodigal son, I looked down at my own and, like I had done so to his mother so long ago that the memory had merely become just another indistinguishable string in the tapestry of my life, I kissed him. So many things ran through my head, through his head, yet we both knew that the kiss was enough. I got in that buggy and rode away from my home while my son stood in the street with his hands in his falling-apart jeans pockets and all I did was watch through the rear-view window as the mourning fog engulfed him and he became just another lingering shadow among the fading glow of the streetlamps and my dreams.

I arrived accordingly at my new boss’s office and we had a brief discussion; I say it was brief not because it needed to be, but because I made it so. I entered to the usual feigned welcomes and thank-you’s that employers routinely use to lure their workers into a false sense of security. “Thank you for replying to our ad, we truly appreciate it.” “Would you like a drink?” “How was the ride over here? I hope it wasn’t too rough.” All useless, silly phrases used to pull you in, make you think they’re your friends when in reality they are nothing more than false-advertising imbeciles. But nevertheless, we both exchanged pleasantries. However, it was what he mentioned after that began to throw me. “Sir, I’m afraid that the previous job has been filled…We do, however, have an alternate and equally paying job.” At that point there was one of those long moments of silence, the kind of silence that unrelentingly bellows in your ear for just a few seconds, but the sheer power of the silence—so terrible that it leaves a ringing in your ears—seems to lengthen it tenfold, and leave you helplessly standing there in confusion. Sometimes I still think I hear that ringing, like a far-off and distant threnody humming ever-so-slightly over the whispers of my thoughts. I knew why he had been so silent. My new job would force upon me the most devious of human acts: it would force me to endure the trials of working with a former lover. Marina…sweet, beautiful Marina. I did not want to, but for Adam, I knew I must.

So I took the job.

For the first couple of weeks my former paramour and I simply coexisted; I did all in my power to avoid her (averted my stare from her radiance, worked with increased vigor to decrease the time we were forced to spend together, etc.) and she coincidentally did the same. But this simplistic coexistence did not last long.

I remember staring at a sunset, watching as the sun’s last few rays cast a brilliant aura across the horizon, melting everything together as if the world were a canvas for watercolors and the paints had become so diluted, so saturated, that the colors began to unwillingly run together. Then I felt that gentle breeze-like touch I once knew so well, and turned over my right shoulder to see Marina standing with her arms akimbo and a sad, disenchanted look painted upon her face. She just stared for a moment, as if she was waiting for me to say something, to apologize, to lament, but I couldn’t say anything, I simply stared right back. And it was then that those beautiful eyes of hers, those little universes of diamonds and stars and bluebirds, began to cloud over until they were the ugliest of gray and menacing. She began to scream, and wail, and flail her arms around in an inexplicable fit of rage. She lashed out at me and started to pound her once soft hands into my face. She hit me; she beat me; she ravaged me. Over and over tossed me until I simply could take no more. It was the blood-rage of the broken-hearted that drove her, and in her delusional state she stabbed me repeatedly until I simply fell asleep.

So like all good stories, this one ends as it began. Except now, instead of being enveloped by the cool and what I would now retrospectively consider soothing blanket of morning fog, I lay with my stomach to a cloudy sky and my back stained in the deserving shade of crimson. As I begin to fade, I see winged alabaster fly overhead, and I recognize my phantom bird at once. So free, so peaceful, the grandeur of the life I could have had flies by so quickly that I think it might just be and apparition, and to be honest—like life itself—it very well may have been. As the sun begins to crest over the horizon, I finally close my eyes and let myself begin to sink, all the while only thinking one thing: “Adam…Adam…Adam.”

Thus ends this sad yet venerable lore, of this sailor and his paramour.