Continuation of Eyes Closing, part 1 and part 2.
His legs lifted him slowly, like a hand-jack lifting a car; each knee unsure of its own strength. His hands felt their way up the kitchen counter where he had fallen and grabbed the top to stabilize himself. A breath rushed out and back in as the tracks his tears had laid sat still on his cheeks.
When he stood his hands broke away from the counter and tried to work his body toward the door, but his mind stood still. His mouth was open, hoping to let in any ideas floating by. But his mind was blank, overcome with grief, and he was desperate for a solution.
His hands retreated and instead shoved their fingers against his forehead, forcefully working their way to his hair, then through it. Finally his eyes closed and he exhaled, and his hands tried once again to lead him to the door. Fingering the knob, they led him outside.
He walked out of his apartment building, left, across the street, and into the park. The geese flew overhead, shouting unheeded squawks at him. The wind blowing the trees and bushes tried desperately to gain his attention, but he could not be shaken. His mind struggled endlessly with his thoughts, trying to overcome them. But their endless fight to gain favor led to him ignoring all of them. Instead his fingers led him toward the bridge, contacting the hand rail and trudging over it.
Flakes of paint chipped off the wooden rail and fell into the stream that bumbled a hello to him, but never stopped in its quick, errant path through the park.
And he didn’t stop either. His fingers led him over the bridge, 1, 2, 3, 4…15, 16 paces then left.
His mind was now reconciling with his fighting thoughts. The stress from the transition after gaining sight was slowly dissipating, its remnants fading. His eyes were now slowly opening to gather the path that he used to take.
1, 2, 3, 4…25, 26 then take the path right.
Each thing he saw was something different to him, and his mind became hungry. His tears were now dried on his cheeks, hardened salt water dull in the sunlight.
1, 2, 3, 4…7, 8 then off the path into the woods for a bit.
Each thing from that day, his wife’s memory, the addict, the suicidal third grader, the ADHD case, and the mystery man who wasn’t much for speaking but spoke mostly with physical movement-all seemed to take a back seat as his surroundings seemed to invade his memory and sit forefront in his mind. His mind was devouring the path in proceeding him.
1, 2, 3 rocks. That means the next one is…
He looked up and he saw the pond. The place where he had come for solace for so many years. His rock where his own solitude brought his mind to rest and gave him peace. But it wasn’t there. Not the pond he knew.
The pond here was covered in green algae, almost looking like spoiled green salsa. Mixed in with the sauce of the pond were bottles of beer, cigarette butts, a tire, a shopping cart, and other trash. The bushes were scraggly and under-grown. The branches he envisioned were now spindly fingers that hovered over the pond like a witch’s fingers over a cauldron. The trees above it were barely hanging onto life, their leaves spinning slowly at the ends of each branch.
He slowly felt his heart and stomach become one and move their way up to his throat. The thoughts that had receded came back all at once. First his mystery man, confounding and bombarding him with new signals and no speech. Few notes about the man, little clue as to why he really wanted therapy.
Then came the ADHD case and the mom, teaching how to deal with ADHD. A constant inability to focus, mirroring his own mind as his thoughts surged.
After that, the suicidal girl. What were her motives, how was her life, her abusive father, the constant insults, the negative reinforcement, all felt by him too. His mind was now her emotional dump.
Igniting and inflaming those was the addict’s case, and his regrets. His daughter leaving him, his family leaving him, his addiction overcoming him. And his wife, whom the addict let go too soon to death.
Finally overpowering all of those were thoughts of his own wife-his last minutes with her, her picture in his apartment, memories of the both of them. They came as one wave, together bowling over the others and crashing to the fore of his mind.
Tears then flooded his eyes, and his hands grabbed his pant legs tightly, while his feet fell motionlessly on the ground and his eyes took in everything around him. His eyelids pushed the water out of his eyes as his eyes slowly closed and shut out the pond.
Suddenly the world changed. The pond turned dark blue. The water was shallow, and showed fish under its surface. Over the green and purple fish swimming near the bottom were small waves mulling on the surface. Hanging over were red bushes and undergrowth that housed small animals that made high pitched calls to each other. Holding the bushes close at their feet were trees, with mossy trunks that led to orange leaves, full and waving in the wind, only partially obstructing the sun. Whatever sun got through reflected off the birds at the tops of the branches touted their colorful heads and wings.
Suddenly the tears that were on his face a second ago dried up, their spring no longer flowing. The thoughts from the day were quelled. The mental notes from each patient had put themselves to rest, and the thoughts of his wife had returned to his memory. His mind now held peace and thoughts of the pond.
His eyes remained closed, and his thoughts stilled. His fingers loosened on his pant legs and stretched out. His feet had become firmly planted on the ground, and his breathing had become normal.
His thoughts suddenly returned to the night before his procedure as he heard a nearby branch tapping on another branch. The sound mimicked a cane on concrete, and with the tapping his fingers counted each one on his leg.
1, 2, 3, 4…
His other hand moved its way to his face, and brushed over his eyes. Only a prick in the eye he remembered.
…5, 6, 7, 8…
Then he mouthed his old thought, A new life.
…9, 10, 11, 12…
A new life.