The siren sounded encased, deceitfully prone within a womb of cotton and yet the contiguous consciousness mirrored its poignancy so that upon opening his eyes it was at the point of recreating the jigsawing fissures of an infant’s skull.
“Are you almost ready to go?”
She noted the tone in his voice, yet remembering this was his birthday present suppressed her reply into a manageable form.
“Almost; another minute or two.”
Quickly closing them did nothing; a one-way system, a closed circuit whose inevitable conclusion repudiated reversal. The cracks themselves were resonating in stride with the semi-monotonous rhythm of the siren.
Letting the screen door go behind him the regret stung him almost faster than the sound accompanying the action, ‘Calm down, the mountain isn’t going anywhere and if you keep this up she is going to be in a shitty mood and then you’ll have to focus on that all day.’
Closing them tighter; drafting his eyebrows into the exercise, pulling the skin of his forehead taunt, owing to this creation of space pain would be pardoned with escape and yet rather evasion, this candid response unvarnished pristine ports of entry, dwelling in a realm to which inertia knew a single orientation.
Hearing the door close for the second time, he looked up from the back of the truck where he’d been going through his checklist for the third time this morning; there was no way that something was going to go wrong today.
“Is everything in the truck?”
Watching her as she pulled the door shut behind her, “Everything but the birthday boy.”
She tossed her hair to one side and looking back at him through the mirror, “Well then its time to go.”
They both laughed.
Airborne – restraining straps loosened from budget cutbacks, political voting patterns and ideological focus reoriented in an instant. Gravity; faults morphed to fissures, the EMA’s mind floated back to undergrad geology classes where the myths of plate tectonics relegated God’s hand to the kitchen.
The highway leading out of town was a dark black strip of tarmac cutting through urbanity. At this early hour, the sun had yet to deal with the rain from the evening before, and after stopping at the organic coffee shop, Tim and Cynthia were upon it. Stopping at a traffic light for nothing other than the light itself, Tim took a moment to watch her, as she was lost in thought, half looking out the side window, ‘Truly I am a lucky man.’ Thoughts like these were becoming rarer for him since Cynthia; or rather, they had lost their child the previous fall. The doctor had told him numerous times, during their private sessions that the words used to frame ones thought have a certain power over the thoughts themselves.
Shaking, the EMA unhindered himself from a daze of nostalgic amazement, retightened straps producing a balloon effect, his body appraising itineraries destined for his head. Pain causing him once again to loosen his incoherent clutch upon consciousness, drifting rudderlessly into the crease of the primordial universal self.
“It’s green honey.”
She said before taking another sip of her coffee.
He started the truck through the intersection, and proceeded to drive the next twenty odd miles to the cliff without looking over at her again. This was something that she noticed; she always noticed these things, these times when he left her.
“Move, move, move.”
“Take him to four.”
He felt motion, little more.
It stopped, so had all sense of time and his truculent consign within it. The unionization of skull cracks bribed the mind into acceptance, sudden and fierce, an anti-Darwinian evolutionary leap, screams ceased, supplanted by emptiness. If he had had the wherewithal to form logical thoughts at this moment he might have postulated the notion that his mind itself had now been freed from its moorings, disconnected from his body, drifting back into the eternity of the world, but of course he wasn’t able to do any such thing, and then the motion returned.
As they made their way from the truck to the base of the cliff she slowed her pace so that he was in front of her now. She watched him as he strode toward the desk, his confidence growing with each step. She had found herself doing this more as of late; watching him, removing herself from the moment and just scrutinizing him. She didn’t think of anything in particular, and when the moment had passed, when consciousness returned to the helm, she did so with no new opinions or ideas about either him nor them. It was as if for that time she had not been.
The nurses were compelled to turn and address this cacophonous sound bearing down upon them. One of them shook her head, as if freeing herself from an incantation of the damned, “Miss you can’t be up here,” raising her hands like a child against the surf; in vain.
An orderly stepped up to the two of them, doing nothing but adding his presence to that of the nurse’s, to stop this woman it seemed by bulk alone.
She continued in the direction of the stretcher, not even seeing the nurse she had just dropped to the floor. The orderly put his arms around her waist from behind and lifted her off the ground.
The attendant looked up from what he had been working on, “Good morning.”
“Good morning. Looks like we’re the first ones here this morning.”
The attendant smiled.
“That you are. Not many folks get up here before seven these days.”
Putting his pack on the ground before the desk, he looked over his shoulder to see if she was coming or not, only to see her walking down toward the base of the cliff with her head down, preparing herself for the task ahead. Turning back toward the desk he said nothing, his mind was still on his wife. ‘She’s scared of this cliff, she’s doing this for me, remember that today and take it easy, don’t push her too far.’
The orderly felt a sudden pain in his knee, fighting back words of vengeance he turned her away from the door and after taking a few steps in this new direction put her feet back on the ground.
Gone, the doors closed, an exhalation denoting the force of someone who should have done so hours ago.
“Madame, if you will come with me,” he paused for a moment reminding himself that if he had another incident with a patient that it would very likely be his last, “if you could come with me there are some forms that need to be filled out.”
She didn’t hear him; she just kept staring at the doors, which swallowed Tim, waiting it seemed for a regurgitation.
“You ready for this?”
“I’m glad that there is no one else here, I had wanted it this way but of course this is nothing that you can ask for.”
“You never do know what I’ve done.”
He looked at her, stopping what he had been doing and kissed her gently on the mouth.
“I love you.”
“I love you too baby, Happy Birthday.”
“Madame, if you could come with me.”
Nothing, the noises of the world had vanished, they had been drowned out by the echo of a single announcement in her mind, – He’s gone.
“So if you don’t mind I will climb lead today.”
“No I don’t mind. Are you ready?”
He looked up at the cliff, Eagle’s Chest, and started mentally plotting out his route. There were two main paths up the face but he had decided long ago that he would be taking the right one. How many times had he stood here just like this, watching other people make their way up? Well today he wouldn’t be watching, today it would be him.
She couldn’t tell you what time it was, the space as well eluded her grasp, the universe had become super compressed into this twenty by twenty hospital room, and the bed, which held him an emotionless singularity pulling her towards nothing. His eyes were open, staring up, not quite at the ceiling though because his head had looped over to one side.
No response from either of them.
“I know that this is a difficult time for you but there are some things we should talk about.”
The sun came out from behind a cloud, blinding him for an instant as he was reaching for his next hold. Reflex closed his eyes and that’s when it happened – he fell. She watched him pass her outstretched hand; she felt his arm brush the top of her left shoulder. Swinging wildly she dropped halfway back down to the base of the cliff before the rope reached its length and stopped her instantly. As she swung slightly back and forth ten meters off the ground, Tim lay below her motionless.
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