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April 26, 2017 1:23 am  #1

The Salt of the Earth

This story will probably have several parts to it, in chapter form. Right now, I'm not sure how long  it will be, but here is chapter 1 so far.  Hope you enjoy!

The Salt of the Earth
By La Llorona, ©2017

Chapter 1: Fiona

It was raining in Philadelphia.  Summer rain, late July, which meant that the humidity was worse than ever.  What was it, ninety degrees or something?  It had to be. Maybe even less, like eighty.  Even seventy-five was like a sauna in Philadelphia.

I swore under my breath as I struggled to close my umbrella.  The Ethical Society was right in front of me but I had to climb a few steps before I reached the door. I hated standing in front of a door fumbling with my umbrella.  I’d done that before and someone had opened the door unexpectedly.  I was so startled, I almost slipped and fell down the stairs.  The result was a loud, blood-curdling scream from my lips, and several people, including the one who’d opened the door, staring at me in horror.  Great, I’d thought.  Another panic attack!

I relived the mortification as I continued to struggle with my umbrella, which was now splashing water, tons of water, on my purse, and electronic cigarette vaporizer.  My breath came out in short gasps, and pretty soon I was hyperventilating.  Don’t scream, I told myself fiercely. Do NOT scream.  Please.

I sounded, to  myself,  like my best friend Tammy when she’d once witnessed one of my attacks.  She was not happy by my screaming and forget about the childlike crying I’d sometimes engage in.  I don’t know why I have these panic attacks, but I think a lot of it has to do with fear of death.  Or loss of control…whatever.

I finally got my umbrella closed, and collected myself as I carefully walked up the stairs.  I went into the Ethical society and frantically looked for a directory.  I found none.  I began to panic again, and realized I hadn’t written the room and floor number of the Meetup group I was going to.  Only the Ethical Society was in my mind.  I suppose I thought someone would be at the desk, or there’d be a directory. Who was I kidding?

I forced myself to calm down with an effort that hurt.  Something was telling me I HAD to go to this Meetup, no matter what.   Something, or someone was going to change my life completely if I kept on going.

I began to walk through the quiet halls and empty rooms.  No one and nothing was there.  I frantically pulled out my cell phone from my purse, and pressed the button that would light it up.  There, in bold numbers, was the time.  10:56 P.M.  Thank goodness, I thought. I wasn’t late!

It would be eleven o’clock in four minutes though, I thought, fighting down another panicky moment.

Suddenly, as if the Divine had intervened on my behalf, I saw a sign next to an open door.  It was a small, barely visible sign, on an orange index card.  The sign said, “Recreational Therapy Meetup: 11pm-Midnight.”

I sighed with relief. No one was in the room.  Good, I thought.  No one will get on my case for vaping in here—not until they show up at least! 

Philadelphia had cracked down hard on vaping as well as smoking in public places.  However, that didn’t stop me from sneaking the occasional puff here and there.  So long as no one was looking.

I found a couch that faced the window, and sat down with a heavy sigh.  I began the arduous task of taking my purse off from where it hung, crossed over my shoulder.  I am not a small woman, so this is not always easy.  My hips were already in pain from walking as it was.  I knew my doctor would get on my case for not losing the weight he told me to lose, since I’d been diagnosed as pre-diabetic.  Well, I thought, that’s one of the “punishments” of getting old, I guess. 

I picked up my electronic vaporizer and took a long, slow puff, and watched the water vapor cloud up around me as I sat there.  Yep, getting old sucks, I thought.  I had just turned fifty this year, and wasn’t taking well to aging at all.  Probably why I needed this group.  At least I was getting out of the house, I said to myself defiantly.

If I was truly honest though, what drew me to this group was the paragraph about crying in the introduction.

“In order to get to the deepest part of your hurts, you need to do a lot of crying.  Everyone who shares does so for a half an hour, no interruptions.  Sometimes we don’t even talk.  We just cry.  We also shout, pound the couches and throw chairs around the room.  Primal expression has been frowned on for far too long.  So, check your inhibitions at the door, and come join us as we peel away the layers of our public facades.  Don’t forget your tissue box.”

I had no tissue box, but in my purse were about five large-sized men’s handkerchiefs.  I opened the purse and looked at them, folded neatly and stacked in the large compartment. I began to feel that strange, familiar pleasure as my hand closed around one of them.  As soon as it happened, the fear and shame took over.  What was I, crying-obsessed?  Did I really want to heal from my hurts, or just sit and cry my eyes out for hours on end?

No.  I wanted to cry my eyes out for hours on end AND watch others do the same.  Whatever would validate me…I was there.

I could hear my mother’s voice, loud and clear, talking about my writings of fiction, some of which  I’d self-published and was still trying to sell online.

“You have people crying all the time!  Why do you have all these people crying?  It’s too much. Nobody wants to read that.”

Shame.  Hideous, unapologetic shame.  I knew why I needed therapy.  I needed to learn how to cry, and really embrace it with no shame.  I had the right...didn’t I?  After all, other people do it.  Why not me as well?

Sighing, I also realized that I still cried vicariously through others less ashamed to cry.  However, the feelings of strange, intense pleasure I always felt bothered me deeply.  Why did I feel that way?  Was it sick, I thought?  Was that rude to these people?  I didn’t know, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.

It was then that a voice interrupted my thoughts.

A man had walked in, and was talking.   I turned around to see him, and realized he had his cell phone against his ear and was walking around, talking loudly into it.  Normally I hated that sort of thing, but I found myself listening with no desire to leave or shut out the sounds by playing music through my earbuds.  The man was clearly not happy, and I found myself concerned about him even though I had never met him before.

He had dark hair, slightly curly and wavy, and it moved around as he walked, like curtains in a breeze.   Streaks of gray ran through it; was he close to my age?  I found myself hoping for that, as he was very, very attractive.  He wore a blue denim jacket and jewelry hung from his neck.  His shirt was black underneath the jacket. His jeans were the same color, denim blue. His boots were light brown, made of suede, and his jeans were stuffed into them, giving them a wrinkled appearance.  Still more scarves hung off of his belt, and his head was wrapped in an orange bandana.  In his front jacket pocket, a red pocket square or handkerchief, stood out.  In another pocket, one closer to his hips, a white handkerchief peeked out.

His eyes, I saw, were piercing and dark as he turned in my direction.  His face was beautiful, ageless and timeless. He was slightly olive-skinned…perhaps Native American, maybe even some Irish in him.  Freezing inside, I dropped my eyes and turned around to face the window.

He continued his tirade however, as if he hadn’t noticed me.  I desperately hoped that he hadn’t.  I didn’t feel right listening in on his conversation, even though it was loud enough that anyone could hear.  Apparently, he either didn’t know anyone was in the room, or didn’t care.

“That’s not good enough, Laney!” he was shouting. “That’s not even near good enough, and you KNOW it!  WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME OUR DAUGHTER TRIED TO KILL HERSELF?”

Oh my God, I thought, feeling a chill run down my spine.  Did I hear correctly?  Did his wife, or whoever this “Laney” was, really keep such a thing from this man?  How, and more to the point, why?

“I don’t understand,” the man’s voice continued.  Suddenly I realized his voice was closer to me than before.  I looked around with a start, and there he was, sitting on an armchair barely two feet from the couch I sat on.

“I don’t understand,” he said again, and this time his voice caught a little. 

I thought about getting up and walking away but something held me pinioned. The man was staring out the window, his dark, intense eyes fixed on something outside.  There was no way he couldn’t know I was there.  However, he clearly didn't care, or mind, if I heard his conversation.

I settled back into my seat quietly, and averted my eyes, but relaxed my body in a way that would show him he was safe to vent in front of me.  I hoped I’d be able to comfort him a little, before the rest of the group walked in.

“Laney—why didn’t you tell me Rachel was depressed?  I have been trying to reach her for months but she never answers or returns my calls.”  His voice broke now. “Laney—are you telling her bad stuff about me again?  God…how many times can I apologize for leaving you?  I made a mistake, Laney, a bad mistake, and I know it.  I lied to you.  I slept with Jen behind your back and insisted we were just friends. I told you you were delusional for your suspicions, and a jealous control-freak. I’m so SORRY, Laney!  So sorry…”

I stole a glance at his face.  Tears were streaming out of one eye.  He sniffed, but still stared out the window, shaking his head. His face was the picture of pure heartbreak.

“I owned up to it,” he continued brokenly.  “I--I owned all of it!  The four of us talked about it, Laney!  You, Rachel, Z and me.  I thought we had finally crossed over.  Now…now that I’m out of Jen’s life, even now that I realized what a bitch she was?  I’m STILL ostracized.  Still cast aside.  The hospital told me neither Rachel nor you wanted me to know any information about her.”

Soft sobs made his body shake.  The man reached into the pocket containing the white handkerchief, and took it out.  He then shook it until it unfolded, and placed it over his streaming face..

Oh, God,” he sighed, as the sobs became more pronounced.  “Oh!  I just—I just don’t know what to do, Laney.  I don’t know how to make it up to you guys.  God, Laney, you know how much I love our kids.  Z and Rachel are the greatest gifts of my whole life.  Laney…why?  Why is this happening?”

He collapsed into full-blown weeping now, clutching the handkerchief to his mouth and nose, as he did so.  His other hand, which was shaking, still held the phone to his ear.

As I sat there, trying not to make my attention on him obvious, I could hear Laney’s voice, a thin, officious-sounding voice, scolding him as if he were a small, errant child.  Quickly, the scolding became bullying as his sobs increased in volume.

“Oh.  Here we go, Zachary.  Crying.  Go on, make me feel like a piece of crap—again.  Go on, cry the blues, manipulate the situation like you always do!  God, Zach!  You are so self-absorbed, it makes me SICK!!”

“What a bitch!”

The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them.  Mortified, I turned away.   The man called Zachary’s eyes were on me, I could feel them burning into my skin. God, I thought. What had I DONE?

To make matters worse, Laney made it perfectly clear that she had heard me.

“Who is THAT, Zachary?  Your latest conquest?  Oh, you’re just so concerned about our daughter, aren’t you?  You probably never even went to the hospital.  You stayed home and screwed your latest little HUSSY!”

“She’s not a hussy, and you can go to HELL!” 

Zachary threw the phone at the window.  It hit it, but didn’t break or crack the glass. Instead it fell to the floor, making a crashing sound of its own.

Zachary now dropped his face into his handkerchief and sobbed wildly and heartbrokenly into it.  He sobbed as if his whole world had shattered.  From the sounds of it, it definitely had.

Without thinking another thought, I got up, walked over to him and put my arms around his shoulders.  I leaned my head on his scarved head and stroked his hair soothingly.  Zachary didn’t pull away, or stiffen.  He simply melted into deeper weeping, as if knowing he could trust me not to judge him or accuse him of “manipulation.”

“It’s all right,” I said softly as he continued to weep, occasionally shaking out his handkerchief and repositioning it over his face.  “It’s all right.  My name is Fiona and I'm your friend if you need one.  It's all right.  I’m here for you.  I'm here.”

I didn’t know why I was doing this, or why I felt like I’d known this man for years.  He certainly responded to me as if we’d been friends forever.  Closing his hand over mine and squeezing it gently, Zachary nodded through his sobs, which were too powerful for him to talk over.  Gradually, his sobs became softer, low and dark, almost like a percussion or a heartbeat.

“I’m here for you, Zachary,” I said softly, feeling the emotion rise as my own eyes filled with tears.  “Just go ahead and cry.   I’m here.”

Meanwhile, my whole body tingled with pleasure, and I felt a strong force as if a light were going up my spine, and out of my forehead.  I prayed that Zachary wouldn’t pick up on that.  I had never had THAT strong a reaction before.

Why did I react this way to tears?  They were the most natural thing in the world.   What was wrong with me anyway?

As if Zachary heard my thoughts, he said the very words I needed to hear.

“Thank God,” he said brokenly.  “You don’t know how it feels to finally meet someone who loves crying as much as I do.”

He laughed through his tears, and I came around and sat on the couch, near him.

“Crying is the best medicine sometimes,” I said.  “I never look down on a person who cries. That to me is just…counterproductive. Not to mention cruel!”

“You’re an empath like me,” said Zachary. “We empaths need to help others, but in order to do that, we have to help ourselves.  Me, I love it when a person cries.  I feel honored when women, and even men, let themselves cry in front of me.  That’s ultimate trust, you know.”

“Thank you, Zachary,” I said, heartfelt, putting out my hand to take his in mine. It was then that my own tears came, and I hung my head as my face began to twist in that familiar grimace.

“No you don’t,” Zachary laughed heartily.  “Come on, show me your cry face.”

I laughed through my tears, and lifted my face to his. Not knowing that I’d taken out my handkerchief, I blotted my nose with it.

“Good girl,” Zachary said, but his voice was filled with love, not the condescension I had once gotten from an ex-boyfriend I’d had.  Zachary’s deep, dark eyes were filled with compassion and, I was shocked to see, love. 

“Cry,” he said softly. “Just go on and cry, Fiona.  No one else seems to be coming, anyway.”

So I did.  I shook out the handkerchief and sighed…then lifted it to my face.  As I wept into it, the feeling came again, that powerful force that went up my spine and out of my forehead. The pleasure became more and more intense as I hugged the soft cloth to my face and reveled in its comforting touch, while it soaked up my tears.

Zachary got up, walked over to the couch and sat next to me.  Moving my purse gently to his other side, he took me in his arms and just rocked, and rocked me.  I wept as I had never wept before…in front of someone.  A stranger…but then again, not so much.  It felt wonderful.  It was like nothing I’d experienced...ever.

Understanding came to me then, as the tears and sobs just flowed.  There was nothing wrong with me.  I experienced pleasure while weeping and witnessing tears—because it was a release.  Plain and simple.  A beautiful release that for too long, I’d felt too inhibited to allow.

And this…this feeling of pleasure was intensified by the fact that I'd always looked for a place of not only comfort, but of love.  In this moment now, as I felt Zachary's arms around me rocking me as I sobbed my heart out, I realized something.  Not only had I found a friend and kindred spirit…I had fallen in love. Deep, passionate love, the like of which I had never known.  Never mind that I’d only just met this man. It was as if we’d known each other forever, and were coming home to each other.  Coming home…to pure, raw, feeling and true love.

“Don’t stop until you’re ready,” Zachary was saying into my ear.  “Don’t stop, my love. There are no time limits, and no rules.  There never will be with me.  Never.  Do you hear?”

I nodded, and squeezed one of his hands.  I wanted to say thanks, but the sobs were too intense to talk over.

I don’t know how long we sat together like that, or when it happened.  But sooner or later, my catharsis ended up in a kiss.  Then…the rest was heaven.  Somehow, and it seemed that Zachary shared my thoughts--I knew it would never stop there with one night.  It had only begun.  Heaven had only begun.

Heaven on Earth—the Salt of the Earth.

Last edited by La Llorona (April 28, 2017 3:24 am)

"People cry, not because they're weak. It's because they've been strong for too long." --Johnny Depp
"Cry to me...let it come, let it bleed...reach in and get it, and set it free." --Heart

April 26, 2017 1:36 am  #2

Re: The Salt of the Earth

Beautiful story!  I especially love the part where the guy comforts her by rocking her back and forth.  I so adore "rocking" as an element in comforting.


April 26, 2017 1:40 am  #3

Re: The Salt of the Earth

Thank you!
  Yes, I love rocking.  I have never actually been rocked back and forth while crying...I always craved it.  It's my fantasy that I find a love like this one. Thanks so much for your kind words!

"People cry, not because they're weak. It's because they've been strong for too long." --Johnny Depp
"Cry to me...let it come, let it bleed...reach in and get it, and set it free." --Heart
     Thread Starter

April 26, 2017 5:16 am  #4

Re: The Salt of the Earth

Hello, folks!  Here is chapter 2.  To preface, I am switching characters every other chapter, and putting it in the first person narrative.  This one, true to the chapter's name, is Zachary's narrative.  Enjoy!

The Salt of the Earth

Chapter 2: Zachary

I woke up to the sun on my face.  It was warm, almost hot.  Thank God for air conditioning, I thought, sighing.  I looked down at the woman beside me, hugging her pillow as if it were a teddy bear.
She looked like an angel.
I wanted to touch her, to smooth her long red hair back at least.  But she looked so peaceful, I hated to disturb her.  Last night, we had come home from the Ethical Society in a Lyft car.  My meager apartment in University city was only a one bedroom but it was home to me.  Fiona had been amazing about the mess, but I didn’t mind when she cleaned it up.  Until I realized her hips were hurting and she had to sit down, short of breath. Then I told her in no uncertain terms that I wanted her to be comfortable, and not push herself.
Somehow, I knew just by her body language that she’d been shamed to the point of feeling like such a squashed bug, I just couldn’t not hold her then and there.  She cried again, this time much deeper, with more hysteria attached to it.  Occasionally I told her to breathe, just so she wouldn’t pass out. 
She shared her world with me, all of it.  She hated the weight she carried, and shyly wondered if I minded it. Minded it?  Was she serious?  She looked like a Goddess to me.  A bonafide, Botticelli Venus!  Why did people in this world think that thin was so beautiful?  Why did they do such horrible things to themselves if they even had an inch of body fat, let alone a yard?
It was so beautiful to see her release her shame and smile at me. GOD, that smile is majestic!  I need that smile.  I need it for the rest of eternity.
I need, also, to call the hospital about Rachel.
Last night, after Fiona wept, we again made love. Our bodies were aching from fatigue but somehow the pain fueled us on.  Fiona is, by far, the best lover I ever had.  I truly hope I helped her overcome her self-loathing about her weight.
Truth be known, I don’t want her to lose any of it, and to hell what her doctor says.  God, no. What if she ended up like Rachel?
I sighed. Laney wasn’t telling me everything, and I knew it.  Rachel had been so thin last time I saw her, she was almost skeletal.  Laney can’t fool me for squat and she knows it. So why does she lie to me?  Even lying by omission can still be lying. Especially when someone’s life is at stake!
The memory played back like an alarm clock ringing, one you can’t turn off.
I’m ten years old, and I’ve just come home from school. My mom, usually in the garden, is not there.  I go inside the back door, leading to the kitchen. On the table is a large glass of milk and seven big chocolate chip cookies…the soft kind.  I fall into the food with gusto.  Sugar is the best comfort after a long day at school.
Then, I see the note, lying next to the plate.  There’s only one cookie left, and the milk is gone.  I pick up the note, and as I try to read, I notice the ink is blotched in parts.
My dearest Zachary,
You are my only child, and the son of my heart.  This said, I want you to see this first.  I love you more than  I ever loved anybody, including myself. Zachary, I’ve never been fully honest with you and now is the time.
You see, I never sat in the kitchen and ate cookies with you because I never touch that stuff. Cookies, sugar, they are all poison to me.  I never eat anything like that, because I know what it will do to me. God Bless you, Zach, you are skinny as a rail and yet you can eat a whole box of cookies and not gain one pound.  What I wouldn’t give to be a child again!
Your father left us, Zach, because I wouldn’t eat. No matter what he tried to do, I wouldn’t eat.  When he beat me that time, Zach, I deserved it. You were so brave to stand up to him, God, you even hit him, your own dad.  But you did that for me.  You did that because you were terrified he was going to kill me.
He might have done that, Zach.  Truth be told, however…he’d be doing us both a favor.
I can’t live like this anymore, baby.  I am so sorry to leave you like this, but I have no choice.  I am hurting you more than helping you, by remaining on this planet.  Zachary, after you read this note, go next door to the Samsons and tell them to call the police.  By that time, I should already be dead.
I love you so much, Zach!  I will always love you. Always remember—I am doing this for you!
Always your loving mother,
I screamed, then ran through the house. “Mom!” I called.  “MOM!”
No answer.
I ran up the stairs, and into the bedroom.
There she was, lying on the bed.  Still alive, still breathing. But she looked like a skeleton. She looked like all her skin  had fallen off.
“Mom!”  I ran to the bed.  My mother gasped, her face lit up with love at seeing me.  For a moment, I thought there was hope, that I could save her.  But, just as two tears rolled out of her blue eyes…she died.
The tears rolled into the pillow as my mother’s bloodshot, lifeless eyes, stared up at me.  That was the last thing I remembered before I woke up in  Tommy Samson’s room, and he was telling me I’d been yelling about killing my dad.  Over and over again…yelling. “I’ll kill him!  I’ll kill him!  I’ll KILL him!”
It was Fiona.  She’d woken up and was holding me, rocking me back and forth as I’d rocked her last night.  All I could do was just cry.  I’d been yelling, “I’ll kill him,” and I didn’t even know it.  Fiona didn’t ask me about it either. She just enveloped me in her strong arms and let me rest my head on her large bosom.
When my mother died, I went to stay with my grandmother. She was large and plump like Fiona was, and everything about her radiated comfort.  Unfortunately, I didn’t stay there long, only six months.  Grammy died in a car crash on her own birthday. She would have been sixty.
Five years from now, I’ll be sixty.  God, I thought.  Oh, God.  Why are all these memories haunting me now?  I can’t afford this. I have a child of my own. I am not going to leave her. And I’m NOT going to lose her like I lost my mother.
I continued to sob in Fiona’s arms and she began to sing to me, a soft crooning sound, so beautiful. I had never heard a voice like that, ever.  She truly was an angel.
At long last, the tears had subsided enough that I could at least talk.  I gently pulled out of Fiona’s embrace and opened the drawer of the bedside table.   Fortunately, the handkerchiefs were all there, as I’d done laundry the other day.  I picked one up, shook it out and held it over my face.  I sighed, the tears still flowing as the cloth caressed my cheeks.  Then, I blew my nose.
“Do you want to talk about it?”  Fiona finally asked gently.
“My mother took her life when I was ten years old,” I sobbed.  “God, Fiona, I was just remembering the day I found her.  Rachel—oh my baby, my little girl!  She’s anorexic, Fiona.  She gets it from my mother. From—from me. Same genes!  If I lose her too…”
“Oh, baby!” Fiona’s blue eyes filled with tears of empathy. “Zachary, oh my God, I had no idea.”
She held my left hand while my right one clutched the handkerchief to my face.  I was hysterical now.  Fiona was crying too, but less intensely.  She seemed to be in comfort mode.
“Fiona,” I managed to croak in between sobs, “Don’t you ever, and I mean, EVER talk down about your weight again.  I need you to promise me this.  Do you promise me?”
“Yes,” Fiona said in a muffled voice before lifting it from her own handkerchief.  “Yes,” she said more definitively as she looked lovingly into  my eyes. 
“It’s horrible how society treats women—and even men—over a little thing like extra flesh,” Fiona said softly as I collapsed onto her breast again and she held me tightly.  “It’s just—I don’t know if people who hire models for fashion, or actresses, whatnot…realize they might be committing murder when they tell someone to lose weight.  Especially when that person is already thin!
“I had a sister who was anorexic,” Fiona went on. “Thankfully, she is in recovery now.  But she doesn’t talk to me. She could never deal with me eating in front of her.  Freaks her out.  I’m okay with her decision…I’m just glad she didn’t die.”
“Thank God,” I said, sitting up and blotting my face some more.  As always, especially since last night, the familiar pleasure was mingling with my pain.  I normally embraced this pleasure, but right now, I felt guilty for it.  My little girl was in the hospital, probably dying, and here I am getting my rocks off from yet another crying jag.  I felt like that self-absorbed person Laney described. It made me angry all of a sudden.
“Fiona, I have to go,” I suddenly said, rising.  “I have to get that hospital to let me see my kid.  So help me, I’ll force my way in if I have to.  But I am not letting her die, Fiona.  No way. That is NOT on!”
“I’ll go with you,” Fiona said, rising herself.
For a moment, a mere moment, I became shy, and self-conscious.  I didn’t want to inflict more of my pain on Fiona.  I also didn’t want Laney descending on  her if she came with me to the hospital. Laney loved to fat-shame people who carried weight. She wasn’t anorexic but she was obsessed with working out and being hard-bodied.  I shuddered, thinking what all that had done to Rachel.
Then, Fiona came around to the front of me, and took my face in her hands.  She kissed me, long and hard, and I melted.  There was no way I was going to risk losing this angel.  I wouldn’t, couldn’t, shut her out. She was too perfect not to share my life with…and that included my family.
“Fiona,”  I said softly, my voice sounding raspy from weeping, “Fiona…you’re an angel.  I swear…you are an Earth Angel.”
“I love you,” Fiona whispered in my ear.
“I love you too,” I said, then felt the pleasure shoot up my spine and through my forehead.  I had never been so sure of someone I’d only known less than twenty-four hours…ever.
I’ve never been religious, but this was as close to Heaven as I ever thought I’d get.

"People cry, not because they're weak. It's because they've been strong for too long." --Johnny Depp
"Cry to me...let it come, let it bleed...reach in and get it, and set it free." --Heart
     Thread Starter

April 28, 2017 3:20 am  #5

Re: The Salt of the Earth

Chapter 3.  Fiona
I have no idea, no idea at all how I got through this day without a panic attack. I think because I had my mind on Zachary the whole time.  And he was panicking enough for both of us.
Rachel had been discharged by the time we got to Hannaman Hospital, which, by the way is a bitch to find parking in.  Zachary drove his car, which was not a good idea.  He knew it, I knew it, and since I knew he knew it, I didn’t bother to mention it. All that was on my mind was getting Zachary to see his kid.  His daughter, who was anorexic and had just tried to commit suicide.  The same way, it turned out, that Zachary’s mother had.
A heroin overdose.  Holy crap!
Upon learning that Rachel had been discharged and taken home by Laney, it was about an hour before Zachary found the car in the lot he’d parked in.  Once he got in, and we sped over to Laney’s in South Philly, we were treated to a pair of morons arguing in the middle of fifth street. A father and a son, seemingly. 
“Did you hear from Z yet?” I asked Zachary, referring to his son.  Z was two years older than Rachel, and about to graduate high school.  Like Rachel, Z wasn’t what one would call close to his dad.
Zachary shook his head, and suddenly began to breathe heavily and violently. He fumbled in his pocket and whipped out a very large red bandana. He shook it several times before clutching it to his face with his right hand, his left hand navigating the steering wheel.  It was then that he sneezed, intensely.  He paused, face still covered, all but his eyes.  The large bandana moved slightly as it flowed over the hand that held it. Zachary let out a trembling sigh, then sneezed again, powerfully.  As he did so, several staccato-like sobs suddenly burst out of him. 
“Oh!  Bless you, baby, twice over!” I said, putting my hand on his shoulder. 
The light had just turned red.  Zachary slumped over a bit, and clutched the bandana tightly to his face with both hands.  He shook, hard, with silent sobs, then he began to laugh along with it.
“Thank you, love,” Zachary said, revealing his face which was streaming with tears.  “OH, brother, I’m off to the races again!” He laughed into powerful sobbing, leaning on the steering wheel and shaking his head.
“Oh my goodness, Zachary!  It's okay, get it out!” I said gently.  I took out my own handkerchief, just in case.  Just in case, for my breath was coming out in trembling sighs as well.
“Happens sometimes when I sneeze,” said Zachary, voice muffled by the bandana.  “Especially when it happens all of a sudden, and more than once.”
He laughed again…and finally just sobbed freely into the bandana.  He was sure to keep his eyes uncovered so he could see the light change.  Quickly his sobs became intense, soft, thumps, as his right hand, vertical over his mouth and nose, clutched the bandana there, barely covering the eyes. 
“It's all right, honey,” I sighed.  " I know.  Just let it out. You can still drive and cry at the same time.”
The sound of his sobs was so hypnotic, so intense.  Musical.  If I ever tried to write about them, I knew how they would sound.  Zachary and I were transported to another realm by the rhythmic, hypnotic beauty of those thumping sobs.
Eventually, the car in front of us began to move. “We’re moving, I think,” I said softly, heart sinking in disappointment.
“Oh!  Christ. Okay,” Zachary laughed through his tears, and began to drive again.
 He managed to drive down the street, not  missing a beat or a stop sign.  Finally, he parked at an unexpected spot on  Shunk Street. 
I put my arms around his shoulders again as he sighed, still sobbing.  I gave him a large white handkerchief, as his bandana was soaked through by now.  Zachary buried his face in the handkerchief and practically convulsed with hysteria.
“OH, God, I can’t do this anymore,” he wept.  “I—I—but I just can’t stop. I can’t.”  He was laughing through his sobs, but they continued, relentlessly.
“It’s all right,” I said softly.  “We have time, love. Rachel would be resting, I’m sure.”
“Yes,” said Zachary.  “Yes.  But—but— father didn’t kill my mother.  I did!”
“No no no, love. Easy, honey.  She killed herself, honey.  You didn’t kill her,” I comforted.
“I could have stopped her,” sobbed Zachary. “I—didn’t read the note right away. I didn’t see it. I sat there for—for—an hour maybe---and—“
He let out a wail and a shout.  I held him and sobbed heartily, needing a release for this empathy.  We both sobbed together, as if our hearts would break. 
“It wasn’t your fault,” I sobbed now and then. “It wasn’t your fault, baby!”
Eventually the tears and sobs became easier to talk around.
“I feel just sick, Fiona.  I’m nothing, I’m worthless!  I’m--we have to go,” Zachary said, sighing. “I hate when this happens.    GOD, I hate Laney for this.”
“I know,” I agreed empathically.  “If she says one word to you though…I won’t be responsible for what I say to her.”
Zachary looked at me sharply a moment, then his eyes twinkled.
“You’re a warrior too,” he said, swallowing the last of his tears. “Thank God. We need more warriors.”
He blotted his face several times, sighing.
“Yes, well, only the best warriors realize that crying is part of doing battle with your demons,”  I said.  “Those who are brave enough to take down those demons, that is!”
Zachary kissed me then.  Long, and hard.  Eventually we did get out of the car, and walked slowly to the wonderful “Laney’s” house. Where hopefully we’d see Rachel…and Z.

Last edited by La Llorona (May 12, 2017 3:45 am)

"People cry, not because they're weak. It's because they've been strong for too long." --Johnny Depp
"Cry to me...let it come, let it bleed...reach in and get it, and set it free." --Heart
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