Holding an unlit cigarette, he looks me in the eye, a soft look, and says simply, I’m feeling sad.
When his voice is this quiet – a thought forms itself into sound and escapes like smoke up a chimney – he is raw inside.
I know how he feels, but saying so doesn’t help, does it? I keep my mouth shut.
We’re in the back garden, soaking in the coolness of evening. He sits down in a black plastic chair and looks straight ahead at the dim garden creeping up to a weathered and tatty greenhouse. I remain standing, put my hand on his shoulder and stroke the width of his young, defeated back.
I look up at the black sky and there, above us, is a single, muted star, its shine deadened by a curtain of cloud closing on the stage while the performer is still playing his part.
Look up there, I say. He looks passed my pointing. See that star behind the cloud?
Ya, he says.
You are like that star. Right now, a dark cloud is hiding your shine, and you cannot see through the cloud. This happens to us, in life. But it won’t last forever. The cloud moves on. You will be bright again.
It flared now, when you said that, he says, moving his hand upward.
He is right. The cloud has a bald patch and the star is bright, taking the gap.
I know the sky in which this young man hangs, suspended, has been full of rumbling columns of darkness. Full of terror and trauma, frustration and loneliness, anger and hurt.
When his torments close in on him he is in a pocket of sky so clouded and dark his pupils dilate, his thoughts scramble and spiral. He forgets he is a star and sinks into a demon sky that eats itself. It chews its way to him and demands he feed it his light to keep the gloom at bay.
Seeing that star pulse at just the right time, as if it were eavesdropping on our conversation, stokes my gratitude. I’ve experienced enough miracles and magic to know there is such a thing as Divine Intervention.
I know, too, that behind the clouds, in the middle of the tempest, we’re still shining stars.
If I sniff the air and smell a storm coming, I catch a falling star and put it in my pocket. That translates into being hugged by, and talking to, people I love and trust; people who hold the umbrella because my hands are full.
I saddle up my creativity and take it for a long ride through the bad weather, like so…
This week’s Happiness
There is a man in my life, but he is not in my life in the way you’re thinking he is in my life.
We have an arrangement that requires regular renegotiation and check-ins. How so?
Our lives overlapped for two reasons.
Firstly, he stayed in the house I currently occupy. He has furniture he couldn’t store anywhere else but here. He recently found a home to rent, so last week he made two trips with a trailer, his girlfriend and, on the second trip, his young son. He took nearly all that belonged to him from the storeroom, the greenhouse, and the garage/shed.
I didn’t know the curtains I draw at night (not on paper like Amelia Bedelia does in one of the funniest children’s stories I have read) belonged to him. He gave me ample warning that he needs them.
Off I trotted to get me and me boys some privacy drapes. I hung them up and, as I was dozing off to the chemical smell of my new window dressing, my sons pointed out that the curtains have a gaudy shimmer to them when the lights go on. My set has my room awash in a delicate pink hue. I’ve embraced the lady-of-many-pleasures, boudoir vibe. I feel like a sea creature in a shell.
Secondly, we have his two dogs. Like the furniture, they had nowhere to go.
As so often happens when you spend enough time with nice people and animals, we grew to love our borrowed pets.
Bailey is a boxer. He looks like a galloping horse when he runs across the park, massive, open mouth and floppy lips flying in all directions; children flee to the top of a good climbing tree as if he’s a wild beast that escaped from a zoo.
Fact: he is a big baby.
Fact: he is a gladiator when he encounters other dogs. That makes letting him off the lead a military exercise. There is an exception to this gotta-attack attitude…
Rhino the Jack Russell. Bailey’s buddy and boss, Rhino is routinely found latched onto Bailey’s bottom lip, which is about as high as Rhino can reach on his hind legs.
Fact: Rhino resembles a stereotypical dictator – short and tyrannical, with episodes of outlandish generosity and flamboyant affection.
Worrying fact: we adore him.
More about Cheeky Chops (Bailey) and Chubby Chequers (Rhino) another time.
Oh, and there’s green-eyed Kiki. She’s the cat that comes with the house.
Kiki eats fresh, alive food under my desk. I do feed her pellets, but she devours raw free-range mince or wild-caught garden fare. The former she gets occasionally, the latter she helps herself to on her slinky outings. A lizard goes crunch (I woke up to the sound of little bones cracking) in one sitting, a mouse is divided into ladylike portions throughout the night.
On that squeaking note…
Here’s a Toodle-oo and a Much Love To You.
xxx ❤ TeaShell Michele