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Thursday, October 31, 2019

An Infinite Love

Fiction by Michael "Yasir" Belt

The sun began to set on the mid-summer’s day. Gates and shutters of Main Street’s day traders began to close while the bustle of its nightlife arose. A cool breeze greeted the couple as they dallied across the cobble-stoned street. Neither was in much of a rush for this beautiful day to end. Both had been caught in the other’s web, though one had been constantly mesmerized more than the other. 

“I’m trying to figure out why I’ve been the one doing all of the heart spilling,” Amanda prodded, wishing he’d open up more. For at least the third time today her date didn’t seem to be there. His body had been taking the unconscious steps forward but his mind seemed to be traveling much further than the here and now. 

“Hey… Cosmo!” she called him back to attention.

“Who?” Aries snapped back into the present. 

“I said – “

“Why are you doing all the heart spilling? I know, I heard you,“ he sighed gently. “I’ve heard everything you’ve said today.“

“Oh really,” she muttered in disbelief. 

He let her sulk for a moment, though not too long. All day he had been in and out, absent from reality with no recollection of where he’d gone. He’d had nothing on his mind. Strangely it had been the times he wanted to talk, to tell her more about himself that he would disappear into the empty void of his thoughts. He’d try to recall how life had been before this pivotal day with her but he’d always draw a blank. Things he knew hadn’t been well for him, yet all he seemed to know was this joyous moment in time. This miraculous feeling of… her. 

“Your dad’s a retired chef, which makes me think you’ll simply grin and bear my attempt at food once I cook for you.” He told her with surety. “You don’t have a brother, but you wished you had an older one when you were growing up. Mitchell, I think you called your imaginary one. Your little sister is your world. Your mother was your best friend. She had snuck you in to that bakery we passed back on 4th Street for your 16th birthday. Your dad had grounded you a week before for coming in the house an hour late for curfew, reeking of cigarettes, pitifully masked by your best friend’s CVS brand au de toilette. The perfume had smelled like actual toilet water.”

“The eternity your dad had sentenced you to was far from over but you were your mom’s baby girl. Plus she knew that there wouldn’t be many more b-day’s she’d be sharing with you. And that was the hardest year of your life. Your mom passed away, your first love crushed your heart and your longest, oldest, best, friend got hit by a car and had to be euthanized”. Aries shook his head, a showing of grief stretched across his brow. “Poor little poodle. And you. All of that before you turned 17. But in my opinion, it was good for you. Going through it all made you stronger. And I think you turned out just fine.”

Amanda peered at him almost dumbfounded. “Did I tell you all of that… today?”

“Sure you did,” he answered assuredly. “I told you I heard everything you said. “ Though in a fragmented piece of the back of his mind, he didn’t remember her talking all that much. 

Oddly, Aries felt as if he’d known her forever. Much longer than this day; their first date. It was like his heart had been hers for so long and he was somehow just relinquishing its rights. How though…?

“Something else you’ve been telling me,” he went on, “though not verbally, is how, I’ll say, self-conscious you are about that pretty scar on your face. You keep it covered with your hair, and no matter how many times I try to walk on your right side – the street side – as a gentleman is supposed to, you always find a way to scoot me back over to the left. And I’ll let this be the last time. I don’t know if it’s a nervous thing or… or what… but...”

“Go ahead,” Amanda chuckled lightly to hide her apprehension. “Don’t be shy now. You’ve already read me like you’ve personally written the book of my life – and been right so far – so, feel free to enlighten me some more.”

“Well…” Aries took a moment to think; totally missing her facetious sarcasm. He didn’t want to be insensitive. Delving into a person’s flaws and insecurities was like crossing a tiger shark filled moat with no bridge. No way you come out in one piece, if you come out at all. Though, somehow, he saw the softness behind the fire of her waiting eyes as an open invitation to dive in.  “First of all the overbite – even with those little teeth – all of it is adorable. But you hide it with… I’m not sure if you don’t like the shape of your lips,” Aries tried to verbalize his thoughts. And just as he knew she would, Amanda tucked her thin top lip into her mouth and bit down on it. “Most people bite on their bottom lip, and mostly the corners. You though, the way your top lip naturally curls upward and leaves that small gap…” 

His mind wandered into the dim, moon-lit bedroom. She was asleep next to him in their bed, his favorite V-neck t-shirt clung to her night sweat-glistened body. The V hadn’t been so deep to begin with but with its secondhand use as her sleepwear, it pleasantly began to expose the tender upper side and cleavage of her breast. Yet that was not what Aries was most attentive to.  It was the tiny drool spot on her pillow. How her mouth hung a bit more open, her top lip a little higher than ever would’ve allowed it to rise. So cute he thought. 

Her hair was positioned over her face, hiding her scar as if it knew its place even in her slumber. He moved it to the side and lightly traced the scar down her face before taking Amanda’s awe-inspiring presence into his mind’s view. At that very moment he couldn’t imagine ever being more in love with anyone as he was with her right then and there. 

“Where did you go?” Amanda queried with wonder blazing through her eyes. 

“What do you mean?” he said snapping back into the now.

“I mean you’re here one second – listening, walking, and talking – and then it all stops.” Amanda gestured with her hands and eyes for him to look around at how they had come to a standstill. “Where do you go up there?”

“I was trying to get my words right,” he fibbed. “I don’t want to offend you.”    

“Well… you don’t have to be too gentle, you know?” Amanda taunted alluringly. 

“Hmph,” Aries snickered. “You bite down on your top lip, in the middle of it, which is kind of weird. 

Especially when you let it go and it curls back up and there’s that little opening between your lips.” Aries smirked coyly having to look away in search of the heart to complete his thought in words. He inhaled deeply, turned back to Amanda, looked her directly in her comforting eyes and exhaled. “In the most respectful way,” he smiled, “you have a very pretty mouth.” 

There was a pseudo-glare of astonishment on her face yet she couldn’t hide her flush cheeked smile. 

“Is that all?” Amanda toyed. 

Aries considered the question, briefly. There were a number of things he could’ve mentioned. The soft allure of her blue-green eyes was one. Her dirty blond hair, how it began to curl just below her earlobes and twisted itself down onto her shoulders was another. Her year-round sun kissed skin that looked softer than water, or the hips which refused to quit even under the flow of her sundress. All of it and more was well worth a mention. Though, he had a better idea. 

The gesture Aries made of removing the hair covering the left side of Amanda’s face and tucking it behind her ear was gentle and deliberate. “I like this too,” he whispered, delicately tracing over the jagged shaped smooth scar with his thumb. His other four fingers dragged lingeringly down her cheek until his hand dropped from her chin. Her skin was indeed as soft as he’d imagined. 

Amanda had looked to his hand as he’d placed it upon her and followed his fingers as they teased her face. Her head had turned, gaze seeking to fall anywhere but upon him when the searing trails he traced ceased and her burning sensation began elsewhere.

Amanda’s hand was in his and Aries was guiding her along before she remembered to breathe again. Whether it was him or her who had tightened their grip, neither would argue nor care. Both, for their own reasons, felt at home with this small showing of affection. It was Aries though, who pulled Amanda closer as the two traipsed entangled down Main Street, a smile that had once been forlorn now gleaming radiantly with hope. 

“I’ve done it ever since I was a kid,” the sudden memory poured out. “Went elsewhere, in my head. Things were let’s say, not that easy growing up. Imagining better days or making up my own stories made it all a little more bearable in the moment at least. I guess I never really grew out of the habit. 

He thought to tell her the rest. How he would be knocked back into the real world – profusely – by the exact piece of reality he’d been trying so hard to escape. He tried to tell her what his life had been before her. The words formed on the back of his tongue, heavily weighed down by the acrid taste of copper. And just as quickly as the memory had formed, it shot from the back of his mind, his thoughts no longer able to capture anything but the present. 

“So, what you’re saying is,” Amanda said, “the time you’ve been spending with me has been horrible?”

“No!” Aries quickly asserted. The image of her slumbering peacefully between his sheets blew fleetingly through his mind once more. “That was something else,” he smirked mischievously.

“Like?” she pried, not missing a beat. 

Aries sighed, peering directly into Amanda’s eyes as his thumb slowly caressed the back of her hand. The smallest wink of his eye and she was sure of it. 

“Oh,” she whimpered, and cleared her throat. “Really?”

Her word – really – dripped with more carnal intrigue than a trilogy of BDSM novels. Aries heard it, the true line of questioning. 

What were we doing? Was it wet enough for you? I made you choke me; didn’t I? How many times did I scream your name? Any butt stuff? Did you change Amanda to God when you were finishing? Oh God, Oh God, Oh God! Amanda groaned mockingly. 

All with one word: “Really.”

And, like the man he’s always been, Aries chose what he considered to be his best asset. To him, allowing a person in, letting them get close enough to glimpse even the minutest thought was to betray his own sensibility, setting himself up for failure. Which is why he’d become a master at the art of deflection before he’d stopped peeing the bed.

“You’ve told me everything today except how you got that beauty mark on your face,” he said. “Care to enlighten me?”

There was a shift in Amanda’s demeanor. She fixed her hair back over her scar and turned her head in a fatuitous attempt to hide it once again. 

“You mean the huge lightning bolt that takes up half my face?” she said.

Aries raised her hand above her head and spun her around in a circle. Once. Twice. Thrice before she giggled. Around and around she went, hair tossing, sundress floating ever so slightly, spinning to the brink of dizziness. 

He’d had them on their way, walking again, before her world ceased its wobble. Past the infused scent of freshly brewed Peruvian coffee and hookah smoke spilling out from The Poetry Cafe’s open door.  Past the days finite ringing bell on the locking door of Mom & Pop’s Milkshakes & Malts. 

Over the leveled sidewalk, Aries tripping over a phantom crack in the concrete, steadying himself by wrapping his arms around Amanda’s back, his hand resting on her hip.

She giggled sheepishly, placing her hand over his hand. “Clumsy now, are we?”

Aries shrugged, an impish smirk curling the corners of his lips. He didn’t remove his hand, even after she dropped hers. This time as they walked, he was on her scar side. How he’d managed to get over there Amanda never quite figured out. Somewhere in the midst of a spin maybe, though she hadn’t even noticed until she caught him staring directly at it.

“You’re right,” Aries said. “It’s not as big as you make it out to be but, it does look like a lightning bolt. And that’s what makes it even cooler. It makes you look like a superhero. Superheroes are sexy.”

“Well it makes me feel more like a super villain than anything,” she confessed. “When people look at me, the first thing they see is the scar. Then they just stare at it. It makes me uncomfortable when people stare at me, so I hide it.”

“Well… super villains tend to be more attractive than superheroes,” he said. “I mean, who wouldn’t stare at Cat Woman?”

“I’m sorry, who?” Amanda jested with a straight face. 

“Wow,” he said stopping in his tracks. He dropped his hand from her hip, grabbing hold of her hand and squeezing. “This isn’t going to work out. We can’t possibly be compatible if you don’t even know who Cat Woman is. Sorry, but that’s where I draw the line.”

“Hmph,” Amanda scoffed. “You’re right.”

She stepped away from him slowly. She had to lightly pry her hand from his grasp as their arms stretched to their limit.

“There’s no way this could work. You’re absolutely a D.C. Comic’s boy, while I’m the ultimate Marvel Universe fan girl who identifies with the Frost Queen, the vivacious Ms. Emma Frost. And that’s why this is where I leave you.”

It took him a second to follow, for she had left him in a state of gape-mouthed amazement. Amanda hadn’t struck him at all as the proud geek she’d just affirmed herself to be.  Never had he been one to discriminate, Batman or Captain America, D.C. or Marvel, black or white, slim waisted or luscious curves. It was all the same to him. But this woman…

Aries had always had his own personal definition of beauty; a more holistic view than one of vanity. This woman though… this woman went beyond what could be written on the figurative pages of the Collegiate Dictionary of Aries. 

Amanda was something else. Not the picture accompanying the word but the word itself. And every definition to follow.  She was intrigue in its most unadulterated form. And she was getting away. 

“Hey!” Aries hollered after her.

It began as a light jog, quickly turning into a full flat out perspiration willing sprint just to catch up with her. “How’d she get so far away so fast?” he wondered as he closed the distance between them. 

“You know,” Aries huffed, “Emma Frost may be the epitome of…”

“Hot?”

“Well…” He took her arm, intertwining it with his. “I wasn’t going to depict her with such a misogynistic term but, since you said it… I’ll just say beautiful.”

“So she’s…”

“All that I’m thinking.”

If his intonation hadn’t given it away, the rogue smirk and leer of his eyes made the full confession. Aries was no longer speaking about a fictitious comic book character. It was about her. The flesh and blood to the bone, his Frost Queen.

Their night began its descent in an apparent blink of an eye. Aries took in the sights as he walked Amanda down the street and to her door. The neighborhood wasn’t necessarily poverty stricken but it was far from swanky. The houses were well-lit, modestly kept stucco, side by sides with a small alleyway    separating every two. His guess was that the alleys led to backyards but there was no way for him to tell. The bright, mostly LED porch lights seemed to reach every bit of the front of the house, stretching to cover almost the entire sidewalk, but purposely failed to light a single inch of the side of a single home. 

Most of the houses had front yards. There were a few with shrubs. He’d counted two flower beds and a desert thirsty rose bush so far. A few houses had slabs of concrete where the front yards would’ve been. Amanda slowed as they approached one of those slabbed dwellings. It was the only one on the entire block that didn’t have a porch light. 

She led Aries up the stairs, stopping on the porch and turning towards him. They stood face to face now, with him standing on a step below her. 

“You know, I never did tell you how I ended up with such a heroic scar,” Amanda said, seeming a lot more comfortable with him now than she had earlier.

“Yeah, I noticed. I saw how you avoided the question earlier so I didn’t think it would’ve been considerate of me to pry.”

Her lips curled into a smile. She was so caught up in him. The rebirth of chivalry, that damn jawline. He made her feel so at ease, Amanda almost didn’t want to try and hide what she saw as her defects. Almost… all the way up until she realized that her top lip was higher than it should’ve been and she bit down onto it.

Aries’ warming smile – all teeth – was almost as captivating as his words. 

“Such-a-pretty-mouth,” he droned.

The dimly lit porch hid the fuchsia tone on her newly flushed skin. A white hot flash spread throughout her being, down from the roots of her hair, up from the bottom of her toes. Its fury gained a fiery momentum as it roared towards her center. 

Air became scarce, making it hard to breathe as their gazes fixed upon one another. Amanda parted her lips once more, this time gasping, gulping at the thick humidity surrounding them. And it was there, those sultry blue green eyes luring him in, that Aries could no longer help himself. 

Why do I think I love her so much? His brain attempted to fathom.

The agony of thought returned, tearing away at the back of Aries skull. The bitter taste of lead permeated through the roots of his teeth. His jaw ached as he closed his eyes in a desperate, futile attempt of escape. Though there would be no alternative to this reality! The bearing of so much utter anguish anchored him, wholly, right where he stood. The feeling, in all and every single way, was the most unbearable thing he’d ever thought to have experienced. And that made the sensation of its relief all the more surreal. 

Their lips softly came together, fumbling at first as if two nervous teenagers in the dark. Yet, it was within the beat of his heart that it became an unconsciously familiar tango. 

He pulled her in close, enveloping her within his arms. She fit as if she belonged there. Though, to Amanda, it felt more as if she were floating. Closer… closer to the night’s sun until the tender meeting of their tongues caused the flames within her to flash over. Her shudder vibrated through his mouth. Amanda’s feet found the ground as their embrace lightened. Aries loosened his grip, their mouth’s sensual two-step slowing to the smallest peck. If his life had ended at that very moment, fret would be the least of his worries. 

Aries took a step down, allowing the moon’s light to catch Amanda’s glowing face. He admired the slowly receding flush of her skin, content with the idea she’d seen the same stars circling around her head as he’d seen circling his. 

“I’d wanted to do that all night,” he breathed, with the little breath she’d left him with. 

Amanda tilted her pretty head to the right, exposing her avant-garde level of comfort with a devil –may-care grin upon her lips. 

“Anything else you’ve wanted to do?” she invited with clear intentions.

“Hah,” Aries chuckled. He stepped down again, looked her over hungrily, from head to toe before stepping down once more. “Thank you for tonight,” he said sincerely. “I had a good time and… I really needed it, so… thank you.”

Amanda made a small showing of fiddling with her keys before countering. 

“I think I’m supposed to be thanking you for being the gentleman you’ve been all day.” She held the keys at her side, the rhythm of her tapping them against her hip drew his eyes to them. And, just in case he didn’t get the message, “The night doesn’t have to end so soon, does it?”

His subconscious churned through his gut with the might of a passing kidney stone. The certainty of the night being over was too strong for his wanton desires. Even as this image flashed through his mind; Amanda’s bare body, erect, cherried nipples, and the sultry melody of her impassioned moans complimenting the rhythmic claps of her buttocks clashing against a pelvis. Even – especially – with this thought, he knew tonight must come to an end. 

“Come now, “Aries said, “what kind of gentleman would I be then? You have a good night though, and thank you again.”

Thirteen seconds and five stairs descended, anxiety became the blaring throb tearing away at the upper edge of his spine. The feeling of walking away from the best thing in his life choked him. But, just as quickly as it began, her voice removed all angst. 

“Wait!” Amanda sang after him.

Aries turned in time to see her coming, yet did nothing to thwart her attack. She threw her arms around his neck, pulled herself up and ravaged his lips. His heart leapt into his throat. It climbed its way onto his tongue, calmly sauntering into Amanda’s mouth. He used his tongue as his personal sliding board, finding its way into her chest and merging with her chunk of beating ice. 

Home.

He was ready. Ready for her. Ready to live. For love. He was ready to run straight back up those stairs, through her front door and to her bedroom. Ready. Zealously willing. Yet, somehow unable.  
There was something pulling him away even before she let go. The strange feeling of knowing. An innate level of understanding that was one thousand and thirteen times heavier than the weight she’d removed from around his neck. 

Amanda had stepped back a full six feet, gawking at his eerie stillness before Aries realized they’d stopped kissing. He wanted to ask her so badly… “Why?” He wanted to scream. To cry out loud enough for her to hear him if she were on the other side – the underside – of the world. 

“Why???”

The fire stirred from where his heart once sat. It brewed through his chest, filling his lungs to a furious capacity. He opened his mouth as the flames spiraled up his throat. 

“Ugh-Ugh-Ugh!” Aries coughed.

“You okay?” Amanda questioned, not at all referring to the physical. 

“Ugh… yeah… uhm… I think… I’m alright. I, uhm…”

“Disappeared again. Mid-kiss, I noticed it when your lips went cold. Like, dead cold.”

Aries tried to shake his head clear.

“I’m sorry. I was… I thought that… I remembered,” he stammered. 

“What? Huh?” he said, still trying to shake the fuzz from his mind. 

“What did you remember?”

“I… I don’t know.”

It was now Amanda’s turn to shake her head. Aries couldn’t tell if it was out of confusion, pity, irritation, or pure disgust. Though, what he was certain of was that none of it should matter. No thought, feeling, nor action could possibly change a thing. 

Today had been perfect. The glitches had never happened. Aries had fallen in love. Amanda had made him love her. Today had been the day. 

“Breakfast in the morning?” Amanda suggested, skipping over the beat of the past few moments. “I make a mean blueberry pancake.”

He watched her toy with her keys yet again. The want gleamed from her eyes, thirst written upon her parted lips. Her lustful craving was unmistakable.  

An inkling to run tickled at his toes. To be or not to be bewitched was the question he posed to himself. To roll the dice… is to love. 

“Breakfast sounds nice,” Aries said. “Although pancakes aren’t the meal I had in mind.”

Her response to his acquiescence began with a smile that brought the sun out. The steps she took towards him were small, methodical and deliberate until her breast crushed against his midsection. She reached up, placing her left hand on the back of his head, pulling him towards her as she rose on the tips of her toes.  

The kiss, while brief, was soft and enticing. Amanda took Aries’ hand, turning with haste to lead the way into her sanctum. There came that force anew, tugging at his very existence. 

Trying to shake it away only made him dizzier. He staggered, stumbling forward, struggling to stay upright. The ground felt like it was up while the sky seemed down. His knees, down upon the ground. It was almost over. 

The grip on his hand tightened as Amanda pulled him along. The pain was unbearable, feeling as if he were being pulled in two different directions. His physical being was fleeing one way while every feeling, emotion, sentiment, and sensation were vaulting towards her. A tug of war taking place within his chest. The agony of being ripped apart had become intolerable. The tortuous realization as to what, more flesh, blood and a fractured mind could ever be subjected to. 

Ringing, tingling, searing, stabbing, dread, agony, sorrow, bitter, pungent misery and darkness. 

The remote glued to his hand felt like home as Aries surfed through the 162 cable channels. All those channels, at such a price, and still there was nothing on this late at night. He stopped on a miscellaneous channel, an infomercial soliciting samurai swords and kitchen knives played to his inattentive eyes. 

He was stuck wondering why his ass fit perfectly in the loveseat’s cushion. Memory foam, it had to be. Yet his recollection of forming the imprint couldn’t be found. The entire house had the vaguest sense of familiarity to it. He wanted to call it home. Though, if it were, where were the memories? Aries looked around in search of familiarity. His focus fell just outside the foyer door. A pair of muddy boots he could remember owning yet not wearing sat clumsily discarded.

“Hmm?” was the sole thought he could muster. 

His eyes fell back to the room in which he sat. A small porcelain clown figurine rested on the end table next to him. He could barely remember hating it. To its right sat a sliver plated picture frame with a black velvet lined backing. Inside the frame was a picture of him and a woman. Her hair was the color of overripe strawberries. Who is she? Aries tried to forget but, her blue-green eyes would not allow it. 

Above the mantle, above the soccer and karate participation trophies, were where his sights next set. 

Upon the huge, poster sized portrait he was left to dwell. There she was again. The same woman, a different picture. This time her hair was dirty blonde, in curls. The sight of her smile burned his eyes, blurring his vision. He almost couldn’t make out the two children in the picture – one boy, one girl – who both resembled the man they stood in front of. Miniature facsimiles of Aries. 

He looked back upon the room, noticing for the first time the toys scattered about. A small Spiderman backpack lay off in the corner, right next to a small wooden table and chair set.  Crayons and construction paper lay haphazardly scattered atop. 

Panic set in. 

“Where are the kids?!” Aries screamed to the empty house. “Princess! Junior!” he yelled for them. 

But, when no one came, he made no attempt to rise and search. While his body contemplated raising itself, his conscious mind, knowing all too well the impetus, kept him put.  It directed his eyes back outside the foyer door. Back to the worn, clumsily discarded boots. Why are they muddy? His consciousness queried his recollection. 

Aries looked at his hands. His left was coated with a thick brown dust. Clumps of dirt, still moist, caked up under his fingernails. In his right hand, a still smoking .45 caliber handgun. The stench of freshly burned gunpowder invaded his nostrils. Its eye opening aroma became a breath of fog clearing air. Finally, he remembered. He remembered it all. 

Today had been his first date with the first woman he’d ever thought he could trust. The first person to whom he felt he could open his heart without the fear of judgement. Amanda had made him feel comfortable in his own skin; even after he’d bared his bones and divulged some of his darkest days. Anyone in their right – or even wrong – mind would’ve swiftly sped away from the warehouse full of mental and emotional baggage. But, at the end of the night, she still wanted to be his. 

Aries admired the framed picture on the end table once more. He noticed for the first time the suit and gown the couple had respectfully worn.  Our wedding day, he recalled, third best day of my life.

His wandering gaze turned upon the gun in which he held. The ol’ ball and chain had wanted to get a gun when a string of burglaries had struck the surrounding neighborhood. He of course, had been opposed. After all, there were kids in the house. But, as with everything, Amanda got her way. 

Aries had brought the gun home and hid it where he thought the kids would never find it. If only he’d been the man he wanted to be and stood his ground. 

The kids were twins. The thought of being in the delivery room for their birth and the memory of having his fingers crossed behind his back, praying they’d come out looking like him and no one else. Second best day of my life. 

He wiped the streak of tears from his face with the barrel of the gun. Remembering the good was in turn a reminder of the bad. Losing his children was the worst pain he’d ever experienced. If it were possible to die the most tormented horrific death and still live to die again everyday afterwards… this had been his life. 

Growing up had been shitty at best. Abuse, rejection, abandonment, substance abuse, mental crises – the list goes on. All of this within his household, all in his adolescent years, before the bullying and before being a hormonal teenager made everything exceedingly worse, which would seem impossible. 

He’d thought of taking his own life once, actually tried. He stole a handful of prescription pills from his mother, who had stolen them from someone else. Whether it was luck or not is debatable but he’d forgotten to lock the bathroom door behind him. His 8 year old little sister walked in on him with a mouthful of water and pills, right before he’s had the heart to swallow. 

“Whatcha’ doin?” her little voice chirped. 

One look into her bright eyes and he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t leave her. Not when he was the only good thing she had in her world.  Not when he was her only hope. Aries had spit the mixture of water and dissolving pills into the sink and had the clarity of mind to throw up any of what he might have accidentally swallowed. He hugged his sister as tightly as could be in the middle of that tiny bathroom that day. Now, he wished he had never let her go. She had unknowingly saved his life that day. Too bad he hadn’t stayed in that house long enough to save hers. 

The screech of metal scraping upon metal clawed at his eardrums as Aries pulled the slide of the gun back to check the chamber. The brass shell shone bright yet paled in comparison to the gleaming opportunity of the bullet itself. The good times were of yore. Everything he could’ve ever wanted – the wife, the kids, the house a home – was all behind him now. Everything that had begun with that first date was over. The best day of my life, he still thought of it as. 

The craving to return to that moment in time was overshadowed only by having lived it so many times. Was the joy of her, again and again worth the agony experienced by the realization he’d lost it all?

All that goes missing from his memory was why he had done it in the first place, and he would regret trying to recall the decision. Like the world’s tallest building imploding on top of him, the weight of recognition came crashing down. 

Aries’ wife’s naked body, those plump, oblong, cherried nipples he loved teasing her about. The salacious moans which had once been his favorite melody. The deafening smack of Amanda’s ass against another man’s pelvis. Over, over, over, over… smack, smack, smack… over, over, over, over… forever. 

Better days had to be ahead. They had to be. There was no other plausible explanation for the hope-fueled joker smile upon his lips. There had to be a way to return back to the good times. He had to be able to fix it all. He could make it so that none of this happened; so that he would never see this day. 

Heavy, cold steel rested upon his tongue. His trembling teeth clanked against the barrel of the gun. It had been the best day and the worst. Everything and in between. He couldn’t bare its burden any longer, knowing what it had all come to. He had to forget. 

The final thought that entered Aries’ mind was the last words he’d spoken to Amanda. 

“Honey, I bought a new shovel today!” he hollered up from the bottom of the stairs. 

From the back of his head the memory took flight, exiting with the same velocity as the .45 caliber bullet. Every thought, memory, wish, want, regret, all painted the artificially stained wooden blinds behind him. So quickly had he made himself forget. So fast the sun had begun to set on the mid-summer’s day. Gates and iron shutters of Main Street’s day traders began to close, while the bustle of its nightlife arose from its slumber…


Smart Communications/PA DOC
Michael Belt KU8088

SCI Houtzdale
P.O. Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733


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