The Promise

After Marie Howe, “The Promise”

In the dream I had, when you came back in a shining silver jet you were not aged, but verdant and you were beautiful like you were at twenty-one, taut and muscular, sculpted cheekbones, a bronze luster stretched over your solid frame.

The pull toward you was irresistible, as though there were an affinity radiating from your amber eyes to my blue, as if you didn’t need to speak to arrange our meeting in the meadow where you drove it.

Unlike earlier encounters, you were animated, engaging, emotional, your smile and baritone voice opened my vacancy. You extended your hand and our fingers clasped tight like there was a tempest threatening to separate us. Breaking your silence was what you could not not do, like our yearning in this world, like our promise, as we did, on that shore, in 1987.

And you told me: “My dear, I’ve come for you in a silver bird, step inside with me and see.”

And with overwhelming awe I said: “David, where did you get this?”

Looking ahead of me, you squeezed my hand and led me into the cockpit. It was the signal we’d pass between us when the dark cast shadows on your path, the firm grip that wants to tell you to keep moving forward.

I watched you with admiration and fear take over the controls, like the way you opened throttle on the Hudson, blind, our bodies carving a wake through the river’s urgent ebb.

Your natural genius of mechanical engineering fondled the controls though having known little of flight in life. The engines whistled and the winged vessel rolled forward through the meadows like seasons, entering a bright autumn field fringed in maple and oak.

We were about to fly away together into the firmament and I told you: “Dear, I don’t think this field is a big enough stretch to take off in, let’s keep moving into the next field.” Rolling into another field you said: “this does look a little better Dear.”

I asked you: “Where are we going anyway?” And you stared at me with the blankness from past encounters, “it doesn’t matter where we’re going. Nowhere.”

I felt the wisdom of fifty-years years, like an aspirin flush over a migraine, washing the blinding pain from my face, “dear, I love you, but this doesn’t feel right.”

Your expression turned sullen and I hugged you tight when I told you: “David, you’re getting too old for this, stealing planes, reckless abandon, you can’t keep doing this. I can’t do this.”

“I know,” you said, with the resignation you made when dropping the kickstand stand of your YZ-250 racer leaving boyhood in the garage, shrouding 111 beneath an American flag, — “But, c’mon dear, just this one last time, it’ll be alright.”

Looking into your eyes, I felt myself stepping back from you, arms outstretched, finger tips parting, you pleaded: “Dear, please!”

Running from the silver bird, through meadows, by crimson maples and goldenrod, my border collie, Joni, racing in the tailwind of my re-entry, I came up the rear of a white-single story stucco building, like the concrete white-washed row cabanas, where we unfolded beach chairs and our babies moved sand with little yellow trucks.

Leaning against a wall I crouched to the ground and dropped my head in my hands, deep breaths, Joni curled beside me. A man stepped out a few doors down to light a smoke, offering no more than a quick glance. Time stopped.

I heaved for leaving you cold, as though I were a coward for lacking the courage to follow, to trust you, like I had in life. There was the fear of going, of staying, of betrayal by the heavens repeating, “I can’t, I just can’t.”

You appeared around the corner and silently summoned me with a wave of your hand. You took me into your arms, and your glistening bronze tone paled, your eyes melted into glassy pools of buckwheat honey, settling softly into mine, like crystal jellies in a sea curl. Resting your head on my right shoulder, sinking all the weight of your essence into mine, I said: “Dear, you can’t do this anymore, you have to grow, evolve. I can never leave you, but I can’t go with you now.”

You said: “I know, it’s okay, I need you to know that I’m always with you, we are one, we’re bound by a love that can’t be broken, I want you to be happy.”

And I said: “I’m sorry, I don’t want to disappoint you.”

You smiled, “You can never disappoint me, you are my dear.” Pressing your lips to my forehead, you stepped back, and receded into the seasons.

© Deborah Garcia 2023, all rights reserved

4 Comments on “The Promise”

  1. Beautifully written. I know your soul continues to ache. And I also know, having talked with you, that you always carry your love for them and their spirits with you. I send you and Dylan my warm thoughts.

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