Your Last Truth

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I’m not exactly sure what this is- it has some leanings towards The Last Season but is at the same time completely unrelated. I guess it’s just somewhat like my old “Horizons” short. Enjoy, or don’t, whatever floats your boat. I’m exhausted now and will go into comment-watching mode, so please comment.


Every day is the same, and it’s a dream.

Every day, the date changes, but I have only a vague sense of time.

Yet, from time to time, I feel alive.

Would it be different if you were here? My autumn has passed. My alloted year is up. The sky has cracked and the earth fallen. All the waters of the seas have risen and filled my eyes, and now the world thirsts. The city is now empty; the trains pull back into the station.

There is no person manning the cash register in the super market. As the town is deserted, so has the flora deserted the forest. As thunder deserts noise and the wave deserts the spectrum, so have you deserted me.

Perhaps it is not the date that changes. Perhaps it is not the dream that repeats. Perhaps it is the repetition that dreams, and the change that dates. Perhaps it is not you who left me but I who left you. Perhaps we left eachother, as swiftly as lightning flashes, as harshly as hail rains. Perhaps I left your world at the very moment you left mine, and perhaps we never truly resided in eachother’s worlds- it is quite likely, looking back, that your reality and mine never overlapped properly.

I saw a world of grays. What you saw, if anything, was not a world at all.

Oh, you sat and watched, as we played during lunch break. You sipped at your juice box contentedly and smiled at me when I turned your way. In class, when I began nodding off, you would poke me, and remind me that we had another hour to go. It was 2:15, always 2:15. And I would rub my eyes and smile back at you, and not let on that I realized that it was 2:15. And when class was over, you’d stand over my desk and you’d extend your hand. And it was 3:16, and the bell had just rung, and I’d stand, a whole head shorter than you, and take your hand. And then it was 3:17, and we were outside, strolling across the school grounds. And then it was 3:18, and you were asking me what I wanted to do today. And then it was 3:18, except that you were walking by my side in silence. We watched our feet as we walked. You counted the cracks in the pavement. I counted the seconds. And then it was 3:18, and you were gone.

I looked around in horror and you were nowhere. And the lamp post two feet away seemed impossibly tall, and the fence along the sidewalk seemed impossibly gray, and the sky seemed impossibly close. I turned right, left, looked over my shoulder, gazed up, pushing against that incredible weight. The cat that sits on that fence was gone, the bus that drives by this route at 3:20 was late, and the school gate in the distance was shut.

It was 3:21. The world darkened a shade. And then it was lunch time. I was playing with my friends, and there you were, sitting with your back against the cyclone fence, sipping at your juice box. And I turned your way and you smiled. And then it was 2:15, and you didn’t prod me. And then it was 3:16, and the bell hadn’t rung. And then it was 3:17, and I realized that you and I had never gone to school together.

No, because we never knew eachother. Until a year ago, I didn’t even know your name. You knew mine, though—you made up for your lack of sight with an abundance of knowledge. An over-abundance. You knew enough to talk and talk, and though my world was gray, my ears would compute color when I listened to you. Your voice, clear and sweet, was the one thing I could rely on, the one solid onto which I could grip as reality slid away.

That is, until my hand slid away with the rest of everything.

I knew no kindness but yours, no hatred but yours, no touch but yours, and no truth but yours. Your lips were the font of my understanding of the world, your fingertips the ducts that introduced soft warmth to my freezing body.

But were my ears the ones that heard your truth? Was it my body that felt your touch?

Or was it someone else? Did she share my name? Or just my place in your world?

If you’d remained with me… if you’d spent more time with me… I’d have liked to hear, from your lips, who the person you were talking to was. You’re gone now, and I’ve left you, so it won’t ever happen, but I’d like to know how your empty city is. What color is your sky? How often do the trains pull into the station, and how long does it take them to arrive back where you boarded? How much money do you leave at the check-out when you go shopping?

It’s 3:18.

Soon, I’ll think these thoughts all over again. It’s a pitiless cycle that should have ended a month ago. I had my year and I was prepared to leave. I had no regrets. Did you go through this as well? Did this happen to you when you ceased to be present back then? How do I ride the train to the next stop? How do I cross the date off on my calendar? How do I wake up, and when will things move forward?

I have so much to ask of you, but it’s 3:19. I’m counting the seconds, and you the cracks in the pavement. Our steps are in sync; the motor of the bus is audible over the sounds our shoes make on the sidewalk. All I see is gray, yet your red-gold hair hangs shining over the white of your sheets. Your pale face is curtained and your emerald eyes enveloped in shadow. You lean forward in your bed, and I turn over in mine. I can’t watch you suffer another time. I can’t watch the same heart-shaped bloodstain appear yet again. The fence flashes every imaginable color, the lamp post rushes towards the ground, the cat leaps down and rubs against my leg, the bus rushes past. The wave reunites with its spectrum and thunder booms. In a single multi-color starburst, you collapse forward, a mess of white and red. I cover my ears to avoid your final truth.

I’m playing with my friends, and an empty juice box lies on the ground by the cyclone fence. You never littered. I fall asleep in class. I dream of you keeping me awake. The bell rings, and there’s no hand to take. 3:16. No hand. 3:17. No hand. 3:18. No hand. 3:19. Time isn’t turning back. You’re not here, and my world is gray. I sit alone in the class room, waiting for you to appear in front of me. The date moves forward once more, and the same cycle repeats. Your bed, adorned with clean sheets, is empty. Where’s your red-gold hair? Where are your emerald eyes? Where are your fingers? Where are your lips, and where are the words that issue from them?

The walls surrounding our room crumble and I see that the sky is a brilliant vermillion. Your face laughs in the sun.

The cat is hit by the bus and dies the same way you did—in a flurry of red. It was beautiful, it was ecstatic—indeed, you smiled as you doubled forward. You clutched your chest because the joy was overwhelming. You clutched your chest because the joy was painful. I understand that, now, as I clutch my own.

I really wish I could have had more time with you. That I could have spent more time in the same place as you, breathing the same air and feeling the same pain. You could say that we had an eternity of that, and that leaving eachother was the ultimate release. You’re free in your world and I in mine. I ride the train every day, hoping that one day it’ll bring me back to you. As surely as the date changes, as surely as time progresses, this train returns me to the station at which I boarded it. I return home, the world’s oceans in my eyes, the world’s fires in my throat, the world’s yearning in my heart. I know I will never hear another word from your lips. I know it’s hopeless.

And I ask myself why—why didn’t I listen to your farewell?

I’ve turned over every word of yours a thousand times. They are the precious memories that remind me that for one brief moment as I died, I lived. They are everything.

So why—why didn’t I listen to your farewell?

It would be another word, another two words, for me to repeat to myself. I beg whatever powers there be to allow me to reunite with you, some how. I beg the trains to take me one station further. I beg time itself to stop. My prayers remain unanswered.

So why—why, damn it, why—did I not want to hear the last words to escape your lips?

"Your Last Truth" was posted by on Thursday, November 16th 2006. This post is categorized Shorts.

7 thoughts on “Your Last Truth

  1. Wow. Quite possibly the best thing I’ve read of yours. Interesting, thought-provoking, and stylistically gorgeous.

    I’m a sucker for syntactic and metaphoric stylization, and DAMN if that wasn’t amazing on those fronts. Well done, Flak. Very well done indeed.

    ~Duk

  2. I quite liked this piece. Perhaps I’m not as well learned as Sir Duk above me, but I found that you used your words well and pulled pieces the right way, organizing them really well. Your style, your words, your story, and your organization make this a good read.

  3. Flak, I thought this was very good. It has been a while since I’ve read your writing, and my memory is not exceptional. Regardless, you seem more concise, and I felt very drawn in by the story. So yeah, good job.

  4. Dear Michael,

    This is seriously my favorite piece of writing that I have read of yours. I love lots of the stuff you write, but this takes the cake (sorry about the poor euphemism) anyhow, I would like to discuss the piece in detail.

    I hope you can forgive me for the assumptions I make in the critique, but please understand that they are just as much important to the critique as the critique itself. The assumptions are based on the feelings I got from the writing and are hence just as clear demonstration of what I get from the piece.

    Right from the beginning, I felt connected to the writing. The first line says so much about you and the rest of the piece that I find it impossible to not consider the writer as someone other than a person. Itǃs almost as if the words themselves are communicating for you. Itǃs like you put emotions onto paper. I immediately seem to take that first line ǃ?Every day is the same, and itǃs a dreamǃ? and consider it a part of my own life. I felt quite sad when you wrote that ǃ?Yet, from time to time, I feel alive.ǃ? Strangely, I felt betrayed by the writer. As if he already destroyed the story I had built around the first two lines. Iǃm a certainly not saying that in a bad way, but rather that your first two lines are so good that the reader naturally creates his own story around those initial sentences. The third line, to me, screams: ǃ?HEY, this is my story, so shut up and listen.ǃ? Strangely, it says it nicely. Almost as if I apologized for interrupting. Anyhow, those 3 sentences are pure gold, both in their structure and their content.
    You then go into that fluid though where you refer to the loneliness you ǃ?the narratorǃ? experiences. I find the repetition quite effective, but I personally wouldnǃt have used those particular examples, especially the super market one: ǃ?There is no person manning the cash register in the super market.ǃ? It doesnǃt seem to fit with the depth of though the rest of the piece is at. Super markets are lame and superficial; the entire piece is brilliant and sincere. It just donǃt match upǃ?

    However, the super market is quickly forgotten when you write this superb line, one that Iǃm seriously considering using whenever I need to break up with someone: ǃ?I saw a world of grays. What you saw- if anything- was not a world at all.ǃ? For me, the entire story is based on this line right here. This though, this emotion is where the rest of the piece grows from. The tone is critical and judgmental, yet apologetic. Almost as if you were sorry for not realizing that earlier. The entire thing could be written in Croat for all I cared, as long as I could read this line, it would still be just as good. That line is a perfect expression of my feelings towards my mother. At the same time, I donǃt associate the emotion that the line carries with anything in particular; itǃs kind of just another way of looking at things. I suppose that if all breakups had to be put into one sentence, this would be it. I mean, itǃs such a universal feeling that youǃve been able to make so personal for each reader. As if it was written just for me. I suppose thatǃs where the brilliance of the entire piece lays, in the connection you create with the reader.

    I was, I must say slightly disappointed with the following paragraph. I understand what youǃre trying to do, and itǃs very effective, but not only is the flow not quite smooth, but compared to the previous line, nothing seems very good. I suppose Lincolnǃs speeches wouldnǃt seem the same after that line. Anyhow, I enjoyed the chronology and the familiarity that was created with that monotonous voice associated with school. It seems like itǃs not really happening, like a dream (which is what it is supposed to be, for me at least.)

    ǃ?You counted the cracks in the pavement. I counted the seconds.ǃ? This line makes me consider my role in my relationships and where the differences arose between me and the girl I wanted to make my girlfriend. It is quite corny to think that cracks and seconds could be a good summary of a relationship, but the symbolism is quite strong and both sentences reveal so much about both you and the girl youǃre with. The differences between me and her can certainly be described as me counting the cracks, hopping only not to trip while she counted the seconds until she could go home. The way you write it, you clearly make the distinction in character the two people have and the incompatibility that is present, but at the same time, you arenǃt advocating that neither one of you was doing the right thing.

    The rest of the story is excellent, but, for the sake of time and space I am skipping to the end. This is not because nothing happens in the middle, or because it sucks, but because the two extreme of the story are so compelling to talk about. ǃ?And I ask myself why- why didnǃt I listen to your farewell?ǃ? Okay, this is the only part that I feel isnǃt in line with the story. You speak of the farewell as something almost sacred. I understand that you donǃt ǃ?knowǃ? the farewell; you didnǃt ǃ?hearǃ? it. Hear is in quotes because I do believe that you are referring to a farewell much deeper then the words. I do think however, that you should include the physical words of her farewell. If it were me (it isnǃt, but what the fuck, here I go), I would have rewritten the last line to become the last two lines:

    ǃ?
    So why- why, damn it, why- did I not want to hear the last words to escape your lips?

    So why- why, damn it, why- did I not want to hear your last good-bye?
    ǃ?

    I feel like writing the words creates a strong sense of attachment to the girl and expresses your frustration with yourself. (I assumed the last words were good bye.) I understand the value of not saying the words, but I feel like saying them greatly increases the strength of the last emotion the reader feels. Like a final blow.

    P.S.: I sense a strong sense of femininity in the person you describe. Although you write it in such a way that is non descriptive of sex, I believe that no such emotional writing can arise from thin air. Certainly, the emotion behind the writing is true, to some extent to you. Itǃs symbolic at the most and abstract at the least, but itǃs definitely meaningful.

    Sincerely,

    Sam

  5. Sam left you such a long comment!! It feels unfair, being as this is MY favorite story, nyeh~ I read it first. But it’s so good he gave you so much feedback. I agree with him on some stuff. You shouldn’t be so afraid to go emo, Flak, you write some good stuff when you let yourself go emotionally. I like…I like the juice box. I like the fence, and the cat, and the train. It’s all very real. I don’t like the girl, who is slightly cliche. (emerald eyes…) I do like that you put yourself as shorter than her. You mentioned Carton asked what the final truth is. He’s right. (Of course.) Without a truth, the story is a little hollow in relation to it’s title. It’s as if you’re drawing a string back, back, back and then there’s nothing there. No truth. It needs something solid at the end. And if that doesn’t work, it can stand alone, without any mention of a mysterious “truth.”
    :-) I love your “emo” stories.
    -Me

  6. Carton didn’t say anything about “the final truth,” he told me that the story failed for mixing “truth” with “sentimentality”ǃas in, the stuff of which the writing is made, not the message or storyline.

    Emo?

    EMO.

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