Tales of the Bearded Toad

Short stories and the occasional true tidbit devised in the life and times of the Bearded Toad

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Scoop of Saffron

It crept into his memory more rapidly than the scent did his nostrils.  A slow recognition of what it reminded him of like a haze clearing from a windshield as the defrost does its job, it filled the lower lids of his eyes with tears like a tub left unattended.  That’s almost how it felt, actually. That he had left this part of himself unattended for so long that it overflowed with the drop of scent into the basin.  He couldn't leave it unattended now.  He had to walk off the stage, because he couldn't speak anymore.  The words wouldn't form on his tongue.  Low groans of confusion from the crowd matched those of his own.
As he exited the building to breath in air that he hoped was as devoid of emotion as he thought he had been, he caught the toe of his shoe on the sill and tumbled into the piled garbage bags tossed out for pickup. A cacophony of odors burst from the pile and granted him relief from the emotion, but replaced it with the sudden need to vomit, which he indulged more readily than he had the catalyst on stage. He stood up, leaned on his knees for a moment and collected enough control to walk to the corner.
The first taxi passed by, fare in seat.  The next pulled up to his raised arm and welcomed his expected payment.  “115 Walnut.”  The driver nodded and snapped his foot to the pedal on the right, which pressed him into the seat with comfort.   He let his mind take him where he hadn't let it go, as the taxi escorted him to the physically avoided.  Shivers all through his body in rapid little waves in each muscle went unnoticed by the driver and by him.  He was nervous.  Not now, but then.
He had wanted to tell her.  The words in his mind clear, concise and poignant could never make it past his defenses.  Imaginary Maginot Line pill boxes behind each of his teeth had kept the contrived enemy at bay, but the enemy found a way around the line completely.  As they stood in front of the shop, his hand had risen up and presented her with it. The card in matching envelope had encased within the words he could not utter.
He paid the driver with a generous tip, stepped onto the cobblestone sidewalk and stared at his foot slightly askew in a crack.  Her smile, broad and full, had gone that way too as she read his words, so carefully scribed.  The tiny lines around her eyes had become more pronounced, until she moved her gaze to his. He had known before that she would feel unfavorably, which is why he had tried so carefully to hide it, to hold it in.
She had turned from him, taken two steps down the street before turning only her head with a shake of the card to say, “But not like this.”  Her eyes had said the rest.  He set his fingers to undoing the buttons of his shirt as he looked at his reflection in the window.  He had stood there that day, with his head leaned against it, watching his breath blur and clear from surface until someone who smelled of saffron told him to leave.
He leaned down and scooped his hands together on the ground as if he were picking up his heart where he’d left it and put it back in his chest.  As he buttoned his shirt, he felt the pain swell and the numbness fade.  The words he had written spewed from him with passion into the darkness, as he cried and let the loss drip from his face.  


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