The letter had the strangest effect on my person. I really hadn’t anticipated it. My mood was foreign to me, though I couldn’t identify it when I tried. I looked at my soul through a window made of mud. I felt numb, and in my numbness, I felt nothing.
Perhaps now, looking back, I can more easily identify why it was that the letter struck me in such a fashion, but at the time, I really was at a loss. I do remember how everything fell out. The morning had been a nice one. The clouds were heavy that morning, but only in spots. It was one of those days when the sky looked like a river bed. The clouds were large and rounded and similar but not homogeneous. They promised rain, but their promises were empty. Maybe next time, they seemed to say, as they glided down the sky towards the places they were destined to go. Do clouds have destinies? Perhaps. I’d like to think they do. It gives one a sense of something greater… but that’s not a discussion for today.
The clouds passed over as I stood outside. The shadows at times made me a bit dizzy as they explored the terrestrial realm. I had woken up late that day, and the coffee in my mug was still warm. As I looked through the garden, I noticed a new plant. I shook my head a bit to clear the sleep, for I felt that I must have been imagining things. The tiredness was quite gone, though the plant still remained. I knew for a fact that it hadn’t been there the day before. I was an avid gardener, and there, amidst the various sedges and asters was a taller plant that had decidedly not been there. I moved closer to examine the stem, for only one stem came out of the ground. Around the stem rose broad leaves, rather like an orchid. I looked closer, and I realized that the leaves were fleshy, like a succulent’s. I took a leaf between my finger and thumb, and the plant shuddered from the impact. A dark spot appeared on the leaf. I frowned at how easily it bruised. The flower bud near the top of the stem was looking as though it would bloom at any moment, so I decided to go in after my camera.
The walk from the garden to my house was short, but I caught my breath as I walked into the dining room. On the table, next to my camera, sat the letter. Perhaps I should mention that other than a stray cat who sometimes wandered by, I lived alone. I quickly glanced around the room, but no one was there. A cursory, fruitless, search of the rest of the rooms in my house did nothing to ease the sudden feeling in my chest that spoke of danger. I picked up the letter and began to read.
“I’m sorry, but I’m afraid that I must tell you that [she’s] dead. I know this will reach you a bit late. I hope you find consolation in that she died while doing what she loved. The following is a picture of her latest finding. She named it Hemaflora.”
Contained within was a photograph of a flower. A gorgeous flower. It looked like an orchid, but the face of the bloom was entrancing. It told stories with its look, but I didn’t care about that. I only stood and gazed at that photograph and letter. She finally died. Of course, she had died to me years ago. That day she told me that her travels would give her more than I could, but now that finality was real. Now the anticipation of something that couldn’t be, that hopeless hope of a life unreal, it was gone.
I’ve told you already of how I felt. I don’t think that would do me or you much good to repeat. I didn’t tell you, however, of what transpired later. I had gone back outside to try and clear my head. The letter was in my pocket, and I gradually gravitated towards the spot where I had earlier found that new plant. Once again, for the second time that day, I started. It was, as I then perceived it, the moment of most clarity in the midst of my depression, but I now question the reality of it at all. The bloom that sat atop the stem was gorgeous and complex. The gaze of the orchid (for I knew not what to call it) seemed to look into my heart. I sat for the longest time, looking at this flower, and eventually, I removed the letter and photograph from my pocket.
I studied the paper for a little while longer, and then I began to tear up the letter and photo together. I scattered the pieces in the garden and turned back to the flower. It shuddered slightly, and then began to rend. A feeling of utter despair washed over me as I watched the bloom begin to drip a dark red substance from the tears that appeared in its flesh. It looked, if a flower can look such, as though it had felt the worst feeling possible, and then it gradually wilted down into a pile of bloody stem and leaves.
Hemaflora, I thought. That’s what she called it. I imagine I won’t see it again. To this day, I haven’t, and sometimes I question if I ever did.
I suppose I might as well make it official. There’s no sense in trying to hold on to what is passed. XanthusKidd is dead.
It was a painless death, I’d like to assume. Of course, I should know. I killed him.
I saw it coming quite a while back. The waning creativity and the slow declination in joviality were the first signs. The lack of an enthusiasm for writing–that outlet which he so loved–was an obvious identifier. He would sit and write and erase. Those cycles of endless blather faded into a void of forgotten thoughts as the words entered and exited the scene. The words that stayed did no justice to the intended meaning. Humor could not be had; perhaps it was not a thing which he could make.
I watched him as over and over he fought the monotony of existence. He could not exist apart form that which he created, and all too often, the creations he made would have nothing to do with him. I pitied his depression. I tried to help him, but to no avail.
Soon, he became a thing that was akin to a burden. He was there, but there he did nothing. No, that’s not true. I can tolerate a thing which exists for no reason, for nothing can truly have no reason from the outset. Perhaps a thing may have been made with no reason in mind, but the reason for its making cannot help but exist. A thing which was made to do nothing is still a thing with a purpose. A thing with a purpose that cannot be accomplished, however, this is a thing with which I take issue. The reason for keeping a thing which has lost its purpose is harder to justify than for a thing having no known purpose at all.
So, in the silence of some night somewhere, the Kidd became no more. I shan’t dwell on the details; they’re hardly worth noting. He didn’t struggle. It seems he recognized his time. Perhaps he even welcomed it.
I’ll miss him.
We are gathered here today–on this, the eve of that great occurrence–to commemorate that which has passed into the nether of the past. It is with great solemnity that we observe the passing of the times that we held together, yet we will endeavor to not forget that which has been, for the memories and stories that we tell will be all that remains of this glorious time.
Although this time was always inevitable, the probability makes the occurrence no easier for our emotions to conquer. It is understandable that many among us are saddened; indeed, to be sad is human. We mustn’t look with total disdain upon this moment, for in the words of Carl Jung, “The word ‘happiness’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.” The joys of our experiences are only heightened by the downtrodden times with which we compare them. Let us be then thankful for that which we have received, and look not upon the inevitable with total contempt.
Now, at the beckon of the duties that call us hither, let us hearken back to our respective responsibilities. Do not dwell on the sadness. Remember, dinner is served tonight at six. Lunch will always come again tomorrow. Go and dwell no longer on the meal that has ended.