IT SIGHS IN SYMPATHY, THE sea.
The North Atlantic is an imposter, whispering solace to those who have lost, to those who are lost. At the core of its caressing and shushing lies truth: the sea itself is a cemetery, proffering, on impulse or if impelled, entombment for all who venture near. The sadness it seeps is naught but reflection of content: the North Atlantic is a receptacle for a mother’s tears.
I hover above the whitewashed cemetery gate which is slamming, repeating, at the whim of the wind. Its creaking and clutching masks the sobs of a woman who crouches beside a simple white cross that marks an overgrown grave, the final resting place of the baby, Jimmy Kerrigan. The mourner’s pain wafts, piercing the entity that is me. I moan, a wasted lament.
Here I am again at the scene that depicts the dawn of my downfall. I can do naught but own it for I am—more accurately, was—at its core. It is my corporeal self I am observing here. My very own self, yet, upon every viewing, the feeling that I am voyeur, intruder, causes me to lurch like the gate in the wind.
He is coming.
The approaching footsteps are silent, yet the kneeling Kathleen senses them, knows their owner. She stifles her sobs, secures her scarf, and clasps her rosary beads in the palm of her hand.
On every visit, his voice gives me pause. Does it contain menace? I think not. I think as I watch this that he hopes to offer her peace. I know as I watch this that she wishes he would leave her in peace. At this point, she is content to wallow, bound like a shadow to her grief.
Alphonse sidles up beside her. Crouching, he places his lips next to her ear. “I shot myself,” he said.
Kathleen turns sharply, slamming her face into his. “What?” Her voice is fractured, disbelieving.
He rubs his jaw, the point of impact. “I shot myself. In the war.” His sigh is long and steady, like the whir of fly line spinning from reel.
With a jolt, Kathleen is on her feet. She steps back, her hand at her throat. “What in God’s name are you on about? Why would you ever do such a thing?”
“Sssh, not so loud,” Alphonse says, looking all around.
In the distance, the weather is threatening: a thundercloud suspended over waiting sea. Near at hand, the wind has ceased: a lull hovering over impending truth.
Alphonse plants his hands on his thighs and pushes himself upright. “It was all young men, you see. Dying. Not men, boys really. Not much older than Kevin, they were. Dying all around me. I couldn’t...”
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