The water cascaded down over the rocks, white with foam as it churned in whorls and eddies. I sat in the sunshine along the West Branch of the St. Regis River, sipping on my cheap beer, trying my best not to think about her, and failing miserably. My friend Tommy climbed the rocks along the falls, and I looked up at his silhouette in the bright April sunshine, mathematically determining if the drop were high enough, and the water deep enough to jump. In the end I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble, and another beer seemed infinitely more productive than suicide.
The river roared with the fresh snow melt of the Adirondacks, as the temperature soared, and my soul warmed to the alcohol. Surely, this would heal me; an escape from class, and responsibility, to spend a few hours sitting amongst the grandeur of nature trying not to think about her. It wasn’t working. I’m not sure why I ever thought it would. I clung to my thoughts of her the way a drowning man does to a life preserver. Yet her memory was only a rock pulling me deeper into the icy darkness inside my head.
There beneath the glorious spring sunshine, all of nature seemed to be in order. The sun rose and set, water flowed downhill, and the birds waited downstream for unlucky fish. Yet here I was alone while somewhere in this little town she was with him. A six foot plus, fraternity boy, who had become the embodiment of everything I hated in this world. How could this be? How could a just God allow such unnatural things to occur?
I leaned back upon the bed of pine needles, and pictured her eyes, oh Lord, her eyes. I could never forget them. Wide spaced, almond shaped, their brown depths consumed me. The sound of the cascading water was broken only by the cry of gulls circling above.
When the time came, we hiked back to the car through the dappled light of the pine woods. I dropped Tommy off at his apartment, and thanked him for the company. It was still afternoon, and I couldn’t bear the thought of being alone, so I drove aimlessly around town. The warm weather brought everyone outside for the first time in months. Windows were open, and music was playing, and everywhere was the long lost sight of human flesh, a color as rare as green in the wintertime.
I held my breath, hoping to see her out walking somewhere, and dreading it at the same time. When I did finally find her car parked out in front of campus, my heart started racing, and I felt sick to my stomach. I laughed at the ridiculousness of it all. How the mere sight of a blue Plymouth K-car could create such pain. If only I’d have studied biology instead of engineering, perhaps I could explain it. Instead I turned around and headed back out to our apartment in the country.
When I got home I lay on the mattress on my bedroom floor, staring up at the ceiling, wondering how I was going to make it through another night. I went to the fridge, and stared at the emptiness before I opened another beer. I had already lost 20 pounds since September, the result of living on $20 a week, and not knowing how to cook, so another night without food wouldn’t make much difference.
Outside the light began to fade, and the shadows deepened. I sat at my desk, and pulled out the journal for my creative writing class. If I couldn’t see her with my eyes, I would see her with my pen. I wrote until the room went dark, the world shrinking around me until there was just the cone of lamplight on the desk. I hoped the ink would capture her. I hoped that it would make permanent what had already slipped through my fingers. Instead the cans began to pile up, until my writing became illegible, scrawled like a foreign language across the page until the words disappeared into scribbled lines, the ink flowing down the page like the water down the falls. When my eyes finally closed, I hoped that they would never open again.
Nature knows nothing as selfish as a boy in love.