I loved you so much

上一篇 / 下一篇  2016-02-29 17:23:00

By the following morning the pain was no longer local, not confined to the places where the ropes cut into his flesh, or where the bark scraped his skin. Now the pain was everywhere.

And he was hungry, with empty pangs down in the pit of him. His head was pounding. Sometimes he imagined that he had stopped breathing, that his heart had ceased to beat. Then he would hold his breath until he could hear his heart pounding an ocean in his ears and he was forced to suck air like a diver surfacing from the depths.

It seemed to him that the tree reached from-hell to heaven, and that he had been hanging there forever. A brown hawk circled the tree, landed on a broken branch near to him, and then took to the wing, flying west.

The storm, which had abated at dawn, began to return as the day passed. Gray, roiling clouds stretched from horizon to horizon; a slow drizzle began to fall. The body at the base of the tree seemed to have become less, in its stained motel winding sheet, crumbling into itself like a sugar cake left in the rain.

Sometimes Shadow burned, sometimes he froze.

When the thunder started once more he imagined that he heard drums beating, kettledrums in the thunder and the thump of his heart, inside his head or outside, it did not matter. He perceived the pain in colors: the red of a neon bar sign, the green of a traffic light on a wet night, the blue of an empty video screen.

The squirrel dropped from the bark of the trunk onto Shadow's shoulder, sharp claws digging into his skin. "Ratatosk!" it chattered. The tip of its nose touched his lips. "Ratatosk." It sprang back onto the tree.

His skin was on fire with pins and needles, a pricking covering his whole body. The sensation was intolerable.

His life was laid out below him, on the motel-sheet shroud: literally laid out, like the items at some Dada picnic, a surrealist tableau: he could see his mother's puzzled stare, the American embassy in Norway, Laura's eyes on their wedding day...

He chuckled through dry lips.

"What's so funny, puppy?" asked Laura.

"Our wedding day," he said. "You bribed the organist to change from playing the Wedding March to the theme song from Scooby-Doo as you walked toward me down the aisle. Do you remember?"

"Of course I remember, darling. 'I would have made it too, if it wasn't for those meddling kids.' "

He could feel her lips on his, and they were warm and wet and living, not cold and dead, so he knew that this was another hallucination. "You aren't here, are you?" he asked.

"No," she said. "But you are calling me, for the last time. And I am coming."

Breathing was harder now. The ropes cutting his flesh were an abstract concept, like free will or eternity.

"Sleep, puppy," she said, although he thought it might have been his own voice he heard, and he slept.


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