Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Last Smoke

He slid the door back and the sound, while dull, hit him with its unfamiliarity. He looked out and as his eyes moved down the sky, past the clear blues, he saw its white crest hurtling toward his. Furious white furrows skimmed over the surface, like horses branching out from the main tidal wave, rearing their head forward, falling down as new ones took their place. The water was an angry white.
He heard the screams of the people on the beach as they ran from wave, Hokusai almost had it right. The ocean wasn't undulating across its length and breath. It was as though the horizon had been lined with white and was moving closer and close, bigger and faster. It was this line of white that was so massive it seemed almost still. It was only when he saw its crest getting taller and the horse heads getting sharper did his senses tell him it was moving closer. That and the sound.

"I am going to die", he thought to himself.
"You can either panic or you can dissolve into acceptance and realize nothing can ever change this moment"
"You will die"

"Right". For the first time, things seemed clear. There was no place to go with this realization. It was in it self. It was. There was no A to B. A was A. It was an immutable fact, one moving closer by the second with the power to rips, shred, destroy and obliterate everything around him. Everything around him would cease to be. Everything around him was transient.

He rested his hand on the wooden railing of the balcony. He felt the smooth, beveled edges and realized that some factory some where had set its machines on a tree cut and brought from somewhere else. The tree had grown from a seed. But in under a minute, it would cease to be. It would remain wood, but it would cease to be a railing. Would it cease to exist if it lost its form and function? No, it would still be wood. That was immutable. Bigger, smaller, functional, drift wood, wood was wood. A was A.

A was always A.

He looked up and his eyes gave the slightest of starts, they understood the passage of time, they saw the crest, bigger, taller, nearer. And it wasn't a happy realization of the passage of the time, not the kind when you see a child all grown up and realize the years have gone by. No, no that kind, more so a man who hasn't been near a mirror in years and realizes that his time is up.

But that thought lasted a fraction of a second. After all, thoughts too are transient and rise and fall like waves on the ocean. But then there was this thought, as unflinching and as immutable as the concrete wall of water.

A is A?
Water that wraps itself around you can shred every bit of flesh and rip you in half. Water is always water. And you will die.

He was fine with that. In the span of a few seconds, he made peace with it. There was no point dwelling on the unspoken conversations, the missed connections. They would continue to be, just, without him. As the water and the world would continue to be, just, without him

You are going to die.

All he wanted now was one last cigarette. Now, not the kind the man in front of the execution squad wants. Just the one who has the best seats in the house to the biggest show in his life, the closest he will get to the stage. he has always had an immaculate sense of timing, of finishing the last bite as the TV show ends, of the right amount of juice to compliment his last bite, an exact sense of work to be accomplished in time to go out.

He wants to finish his cigarette. It's not the most important thing in the world. But he wants to. At this moment, nothing matters to him but the time before he dies and the time before the cigarette is stubbed out. By him.

It is in this moment that all sense of control is stripped away from him. Control is an illusion, the sense of calm and making peace? an illusion. A way of reigning in emotions, the panic and the flight instinct. It is the last bastion of humanity in his head, the illusory sense of control. He wants to finish that cigarette. *HE* wants to finish it.

He looks at the ocean and notices how it seems to plough through it self. He looks at this fingers, holding the cigarette and takes another tentative puff. He can't hurry himself. No. He decides. The wave looms over him. It is in that very moment that he realizes he can not finish it and panic sets in. There was no control.

The roar is deafening. A is A. Even if it is drift wood. Even if he is no more.

With clenched fists and white knuckles, he looks at the cigarette. "I got it wrong"

No comments: