I met Carl when I was fourteen and he was only thirty. Carl came into our lives as my mother’s new boyfriend, but soon after he took the role of the man in the house and marry my mom. At that time, I was wondering why Carl decided to jump head on into our small troubling family. My real father left us when I was only five. I don’t remember much of him besides hearing him crying and screaming in the nights. “your father has demons from things he did and saw before” my mom told me. “never ask him anything about it”. To talk with my dad about his past was never an option for me. Actually, me and my dad didn’t talk at all. Our only son and dad connection were when he grabbed me once in a while in his strong arms and cry, “please have a good life” he used to tell me before he releases me from his strong hug. I loved my dad, and the mystery behind his horrible past just ignite my imagination as I grow up. The image of my father was of dark mysterious hero. My dad took his life only a year after he left me and my mom. But only after Carl came into our lives my mom had the courage to tell me how he kills himself, Carl was sitting next to her in the family room holding her hand while she was talking. “Your father shoot himself in the head with a shotgun” she told me and left the room, almost running to her bedroom leaving me and Carl alone. “I’m sure that your father was an incredible man”, Carl broke the silence. “You don’t know anything about my dad” I answered rudely to Carl. Carl was smart enough to not to argue with a rebellious angry teenager. He just said, you are right, I got no saying about your father, and he stood up and walk to the bedroom to check on my mother. For the next two years me and Carl lived parallel to each other. As much as I was sarcastic, I could see that between Carl and my mom there was a real love. I on the other hand, was using my dead father figure as an excuse for drugs and alcohol. More than once I saw Carl trying to approach to me, but my defiant attitude drove him away. the same goes for my mother, she also couldn’t face my burst of anger when I felt that I was judged. In my own mind, to destroy my young life was the closest I can get to be like my mythical father. Until the day I overdose. Luckily for me Carl heard the disturbing sound from my room, I was shaking so hard that my legs hit the floor with force. When I got to the hospital, I was clinically dead, but somehow the hospital stuff brought me back to life. That was the day that I got the letter. Carl was holding it in his hand waiting for me to wake up in the hospital bed. It’s a very dark and hard to understand, Carl told me while he hands over a few pieces of paper to me, after I opened my eyes. Its from you father, he wrote it just before he did what he did to end his life. I didn’t ask Carl or my mom why they didn’t give me that letter earlier, at that time, I guess that they waited for the right moment to do so. Apparently, my near-death experience was the right moment. The letter was made from four papers written in a very hard to read hand right. I could imagine my dad writing with a shaky hand while the shotgun on his side waiting to do its part. There was a title at the beginning of the first page that said “Instruction for the traveler in the dark”, after that the pages where divided into small paragraphs, every paragraph had a beginning but no end. It was as my dad was not able to complete the messages but left it to me. it was a riddle made from a dark story with ideas with no end and all in extremely hard to read handwriting. For me to understand and complete my father last words was a challenge that I committed to, and before I knew it Carl become part of it also. Looking back, I think that thanks to that letter we became close, not as father and son but as partners in the struggle of life. For hours on end we use to sit together and analyze the words, making a complete sentence and then trying to understand the idea behind them. After a month of work, we were able to get the basic idea. It was about a man traveling in the dark, his only goal is to stay alive until the morning come. But for him to achieve it he need to push the darkness away before it will pass through his skin into his soul. The man doesn’t know how long until the light will come to save him, but he knows that part of the darkness is inside him already, pulling like a magnet the darkness from the outside to come inside him. The man desperately looking for anything that can make his skin thicker and harder against the darkness. In my mind I could imagine my father fighting not to lose his soul. For the next years, me and Carl continued what my dad started, it was our bonding, our way to deal with my mom’s death from cancer and everything else that life threw on us. The journey of the man in his dark world continue more. From the four original scrambled pages it become a more then one hundred pages book. The man in the story never found the way out of the darkness into the light, but his struggle helps us find ours. I’m a grown man now, I have my own family and kids. I see Carl every weekend, we talk about life, about my late mom and obviously about the man in our story. Only after so many years I asked Carl the question that I wanted to ask for so long. Why did you and my mom waited until I had my overdosed and almost died to give me the letter from my dad? Carl looked at me and smile, your dad never wrote that letter. What? I jumped in surprise, so who did? It was you that wrote that letter, Carl said pointing at me, you wrote it moments before you collapsed from overdose. I found it when I came home from the hospital to bring you some clothes from your room. It was on the floor near your bed. The man in the dark was not your father’s way to save you, you have created him to save yourself. You gave yourself the courage to fight the darkness. You were the man in the dark, but you also were the man that finds the light.
A blind man named John is standing in the train station.
He listens to the trains come and go. By counting the trains, he knows which one to board to get home. Only after he boards the train does he realize that he is on the wrong one. But he doesn’t get off at the next station or ask for help from the conductor; instead, he closes his eyes and falls asleep.
He wakes up to a touch on his shoulder, and the conductor’s voice. “You need to get up, sir.”
John open his eyes only to remember that he is completely blind. He uses his cane to navigate his way out of the train. “Do you need help? Do you know where you are?” John hears the conductor’s worried voice behind him. But John doesn’t reply. Instead, he keeps on walking without any idea of where he is.
John doesn’t need a watch to know it’s evening. By the internal watch in his head, he can estimate that he spent more than three hours on the train. By listening to the footsteps of the people around him, he finds the exit from the train station to the street. He uses his cane to walk in this unfamiliar place. Evening turns into night, but John, even as tired as he is, doesn’t stop walking. The sound of cars and people around him gradually lessens, until most of what he can hear are voices from houses as he passes by.
A police officer notices the blind man walking alone in the dark. “Do you need help, sir do you know where you are?”
“No, I don’t,” John replies but keeps on walking. The officer watches John walk into the darkness guided only by his cane.
The sound of birds chirping tells John that the morning had arrived, he had been walking all night. He is exhausted and thirsty. His cane hits something. It’s a mailbox. John can feel there is a narrow strip of pavement heading off the street. A driveway. He turns away from the street and walks up the driveway, hoping to find a house at it’s end.
His cane hits the front door of the house. John knocks once. The door opens immediately.
A woman’s voice greeted him, “Hey, John. I’ve been waiting for you.”
“How do you know who I am?” John asks, confused.
But the woman doesn’t answer him. Instead, John hears the sound of a revolver’s hammer drawn back. And then a shot is fired. A blind man named John is dead.
She had heard the news about the airplane crash. She knew he was on that flight. Her face and hands were still swollen. This is how he usually left her before he went on his business trips. “Be good,” he told her on his way out as she struggled to get up from the floor.
The newspaper had made a story about him—how he lost his eyesight and his memory in the crash. “A new beginning in the dark,” they had called it. But she had waited for him to find his way back home, to her, to his pigeon victim. She knew that memories cannot be erased; they can only be pushed to the back of our mind. Eventually, the recognition will resurface. And when it did, she would be ready, with the light on and a gun in hand.
She is not looking at me; her eyes gaze beyond the balcony, far away into the night. The view is beautiful, as she is. The city lights are like a magic carpet unrolling to the horizon. She is real now. She’s not the same woman I opened the hotel room door for an hour ago. Just an hour ago she was playing a role. She was playing it for me. She plays it from the moment I call the number and ask her to come over. I just gave her my room number and the hotel name, and that was enough for her. I didn’t need to explain why or how. She smiled when I opened the door. “Are you the one who called me?” “Yes,” I answered, looking at her; she was so alluring, appealing. She went straight to the bed, removing her white dress. “We got only an hour,” she said. “Do you want to start?” That was an hour ago. But she didn’t leave. “Can I stay for a little bit longer?” Confused, I answered yes. We didn’t talk any more. From that point only silence, a beautiful conversation without sound. She walked out to the balcony wearing again the white dress. Without moving her eyes from that point on the horizon, she picked a cigarette from my offering hand; that point between the colorful lights and the dark sky is where her eyes were fixed. There is no need to talk. There is no point or sense in that. We both got a long story to tell. We can use sound and words to explain the how, to regret the if, and to cry about the why. The air will fill with the right words that cannot resolve a thing. My sorrowful melody will merge with her painful music, and it will all become a noise. As much as I want, I will not be able to listen to her words. I will try to make my story more painful then hers, more convincing. And she will do the same. We don’t want that; we choose silence. Embracing the speechless conversation. She hears the story about my broken marriage without me saying a thing. I agree with every word that doesn’t emerge from her mouth. We sob on each other’s shoulder with no sound.
She was perfect. She was everything I wanted and needed. She was beautiful, just the way beautiful should be—simple, pure, and quiet.
“It’s time for me to go,” she says.
“A little bit more?” I ask.
“Next week the same time?” she asks back. “Yes,” I say.
My wife is looking at me. It’s been a year since I came back home, to my wife my home. I came back home completely empty of anger and pain.
“Do you miss her?” my wife asks me. “Yes,” I replay, “sometimes.”
I can also be quiet. My wife answers with a smile, as she puts on the white dress.
She is beautiful, just the way beautiful should be—simple, pure, and quiet.