I know She is watching me. I can feel her. Just beyond the edge of the forest She stands in darkness, peering at me. There's nowhere to hide. Everywhere I turn, She is there, watching me with those damn green eyes. Dear God, those eyes, like emeralds, piercing, piercing into the depths of my soul. Flickering light moving deftly through darkness, doors opened, gangrenous wounds exposed.
In my dreams I hear her. Night after torturous night, her cries echo through my mind until, once again, She is silenced by my hands. I awaken--bed soaked, body aching--to find her there, wooden rocker creaking slowly, rhythmically, her eyes never leaving mine.
She drove Paula away. "I can't live with your ghosts anymore, David," she said, slamming the car door. Without a word, I watched her go, knowing she would never return. "It's for the best," I thought. "Paula could never understand."
I hoped when Paula left She would go, too. Paula brought her! But tonight--Dear God, will it never end?!--the dreams, the cries, my hands round her soft throat, squeezing, squeezing. I open my eyes and She is there.
"ENOUGH!" I leaped from the bed, sent the lamp crashing behind her head, splintered crystal rain---daggers, daggers. She pulled her lips back, a smile that didn't touch her eyes, and She was gone.
The mouse runs from the cat's claw; a man runs from himself. I drove through the dark night, searching, running, afraid to go home, afraid to be alone with her.
Once I thought I saw her, standing in front of an all-night café. Neon sign flashing behind her, red, white, red, her face in shadow. She turned toward me, a face unfamiliar, as lost as I.
The night was a blur of faces, lights, sounds. I found myself on a forest road, narrow winding path closing behind me. Into the depths I went, cutting myself from the world outside, ivy, like a shield on all sides, lush and green to the tops of the trees, reaching across the road, a canopy of grasping clinging vines. Fallen branches suspended over the road, rotting inside a thick green blanket. I wondered if after the branch is gone the ivy holds its memory. She loved it here.
This agony burns inside me. Worms of death and rot, slowly eating away at my mind, my body. I am but a shell, a vessel, and I carry the anguish and misery as one would precious cargo. What can I say? It is the path I chose. Or is it? If somehow by some miracle I could wipe out the last five years of my life and begin fresh, would I choose differently? Probably not. For I have concluded that all things are destined, and there are no real choices in life. We delude ourselves in our vanity to think otherwise. Some say our subconscious minds choose our destiny in order to learn lessons from life. Desperately, they hold onto the delusion that we control what life has in store. She had no more choice than I. From the time we met, it was as certain as the sunrise that our souls would be entwined. Even beyond death.
I inhale the river. Breathing the warm, familiar, musty odor of damp earth that reaches out to me. She warned me I would never be rid of her. What was that verse She read to me? Her favorite. Was it Dorothy Parker? "That's us," She said. "We are bound forever wherever you go."
I stand at the river's edge, watch a tugboat feeling its way through black night, every few feet flashing its light, searching the bank for bends in the river. Then, a shiver, hair on my neck rising. She is there behind me. Just at the edge of the forest, She waits. Watching. Eyes like emerald daggers, piercing, piercing. A warm, musty breeze caresses my cheek. Water laps the shore. Only one path left. She loved it here.