Dying Softly

     Not all that is living dies with a tortured struggle.  Some die softly, like two leaves slowly parting as they drift down a meandering stream.  No violence.  No anger.  Only the gentle pain of the realization that each has been caught by a ripple moving away from the other.

     Such came the realization that Alice's marriage was dying.  She called across the ever widening waves to her companion of all her adult life.  She never knew if he didn't hear or he only appeared not to hear.  He bobbed on--seemingly unaware of distances of silence and attitudes until the space was so formidable that to rejoin seemed a marathon struggle beyond her strength. Then she knew she couldn't reach him unless he fought the surging force as hard as she did so that they could find that same wave again.
     For awhile he seemed to move in her direction.  Like a gentle breeze of spring promises rebirth, he moved ever so slowly against the current toward her, driven, she hoped, by his love.  Perhaps she whispered "what was, can be."   At other times though, he seemed committed to no action, just a lazy floating in the sun, allowing whatever would happen to happen.

     For ever so long she had never been so alone.  No one to tell the dream to, no one to understand the solemn glances at the clouds racing toward the unknown.  She had been his.  When had she first known that the silences were not shared moments of intimacy but only times when there was nothing to say?  When she remembered trying to find the beginning of her realization, she could not find one.  All she found was that he seemed to care less and less and notice fewer and fewer of her now very feeble attempts to reach him.

     She found she even longed for a storm--so angry that they would be thrown together, for a conflict--which might like the most ravaging of winds and rains eventually clear the air.  He only looked through her or walked away when she begin to get too close to such fury.

     She began to not struggle against the currents which seemed determined to permanently part them.  The tears she alone tasted and they really didn't even affect the stream at all.  Only if someone cared enough to look deeply into her eyes might he know there were tears there and not part of a natural stream which had splashed on her cheeks.

     Alice knew that tears make no sound at all when something dies very softly.


First published in The Oak, July 1995