Mary pulled her fingers out of the dirt and went completely
still, eyes skyward, with one ear cocked up to the right, listening, as muddy
hands hung in front of her thin, feminine frame like a lemur. Her Irish Granny
used to swear she could hear the sound of her baby's whispers even over
hurricane winds, and Mary now knew that she was right; motherhood imparts its
lucky members with many odd superpowers.
A grassy hill lined in red oaks defined the winding drive down
the hill from her lovingly shabby Victorian home. The three sides of the house
that faced the ocean were always peeling paint; battered and weathered as they
were by the sea torn New England Winters which whipped at the antique frame.
This was her little corner of the world where she raised her six babies as
queen of their Lilliputian Kingdom.
Sweat slicked the back of her hand as she tried to wipe back a
stray chunk of black hair that had fallen over her right eye. She leaned over
and rested her hand on the high arched handlebars of a sky blue bicycle which
rested casually against the trellis adorning the front entrance to her home.
Shiny silver wheels with white rims and a rounded wicker basket completed the
picture. The purchase had been a rare pecuniary indulgence for Mary: one which
she had spent her whole life saving for, in a manner of speaking.
The clunky hum she had heard became louder now and was quite
unmistakable as the soothing purr of Rainer's antique racing car.
Rainer was Mary's fall.
You see, Mary had four husbands. None of whom she would ever
marry; each to whom she was deeply committed, some of whom she hated just a
little, and all of whom she would keep for life, because each had a story whose
end she had at one time wanted to know.
Mary was only eight years old when her mostly absent father
phoned to tell her that he would be bringing her a new bicycle.
The privilege of asking for material possessions was not
something Mary knew as a child. Still she held her breath and clenched her eyes
tight several times every day and prayed that it would be the powder blue one
in the window of the bicycle shop. In Spanish they have a word,
esperanza; it means to hope, wait, or long for in a heart wrenching
manner. This is an emotion known to only small children or expectant mothers;
for it is only during these clairvoyant spiritual windows that God insists we
feel anything this deeply. Sadly, it is also while swimming in this depth that
true human tragedy befalls us.
The promise of a bicycle, for Mary, was far more to her young
mind than the status symbol that a thick wallet could produce. She could not
help but be imbedded with the materialism that comes with being a have not
child in a have world.
For her the bicycle was the painted metal, spoke wheeled, 20
pound solid proof that a man believed her to be the most special child in the
world. It would be new and hers alone: not a hand me down like everything else
in her world.
The fantasy of garishly flaunting her father's gift in front of
the other little girls possessed her. The spoiled darlings whose adoring
daddy's swept them up in indulgent hugs and gifted them with sparkling dresses
on birthdays. To Mary, the bicycle would even the score with those girls once
and for all.
The day finally arrived when her father was to bring her new
bicycle. She waited by the front window of their tiny apartment, which was
perched on top of a high hill and gave her a bird's nest view of the entire
street in both directions. From early in the morning she waited while her
exhausted mother paced back and forth from the front room helpless to save her
child from a pain which she knew was inevitable. . By the time the sun set her
mother sadly pulled her away from the window. In the course of that day, as
each minute ticked by slowly on the wall clock, Mary became irreparably crushed
by the gift of love that would never arrive.
On that day a little girl learned a lesson which would define
her for a lifetime. Mary began to build the wide moat around her heart that she
hoped would protect her from ever loving one person too deeply.
Carefully stenciled across the bicycle's center bar in faded
silver letters was the Irish word "Saiorse," meaning 'freedom.' True to the
bellicose history of the Celts, however, it is something for which one has
fought and killed; whose cost imparts its owner with such a mark as to feel it
coursing through their blood with every breath; whose imprint one could not
forget for even one heart beat.
Rainer's old sports car made its way very loudly up the drive.
Mary could hear it for a mile before she could see it, which gave her enough
time to straighten her hair and remove most of the dirt under her nails. It had
been 10 months since she'd seen Rainer.
She smiled, thinking how ironic it was that Rainer didn't need
to have a back seat in his antique auto. His Freedom she considered boyish, and
it brought her pure joy. Often she considered the irony in their arrangement:
this very immaturity in Rainer is what drew her to him as a seasonal man, but
what would have been a deal breaker in a husband of the antiquated sense.
Rainer was 13 years her junior, and this need for flight was the very
cornerstone of her love for him.
The crystal green glint of his eye from across the lawn caused
her heart to flutter with the simplicity of her love for this boy. Rainer's
youth sometimes made Mary feel like a separate species. He was like an ocean
gull which flew just above the waves no matter how tempestuous the storm: he
never touched down and was therefore never drawn into the quagmire.
Rainer stopped the car, playing at ignoring Mary's strong tanned
form standing across the lawn, studying him. A lover's stare is an inescapable
force; a vortex into which we are sucked, willingly and slathered in joy;
Rainer was Mary's fall, and father to Niabh, her youngest
Mary had given Rainer one child, which was to be her last. He
was actually very lucky in this regard; many men did not get children at all.
Rainer came into the game after a lifetime of parties and debauchery: all the
while tormented by the desperate need to be saved by a child.
Rainer spent his other ten months living the half life of
a professional gambler; a vampire who only existed in the smoky windowless,
clock-less worlds of mega casinos. Sometimes his games lasted for two or more
days; he subsisted on speed, coca cola and cigarettes to maintain focus. He
would then sleep for days and wake to spend half his earnings on women, and
drugs, and an entourage of professional poker groupies whose habits he
supported as well.
He had boundless energy and an unfathomably high IQ; the
combination of which made him socially competent only amongst poker players and
children. Amongst adults he could be shockingly rude, yet he craved the power
that human attention lent. This became an awkward combination after a time.
The staggeringly high cash earnings of his poker games became an
eco-system unto itself. He was like a whale whose movement through the ocean
took with it a community of barnacles and small fish: entirely dependent on his
winnings for their existence, but of whose presence he was fully unaware. It
was never his intention to harm others, he simply lacked that most humans
acquire by the age of five. Because of his nature, he had developed a wildly
charismatic charm which drew people to him to; a vortex into which they were
drawn, unaware that their souls were being slowly sucked from them.
Rainer's smile made you sick with desire to be his conspirator.
The dark side which threatened to overtake Mary's personality
needed a man like this to wash her clean in contrast.
He had a slightly non Caucasian look about him: any stranger
meeting him for the first time would fully believe that he could be Asian, or
Latino, of African, or Middle Eastern, or Caucasian, for that matter. He was an
art photographer's wet dream.
The truth was that he was a mix between Lebanese and Italian; a
combination which blended the dark skinned, dark hair, larger nose traits of
the Lebanese, and the startlingly light green eyes of the Italian. His face
blended beautifully at any poker table in the world, yet clashed unnervingly in
Mary's small New England town, causing neighbors to stand a little farther away
from him in line at the local coffee shop.
Late summer meant that Rainer was there to wrap his hairy yet
boyish little body around hers as the nights got cold. He helped her collect
the fall vegetables and cook them into soups to be stored in the freezer for
the winter to follow. Rainer was long walks as they kicked leaves: Rainer was
the cabled hand knit sweaters that Mary worked on throughout the long winters.
Between Mary and Rainer there was very little discourse. Rainer
had taught Mary how to finally relax, and pass entire days without ever having
done so much as re-filled the cocktail and gotten up to pee. They grazed on
delicately simple picnics with the children while lounging in the warm green
fall grass staring up at the crisping oaks, whose tops were just beginning to
turn into unimaginably bright red hues.
Between Rainer and the rest of the world there was much strife.
His striking lack of empathy made him demanding and cranky, impatient
especially as it came to people in service roles. Mary would cringe as Rainer
berated waitresses for the food not being hot enough, or not arriving fast
enough. Social retardation was the casualty he suffered from the ability to
earn millions at a poker table by the age of sixteen. Rainer never had to wait
for anything. He caused deep tension and arguments amongst casual acquaintances
in his fight to achieve some internally defined code of equity; a code which
varied wildly from day to day, and one which only Rainer could justify.
The friends with whom they interacted during Rainer's season
were carefully chosen so as not to introduce sociological discourse. They were
mostly flaky artists and societal fringy types who seemed ignorantly tolerant
of Rainer's very particular brand of interaction.
Mary would never have tolerated him as her only husband. He
could be as gorgeously insane as he pleased, and it did not reflect negatively
on her. He was only a quarter of her choice: a slice of her image. Rainer alone
did not define her.
Conversely, Rainer's season in Mary's house was vastly
harmonious. He never had a cross word for any child, and something about Mary
and Rainer's exact temperaments produced the perfect chemistry; they never
fought. Endless afternoons were spent finding harvesting farms with the
children and picking blueberries and peaches. He treated each child as his own
and tossed them high into the sky....grinning like one of those antique
families in the photos snapped in the late summer's golden light.
Rainer woke up every morning before Mary. He made a perfectly
rich cup of coffee for each of them by hand and walked around the property
collecting flowers, which he stuffed into old vases in bountiful bunches that
jumped out at Mary's senses as she cracked open her eyes. She felt like a very
well loved little girl as she wrapped her fingers around the steaming,
perfectly nutty and full smelling coffee that Rainer handed her as he crawled
back in between the fleecy warm sheets to wrap his rubbery dark skin around
hers. His cool morning dew dusted and flawless skin made her think, if only for
a moment, that he felt like the only man she would ever need to wrap herself
Rainer and Mary spoke only in high level, whimsical details
about the year behind them: they did not talk of the year before them. They
lived only in the now. It was perfectly acceptable to Mary (perhaps less so to
Rainer), to live in the now; to be in love in the now. To wake in the morning
and run their soft fingers down the smooth length of their lover's body and
vibrate with the intensity of human love and desire, while not assigning that
divine gift a future of any kind, as humans tend to do.
Rainer could amuse himself for entire afternoons with the
invention of whimsical games to entertain the children. Extensive forts were
constructed in the living rooms on rainy afternoons out of old sheets held
together with clips of varying types, held up high with the tops of standing
lamps or short sturdy wooden stools. Several patterns of prints adorned the
great rooms like patchy old quilts, with varying brightness of light glowing
Great shows were made out of games which were played out on
makeshift stages around the grounds, with flowers festooning heads as royal
crowns, a delicate sun warming their tanned shoulders, and soft ocean breezes
filling the noses of children who certainly took such elegance for granted. The
ocean was their constant companion. They had not yet experienced the homesick
misery of having to leave it.
Towards the end of Rainer's season he would inevitably become
unsettled, pacing the fields against the ocean late into the evening, and
becoming short with Mary and the children: irrational in a desperate manner.
His darkness began to wear on her.
Generally Mary found Rainer's soul simple to tolerate. Days
sailed by with nothing more than a few loving exchanges of information between
them: notes on how a meal should be assembled, which perennials had come back
and which had not. Their relationship was not unlike those she had had with the
better cats she had owned. The animals wished only be petted, fed, and shown
some affection a few times a day; and otherwise kept themselves clean and
amused when they were not napping.
Cats also did not overstay their welcome; cats always knew when
it was time to skedaddle, and skedaddle Rainer did, according to the
meticulously planned and maintained schedule invented by Mary herself.
Eventually, all things die and go into hibernation and we
gratefully turn our minds to the undemanding comforts of the world inside of
our homes, nestled peacefully beside our hearths. We no longer have an
obligation to celebrate mother Earths overwhelming splendor.
The house, gardens, and animals had been buttoned up for the
fall. Thanksgiving had been celebrated as Rainer's goodbye and Mary and the
children had spent the weeks in December preparing for Christmas in their
rickety, sprawling old home, whose presence had become like a character in the
story that was their lives: none of them could consider the family without the
house as a member.
Moxley was Mary's winter, her third husband, and father to Ari
and Moser; five year old chocolate eyed, curly black haired identical twins.
Winter was her season for community: the pink house on the high hill by the sea
passed its frigid days drowning in music and friends, many of whom were world
The children held impromptu dance parties with Mox in their
underwear: unselfconsciously shaking their perfect little bums in overly done
gestures. His fingers flew over the keys of the black lacquered piano in the
corner of the great room as his thin hair fell over his eyes. Moxley took great
pleasure in pushing all of the children to explore their musical
extremes....indulging them in any direction they cared to go.
During the seasons that he was not with Mary, The Mox Stanley
band toured the world, playing concerts and living out of an airplane that he
had designed just for them. Mox Stanley was a deep believer in loyalty and
history. He had few people around him whom he had not known for at least half
of his life.
As it happens, Mary had shared a delightfully carefree time in
her late teens and early twenties with Mox Stanley. It was at too early an age
that Mary was drawn into clubs and drugs and men. It was in this world that she
first came across him. He had been a freakishly talented guitar prodigy,
playing on with some of the top guitar geniuses of the day by the age of
twelve. Now, at forty, he was the master of any instrument put before him.
Towards Mox, Mary held no secrets, no animosity. All of that had
been worked out a thousand times between them over twenty five years of intense
She had not considered giving him children until many years
later, after she had run through most of his friends and band-mates. They were
flashier, prettier, and more hip than Moxley, who at twenty was intensely
focused on his musical gift, and therefore somewhat awkward. Those boys were
like cotton candy to Mary and behaved like motherless souls in their
mistreatment of girls; young women who swallowed it with great relish in the
perennial mistake they make in allowing themselves to become beggars for the
affections of young men.
It was only in their mid twenties that Moxley's earnestness
began to truly surface for her. She felt that he was a man truly worthy of a
child, and she decided to give him just one. Ultimately, it was not about a
true lust or longtime love for him, but a loyalty to his deep kindness, musical
genius, and worthiness of procreation to which she had become endeared. The
twins born to Mary and Moxley were more of a gift to the extraordinariness she
saw in him than anything else.
When Moxley came he stayed in the fourth floor bedroom with his
guitars and sometimes the twins, but never with Mary.
You see, Mox Stanley preferred men, and therefore was not Mary's
Each morning they would greet each other in the sunlit kitchen
after tripping down the separate, rounded stairwells from their bedrooms
rubbing great, messy mops of hair: unconcerned about the foul smell of
un-brushed teeth. They cackled madly with each other over the breakfast table;
Moxley bearishly scooping absurdly numerous spoonfuls of sugar into his cup of
black coffee with his hairy paws.
His oafish body would dance with Mary around the circles of the
antique kitchen throughout those wind whipped snowy mornings while he DJ'd
music over the house sound system for the children and her. They moved in
perfect rhythm with one another and gazed lovingly into each other's eyes,
bristling with the barely contained joy of each other's company.
It was the true gift of their particular long standing and deep
history which bestowed upon them the ability to, with very little effort,
access the parts of one another which made them laugh the hardest. There was
almost no effort involved in their relationship.
Perhaps it was her lesser passion for Moxley which enabled her
to feel the raw love that one has for their children only: the true desire for
their happiness, the true sadness for their sadness. He was the only one of her
four men that she did not take some satisfaction out of hurting; even if in
some unspoken, unacknowledged, cold place in her heart.
The passion of sexual love requires that humans hate, just a
little, the very object of their affection, and Mary hated him...not even a
Mox Stanley was conversely not, by anyone's standards, black of
heart in any way.
By late February, Mox was excited to go back on tour; the road
was truly the greatest love of his life. By this time Mary as well had grown
once again hungry for a lover and she was ready for his Season to come to an
And so they spent the winter, in a fraternal happiness,
enveloped in music and riotous laughter until the clammy days of late February
approached, when Mox stooped his tall form under the helicopter blades as his
thinning dyed blonde hair whipped wildly in the wind. He departed into the body
of the helicopter, as always, with his signature departing gesture; known to
music fans the world over as he walked off the stage: two fingers pushed to his
lips and then held up to his audience in salute.
By the time springs first promise arrives, the crocuses pushing
through as we stare unbelieving, that Spring may have finally saved us, we are
pale and tired and hopeless.
Mary and the children were tense with cabin fever: running
around on each other's nerves; the children hyperactive with their need to
burst outdoors: Mary gone sick with knitting socks in new and interesting
colors; painting peonies and other summer flowers in watercolor; forgetting in
the sad month of March the spark that made her glow. Forgetting the fire that
made her children adore her and her lovers stay; captivated, staring and never,
ever, able to leave.
Manion was Mary's spring, and father to not even one of her
The preparations for Manions arrival were slow and meticulous.
His favor was not anything like the others, whose judgment she had no use for.
He was neat, meticulous, straight, and clean. And then just as quickly,
refreshingly wonderful and intelligent. He always intimidated Mary at the very
first. He was the man with whom she was least able to be herself. He was the
man least able to relate to her children, the man unable to give her children;
yet, strangely, he was the man she loved most deeply.
Manion worked, for ten months of the year as an international
consultant to private companies who focused on funding programs to research the
dire issues of reproduction the world over. The endeavor was a highly
prestigious and lucrative profession which required him to have an exceptional
degree of technical, business, and diplomatic skills.
Manion was raised in the mountains of northern Italy by a
wealthy family who sent him to the best private schools all over Europe. He
spoke six languages and selected a quiet, reserved air as the most appropriate
demeanor for the variations in culture which he regularly had to transition
between. The highly personal nature of his business also required him to show
little, if no, emotion. This practice had caused Manion to become unnervingly
You see, while Manion had dedicated his life to children's
causes, he was unable to actually relate to them: because of all he
knew, their presence unnerved him immensely. While Manion was a world renowned
master at diplomacy amongst adults, he felt utterly naked in the presence of
children, who had an uncanny ability to see right through the business acumen
which generally commanded a room of adults into submission.
His hair was light blonde, with denim blue eyes, and a perfectly
clear rosy complexion. At 45, he looked 32, and always beautifully dressed. His
pants were handmade Italian tailoring with cuffs ironed to a perfect pleat at
the ankles. He wore shined Italian leather shoes, white button down shirts, and
sometimes a soft wool sweater of light weight; always in a rich warm color. The
lines of his face were severe and masculine yet delicate, and when he laughed
his teeth were straight and pure white. The nails on Manion's fingers and toes
were always manicured perfectly.
He looked and acted unlike any of the other men she had chosen.
Manion never drank alcohol or took drugs of any kind, which, in addition to his
stiffness, became exhausting for Mary after a month or so. While she would
drink wine, and occasionally sneak away to smoke a joint, Manians quiet, wide
eyed and silent stare made her feel like an addict.
Manion rarely touched a child, but would instead stare at them
with a strange satisfaction; a quiet inner warmth: a simmering Mona Lisa like
glow washing over his face, which always left Mary wondering exactly what it
was that he was thinking. She never dared ask; never wanting to disturb the low
reverberation of his subtle joy; like disturbing the surface of a perfectly
It was in the spring that Mary spent the least amount of time
with the children. Sequestered away instead in the turret of the fourth floor
bedroom, or away for a few days of bliss; entranced by Manion's ethereal gaze
and silvery touch.
As a lover, Manion was quite feline: never blinking, never
sleeping, never unable to respond. He was rippled with muscles and nearly
hairless. In social situations he remained equally as awake and focused, yet
fully reserved and purposely difficult to read.
As May 1st approached, the humor and lightness he had
adopted began to once again recede into the clipped, business like efficiency
which was his mood upon his arrival to Mary's sea side utopia. He obsessively
ordered his belongings each day, squatting over his travel bag each morning
after showering in his perfectly white, starched underwear, and his compact,
muscled little body. His serious, firm, tight face stared down into the bag
like the president of the country deciding on whether or not to order war.
His exit on May 1st was a tight lipped quick kiss on
Mary's left cheek, with eyes ducked down as he slipped into the backseat of his
chauffer driven black car and zoomed back to his Italian life.
The world has very few places prettier than coastal Maine in
late June, with its mind blinding greens, silver ocean glitterings, and burnt
orangey pink sunset hues that blind you as the ocean makes love to your senses
with her rhythmic heartbeat of a lullaby.
It's as if those souls brave enough to suffer through February
and March are now being rewarded with God's grace in the form of a New England
summer. And they treasure it that much more for its absence.
Landsin Tanner arrived on a windy afternoon in late May, rolling
out of the passenger door of a beaten up old truck with a sail bag full of
dirty clothes slung over his right shoulder. His greasy blonde hair stuck out
in chunks from under his visor as he waggled a thumb and pinky to the smiling
driver and banged the hood of the car in farewell.
Sin bounded bowlegged and pot bellied over the lawn with his
shoulders slumped, removing his sunglasses to reveal the signature of sailors
everywhere: raccoon tan lines over deeply etched crow's feet. These tan lines,
formed from the ubiquitous sunglasses, were known as 'racing stripes.'
For just a moment Mary was taken by the large shouldered
athletic and cartoonish masculine charm which dripped from Sin like an old
robe. Her eyes glinted with admiration at his sly, raw and mischievous sexual
appeal. She very much wanted to love this man.
He grabbed her around the waist with a meaty arm and bent her
back to cover her mouth with his. The decades old ghostly spell was at once
broken by the repulsion she felt for his smell. He tasted like rum and a
distinctive body scent which made her slightly ill. His familiarity after such
a long absence made her uncomfortable. Mary was unnerved by lascivious public
displays of affection. It was very much against her breeding. Sin knew this
well and his overt gesture was therefore an offense; a power play which
attempted to show Mary who was boss. She smiled down at her children
uncomfortably, as they stared back at her with hope and pride.
Sin was Mary's first husband, her first lover, and father to
three of her children.
Theirs was a complicated coupling.
The harbor was drowsily polka dotted with bronzed late afternoon
sunshine on an August day of Mary's 16th year. Sin was lounging on the stern of
a racing yacht when her young girl's eyes came to a screeching halt on him. His
right was arm thrown back over the lifeline. He cradled a beer in his left
hand, and a bright winning smile adorned his tanned young face. Sun bleached
light brown curls fell over his eyes and he looked as if he had every puzzle
piece in exactly the right spot.
A pudgy 16; Mary had not yet grown into the stunning woman she
would be, and was simply not the sort of girl that Landsin Tanner would notice.
She immediately hated him intensely for this. Although she soon fell madly in
love, she never quite got over the hate. You see, we must listen to our inner
voices when they tell us, unequivocally, exactly who someone is in the moment
that we first lay eyes on them.
The memory of her first glance upon him remained for her laced
with iconic Hollywood style glamour. Nostalgia tends to create out of ordinary
events heartbreaking magnifications of emotion in our tortured human minds.
This is one of the prices that God extols from us for the privilege of being
her most cerebrally gifted animal. Her greatest gift to us is, ironically, also
her greatest of punishments and we remain trapped in the emotional labyrinth
which we have created for ourselves.
The trajectory of Sin and Mary's romance grew to become
legendary. They were the envy of members of the elite sailing community the
world over. Early pictures of them showed an impossibly gorgeous, healthy, and
well matched couple who shone happiness through those small stills in time. The
photos reach right into your gut and cause immediate jealousy of this pair who
appears to be mysteriously united against the world.
Mary and Sin continued to travel the world together after the
birth of their first boy. They named him Quintilian, after the yacht on which
Sin had won his first America's Cup race. They would often be seen on the decks
of elite Yacht Clubs the world over with their baby boy casually plunked down
on the bar. They approached parenthood with what appeared to be the ease of an
elite athlete completing a signature move that had been practiced tens of
thousands of times.
Older sailors would surreptitiously stare at them with deep
envy; their coupling holding the solution to the riddle they would struggle
with their whole lives through. It seemed to solve for them how to find room in
one's heart for both the ocean and a spouse. By and large there was only room
for one or the other, and a great majority of sailors grew old alone, having
chosen the sea.
As with any great era in human history, it was an almost
imperceptibly slow turn of events that eventually toppled their empire.
Their second son Dervitch was born, and then their third and
Mary remained at home in Maine in total misery and exhaustion while Sin
continued to travel the world without her. A seething resentment hammered away
within her as the sleepless months and years in the vastly lonely pursuit of
caring for babies took their toll. Sin would drop in once every eight weeks or
so, looking tanned, healthy, and refreshed as Mary glared back at him with now
widened hips, vomit stained clothing, and the infuriating dementia that sleep
As his sailing career grew, so too grew his professional
She became sick of carrying on morning conversations with him
over the telephone as he slurred his words and called out to women in the
background. She knew his nature well enough to understand that his bed would
not remain empty for very long. There was a part of her that sympathized with
the weakness of Sin; understanding too well his character which rendered him
incapable of anything more.
His visits had now become nothing more than a courtesy that she
extended to their children. She felt they had a right to spend time with their
father, but she was not going to allow them to leave her home with him. His
presence sickened and disturbed her, leaving her feeling like a caged animal
that was watched and tormented, but bound by the prison of her love for her
After a two year time of breastfeeding and mourning and weeping,
it was now Mary's Season. First there was Manion, so elementally different from
Sin. Then she had her one pregnancy with Mox, and lastly, Rainer, whose
movement in and then out completed her perfectly balanced quadrangle.
In the beginning, the Season of Sin was a fantastic show of the
strong and perfect daddy who played with the children and was interested in
their stories and games. Within days that façade degenerated and he was
often passed out on the lawn furniture by three in the afternoon. His massive
belly caused a rattling snore to jaggedly belch from his throat.
They had stopped the charade of sharing bedroom years ago, and
Sin had seemed to stop caring where he laid his head; wherever it fell seemed
to be acceptable.
In the mornings Sin would always stumble to the breakfast table
after everyone had finished eating; bleary eyed and ashamed. He would apologize
for his behavior and tell Mary that he drank so much because he felt ashamed
that he was never good enough for her. He was ashamed that she wasn't ever
satisfied with just him. Mary sat in silence with her arms crossed over her
chest: her nostrils flaring in repulsion. She would say nothing. Only nod, and
retreat to her garden where she could be gracefully alone with herself and her
ocean; the repetitive motions required in the art or gardening allowed her
brain to work out even the tightest knots in her psyche.
In the final analysis, her gut instinct was correct: she truly
On a humid morning in late July Mary stood under the verdant
awning at the front door of her home with one hand resting lightly on the white
handlebars of her blue bicycle. She held her breathe and tried not to flinch as
Sin kissed her goodbye for the season. The sick feeling oozed slowly from her
as the truck rambled down the stone drive. The grace of the moment was the fact
that Sin was not, ultimately, Mary's responsibility. She could enjoy him for a
season and then pour him back into the sea. Sin's alcoholism belonged to the
sea, and not to her.
Each man pulled on her center with just enough weight in each of
the four directions. The seasons, like a weathervane, dictated a perfect
balance. Each man gave her only some of what she needed to feel complete, but
none gave her any more than a piece: for that would require her to cross her
wide moat and dive in more deeply than she could possibly tolerate. The balance
achieved through the doling out of just some of her love for a short time was
now at its apex. Like the way we must balance on a bicycle; never shifting our
weight too much to either side for the physics of it to work, so Mary had
mastered the balance of her world. She had become complete without true
Each man gave or took from her in just the right proportion,
like a carefully engineered project in impossible yet physically exact
Mox nourished her soul, and Sin stole from it.
Rainer allowed her to indulge her inner child, and Manion subtly
Neither Mox nor Sin could be her lover. Neither Rainer nor
Manion could be satiated.
She did not consider this arrangement odd in any way; she only
thought that love has bad timing and God loves irony.
Once Sin's car had disappeared into the distance, she suddenly
had a mad desire to purge this unsettling feeling. She jumped onto her bicycle
and barreled down the winding streets of her seaside village on her favorite
journey: to the sea.
"Saiorse....." The word hissed from her jaw as black hair
fluttered in waves behind her. In the next beat of time the sound became
utterly profound and hovered like a cloud of fog. She was finally freed after
so many years of being trapped in God's twisted cages which we allow human
relationships to engineer.
The bicycle crested over the hill and began to speed down the
other side. Mary was overwhelmed with the rush of having one's life held in
ultimate balance. Like a finely pitched soprano note on a violin flexed for an
impossibly long time; the riveting beauty of its perfection for just this
moment makes the fleetingness of it all that much more precious.