REJECTION By G. W. Huber Rejection Published by Gregory W. Huber Copyright © 2011 by Gregory W. Huber, Allentown, PA., USA No part of this eBook may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise without the prior written permission of the Publisher. Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to email@example.com THIS BOOK IS A WORK OF FICTION. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Commentary and correspondence is encouraged by the author via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org REJECTION by G. W. Huber He felt comfortable inside the house. It had been a long time, but he was still known here, still accepted by this place. He was a part of it. There are things time and distance cannot change, he thought. Perhaps they are few, but there still are those things. He moved from room to room, collecting memories and long gone emotion like a sponge absorbs something spilled. He had been part of a whole other life here. Now, that life was gone and he was left with only himself. Solitude was not such an awful thing. There were times, however, when the loneliness came creeping in like some dark and haunting specter, refusing all his attempts to exorcize it. One of those times was nearly upon him. He felt the melancholy building within and knew it was futile to fight. He would simply have to endure. He had never felt like this when he and Cheryl had been together. She had made him happy here. The house was still full of her. Her presence lingered in the rooms where they had laughed and entertained friends. Her careful hand was still in the garden where, despite her absence, the flowers bloomed and smelled sweetly of the two summers they had shared. He had loved her, he supposed. In fact, he knew he loved her, but he was so detached from that emotion, so without love, that to embrace it even in memory seemed impossible. He had never seen love as a constant, as forever. Life had taught him otherwise. Love was a pain that came and went, ebbing in and out like a tide. Its only constant was the hurt that lingered in its wake. He moved to the kitchen and opened the cabinet beneath the sink. The bottle of scotch was still there. He stared at the red label. Then, he filled a glass and drank greedily, wanting its reassuring warmth to comfort him. He took the bottle and glass to the love seat by the bay window. The view overlooking the valley was as beautiful as ever. It meant nothing to him now. Its effects, as well as the effects of the alcohol, were entirely muted. He allowed his heavy heart to carry him into dreams. Her face returned to him. Revisited was her laughter, her grace, and even the tears that had fallen so warm and frequent upon his shoulder. It was all real and again alive. He came, startled, out of his abstraction and stared around the room. He honestly expected to find her there, but all he found was an empty house, invalid, except for his pain. He was standing in front of the bathroom mirror. His face appeared haggard and puffy with sleep. He splashed himself with cold water and slid open the medicine cabinet, looking for an aspirin or anything that might help to deaden the pain. Her hairbrush was there. It lay on the bottom shelf where she had always kept it. He remembered the last time he held it. They were playing around, teasing each other as lovers often do. She fled from the bedroom and he caught her as she tried to hide in the bath. Jokingly, he took the brush from the cabinet and pretended to flay her bottom as she lay across his knees. Suddenly, she took on an urgency near hysteria. She yanked off her panties and pleaded with him to beat her. She had been so bad, she said, and needed to be punished. She told him that he would want to hurt her, one day. He would want to hurt her because she would hurt him. A single tear trickled down his face. He had cried enough, but there was a question amid his despair that required answering. Had she known even then? Had she known she would forsake him and return to Joseph, the man who had been so cruel and unkind to her? Should he have done something different, loved her less somehow? She was so full of pain and contradiction, this woman he had loved. She was, at once, brilliantly bright and gropingly lost in darkness. The dark had finally sprung full force into their lives. She left him, never to return to the light, but to set herself fully into the nightfall. How could she have traded his love for Joseph’s cruelties and perversions? Surely, if she could choose now, she would pick him instead. Only two months after leaving him, after leaving this house, she died with Joseph drunk behind the wheel. She had begged him not to drive, but he had only hit her in the face until she relented and got in the passenger side. Maybe they were still fighting when their car crossed the yellow line. Joseph, of course, survived. The bastard had probably steered her side of the car into the guardrail to save himself. That would have been typical of Joseph. This house was too full of her, full of his life with her. It was nearly unbearable to stay, but somehow he could not leave. He couldn’t stand this recollection, so he allowed the dreams to find him. The visions possessed an unusual clarity. They were not like dreams at all, but like scraps of life drifting back to him from some distant void. It was as if the past had somehow contrived to paint itself upon the canvas of the present. All recall was pristine fresh. He revisited places and experiences they both had shared. They drank together, and he tasted dry champagne. They sat in moonlight, and he felt the cool wind upon his brow as a light breeze caressed their union. All sight and sound, sense, and events were more perfectly experienced than even at first. Gerald felt gripped by his dream, a dream from which he did not care to extricate himself. He spent day after day and hour upon hour enveloped in recognition. There were countless durations of seeming sleep, and of waking to some sort of half-spent reality. Weariness washed over him like a dark tide. It was relentless, and it tugged and pulled at him. It drew him down to some darker abyss, some other finality. He spent his days in a gray New England rain, full of darkness and downpour. Their house was without light, for his dreams seemed born of shade. He felt as if he did not exist, except in this counterfeit slumber. He was a void, a wraith moving about in shadow and gloom. Too late, he realized that his love for Cheryl was not enough. He had never truly known her heart. She loved Joseph, and no act on Gerald’s part could change that, before death or thereafter. So, here he remains. His longing is greater than ever, for he has taken it beyond the realm of mortal desire. He is caught, eternally, between the loneliness of life and the emptiness of death. He hopes and wishes. He wishes for a life that would have held less longing, or a death with the hope of reunion as opposed to the ultimate rejection.