Anything By Len Kuntz
June 30, 2011 Comments Off on Anything By Len Kuntz
She was scarmelt and eyes, holes for a nose, rivers of skin-sludge mottled together, yet, he claimed to still love her.
She’d been working construction, high up on a boom that hit a power line and exploded. She saw space hurling, felt the flames engulf her, then passed out. The coma lasted five months. They’d thought she’d die but he wouldn’t let them take her off life support because he believed in miracles.
Now she wanted a new face, wanted to be able to smell again—cupcakes and roses and rain. She wanted him to stop saying she would always be beautiful in his eyes. If he truly believed it, she felt sorry for him. If he didn’t, she felt equally sad. She was nobody’s burden to shoulder.
She returned from the hospital to find he’d taken down all the photographs, any, that is, featuring her old face. When she demanded that he return them, he admitted to burning the entire batch. The irony of this deed struck her so hard that she cackled in hysterics.
Still, she left him one afternoon while he napped. She had no intention of coming back.
It was windy. She could see breezes weaving through weed grass, tousling tree tops. She wandered through hills and acreage stuffed with craggy boulders and evergreens. After a few hours, she came out of the woods into a land she did not know, walking down a long dirt driveway. Dust pebbles skittered against her ankles, filthy scraps of paper fluttering.
She stopped at an abandoned shed, its warped doors open. Inside was a mass of chaos and upheaval: a capsized toilet on its side, a hunk of old bureau, urns and an empty oil jug. The ramshackle sat on several pallets, spilling out into the yard.
She stared at the mess, as if hypnotized. To anyone else, it might have been an eyesore, but to her it contained a certain, sad beauty.
Transfixed, she didn’t hear the shuffling behind her until the old man asked, “Who’s there?”
His eyes were cloudy, blue and blind.
“Just a stranger,” she said.
He stomped his cane. “I thought you was my Lila.”
Wind gusted between them, covering a long silence.
“She left without a word,” he said. “It’s been one hundred fifty-three days.”
She watched his face twist.
“People used to ask what I’d give up if it meant I could see again, but, you know, I don’t care about that. For Lila, though, well, I’d give anything to have her back. Anything.”
Wind rattled the bureau handle and sent a scarf floating so that the man’s nose twitched, perhaps scenting Lila. Tears pooled around his vacant eyes.
“You want something to drink, eat?”
“Thanks,” she said, “but I have to be getting back.”
He started sobbing, choking, so she closed the space between them and hugged him hard. “Keep believing,” she whispered.
“Because miracles happen.”
“Yes,” she said, bringing his fingers to her face. “I’m one.”
© 2011 Len Kuntz
Len Kuntz lives on a lake in rural Washington State with his wife and son. His writing appears widely in print and online at such places as Blue Stem, The Wrong Tree Review, Clutching At Straws, and also at lenkuntz.blogspot.com