Excerpt from “The Gates”

The winter days drag on and the whole city is in hibernation. Ice coats every surface, blinding even those who dare only to peek beyond their dark muslin curtains. I am all alone outside. The wind whips at my ears, silent but deafening. My eyes, the only part of my body left uncovered, are red and chapped. I run briskly, each step precise, so that I don’t injure myself. Central park is ablaze – saffron colored flags billow, lost amidst the snowflakes. It is the only color around me. To winter, a sickly pale patient, it brings a blush: a faint sign of warm blood coursing beneath lifeless skin. To winter, pure and minimal, it is the burning away of all desires. Crackle and pop they flap in the wind as the naked trees gently sway. My feet pound lightly on the powdery ground, watching it come together until it is so slippery, I nearly lose my footing.

“I must keep my chin up. I must concentrate! Breathe- two counts in, two counts out.”

Little clouds struggle out of my facemask, puffing out of my nostrils in rhythm, warm and moist. My mind is calm and blank – effortless. It surprises me because I usually have to try to think of thinking of nothing, in order to have a single moment of thoughtlessness. Dusk is approaching, so I slow to an even walk back to my apartment.

I bury my face into the pillow as I hang up the phone, exhausted. I could never talk to just one member of my family. As the phone had passed from one brother to the next and finally to my father, my anxiety had climaxed, but as usual I could not bring myself to say hardly a word to him.

There was so much to say and I never knew how to say it. I know that I’ve disappointed him and sometimes I’m secretly glad to have broken free from his control over me and my dependence on him- the constant needing or maybe just wanting that he would or maybe even could never satisfy. But more than that, I regret all that has happened and where I am now, as a result of my desires and following through with them. I wish I had never taken action. I wish that I could be who he always wanted and expected me to be. But surely he had to know that that I would fail- he’s a pastor and that’s his trade. To deal with- oh god, I don’t even want to say it- sinners like me.

He never came right out and screamed at me, nor even said openly that I was a disappointment, but I wish he would. I wish that he would get angry and realize how easy, or even how natural it is. I can’t very well scream at him because that would put me clearly in the wrong, although in his eyes I’m already wrong. Would it make a difference then? Why can’t I just say it? Or just ask him if it was true that I had really let him down. If he had stopped loving me because of it. No, that couldn’t be true. But maybe he loved me less. Why can’t I bring myself to say anything at all?

Now we’re like strangers- polite and formal. Our conversations are shallow, punctuated, sets of one word parries. Who is winning, I don’t know. Probably him since I hurt every time- I’m crying inside and his heart is bleeding only for the Lord.


About Jean C Wong

I am a world traveler, writer, photographer, and teacher. I've lived all over the world and speak 5 languages.


One thought on “Excerpt from “The Gates”

  1. wow Jean, really wonderful! I am impressed for sure!

    Posted by Eleanor Herzog | October 9, 2010, 9:13 am

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