While sitting at the Southampton Publick House, I was approached by the bartender there who was very anxious to tell me about her friend Gerren Wegman, who writes short stories and works in Southampton as a physical therapist. She is such a big fan of Gerren’s that she literally handed me a print out of a short story that she had on her and told me that I had to read it.
We don’t normally publish short stories on the Dan’s Daily, but this one is worth the read if you have time. It takes about ten minutes to read.
By Gerren Wegman
Beautiful, full of beauty, she was. Named Epiphany by her parents on the supposition of all loving parents: that their child will be something more than human, a light that others would be drawn to, a force that would send others into a state of rapture; a being that would inspire love and faith; and for once, such a supposition was well-founded, their faith rewarded, their work recompensed. Epitomizing life, in its very essence, its core value, she not only possessed youthful exuberance and vitality but something intrinsically pure, virginal. Her eyes were of the most earnest obsidian, perfect globes of dark water containing a depthless meaning. Her long dark hair rested upon a long swan-like neck, stainless, olive skin. Innocence. Perfection. That’s what he saw when he looked at her. [expand]
He loved her. Loved her. Before she had came into his life he had been with many women but never loved any of them. He enjoyed women for their beauty, their aesthetic value, but had never someone he wanted to stay with; someone he would suffer and sacrifice for. But he knew that woman was out there. Someone that would give him a reason to live and a love that was worth dying for. One day he would meet her and everything would fall into place.
He loved the arts: music, literature, film, humanity in general. He could watch the same film two, three times in succession, stare at a painting for an hour straight, lay in bed for hours listening to the same album, walk the streets of the city and take pleasure in watching human beings move and interact. He had wanted to better the world; took pleasure in seeing others happy; wished to increase that happiness; wanted to share what moved him with others, naively believing that what he found beautiful and what he took comfort in would hold the same value to other people.
He enjoyed restaurants, bars, clubs, and interaction in general. He enjoyed the sight of people together, drunk, free, honest, embracing one another, dancing, as alcohol flowed, he loved the sound of ice falling into a glass and what it signified, people at their most exposed, naked, in vino veritas, people entering and exiting, allowing the smell of smoke and street noise to flow into the building, people kissing, fondling, slipping into unoccupied restrooms or vacant kitchens to make love, urges unsuppressed, liberation and peace, save a violent encounter or two. Mostly positive energy. He felt love for these people.
That’s where he met her. Through the crowd, the busy throngs, he caught sight of her. Seated at the bar, conversing with a friend, he spotted her and made haste to introduce himself, disregarding those in his way, bumping an unfortunate, out-of-work, bond trader, causing him to spill his dirty Martini down the front of the red dress of the buxom blonde he was hitting on. He slid in next to her on a fortuitously, fateful, God-sent, vacant, stool; clearly delineated by the shining light of heaven, or the stagnant hue of a fading bar light, depending on one’s perception.
Her slender hand grazed his; her touch soft and warm. Their eyes met and he engaged her in conversation. Every word she spoke was fringed with beauty and all her movements were tinged with purpose. She was occupied as a nanny while she finished school. She was studying to become a nurse…probably. This meant she loved children, she cared for people, she was working for a better world. She would understand him, share his beliefs and concerns, they would stand together and change the world. Any words of support from her would be superfluous. He could see it in her eyes. God, she was beautiful.
He was able to find spiritual reinforcement in her physical presence which gave him inner peace. Under a green awning: they kissed. A quaint French bistro: they dined. A soft down comfortable on top of a queen-sized bed: they made love. O’ peerless Epiphany! It was overwhelming. She accepted him. Such a gorgeous, pure, lofty creature allowed him inside her. Afterwards as she slept he lay awake admiring her body, the slender curve of her back, her full round buttocks, her perfect breasts tucked discreetly underneath her as she slept. He marveled at her beauty and savored the sense of happiness he felt. He wondered if he would love her as much when she grew old and lost her beauty, nothing more than a ruin of a sacred temple. Would he still derive pleasure from looking at her? Surely his undying love would conquer any loss of form or aesthetic. It would. Certainly it would!
So, he was in the full thrall of love. Love. By definition, at its core, its very essence, would, to some, be considered unnatural, even insane. One of the basic tenets of life holds self-preservation as of utmost importance. To love anyone, truly, one values another human beings life more than their own. Which is to be lauded and followed: staying true to owns nature or fighting it, trying to be something more?
They became a couple. He clung to her: he always said when he found the woman he was to marry it would have to be a woman he wanted to spend every waking moment with. He clung to her, by her side whenever possible, while working he thought about her, contemplated her beauty, ruminated about her to friends, pictured her in idyllic scenes, and recreated mentally images he had seen from artwork or films and placed her in them. She was beautiful. He catered to her every need and whim; took a genuine interest in her thoughts and emotions, in her past and in their future; an ideal partner most women would dream of, the antithesis of the “average” man; he was caring, thoughtful, perhaps obsessed) nothing Epiphany really valued at that time in her life.
She was no goddess, no saint and no idol to be worshipped. She was just a human being, a woman, a beautiful woman, with her own fears and insecurities, her own flaws and imperfections, sexual liberality, youthful pride and selfishness, neediness for freedom and self-indulgence; never claiming perfection, never expecting devotion, never wanting possession. It represented an incomprehensible, terrifying finality; needing time as everyone does, she needed to believe in someone better, something always down the road, a fuller happiness, a goal always to be searched for, never to be reached, never slowing down, never stopping, never dying…
It didn’t take long for her to realize that she couldn’t stay with him. His altruism and naiveté were charming and admirable but were worthless to her and his unrealistic humanitarian dreams held no attraction to her, she just wanted to live, not for others but just for herself. Just live. Yet she stayed with him. She cared for him and wished to avoid the unpleasantness that the inevitable departure would bring about. When it happened it would happen of its own volition.
Still he persisted in his dream. As she slowly withdrew from his interests and activities, he began to withdraw as well. He departed from his dreams, not in his mind but in his actions. With all his attention focused on her there was no time for anything else, nor did he wish for anything else. Why waste time on others when everything he ever wanted was concentrated in one person. The fact that she was neither what he thought she was, nor what he needed, though glaringly obvious, eluded him. It was a truth he had no interest in facing. He needed her. Why, after all, he saw he didn’t really love the world and all the people in it anyway. Only in certain situations did he derive pleasure from them. No one could ever understand how he felt, what he was going through, no one but her. Screw them! As long as he had her nothing else was necessary. He placed her on a pedestal, an impossible standard, and invested all his hopes in her. Then it all came down.
Buildings crumble, societies disband, bodies wither and love falls apart.
They were eating. Her mind was elsewhere. He was watching her. He was frustrated with her for being distant and not communicating with him. They sat in a restaurant, by the window, looking out into the street with people hurrying past; clouds shifted allowing the sun to glide over their faces periodically. A mild din of conversation mixed with kitchen noise drifted around them, a fallen fork rang out in the distance, heat billowed up from her soup as she ate effortlessly without tasting, thinking of Paris and the Seine and the Eiffel Tower, (her friend had invited her to stay for two weeks) when suddenly her taste buds were activated and she became cognizant of her food, which displeased her. She puckered up her features in disgust. He watched her intently. A sudden rush of fear and emptiness washed through his body in the form of a cold shiver. As a man with poor vision who removes his glasses and believes he recognizes someone in the distance, only to return his spectacles, and finds the person to be a traffic sign; or a man wandering, helpless in the desert, believes he sees water, while it is a mere mirage, so did he realize, like a flash of lightning, she was not what he believed her to be.
He came down as though off of a drug. What was he doing? It was so vividly clear now. She didn’t love him. She had no interest in his dreams or aspirations. Her beauty was a facade, a bewitching beguilement. He mentally tore her down from her pedestal and threw her to the ground. She was nothing but a hindrance. There was more to life than having a beautiful woman. He had been wasting away, retreating from his real purpose in life, not producing, not contributing anything to the world but merely indulging a fantastical dream of a woman that never existed. He didn’t yet know what he really wanted but this wasn’t it. It was over. He looked into her eyes and told her the truth about how he felt. Then he stood up and left the restaurant. [\expand]