calls for snow,
but I laugh.
I have not jumped
and we'd slide!
Convince me of love
and I'll die for you.
Actions will follow
But speak in untruths
and death will follow.
Do you have the heart
that kills innocence?
Divorced, A Perspective
While patiently waiting
to gather itself,
I do all I can
to reassure you
that I am for you.
All of my toiling
by you goes unseen.
Focused on yourself,
you ignore this, your man
who adores you,
who would die for you.
"... yes, it's called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It affects about five percent of the population in the U.S. It lasts about forty percent of the year and it's more common among women than men, it is most difficult for people who suffer from the disorder during January to February, according to an article from the American Psychiatric Association."
"We'll take questions from our studio audience when we return."
"Are you S A D?"
"You keep bugging me about my fainting spell and I'm going to run you over with my car."
"Okay, sorry! But you've got to admit it is strange that someone as young and strong as you are, that you would faint like a school girl after she's seen her favorite boy band,"
"Tell me more about your dysfumction. You said that you were experiencing weird things throughout your life, since you were a child. Are you on psychotropic drugs?"
"Nome of the experts have ever had a need to prescribe any, bastard. Anyway, remember that time when I told you about my mother and I almost getting killed by a car. We survived because I was able to pull her out of the way, even though I was only five years old and didn't see the car until after it crashed. I was going purely on instinct.
And then there's you. Your wife struggles with bipolar issues and depression. I love that she is so open about it, by the way. She's a great example to follow. And there's Joe, that struggles with high-functioning autism. You have got to be in emotiinal pain all of the time. None of what I have mentioned is easy. I'm blown away at how you hold yourself together. But you have to admit, you are under a huge amount of stress. It makes me wonder if you should be in therapy and it makes me think that you are a sensitive."
"A sensitive what?"
"You've been watching too much science fiction again."
"H.P. Lovecraft is a favorite, but that doesn't explain how it is that you manage to call me in the moments that I need you most."
"We talk every day."
"Yes, but you call me when I need you, not randomly."
"Okay, now you're starting to worry me."
"When I woke up from the nightmare at three in the morning, you texted me as soon as my eyes opened."
"When I had to go to the hospital last week because my fever spiked to over a hundred and two and you happen to be at the corner where I was going to catch a cab."
"When you told me that my ex was no good for me and three days later I catch her with her ex."
"And what about that dream you had about the fish jumping into my hands and the same day I win the lottery?"
"We were talking about you and your dysfumction, not me, remember?"
"Your phone. Answer it. It's Mariana."
Reinaldo puts his phone on speaker.
"Just got done with work. On my way to the train station. The trip from Brooklyn to Union Square in Manhattan is only half an hour. I could meet you there, since you have to visit your bank.'
Reinaldo hopes that Josue is not tired from the hospital ordeal yesterday.
Josue is happy to oblige.
"Absolutely. I can head to work once we're done with your dinner, my breakfast."
"That's right. I'm friends with a vampire! Wait! Do you suppose that your fainting spell has to do with you not being used to a night shift? You only started working the graveyard shift just this past month. Did you tell the doctor that?"
"No. I hadn't thought about it at the time."
"Well, just so you know, Mariana has ordered me to keep her informed of any changes in your status."
"Cheese and crackers, between you and her I'm starting to wonder if I should have stayed at the hospital."
"Yeah, it sucks being loved. I don't know why you didn't tell the aliens that you were fine with being their guinea pig.
Anyway, I heard this guy preaching about the end of the world at Union Square just recently. He referenced the recent blood moon, he talked about the earthquake, the tornado, all the stuff that's been in the news lately."
"Yeah, and?" Josue couldn't contain the sarcasm. He rolled his eyes and sighed heavily. This made Reinaldo laugh.
"Hear me out. What if your fainting spell has something to do with the end of days?"
"Because I'm that important in the grand scheme of things?"
"You wish! Remember when we were talking about how I was feeling darkness as being oppressive? What if your spill is related?"
"I beg you, stop."
"End of days, evil fights to stay alive, only the sensitive are affected. You're married. That makes you sensitive. In touch with your feelings and all that."
"Where do you come up with this stuff? Besides, you're not married and you just got done telling me that you were feeling oppressed by the dark."
"Happily divorced. Thank you for asking. Also, remember, I'm a child of an identical twin. Her mojo was transferred to me. You know how sometimes twins can sense when the other is in trouble, even though they may be thousands of miles apart? Wierd stuff like that has been happening to me all my life. I think it's because I'm a child of a twin."
"I think your mother dropped you on your head and never confessed."
Laughter. They end the phone call and head out to meet.
"Mariana?" She was on her phone, standing outside of Josue's room. Before I could say anything else she pushes open the door and waves me in.
It's a private room. A shade of light grey. The blinds are drawn. The only light comes from the overhead lamp above Josue's bed
He's lying down. Eyes closed. Bare-chested. Fingers interlaced. Reinaldo touches his left big toe through the blanket, which startles him.
"Hey lightweight. Boy, if you can't handle a cafe mocha, how am I going to introduce you to an espresso?"
"Funny. You've got jokes."
"What happened? You can't go half an hour without needing my help? You pregnant?"
"Bastard." They chuckle.
"I have no idea. I had every intention of going to the supermarket after leaving you, but as I was climbing the stairs out of the train station, the world began to spin. Before I could call Mariana, I passed out. A Good Samaritan picked up my phone, dialed for an ambulance and then called Mariana.
You and she are my emergency contacts. Your numbers are the only ones that can be called without having to unlock the phone. The person saw the tittle 'Wife' and called her.
Anyway, my blood pressure was checked, my temperature was taken, both seemed normal. Blood and urine samples were next. We're waiting on the results for those."
"Okay. Let's say for the sake of argument that you're not pregnant, what could it be? You're not diabetic so that rules out a low blood sugar episode-"
"We hope. Analyses are still pending."
"Right. You're only forty-eight. I'm going to guess that it's not a heart issue. Especially since you like to exercise."
"Thank you, doctor."
"Shut up. What if-"
"Here we go!"
"Shut up. What if you got abducted by aliens and they probed you and you really are carrying a being?"
"Then I'll name him after you. We'll call him Aldo for short."
"Hon. The doctor's here." The door pops open. In enters Mariana accompanied by a woman and two men.
"Hello Mister Peralta. My name is Dr. Stevenson. You've already met my colleague, Doctor Sanjay and this is your nurse Mr. Alvarado."
Wow, she's gorgeous! Concentrate.
"... analyses show no significant abnormalities, so we're going to send you home. Doctor Sanjay will return with the necessary paperwork for your discharge. Before I go, however, let me ask you, have you been under stress lately or working unusually long work hours or having trouble sleeping?
"He hasn't. I put him to bed early enough that he gets his usual amount of sleep."
The doctor listened to Mariana, but kept looking at Josue.
The doctor's assistant and the technician glanced at each other.
Reinaldo looked to the drawn blinds, wishing that they were open, so that he didn't have to concentrate on what was going on in the room. He knew that if he, at that moment, had looked at Josue, that they would had laughed. He was sure that he would.
How shriveled does the doctor think I am after Mariana's comment just now? Josue wanted to climb under the covers.
"I don't have anything to recommend at this time, other than that you take your time throughout your day as you work on your tasks. Should this fainting spell happen again and your vitals remain normal, then I will refer you to a neurologist. Take care Mister Peralta."
She steps out. The two men stay behind. Mariana steps out to ask a few more questions of the doctor. When the door shuts, the doctor's assistant asks, "Is there any question, comment or concern on your mind, before I get you your discharge papers?"
"We're wondering if his fainting spell is due to his being pregnant."
Josue rolls his eyes. They all have a good laugh.
"Everyone knows that the sun goes down early during this time of the year. Some of us are so busy that it goes unnoticed. Something, however, seems different.
The darkness feels heavy on the shoulder. As I walk about taking care of my everyday, it almost feels as if I am wading through a pool. Am I getting old? Of course I am. We all are. With every tick of the clock we draw closer to death.
I don't see myself as slowing down, though. Only last year, this past October, I began to jog for the first time ever. By March of this year, I ran a half-marathon. Am I getting old? Yes. Am I slowing down? No. Running a half at sixty-ome is no small thing. I know quite a few twenty-somethings that can't run thirteen feet, let alone thirteen miles.
But this darkness, it's different. It's almost palpable. It's as if it has a life of it's own."
Reinaldo shared his thoughts with Josue. All around them was the clatter of the kitchen, the conversations of the other patrons and the barely audible sounds of the café's radio. He was glad for the noise because he knew that he sounds crazy. The door to the café was open, which kept the small space at a comfortable temperature and added traffic noise to the conversation. He hopes that Josue is the only one listening.
"You sound like you need therapy."
They go back twenty-five years. Their time spent together has produced a friendship of complete trust and mutual respect. During good times and bad, they are faithful to each other as family should be. They met in church over two decades ago.
Though the church has failed them in different ways, they have never failed each other. Supporting each other through any and all circumstances. Strangers sometimes confuse them as lovers, but they call one another, "My brother from another mother."
After coffee, Reinaldo walks Josue to the nearest train station. Josue had to go home to prepare dinner for his wife and teenage son.
At forty-eight, Josue did not look his age. He stands at five feet, ten inches tall. People confuse him for Caucasian. He was born and raised in New York City. His father was from El Salvador. His mother was from Puerto Rico. His passions are cooking, exercise and sex.
His wife, Mariana, is his height, of Puerto Rican descent. She aspires to be a playwright. Although, if she wanted to, she could do very well in front of the camera as an actor.
Unfortunately for her, she suffers from depression and struggles with bipolar issues. Multiple traumas suffered during childhood coupled with a chemical imbalance keeps her debilitated often, making it hard for her to reach her full potential. On many occasions, Josue has had to call Reinaldo for emotional support during one of Mariana's episodes. He becomes her punching bag.
Joshua Peter, Josue's sixteen year old son, stands almost six feet tall. He was born with autism. High functioning. Brilliant when it comes to music. He wears his hair past the shoulder. When he allows you in to his private world, you can still see the child-like innocence.
"Why am I so tired?" Josue yawned broadly as he climbed the stairs from the train station. He had every intention of stopping at the local supermarket before going home.
"I'm not going to make it." He leans against the car parked directly in front of him at the top of the stairs. He wonders what was in the coffee that he felels as though he could fall asleep right on the spot.
He reaches for his phone. He wants to call his wife, but the world begins to spin. He slides off the hood of the car and faints.
Reinaldo decides to walk west. He likes the Hudson River at night. There is no plan. He just wants to stroll.
That heaviness that he was speaking about to Josue lays on his shoulder like an overweight child. As he approaches the Hudson, he begins to concentrate on his breathing. He's felt this before. When his thoughts weigh heavy like this, he practices mindfulness.
Deep breathing exercises. Unpeeling layers of clothing in order to allow for the natural elements to touch him. Running his hand across textured surfaces and other exercises to keep him grounded in his today, instead of being lost in his yesterdays.
Fifty years. Fifty years learning how to manage Complex-Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder. You would think that I would get it right eventually.
"Every day above ground is a good day."
"I'm sorry. What movie was that from again?" Really, quoting dialogue? Have our sessions become that-
"Trite, I know. I'm sorry! You were so into what you were thinking about that I had to catch your attention. Since I know that you hate cookie-cutter answers, I thought that I would flimg one at you to get you going. What were you thinking about?"
"Just that I don't get people. They have the capability of such great love, as well as, such destructive hate."
"And by they you mean we, yes? You do include yourself in that statement?"
"No worries. I don't think that I come from another planet or that I'm just passing through on my way back to Heaven, if that's what you're implying." Idiot!
Sometimes it's so frustrating talking to you, Author. I know, though that when I share this moment, the mindfulness exercises that I'm choosing to practice, trying to fight off the dissociation, instead of giving in to it that you will look at me like any other parent would their child that brought home good marks on their report card. I love that my therapist has issues. Life is too much fun sometimes.
Deep breath, now. Concentrate. Unbutton your coat. Let the wind touch you. The Hudson River. Lights glistening on the black water.
The phone. It's Mariana. "Hi! How are you?"
Did Josue take a detour? No. According to my watch it's only been fifteen minutes since we parted ways. He'll probably walk in the door as we speak. Is she in a manic state? What do I tell her that will keep her calm?
"It's Josue. He's in the hospital. I'm on my way there now. I'll text you the details of the room he's in once I find out details." She cuts the conversation shori.
Reinaldo walks towards the hospital near their home. A cyclist passes by playing his radio the loudest it can possibly get. Annoyed, he wishes the cyclist would fall. He did. Unfortunately for the cyclist, he fell in front of the truck that was following closely behind. The radio continued to play as onlookers scream and run to help.
Reinaldo is frozen where he stands. All he can do is stare at the scene.
Let him live! Let him live!
Someone bumps into him, bringing him back from unconsciousness. He stumbles forward a few paces, then he walks away. He hurries to the hospital.
Please be okay. Please be okay.
His thought was of the cyclist and of Josue. As he pressed forward the heaviness that he has been feeling holds him down. Slowing his pace...
At the third age,
while others think
I take The Stage,
and in a blink,
have been the cause
throughout my life.
with heinous acts.
these fifty years,
have haunted me.
kept me alive.
Trusting that God,
His plan, is best,
along the path
and I bring those
that would follow...
not an option.