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The seed fell from either Heaven or the heavens; it’s not entirely clear which. It started out the size of a baby’s fist, but as it ambled gently toward the ground it shed layers and parts of itself. The remnants of a stem and a tiny leaf were first to go, dropping off in a decidedly umbilical manner. The horny outer shell with its prickles and spines was next, splitting down the middle then falling away like an afterthought. A skin-thin sheath under the shell lasted for a few seconds before dancing away in the fingers of the wind.
What was left behind was an oddity, a thing that one second would shimmer with a pearlescent brilliance that, if you could just reach out and touch it, would cure every hurt and soothe every pain, or so it seemed. The next moment, as the wind tossed it a different direction, the shimmer turned oily and dark, the dull sheen of a dead eye. Though the desire to reach out and touch it still pulls strong, it’s the desire to poke your tongue into a cavity, or stomp an anthill to watch small things suffer.
In this manner, it dips and bounces its way down, changing over and over, Yin and Yang spiraling into, out of, and around and around. It falls through a thick puffy cloud, pulling a long thin vapor behind it that starts to form into a funnel, then dissipates into nothingness. Below now is its destination, whether fated or happenstance is a question better left to other minds.
The sound of Dwayne Johnson’s fist hitting Eileen’s face was an ugly punctuation mark to the argument they’d been having. Bitter words, accusations, lies both small and tall had been exchanged and when frustration had reached the point where the truck driver couldn’t express himself in any other way, he spoke with his fists.
Eileen staggered backwards, the pain in her cheek too big yet to really feel. She caught her balance just before falling to the asphalt and raised a hand to her mouth, feeling the warm wetness of tears and blood.
Dwayne stood across from her, his semi purring black smoke behind him, his fists clenched as tightly as his jaw, his legs as stiff as posts.
“How could you? All the shit we’ve been through, all the hard work we’ve put into us.” “You slept with him and then you lied to me about it.” The words came out in a guttural snarl so thick you could almost see the red lines of pain emanating like heat waves from each one. The words choked him, he couldn’t finish. If he did, if the thoughts were let out into the world, then they’d become true and even in the state he’s in, some part of him can’t let that happen.
Her words were soft and mushy when she spoke, her mouth already beginning to swell. There was pain and anger in her voice, but no fear. Her tone was a quiet rebuttal of his rage, her posture as she straightened from the blow remained as open as if they were discussing the trip to Houston they’d been planning earlier in the day.
“I didn’t sleep with him, Dwayne. I don’t even know him. Before you accused me of this, I didn’t even know he existed. I don’t know how you got this crazy idea in your head baby, but I’m telling you the truth.”
There is a moment, a balancing moment in all things. A time when life can become death, when sorrow can become joy, when the merest whisper of wind can turn a storm into calm. Sometimes this is a conscious decision, others it’s a matter of circumstance and, rarely, it is such a thin turning point that the contrast between choice and chance are indistinguishable.
The seed drifted down between the two, unnoticed now, as it had shed yet another thickness after passing through the cloud and was no larger than the head of a pin. It fell into a crack in the pavement, a deep and jagged crack that led through the manmade stone to rich earth beneath. It rested there like a foundling, or a secret tumor.
Dwayne stood, breathing raggedly, visibly struggling to let go of a primal rage. “I saw.” He swallowed hard and tried again, “I saw pictures. She showed me pictures of you two together. Together.”
“She who?” Eileen asked, taking a half step toward her love. “And what pictures? How can there be pictures if nothing happened?”
Something in her tone, a genuine puzzlement, untouched by anger or colored by lying reached him and he felt a part of the rage melt into hesitation. He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out the three pictures the woman had given him and as he touched them he remembered two smiles. The woman’s sly, upturned lips and the slow parting of Eileen’s mouth before she’d kissed him that morning.
In that moment, he knew shame and regret like a clutching hand in his stomach. He looked at the pictures and was unsurprised that they were blank pieces of paper. They fluttered from his hand to the ground.
Eileen was in his arms and they were holding each other before either knew it had happened. Her face, before she buried it in his shoulder, wept a drop each of blood and tears.
The drops fell at the same time into the crack where the seed lay and began a slow race downward. Long moments passed while the two misled lovers held each other and cried their relief and dismay above.
In the earth, the seed awaited the result of the race.