I met K just once, at the end of it all. I believed he was ready to leave. I found him at the section of fence near his house; I had a feeling he’d be there. I think he had being going there for a long time now, at sporadic intervals, and that he was hoping he’d meet those men again. I think it was a last attempt to look for answers. Or, more likely, peace.
I told him I thought he was unlikely to get anything out of them. I didn’t mean to sound so blunt, or unfeeling, it’s just what I thought. I’m sure he knew as well as I felt I did that they were only there at certain times – very certain times. Times when specific elements and specific thoughts fell into place; but even then, they were only passing through. They had their own things to do, their own places to be, and as much importance as K placed in them, they couldn’t help him now. He had to separate himself from these circumstances and do what was right for himself. He had to forget them; perhaps not completely, but enough so to continue independently.
He sat on the muddy rise and I asked him if he was happy. It sounded trite, and I had a million other things to ask him, but I had a feeling that time was short. He said no. He said that he wasn’t, but at times he could imagine being so, and that he felt selfish for even thinking like that.
He said he spent most of his time hoping that she was happy, wherever she was.
I thought that sounded like enough for now. The wind was picking up and the long grass flapped in the dark. K rose then, and began lifting himself over the fence. He puffed and threads of white hair fell across his forehead. He looked old and frail, but he also looked healthier than I’d imagined.
He stumbled a little on the other side. The great expanse of black field washed out around him. I felt terribly sad. I felt terribly sad to see him standing there all by himself, and I wanted to say so much then. I wanted to tell him that I was proud of him, and that these steps were huge steps, and that he had to find ways to be happy, or at least somewhere close, always.
I wanted to tell him that the high water mark would break and fold back, in time; that he would find ways to be close to people again, that he would make other people happy too, that he would keep growing, and that these experiences would be indescribable. In time, in time. I wanted to be clear, and unashamed, and to not give a fuck, and tell him to keep being grateful for challenges, and to keep clinging to the moments where he felt cut free from the spread; that these moments would grow and multiply and that at their most real, he would feel as if his heart couldn’t contain all this love. I wanted to tell him what someone had once told me: that all there is is love. And I wanted him to know that I had thought at the time that it made no sense… that it was something that didn’t exist, that it was just more cultural concepts, but that now I have to try and live by it. And I fail, and I’ll keep failing, but fuck it, everything worthwhile is a series of mistakes, and I’ll keep adoring this thought.
And to speak, to always keep speaking.
But I knew as well that there had to be a process. He looked back, raised his arm, and said he was sorry.
And that was it. It was there again, that bubbling urge. I should have told him… I wanted to tell him he didn’t need to be sorry. He didn’t ever need to be sorry. All that mattered was that he healed. But it was what he wanted to say. It was what he wanted to say, and that was important, and there had to be a process.
I was desperately trying to summon up something perfect to say – as always, and as always, it was too late. The time we had had would have to be enough – it was enough, and it was far, far more important than words. K turned and stepped into the black sheet, and something snapped – some rhythmic waver, or closing of layers.
And he was gone.
I couldn’t remember ever feeling so sad. But I suppose when you feel like that, it’s always as sad as you can remember. I rested my elbows on the fence, put my head in my hands, and cried. I cried until I felt horrible, and I cried until I felt it was the last thing I’d ever feel, and I cried until I felt fucking glad that I was able to cry. The night swam around me and eventually, deep into the night, I stepped down from the rise. I took a last look at the spot in the field where K had stood and I wished him the very best in all things.
Stars winked above as I walked off, and the black, grassy rises hugged in and guided me. Against the backdrop of oceans of black field and oceans of time, I saw the angular shapes of the two strange men. They detached themselves from strings of grey mist and stood awkwardly against the fence above me. The frosted peel of their white eyes cut across the roadside gloom.
I knew at that moment they were looking expectantly, and I had spent an awful long time, a terrible amount of time, wondering over and dismantling the possibilities that lay in meeting them. The clearest of opportunities, on a cold night, for some unreachable clarity. Yet, as I observed the two figures leaning, stretched and staring, I felt quite definitively that I didn’t care anymore. I wasn’t interested in what they might have to say, or what cryptic offerings they might have to bestow upon me. I didn’t want to keep thinking about such things; such things as I might never understand anyway, just as I didn’t want K to think about them. There had to be an end point. A tremendous amount of good had taken place over the course of the night, and I felt fine to step away, to let these things drift and disappear again. I would only ever have been scratching the surface, and so would K. There was so much more to do.
I looked into the four white bulbs, and shrugged. There was the briefest separation of shadow from shadow, and I realised one of the men had his hand raised; a jerky, flinching imitation of a wave.
It was so ridiculous to witness that I couldn’t help but laugh. I raised my own hand, smiled, and turned to leave them behind. Through the still air I heard the bubbles of a wretched, metallic laugh following me.
I didn’t look back, not once.