By Michael Christopher
If he were a place, he would be the desert where no one lived.
His optimistic emotions were now baron and needed the comfort of his child. That child was gone, and he felt the urge to scream, even in the middle of this room filled with people chatting, noshing on precisely cut bites of food, and sipping their selected alcohol. There was the tinkling of ice cubes, the angled surge of conversations, and the music still too loudâ€Śhe scarcely even noticed any of these things. Standing there, he remembered kissing the child that night and how wet and clammy her brow was on his lips, her breathing labored and dry. And that look on her miniature, frail face. He knew what was going to happen, and it took his breath away, even before the event. He was also remembering how hollow he felt inside at the moment of the announcement. He wasnâ€™t even sure if he was standing or sitting. Where, was the reasoning in all this?
He had now become a broken man. His broad shoulders, down turned, his callused hands looking atrophied, his spirit shattered. He wondered what kind of God would
force a father to bury his only child, the daughter he had always wanted. The child he had loved and cared for these scant years. The same child that had shown him that he really could view the world differently.
It was Lisa Sansong who noticed him. She was standing on the other side of the room next to a chintz arm chair. Lisa had been scanning the party for her best friend Ellen. Lisa needed to tell Ellen that she had finished that magazine article Ellen lent her and she wanted to discussits merits with her. In midstream of her scan, Lisa saw him. She knew immediately the look of a destroyed man. There was something in the glaring of his eyes, the perched attention, the tilt of his head. Later, ‘she’ would not have been able to explain why she did it, and also ‘he’ would not be able to say why he allowed the next event to happen.
Lisa looked down to ensure that she placed her drink on a coaster rather than the polished red mahogany of the living room table. When she looked up, she found his eyes again, refocused, and started walking toward him. For some kooky reason he looked in her direction too, noticed her, and saw her coming toward him. Those blue eyes of hers floated, they told him that she knew what he was thinking, and all he wanted to do is hide, and just get away from this room. He felt hot as if the party’s host had switched the climate control knob to the ‘Incinerate’ position. Lisa had set her sights and continued maneuvering the maze of people toward him, but all along those blue eyes of hers had attached themselves to her target. She came to a stop, square in front of him. There were no introductions. Her eyes left his face and followed his frame down his
parameter, down his arm, and then she calmly reached out to slowly take his left hand into her cupped hands. It was a gesture with purpose, a sealed determined mission. He knew his secret was found out, and it stripped his power from him. It was at that
moment he felt the damn within him starting to crack and he heard a popping fracture sound at his core. He stiffened, trying to keep control. He was sliding and he was trying, using his might to stop it. Lisa didn’t notice that he had switched roles and was now holding her hand, a bit too tightly. He tried, but couldn’t stop the quivering in the center of his chin that had just started, an indication that the damn in him had actually broken. More was on the way. An acrid moisture was instantly on his every fleshy inch. His emotions were doing somersaults, and she could see his pain even more clearly now. She knew that same pain well. He now became further overwhelmed by this shared, unspoken knowledge and just as natural as with an old friend, the burly man crumpled into this stranger’s arms….From the mashed collar of her blue silk blouse, she heard him murmur, “She was only three. She was just a baby.”