Saturday, November 24, 2007

Henry & Victoria

Henry worked in the market. He sold fish. Every morning victoria would bring him the fish to sell. Victoria was once a happily married woman. Long flowing blond hair once graced her head. A lovely rounded face that beamed. Now all long gone. Victoria worked with edward at the docks. She wears a bandanna catching the sweat from her forehead. At times, the random fishhook placed there for expediency would catch and blood would trickle. The twins blood and tears founded her world. Wrinkles layed their claim to her beauty. She ached.
Henry would setup his tent at dawn. He would wait until victoria came by with the morning catch. He would sometimes see her far up the walkway coming into view. She was hunched over. The basket of fish carried on her back was heavy. The old women who were once jealous, were now quite satisfied. They would jeer as she made her way down the main walkway of the market past them. They were cruel in way only another woman could be. Henry would watch her as she made her way down. The sun rose from behind her. She walked in light. The morning light would glisten off the sweat and blood. She was beautiful. Henry knew she was even more beautiful now than she ever was.
Victoria's husband was a fisherman just like edward. The fishermen fed the village. They braved the seas. They were heroes in the eyes of the village folk. Only the bravest and strongest worked the nets. The village's main staple was fish with assorted vegetables and the occasional meat.
Henry dreamed the dreams of heroes. He was the mighty fisherman that fed the village. They would have starved without him. He would come home to his beautiful wife. She would be hunched over such that in order to kiss her he had to sit down first. In his dream, He could even pick up the child in arms despite the child's size.
The rock that gouged her husband's head was huge. Despite the blood loss he survived. Ever since then she worked for edward. She would prepare the lines. She would untangle them adding hooks and sinkers if necessary. She enjoyed these tasks at the start of her day. It was the easiest on her. Later she would reel in the lines. She had deep well worn grooves in her hands. "The fish line cuts cleanly." She said aloud. No response was required. "The salt water naturally heals the wounds."
Henry had a gentle face everybody enjoyed. He worked until the fish was gone, sometimes till dusk. He was always amazed to realize that at the end of the day, the very people he knew his whole life would mistakenly miscount their change or hand the wrong money or foreign currency. They went to school together in many cases. He imagined the rocks that hit their heads must have been very small. "Victoria was smart. She never made a mistake." he thought. Everyday he wondered if edward was to make his way down today. He never met edward.
Victoria's day started when most people's ended. It was a ritual. A ritual that validated her love, their marriage. She fed him.She faithfully clothed and washed her husband. No man should know the humiliation of being changed like a baby. Her husband didn't know. She would smile with bitter tears watching her husband play with the toys meant for their child. She has the child she never wanted. She never thought of throwing him off the bridge killing him. She loved him. His love for her though now un-nuanced and simple, was strong as it ever was. The pain of what could have been is integral to the purity of the love she practiced everyday. They are inseparable.
Henry loved victoria. He understood her love for her husband. He imaged them together with her child. Henry knew he could be a good father. He made a place for her in his home. The extra bed next to his was always clean and untouched. It was adorned with flowers for her time to time. Henry knew she would never abandoned her child. Henry knew patience. The bed next to hers was extra long with walls affixed to both sides.
She never did move in. She understood the love henry offered. She already had that kind of love.
Henry knew pain. There were days victoria never showed.
Many years later henry still dreamed of being a fisherman capturing fish. The place set aside for victoria was ready as it ever was to receive his love. He, one night after capturing his mighty fish, in his sleep died happy. He lived happy.

1 comment:

abfh said...

Sometimes Victoria talked in her sleep, rolling and tossing under the sheets, almost as if she were out on the ocean in a storm-tossed ship. Sometimes she talked about Henry.

Every day she changed her husband's diaper, fed him, gave him some toys to play with, and locked him safely in the house while she went to work. She thought that he had the mind of an infant and wouldn't even notice that she was gone.

He wanted to tell her that he still knew who she was, that he remembered the happy times they had spent together. He wanted to tell her that he loved her more than Henry ever could. But he couldn't tell her anything because he no longer had the ability to speak, and he didn't have enough control of his hands to write.

Many years passed like this. One day a neighbor stopped by to tell Victoria the sad news that Henry had died in his sleep. Tears streamed down Victoria's face. Her husband, who was sitting on the floor playing with some wooden blocks, let out a loud childish squeal of glee.

What a saintly martyr Victoria was, the neighbor thought, sacrificing her life to care for an empty shell of a man who so obviously had no awareness of anything around him.