By Christopher Blaine
“The less we talk, the better” Marina said, cutting him off mid-sentence. Michael was taken aback, confused; it was their first date.
Peering over the top of his menu, he watched as she intently scanned her own. Then, slapping her menu shut and dropping it onto their table, she kicked her heel impatiently while trying to catch the eye of the waiter. Michael was fascinated. It seemed to him that she hardly noticed his presence at all.
After they had ordered, she turned her eyes upon him. They were a very intense shade of green. He imagined the writhing growth of a jungle in tropical heat. “Look” she said, “the best thing any stranger’s got going for them is an air of mystery. People get to know each other, figure each other out, they lose interest and want to be on to solving the next mystery. So, for both of our sakes, why don’t we just do our best to maintain that air of mystery? Talking is nasty and mostly pointless, so let’s leave words to that for which they were intended: communicating practical problems. Like, hand me the wrench. Okay? No personal questions that aren’t necessary.”
For a moment, Michael just stared at her. Then, beginning to open his mouth, he changed his mind. Instead, he merely nodded his head. In his thirty years he had never been on such a strange date; he was intrigued.
When the food arrived, they ate. Otherwise, they watched each other. Very intently and very intensely, each trying to find an opening through the eyes into the inner workings of the other.
When finally he had walked her to her door, Michael was somehow not surprised at the passionate kiss they fell into. Each were well on their way to becoming in the others mind everything they dreamed of.
Three days later, there was a second date. A year later, they were married.
As the years passed, they laughed and they cried together, smiled and smirked, but only rarely did they talk. If words built up inside them, they dumped them upon their friends. Their love making, though, was a thing to be marveled at—pure and vicious.
When at last, at seventy-six years old, Michael Moonwater had been forced to bury Marina Moonwater, seventy-eight, he knew next to nothing about her aside from what he had observed of her in their forty-six years together. Driving back from the funeral to what would be an empty house, many thoughts flooded his brain. There was sadness, of course, a heaping heart full. But, on top of that, there was fascination. How had he fallen into such a weird relationship, how had his life passed in such a way? Had he been hypnotized, enchanted? He was not a remarkable man. Marina, as far as he knew, had not been a remarkable woman. Only very, very peculiar. None of their friends or his family (he had never met hers) had understood their relationship in the least, though some professed admiration.
In what had been their car, Michael pondered her. He felt like a man who has lived inside a storm for forty-six years, finally seeing the broad blue sky. In the calm, everything was become very clear.
Suddenly, the image of the woman who had been his wife, down there in her grave under six feet of dirt, rose up in his mind.
Inside her rotting body were many treasures, treasures no one had ever seen. As her body decayed and her skin split, these treasures fell out. They were many and wondrous. In time, though, the treasures too decayed, becoming part of the soil.
The image fading, a large smile began to spread its wings upon the wrinkled old face of Michael Moonwater. Then, opening his mouth, he started to sing.
As the car moved through light and shadow, winding its way back toward what would never feel like home again, Michael Moonwater sang as he never had before—ecstatically—as large tears rolled down his weathered cheeks, and the world whipped past his windows.