"I don't love this!" Marian gasped as the grass squelched muddy moisture around her feet. "I don't love you, I don't love running. So why...why are we doing this. Everyday. How long are we going to pretend like this is normal?"
Ben pulled her hand and caused her to stumble. It had been this way for a month now. The cell phone softly buzzing in her purse at ten thirty p.m. Brooks was asleep. He couldn't know that she was running around with another man. No! He couldn't know that all they did was run. Desperately looking for the arc of light. It had to be there again. Everyday for the past month, they had stood, enraptured within the arc. When the light faded after fifteen minutes, nothing but ridiculous bliss remained. They never knew what they saw. Only felt the weightlessness afterwards.
Soon, Ben dropped Marian back to her dark house. She walked in, her pale pink pajamas wet with grass stains.
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Ben ambled on to his own home. He had been pushed to find her, he decided. There was nothing about a married woman that should catch his fancy. And she didn't catch his fancy. Just his anxiety. She was invariably late. Having to ensure that her husband was asleep after their joint exertions. He remembered how he had gone running that first velvety night. He had chanced upon her staring, hypnotized. Following her eyes, he had promptly forgotten himself.
It was worse than an addiction. It was a daily re-programming and re-charging. They couldn't do without it. Every morning, they found renewed relationships. In the true sense. There was no lingering memory of a slight at the coffee machine, the missed invitation, the casual hurtful word, the truth revealed in the eyes as the lips spoke falsities- there was nothing beyond clean joy at beholding another being. They did quality work, as their respective bosses announced. Their creativity unleashed itself, unhindered by distractions of sensitivities, egos and patterns of behavior.
One evening, Marian decided that she did not want to sneak behind Brooks' back anymore. He would never hear her out and attempt to understand. His brand of logic was applied to everything that he knew about in the universe. That there were aspects that were unknown to him, never entered his thoughts. How could he possibly apply the same logic to unknown/under researched phenomena? Didn't logical conclusions require a study of the subject? Brooks was a professor of logic and philosophy.
She wouldn't talk about it, she decided, nor would she continue sneaking out.
After about seven calls allowing twelve rings each, Ben counted, he realized that she didn't want to come. Running again because he was seriously late, he realized that she would have done this sooner or later anyway. He stood under the light that loved and bathed him. His mornings were filled with eagerness now. As long as there was the light, this world would be bearable, he thought.
Marian found herself falling at work the next day. The burdens from the previous day's insults and emotional baggage were too much to bear. She could feel the oppression of dissatisfaction and fear. She would get through this somehow. She would have to go back to normal soon. That light would not be a part of her nor would it keep her addicted.
She was never the same again. The weightless feeling of being a new born everyday was gone. The crushing burdens physically incapacitated her. Brooks grew worried. The doctors found an elevated blood pressure and an irregular heart rhythm. Assuming some manner of intense stress, a psychotherapist visited her.
Marian said nothing that first day. Afterwards, she talked about how much she missed her home. Half asleep, she described an ocean and waterfalls and golden light that the therapist couldn't place. Marian was surprised at her seeming recollections when told later. Diagnosing her with depression and prescribing medication, the therapist told Brooks to keep Marian under a suicide watch.
A nurse watched over her like a hawk. Only, Marian was like a creature fighting for her life now. The silent cell phone was a reminder everyday. Her life and it's struggles flashed before her. Her days after the light were a stark contrast. Was that how she was meant to be? she wondered. What made the light change her so? If that was how she was meant to be, what was she doing here?
Two weeks after her breakdown, she walked to the bathroom without locks. She left her wedding band on the counter, in front of jars of hair mousse and cocoa butter lotion. Barefoot, she padded down the hall way. The air, punctuated by rhythmic snores, was still.
Pale pink pyjamas slapping at her ankles, she ran. Ben saw her running ahead of him and caught up. "You're back." he stated.
"Forever." she answered.
This time, Marian didn't stop and look upward at the source of light. She ran right into it with her arms out stretched and eyes closed. She stood that way while a single tear sparkled into the light.
Ben, still outside the arc, saw the light permeate Marian's body. The flash of pink the last memory of her in his mind. He closed his eyes too, begging for an answer. He felt the air and the clarity. There were verdant slopes where children and adults rolled, entangled, down into an azure ocean. He saw Marian hover, golden in the light, over the ocean before she fell in. Resurfacing, laughing, joyous, dripping, she ran into the arms of a child in pink pyjamas that waited on the shore. As she embraced the child, she disappeared and the child smiled at him, exactly like Marian.
Ben clutched at the image, fearing the loss of that wonderful innocence. Fear saturating him. He looked up at the fading light. The more he grew agitated, the less the light shone brightly.
Marian as an apparition appeared and whispered, "I feared staying on here. I wanted to be one with the light. If you feel that way, come back. You can't be afraid, fear diminishes it. When you are more afraid of losing yourself than you are of losing the light, come back. It waits for you with love."
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