Logo

Dragonfly Days




Dragonfly Days

 
She had not crossed his mind for a long time, and for a period in his life he was incessantly thinking about her. He even dared to hope that in spite of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles, fate would bind them together for good.  

 

Her face flashed across his inner eye as soon as the first notes of the old instrumental, “Kiss,” by Nathalie and Christine started to ooze out languidly from a radio station. The old melody, to which they had danced during the last weekend they stole from life, resurrected memories that gushed from under the patina of oblivion, and unexpectedly filled his eyes with tears. “But she is just a ghost, a mere ghost from the past,” he whispered to himself. “I am not crying because I lost her, but because I now have an empty nest. I miss my daughter. He wiped a solitary tear, astonished at feeling his face wet, and in the next moment attributed the sensation to the dry air that provoked his eye sensitivities.

 

Saying goodbye to his daughter yesterday, his only child, who left home to travel the world before starting college on a different continent, was heart-wrenchingly painful. That was the reason behind the raw state of his feelings. Nothing to do with Willa.

 

For many years now, he had felt disconnected from his wife. He thought he had tried everything he could to revive the spark in their marriage, to rebuild the bond of intimacy, until he finally realized that dead embers were impervious to rekindling. Or maybe the fire had simply stopped burning in him after the countless times his wife rejected his amorous overtures. And yet, even such dead embers held much deeper worth than any illicit fire.

 

Guilt had always gnawed at him while he was living parallel lives. It was loathsome to lie to his family about business trips and meetings that just happened to take place on weekends and yet, he could not resist the illicit pull. Every time he would return home from his escapades, the contrast between a weekend filled with breathless lovemaking, giggles and star-filled gazes would be achingly stark, and make him feel as if he were surfing ocean waves, the troughs as frighteningly deep as the soaring heights of the crests. Such emotional rides would make his stomach drop as if the ride had been a physical rollercoaster. The contrast became a source of anxiety, bringing brief bouts of depression. But whenever his mind would manage to escape the shackles of what felt like temporary insanity, he would get a glimpse of the nature of love affairs. They were castles in the air built on fantasy, and their lifespan was that of a dragonfly.

 

He imagined a dragonfly hovering over a pond, glanced through the window, and to his great astonishment he saw one land on the sill. This must be Jungian synchronicity, he thought. He remembered reading that a female patient was telling Dr. Karl Jung about her dream of a beetle, when the same kind of beetle banged against the window. That is how Jung’s theory of synchronicities was born. And there were so many of them whilst he was secretly meeting with Willa. The Universe seemed to have conspired to give them sunny days and starry nights for their trysts, flights that departed and arrived on time, favorite songs that played on the hotel room radios…

 

But he was a child of fortune who had extricated himself from the quicksand of a love affair and regained his integrity without his wife ever finding out. Willa never tried to fight for him or convince him to stay. Even though her devastation over the news that he could no longer maintain their relationship was palpable, she said she understood. No one should live a double life.  

 

No, he did not miss her. After all, she may have been right in her observation that his feelings for her were only born of a fleeting infatuation that wore the cloak of love. Yes, he was infatuated with her green eyes and her red pixie haircut, and her belief that fairies were just as real as dragonflies. He had admired her ability to turn any small talk into an intellectual conversation, and her sense of compassion that would make her weep over the injustices and immeasurable suffering in the world. 

 

After he left her, he buried her memory deep in the coffin of his subconscious mind, the same coffin in which he had stuffed so many painful memories of past rejections, betrayals, hurts and disappointments, hoping they’d never return to haunt him. He had always dealt with pain by burying his demons nine feet under and believing that if ignored long enough, they would vanish for good.

 

Another recollection pierced his heart with the vividness of an event that had just happened. They were in the elevator going back to their room. They had just swum in the hotel pool and were dressed in bathrobes. Unlike the elevator rides in most cities, this one was different. Something was amiss. And it was clear that it was the nature of their relationship. Like a noxious substance seeping insidiously into their relationship, it corroded their joy of being together. The stars in her eyes did not have the same lustre. Perhaps the secrecy was too heavy a burden to bear. He pretended everything was all right and planted playful kisses in her hair. 

 

He had no reason to remember Willa, but it worried him that the buried memory chest seemed to be leaking unwanted memories. After all, more than four years had passed since he left her in a state of shell-shocked disbelief by telling her he had undergone an inexplicable transformation and wanted to break up. His fear was in having to face the consequences of his decision to embark on this illicit journey. He could give her no time to adjust to losing him because he had no energy left even for friendship. It was simply the right thing to do. It was simply immoral to be unfaithful. And he didn’t question if it was honorable to be unhappy. He had never meant to hurt Willa, but he was tired of their painful partings, and most of all, the secrecy and fear of being discovered, threatening the loss of his safe and comfortable life.

 

He poured himself a glass of calvados. He used it for cooking and disliked its taste, but somehow he found it went well with the maudlin instrumentals the station was playing. One calvados turned into two and he blamed the alcohol for the memories that began to swirl in his mind, making him dizzy and nauseated. With his fingers, he traced his thinning hairline, and looked in the mirror without understanding what secret impulse prompted him to do so.

 

His reflection alarmed him. The lines in his face had deepened over the last year and the gray in his hair was drowning out the last brown streaks. His temples were balding and his eyes had the hollow look of a man with a hardened shell devoid of love. “You look so lifeless,” he whispered to the shrunken stranger in the mirror, his state brought about not from aging but from a lack of love. Then he noticed a wan smile pass like a shadow over the face in the mirror as another memory surfaced from the dark recesses of his mind.

 

After they left a pastry shop in an Austrian town, they got caught in torrential rain. Willa slipped and pulled him down with her into a puddle. Instead of getting up they lay in the warm summer rain laughing with the insouciance of children. Back in the room they laughed at the mud that had caked even their underwear. It was the last time he saw her and the last time he felt the scorching fire of ecstatic lovemaking. Once he was home, exhaustion burrowed a deep hole in his heart. And even though he was intoxicated with Willa, he could no longer live a life of duplicity. He had to tell her because he had always told her the truth, and that brought shocked silence on the other end of the telephone line. They both sobbed, not able to articulate the pain and the silence that was the final goodbye.

 

For weeks on end he suppressed impulses to call her or write to her, telling himself she had been a brief fling. And little by little, he succeeded in pushing her out of his mind. For four full years the trove of his painful and repressed experiences held the memory of her under a tight seal until that damn sappy melody allowed the memories of her to escape. He sat down in his favorite armchair, placing his head in his hands, and wept. He would pull himself together and do a better job of wiping her out. After all, she was just a ghost.

 
Jana Vasilj-Begovic

 

As far back as she can remember, Jana has been fascinated by storytelling and intoxicated with the written word. As a young child, she began spinning tales, talking to an imaginary friend and devouring fairy tales. As a teenager, she wrote maudlin love poetry, and as a young mother a collection of fables. Her love of reading and writing propelled her toward studies of languages and literature resulting in B.A. degrees in English and German Languages and Literature, an M.A. Degree in Literary Studies, as well as a B.Ed. Degree in English and Dramatic Arts. She works for the Government of Canada in the field of military language training and testing and her work, as a subject matter expert, has taken her all over the world. She was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, but has lived in Canada since 1991.

Among her publications are an academic article published by Cambridge Scholars, UK, the novel “Poisonous Whispers” published by Roane Publishing, N.Y., poetry, short fiction, articles, art reviews and blog posts published by literary journals and other publications. Currently, she is working on her second and finalizing a collection of children's stories.

 She lives in Ottawa, Ontario with her husband.

She can be found and contacted via her author page at: https://www.facebook.com/J.Damselfly

Post a Comment

1 Comments

  1. Oh Jana, that story has left me sobbing! It is exactly right! It’s amazing how something- a trigger - can throw one right back into the cesspool of pain - where I felt I might die. I have to forget he ever existed it was too damaging for me.

    ReplyDelete