He sat out on the patio, contemplating fires and stars and music. Things were stressful, so he was having a panic attack. Not a psychotic break due to anxiety – this was his name for clear liquor in an energy drink. He figured that with all the vitamins, caffeine, chemicals and booze, it should swirl around nicely. As nicely as swallowing a koi pond.
The night was cool, though still a little light. Time zones weren’t perfect, and at the western edge of the Eastern time zone, sunset lagged a little behind New York City. It was a bit reminiscent of a couple of decades ago sitting on another back patio. He had traded a smoldering white stick for a few burning logs, but it felt the same. He dozed off for a few minutes, lost in thought about what could have been, what might have been, what might be, before the door opened.
Storms and tempests raged behind his eyes, but it didn’t matter. He could hide it easily in the camouflage of his colors, a ring of brown in the center, a ring of green, a thin ring of gray/blue, and yellow flecks throughout. Add the flickering fire, and it just looked natural. Add the fact that storms always raged there, and it looked natural because it was.
The fire was a bit warm, but he hoped the breeze stayed light. Wind and fire didn’t mix, not this close to the house. How this place had changed, from a backyard playground to a boring wasteland, thanks to nature. Carpenter ants had claimed the willow tree. The sun had claimed most of the shed exterior. Winter had claimed the patio. Simply growing up had claimed the childlike naive wonder, when his children were in awe of him. He knew it was a matter of time before things settled down again, but he was currently the stupid harsh uncool taskmaster that all parents seemed to be at this juncture.
Sitting in silence was best. Every topic was volatile. Even the simplest of things, the smallest of talks, was laden with deep meaning and context. Saddled with tension and ridden at a full gallop, then dismounted and beaten long after death. What were drinks for, then, if not to lubricate situations such as these? He didn’t like losing control. It never worked well for him. If he didn’t have control, then no one did. Such responsibility was his yoke, as he plowed the field of dreams.
He walked around the lake of conversation, unable to find a way to the central island of resolution and salvation. The dock would have to do, as always. He sat right at the end of this metaphorical dock, looking over the lake, watching the sun set, the sky blowing up with colors, wispy clouds veiling the scene.
The door slid open. He opened his eyes, drifting back from his thoughts, and looked carefully. The sun was the fire, coloring the twilight. The clouds were smoke, obscuring the fireflies. The dock was his chair, steady. The lake…
The lake was the space between them.