Images of my wife’s face haunted me all the way back across those plains fruitless and dark, her eyes burning almond eruptions into my resolve. Shadowed days spilled across the spoiled country and even darker nights alone in naked rooms with no personality save for my own delusional projections upon the walls. It was her brown hair I saw woven throughout the vined yards of autumn, her mouth in crested caresses of Utah and Colorado. Voiceless and erect I pictured her standing next to me as she had at our wedding, dressed not in white but in the silken pink of a Kansas sunset, her Ozark mound of lips to lean in to. The insides of my eyelids captured her olive skin and held it there all through the rigid Midwest rain and while asleep I coaxed myself into loving her harder, loving deeper every part of her, loving her hands illumined by our token stone of love now dulled and waxen but precious still, and waves of guilt slammed into half-remembered images of Gloria, a torn still-life of a memory not even half worth the replacement I had manifested within her. I couldn’t even remember Gloria’s face.
Could it have been different, I wondered. Could I have been more brave in this world, a stronger man in the face of new and novel pain? No, I said aloud. It is not a brave world nor any world at all for brave men. The world is cold. The world is cold and dark no matter where you are.
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