©2010 Todd R. Burns – All Rights Reserved
A Novel By Todd R. Burns
It is almost perfect now, the color of the sky; royal as it were with softness as gentle as the evenings southern breeze. Through the canopy of the ancient oaks it comes – twilight – the time of memories. She once told me, “It is a color like no other, the twilight of the southern sky.” A crescent moon hangs low on the horizon, like this city, calling me on to THE DREAM. There is time now for a brief stroll in the garden at Commander’s Palace and time enough to dream, just for awhile – time to remember, time.
The ghosts know not time. I watch as they stroll through Lafayette, City of the Dead. Unhindered by their former casts, shells of the bodies that imprisoned their souls for a season, and then released them to eternity. Some children play and laugh, free of bones and rigid rules; and fences that once kept them out, that now play hosts to the remains of their mortality. And the magnificent oaks stretch forth their arms, reaching as if they would grasp hold of the last remnants of life, and carry them upward to the evening’s first star. The night beckons.
It seemed as if I would drown as we dined; time drifted in slow motion. Every moment was captured in memory, every word hung on a promise of continuing on forever. The twilight color of the advancing evening bathed her in a glow that settled on her cheeks like a petal of a flower no man had ever laid eyes on. I could hardly draw a breath in the stillness of her memory. I then could remember the sensations. We returned to our room in The Quarter, I also returned – to the passion of the flesh. Meeting in that place of intimacy, shared only in the deepest of loves… I drew behind her, her gown flowing to follow like a cloud wrapping around soft mountain peaks – brushing the surface of her skin, yet never touching. Her hair fell softly just below her shoulders, and as I brushed it aside, my hand trembling, to reveal the back of her neck. The scent of her flesh moved through me like a wave of wind on the first, warm spring day. Imperceptibly she had silently arched her back, leaning into me as I slipped my touch around her waist. No kiss could be as soft, none so limitless in desire and longing, as I touched my lips to her neck and pulled her body to mine. Behind her I melted into the insentience of the world around me, and felt the heat of our flesh rising, as my cheek, rested on hers. Her gown, loosed from her round soft shoulders drifted to the floor as feather from lofted release, as if from the wings of an eagle soaring high and free of earthly concern. Lifting her and lightly resting her on the bed, her body in the light of the candle’s flame was the warmest image of passion I had ever seen. A tarriance in conversation and touching for hours, we became one with an unending dance of passion and laughter, until joining. Moving into her all semblance of thought ceasing. Only release, only love, only her.
On the balcony overlooking Rue Orleans, I looked southward to see the silhouette of the Christ cast on the white backdrop of St Louis, and it seemed that I was indeed alive again. Feeling the cool evening breeze sting the sweat on my flesh again, again daring to love, I sighed. Eternity is a prison of hope I have come to embrace. Moving in memories not my own, dancing as a bird in courtship ritual, and always drawing the life from these moments. I miss sleep. Her eyes are like veils, hanging shadows of dreams before her. I cannot let go of her. Still brushing past her lips as nothing more than a soft wind, I continue on… to THE DREAM.
It is THE DREAM that compels me. Always in motion, always seemingly just out of reach, the haunting images waking me late in the night. For now I both fear and welcome sleep as I pass between the ribbons of time which hang in space as a veil, or like a festival mask, concealing the identity of the face in the mirror. I have tried to escape and failed. Twilight passes. I do long for rest, of a time when I no longer move among the ghost shadows.