Shannon and Gus Forever part 3
Gus didn’t move, he thought if he kept as still as possible, like an expert, perhaps he would just cease to exist. Those words, just floating out there before them, hanging low seemed to be so tangible Gus thought maybe he could reach out and touch them, or better yet pull them into his top pocket and keep them there resting against his aching heart for all time.
Holding his breath Dennis wasn’t sure if he could stand the silence any longer. This was a place he never thought he’d be, he should be rejoicing but that which he had extended was still hanging in the air between him and his son. Shifting in the wicker chair on his daughters deck he closed his eyes for a moment, he could feel his son stillness and felt compelled to give him privacy but could not move.
The tinkering of a light rain began sounding on the tin roof as Gus first spoke.“Dad” his voice caught and the years came toppling down, shoulders heaving Gus began to sob.
It began to rain harder, the noise enveloping Gus’s pain like a cocoon. Then he was there, wrapping his strong arms around his son, on his knees beside him Dennis wept. There are those moments in this life, where words fail to express the heart and the intrinsic nature of man is then free to function in complete truth. This was one such moment, the two men fell into each other, into their pain and brokenness and as the rain ricocheted off the roof they knew life would never be the same.
In the weakness of their embrace, strength had been found, strength to be humbled, strength to forgive.
On the other side of the wall, mother and daughter lay in the dark, without hearing they knew, without seeing they could feel that some great thing had been shifted from over them and life would never be the same. Holding hands they wept and in between their tears the sound of laughter could be heard.
For the first time in three years Shannon slept in. The sun washed her walls and she awoke but did not move. Staring up at her ceiling she knew she was somehow different. The rest of the night at the party had been a blur; she had kept herself together enough to fool the clients but the bosses had told her, no, insisted she have the weekend off. Normally she would have argued until they gave up from mere exhaustion but not this time, this time she knew that if she did not rest she might just cease to exist. Corporate Shannon would take over completely and the miniscule amount of real emotions she had left would be obliterated completely.
This day, this sunny Saturday she would take time to get to know herself and figure out just what the hell happened to her last night.
The sky had been rumbling as she left the party, again uncharacteristically she had decided to walk, thinking that the walk home had to be better than the walk there, subconsciously, possibly hoping to maybe catch one more glimpse of that guy whose eyes had been embedded in her mind all evening.
She hadn’t walked far when it began to lightly sprinkle, instead of picking up the pace in an annoyed hurry Shannon slowed down. She hadn’t enjoyed the feel of the rain on her skin since she was a child and as the coolness fell down all around her washing the streets of the days heat, Shannon felt free.
She could feel her skin cooling, no longer concerned about her limp hair or smudged eyes. Slipping off her heels she fought her natural urge to panic about pavement hepatitis and made her way home silently like a cat roaming the streets at night.She knew she was about to walk past the house where she had come undone.
Of course it was ridiculous to assume that he would still be sitting on the front steps, even if he were, how would she approach? Gingerly walk up to the gate and apologize for hurling abuse at him, that he caught her in a bad moment, off guard, ruffled. How do you apologize to a stranger when you’d never even apologized to anyone close to you?
Nearing the gate she stopped in the shadows of the trees that lined the street and weakly attempted to tidy her hair. The night breeze picked up and she could see wisps of rain swirling beneath the street lights chasing each other like some kind of catch and kiss dance. Ready to move toward the little gate, the somber sound of a deep voice stopped her. Unsure of which way to move Shannon became glued and strained to hear through the increasing pace of the rain.
Shannon heard his sobs break into the night; cutting through the rain the depth of anguish blew right through her and as if the heavens somehow knew of this moment the rain began to spray down like bullets in the night. Through the haze she could see a man kneel before the son who called out dad and throw his arms about him as though he were holding onto the greatest treasure known to man. Both bodies heaved with sobs that Shannon could no longer hear but could see in all of its truth. The moment of anguish had suspended her in the shadows but she knew she must move away, allow their moment to remain theirs.
Backing away, Shannon stumbled against a tree and overcome with an unknown grief she wept. Falling to her knees she wrapped her arms about herself and allowed tears from the very depth of her to fall into the dirt beneath her.
The shock of lightening illuminated the night and pulling herself up, through her heavy eyes Shannon stumbled toward home, shoes in hand and the picture of that embrace etched upon her very soul.
The sun steamed through the kitchen window of the little house, Zoe in her cotton robe stood staring through the window thinking this was the best cup of coffee she’d possibly ever tasted. Gus sat close by his dad showing him photos of his travels as Martha flipped pancakes humming gently to herself.
Zoe didn’t want to turn around, she wanted to just hear it, hear these lovely sounds that she hadn’t heard for fifteen years. She could see the light in her father’s eyes, that heavy-laden shadow that lived within for so long was now lifted. She could see Gus for the first time, protected under his father’s arm, Dennis every now and then patting him on the back and asking questions about here and there. After the rain last night this day flooded with sunshine seemed fitting, as though the universe somehow knew about the breakthrough and thus aligned the elements.
After a lazy brunch at one of the local cafes Shannon felt content. Last night had somehow swallowed her whole and she didn’t care if she ever emerged from it back to her old life. The great shift had her thinking that she should quit her job and head to Italy to see her parents, a deep longing had been usurped from her child self and until this very moment she had never felt the need of her mothers soft embrace or her father’s strong arms about her. Until this moment she had never felt the desire to find meaning in places in which she’d always feared to tread. So she would go, she would resign and not think, just go.
Meandering through the village shops, Shannon could feel the freedom of having nowhere to be but right where she was. Walking into a little salon Shannon remembered she’d lost her blush and needed to replace it but this time she would buy something lighter like a soft rose or something peachy.
There were only two other women in the store, both having their hair done side by side, clearly mother and daughter as Shannon could hear them talk of dad this and Gus that and plans of dinner and so on. Such a closeness reminded her of that deep longing to know her own mother, to spend a day with her at a salon, or shopping or having lunch, anything really.
Browsing through the extensive range of cosmetics Shannon could feel the gaze of the younger of the two women. Meeting her eyes, Shannon knew she’d seen her before but couldn’t recall from where.
“Hi” The pretty brunette with bright blue eyes said smiling at Shannon, still struggling to place her Shannon smiled back,
“Uh, hi” Shannon directed at both women
Before Shannon could escape, the girl spoke again.
“You’re Shannon aren’t you? I think you’ve come to my yoga class a few times, at the Village Gym, I’m Zoe”
“Oh, right, hi, yes you’ve got a great memory I enjoyed your class, but haven’t been in ages”
Shannon felt flustered, she didn’t realize how poorly she functioned in normal everyday social interactions, she tried to relax her body, remember that she was a new person now with no place to go. Zoe spoke again,
“We are almost done here, would you like to join us for lunch?” Waiting for Shannon to reply Zoe thought of how for some reason her heart ached for this girl, she had planned on having some one on one time with her mum but she felt that this Shannon girl needed company, she seemed lonely, lost even.
“Yes, please do join us” Martha spoke, we can have a lovely girls afternoon, maybe sneak in a few wines” winking at Shannon, Martha couldn’t have been more proud of her daughter for reaching out to this girl who so clearly needed company.
“Uh, okay, sure” Shannon found herself agreeing to this unusual invitation.
The three women settled in to a cozy corner table, any fears Shannon had about awkward silences were quickly dissipated by the ease in which Zoe and Martha conversed, including her as though she’d known them forever. Martha ordered a bottle of white wine and Shannon felt herself relax as Martha chatted about moving away from the city and obtaining a whole new lease on life living by the sea.
Zoe was possibly the most relaxed person Shannon had ever met, every now and then, over the scallops or panna cotta Shannon found herself thinking of the guy, whenever Zoe would laugh, her huge blue eyes dancing like she held the answer to all of life’s great questions, Shannon would think of him.
She found herself opening up to these women, telling them about the pressures of her job and her plans to leave, discover the world and herself. Every now and then Zoe would mention her brother Gus and how he had spent his life exploring the world, moving with the seasons, needing nothing but the clothes on his back to be happy. Shannon found herself wishing she’d had this realization or more truthfully had this existential crisis earlier.
Martha was enjoying her time with these two young woman enormously, she felt pure joy when learning about others, the stories of strangers, when told, allowing connections that would otherwise be bypassed, lost, never told, never heard. Sometimes all people needed was a chance to tell their story to feel validated by life.
She had been brought to tears the night before when Gus had opened up to her and Dennis for the first time, telling of his travels, the people he’d met along the way. He’d spoken of loves lost and found and even mentioned a strange encounter with a woman that very night, a woman who Gus said had awoken something within him for the first time in a long time, possibly for the first time ever.
Martha hoped Gus would find the mystery woman who he described as a beautiful hurricane. She hoped Zoe would have someone to love her unconditionally the way she loved others.
The two girls were talking makeup; Zoe was looking over Shannon’s recent purchases from the salon, a crème blush, and some eye gel.
“I love natural products on my skin Zoe was saying, I like the feel of wearing lightweight makeup if I wear it at all” as she inspected the back of Shannon’s blush.
Shannon sighed, “I’ve always worn so much makeup for work, usually heavier colours but today with my fresh start I thought I’d get something lighter, softer for my cheeks, plus last night on my way to a work function I lost my blush tripping over” she said as her cheeks flushed the most natural of pinks.
Gus strolled in from his evening walk on the beach, the house was quiet, a storm was brewing outside, the clouds hanging heavy and low, threatening to pressure roll across the roof. After years of bottling himself up the recent release of emotions had Gus feeling spent, perhaps he would have a rest. Zoe and his parents were out having dinner at a Mexican place and according to the note Zoe had left on the kitchen bench; Gus had better join them or else.
The night was warm and wild, leaves scattering across footpaths, hiding from the gusts that would soon sweep across the town. Gus took his time walking, wanting to enjoy the fact that he was going to have dinner with his family, wanting to soak in the last glimpses of the day and breathe in the first scents of the evening. The wind began to pick up and a few dollops of rain began to dot the ground around him. Flicking up his jacket collar Gus started to push against the wind, it would not stop him from going to dinner, those building gusts from far away would no longer stop him from taking chances, from jumping off the cliffs he’d been scared to even mention to himself let alone another being.
This life he’d lived, envied by others, this fraudulent idealistic way of being that attracted not others that lived in unity with themselves and the earth but rather others that had escaped reality and lived in a perpetual state of existential crisis, not moving with the wind or the seasons but running from storms buried deep within that would never be allowed to rise to their perfect fullness releasing torrents of freedom and truth.
Gus didn’t want to run anymore, this storm had settled in and he wasn’t going to hide under a tree or deny its existence. He had grabbed ahold of it, allowing it to lift him from the earth and suspend him in that chaos that he’d kept trapped for so very long.
He’d never felt more lost or more free.
Shannon sat curled up in the blanket her mum had sent her from Italy six years ago; she’d never used it before tonight. The day was cooling off with a storm rolling in from the coast. Shannon loved storms, until now she had never taken the time to acknowledge that she found them moving and peaceful at the same time. That if something so violent and dark could disappear into the sun the next day then all things must find their light.
Hands wrapped around a mug of tea, a shiver causes her to pull her legs into her chest tighter as the rain starts to ring atop her tin roof.
She could see little faces of children peering out of windows across the street, excitedly watching as the rain falls hard into the concrete as if every soul in heaven were weeping. Loneliness swept over Shannon, in truth, she had avoided the stillness of these moments because it was only her, there was not another soul in which she had opened up to, even if just to share a rain soaked afternoon over a cup of tea.
Darkness would press in soon and Shannon needed to move, she didn’t want to be stuck in this place. It was time to experience something.
With a sigh Shannon rises to go inside, the wind rolls down the street in gusts and before she can settle into bed for the night Shannon must brave the icy gusts to close the front gate that has come unhinged.
Gus pressed his body into the wind, his hair blowing wildly around his face, the cold raindrops starting to chill his skin. The wind had really picked up, plastic bag tumbleweeds were flying by, dogs were barking spasmodically as people drew their curtains and nestled in, listening to the wild night batter their rooftops.
The rain was heavy now, Gus could barely see in front of him, only in the midst of monsoon season in Thailand when a Typhoon had hit had he seen rain like this.
Not too far ahead he could see a figure struggling with a gate, the wind was ripping it off its hinges and it appeared that the small figure was about to be torn right off with it and transported to Oz. Pushing forward to aid the person Gus reached the flying gate just as it screeches free, narrowly missing the person who Gus could now see was a woman.
Gus turns to her, she lifts her eyes to his, the gate crashes into a streetlight and Shannon and Gus are showered with thousands of tiny sparks, as the sky lights up the eyes that met weeks before on a warm summers night along a quiet sidewalk glisten as they see that they have something more.