In His Image
A Fictional Story
He stood at the bathroom door in a pretentious way solely for his image; his eyes still swollen from last night’s tears. It was the night she said she’d leave, and so she did. That was all it was. Yes, it was a fight, but not really a fight; it was an argument. That is what they will ask: was it a fight, or was it a little argument? The details are all they’ll want to know; but that kind of thing only happens when there is thought to ask. Even so, he knew what to say:
“Of course we argue, doesn’t every married couple”?
His image reflected back his judgment of himself, not as he saw himself yesterday or the day before when filled with fear and careful plans. He felt then still mortal. But now it was time to refashion his image by renewing his mind and to metamorphize himself into something new.
He rushed to the sink, splashed cold water on his face, careful not to look up. His head pounded, his heart raced, and then from sudden weakness his legs gave way beneath the sink, collapsing beneath his image, as if to save him from confronting the truth of himself.
Where had the world gone? What had slipped away? How did it all evolve as it did, with all the self-loathing and emptiness within? Why now?
Seeing his reflection deeply for the first time, it was always there. It was there when he went to college, it was there when he went to law school, and it was there when he married. For all those deceived, many were not.
Those peripheral people, the ones who gave concerned and perceptive glances, and then withdrew, were now ghosts of memory. They saw the things he chased after that never quieted his thirst; and he cried for hours when he thought upon their faces and understood the lack of love he held for his wife, now gone. Since, in truth, he loved nothing at all, not his wife, not his friends, not even his own child. But now he could say it in words to himself, when up until that moment of crisis he had no conscious awareness of his own empty vessel before.
He grew up perfectly, by worldly standards, with everything one can ask; so much bestowed upon him in money and opportunity the only thing left to pursue was power and climbing higher into a nothingness he only belatedly found real; after the death of her, that is, when in an instant he was made conscious of what he lacked inside, as though his commission to an act of murder was meant to shine a light upon what his inner life willed him to see by its own volition, in essence, to show him who he truly was.
From a memory in childhood, in the deep recesses of his being, his mouth moved, “My strength is made perfect in weakness,” and realizing only now what it may in fact mean and for the first time believing he had found life’s purpose for him, he felt then established within a perfect revelation that was the horror of the inward life itself.
An extroverted view of life and its nothingness had suddenly been usurped by a dark introverted existence; a reservoir of darkness contained deep in his gut that now consumed him and now stared back at him in full frontal fashion. Although alive, he was dead; and although now conscious, he had now buried himself alive in his own unconscious, as companion to all its primitive contents, and nothing he could do or continue to carry out – from here to eternity – held any moral certitude that was relevant any longer.
He had lost himself, he had lost his soul, and if one had intervened to ask at that moment why it was so, he would have had to admit he did not know.
The bodies of his wife and child would be disposed of in different ways. His son he disposed over the back rail and into the river below, his wife to be disposed of after, by fire. As he walked with the weight of her body, his legs felt their weakness from the reverberation of pain in his knees, while his dry, parched mouth called out for his mother as he made his way down the steep slope to his car.
Externals now. With not one witness, and her car abandoned alongside the road, it was unlikely they would think to consider he arrived. The potential suspect, a man of distinction and worth, a man who gave to his community and attended church, a man whose life was once the example set for others, would now establish an alibi and cloak the disappearance of his family in a myriad of carefully planned lies that he was confident would prevail. And though he felt remorse this while, time would heal and make old this new emotional wound and trauma.
But the cocoon he created for himself brought now a new consequence, an independent dark force, one that departed now from his inner world to “watch” from a distance. The confidence of his pride and superlative mind that was his strength all along had now become his enemy; an Essence personified whose judgment exceeded him despite his expectations. Being forever, until now, a subjective entity that had insulated him from his own self-examination, the Essence had now made plain its power and poured into his countenance an extroverted awareness of his minuscule existence to a backdrop that was this Essence, a threat of powerlessness and potential failure, and awareness by him, for the first time, he was not alone and his intentions were not in accordance with its own.
Still, he opened the trunk of his car and dumped her body. There was no going back and there was no way out. His overall weakness and tiredness at that moment never felt greater. He had not slept, nor ate, nearly 48 hours, and the adrenalin that sustained him earlier was giving way to physical breakdown.
As he drove, numbness of mind enveloped him. The darkness of the night obstructed his view, for his overall weakness had affected his vision, and though dew on his windshield shown like diamonds in the moon’s light, they too, when wiped away, only emphasized the greater darkness that lay ahead. His panic consumed him now, greater than at any other time, as he squeezed in angst his pistol, confirming for himself its realness, and with all the strength his now weak memory could muster, placed it carefully beneath his seat.
Everything was going according to plan; so although doubt had shown its face, he spoke aloud “It was a mirage,” as he drove in the protection of his vehicle, away from the house and away from the Essence that threatened him with failure.
The road wound in great turns and curves, as roads in the country often do. There were no street lamps, no guiding reflecting lights from signs, and the moon, now lost amid the great blanket of forest, afforded nothing to permeate the darkness that cloaked and covered his trail now completely. And it was here, alone and adrift along winding roads towards oblivion that he first felt his life change completely, changed to spirit, removed as matter, his former image as only a reflection of memory to his pretentious self and life.
The Essence that made its presence known as one no longer affixed to his former self, that Essence of being that had become a projection of truth and an expositor of revelation upon the death of his wife, once again made Himself known and consumed him in the fullness of physical form, and it breathed into him His power, lifting his foot off the gas, and bestowing upon him that sense of ephemeral pervasion of mind, leaving him only half-convinced he had actually been, all along, driving the car at all.
In the distance and upon a steep incline, through his blurred vision, the reflective lights of his wife’s car signaled not only the end of his journey, but also a premonition of the near end of himself, of all he knew and of all he knew to come. As his car neared closer still, a human figure appeared to take form by the side of the road, and though he told himself it had to be a mirage, it was real nonetheless. For when is life not spirit, and when is spirit not life? With trepidation and cautiousness, but with fear no longer, he reduced the speed of his car to a crawl and turned off its lights.
The trees had now parted by the miracle of wind on yet a still night, and the moon now cast light upon the figure of a boy standing alone. He flailed his arms in the darkness, at first fervently, but as the car edged closer and the headlights went off, his arms fell to his side in a sign of hopelessness and despair. He now recognized the car. Still drenched by the river, he glowed in the night in defiance of his father, his mouth now agape in a scream that could not be heard.
And for this vision – for this mirage that was now real – his father could do nothing but surrender to His image, and in a fury, with a strength he did not have until that moment, reached beneath his seat for his pistol and shot himself in the head.