a short story by John Kremer
When Kathryn says good-bye for the first time, she is only
teasing. That is Kathryn's way of saying please stay awhile. Tarry by the pool.
Enjoy the quiet lapping of the water against the edges of the pool. Enjoy the
almost still reflection of the full moon slowly waltzing upon the waters. Enjoy
the first soft insistent pulls of the waves as they rock you back and forth,
back and forth, swaying slowly, gently, sleepily. But do not fall asleep. And do
not touch your lips to that cool clear water. And do not, do not I repeat, look
deeply into that pool. Never at night. Never on a full moon. Never while Kathryn
is still sitting by the pool, dipping her lovely black hair into the water,
swaying back and forth, back and forth, creating waves, and singing an ancient
hymn to the rhythm of those waves. Do not. Please listen to me. Do not.
When Kathryn says good-bye for the second time, she is only
testing you. Good-bye, she says. And, then, will you stay awhile? She wants you.
Yes, she wants you to sit by her pool. And then to enter it. And then to slowly,
so slowly come under her spell. It will seem so natural to do so. And so
inviting. And so, so impossible to resist. Your heart will long to spill its
blood in that pool. Your brain will long to wash its old, old memories in that
pool. And your body — oh, it will want to cool, cool, cool its heat in that
pool. But watch your soul. Hold on to it for dear life. And do not let it go on
alone. If it must go, go with it — even into that pool. Even if Kathryn is
sitting there by the edge of the pool. Even if she has already begun to smile.
Even if the beat of her soft song begins to tear at the roots of your soul.
Especially then. Bend a little. It may already be too late. But do not ever look
into her eyes, into those pits of dark fire that can burn so deeply into a man's
soul that nothing is left but a flimsy corpse, a bit of dust and ashes held
together only by old habits and a prayer. If. If it can still utter a prayer.
When Kathryn says good-bye for the third time, she is only
tempting you. She sings her ancient song, slowly and apparently artlessly,
sucking you in little by little, until you are hanging on her every note. Then
she quits her song for just a moment, just long enough for your soul to snap
back into place — back into your heart. Breaking it. And then she laughs, a wild
laugh and yet so heart-wrenchingly pure and lovely. And then her first hot tear
hits her cheek and then drops to your waiting hand. Believe me, your hand will
be there to catch that first hot tear. Believe me, your whole body will burn
with that first contact. Believe me, it will burn. You will be there by her
side, and you will catch that first hot tear, and you will burn with desire for
her. You will even touch her. And you will only then discover that she is cold
and hard and impossible to caress, but by then it will be too late. You will
draw her towards you even then, and her body will ever so quickly suck every
last bit of heat from your own. And you will try to give even more, and she will
try to take even more. But what is there left to give? Believe me, once again
believe me, you have only begun to give. You can still escape with your heart,
and your soul, and your sanity. But you must not look into her eyes. Never into
her eyes. No matter how many hot tears continue to burn your now cold flesh. No
matter how many passionate kisses eat at your frantically palpitating heart. No
matter how many soft wild sighs tear at your withering soul. It's all an
illusion, a game that she plays while she sits by the pool. It's something to
do, something to pass the time. That's all. Nothing more. Just something to do.
When Kathryn says good-bye for the fourth time, she is only
taunting you. By then she knows she has you and can play with you as she will.
And she will. She will have no mercy whatsoever. She is after your soul. She
will sit there by the pool, looking oh so pretty and sweet and innocent — her
dark flowing hair caressing her tenderly with every move, her thin white dress
easily suggesting every line of her smooth and supple body, her dark liquid eyes
reflecting the quiet agitation of the pool by which she sits. But, wait, do not
look into those eyes. And do not look deeply into that pool. Whatever else you
do — and there is much that you will not be able to resist doing — whatever
else, do not look into those eyes. Bend to her will. Melt your body into hers.
Drink deep of her pool. Even sell your soul if you must. But do not, do not look
into those eyes. What more can I say? This is your last chance. Listen. Please listen.
When Kathryn says good-bye for the fifth time, she is only
tearing you apart. Bit by bit. Piece by piece. One nerve at a time. Slowly, ever
so slowly, so that each possible measure of joy can be drawn from your every
painful cry. She will have no mercy. She will call to you even as she tears you
apart. And you will answer her, each answer costing you another ounce of your
life. Then, when she is through with you, she will take your head in her hands
and caress it ever so dearly. Then slowly, but surely, she will draw your eyes
towards hers. You will try to turn your head, but her hold will be too strong.
You will try to close your eyes, but they will not obey your command — drawn as
they will be to the dark swirling pools deep within her eyes. As a last resort,
you will try to pluck out your own eyes, but by then it will be too late. She
will already have them — plucked already, and strung around her neck with all
the others, a thousand brilliant eyes now dull and dry and eternally staring
into oblivion. A small memento, nothing much, certainly not important. And now,
really, she must be going.
When Kathryn says good-bye for the last time, she will allow you
but a minute more before she goes, a minute in which to say so much, to plead,
to beg, to cry out into the vast hollow of her heart. No matter that you have so
much more you need to tell her — of life, of love, of hope. And of being human.
And of being loved. And of being touched. And of being cared for. And of being