CHARLES E.J. MOULTON has been a stage performer since age eleven. His trilingual, artistic upbringing, as the son of Gun Kronzell and Herbert Moulton, lead to a hundred stage productions, countless cross-over concerts, work as a bandleader and as an acting teacher. He is a regular contributor for Idea Gems, has written for Shadows Express, Cover of Darkness, Vocal Images and Pill Hill Press. He is a tourguide, a big-band-vocalist, a filmmaker, a painter, a voice-over-speaker, a translator, is married and has a daughter. Charles E.J. Moulton's passion is creative versatility. His short story collection, Aphrodite's Curse: 21 Tales of Love and Terror can be purchased by clicking the link. Homepages: http://www.reverbnation.com/charlesejmoulton/
Those Who Still Incarnate
The two things left over, left abandoned upon the table, made the whole place seem deserted, emptier than had the room been totally barren. Funny, wasn’t it? Here, in this house, Jenny had spent all her formative years. All her life, really. Well, almost her entire life. She had moved here with her folks when she had just passed her ninth birthday, freckles, pigtails, tooth gap and all. She even remembered the day they moved in here, Jenny still a kid, still holding on to that plastic Barbie and cuddling her stuffed dog Fred.
Years, they came, years, they went, and what remained ... was a silent house.
One table with one old candle holder she had bought at a flea market with her first boyfriend. And that old book not even her mom knew where it had come from. A book that had graced the living room book shelf for years, a book that no one ever read.
A book about dental hygiene.
Who ever read a two hundred page book about dental hygiene?
Her mom kept saying, all through the years, that her father could have received the book from his old army buddy, who ended up becoming a dentist. But the army buddy and her father had lost contact some years after the Gulf War, especially after they had that horrible fight about the slippery advances he had made at her mother at that Christmas party.
Jenny leaned against the wooden door frame, sighing, not even knowing why she had agreed to leave these three things in the house for the new owners. Something personal, at least. Something that signified that they had lived here once, partied until dawn, playing Chopin Nocturnes until the sun came up, Jenny necking with her boyfriend in the garage, her father rushing out and wondering why they heck “that damn garage light was on”.
Jenny laughed to herself, looking back at that table, still clutching the keys to her parents’ house, knowing she had to let go, let go of the pain of ... of having lost both of them so unexpectedly.
Slowly, surely, hopefully, even, Jenny Wordsmith strolled over across the elegant parquet floor, taking that heart out of her blouse pocket, the heart her daughter had given her last night. Red chiffon pasted upon a small purple stone.
“Put that on that table when you leave,” Jenny’s daughter told her before she put her to bed. “Put it next to the candle holder as a memory of grandma and grandpa.”
Jenny stood there for a moment, looking at the heart her daugher had made for their memory, thinking, feeling the pain in her heart, her damn guilt drilling into her heart for not ...
“You can’t blame yourself,” her inner voice told her. “Not for this.”
Jenny put the heart on the table, put two fingers to her lips and gently lay them on the stone that was graced with one word, written in crayon: “Love.”
Jenny’s daughter had certainly spent some good times here, playing cards with grandma, gardening with grandpa, playing chopsticks on the Bösendorfer.
“Thanks to the memories,” Jenny said, smiling bitterly, a tear rolling down her cheek, a tear as bittersweet as French rosé wine running down the curves of a over-full wine glass. The curves of a pale cheek belonging to a sad woman twitched, for some reason remembering one song her father had sung to her when she had been a baby girl:
“Don’t you fear, little girl, for your daddy is here, little girl, playing tunes on an ancient dromedary.”
Jenny had always wondered what that was, dromedary, and why someone played a tune that was ... an animal?
Her father had told her the story of a nomad in Arabia in the 1920s that had written that song after returning home after his graduation from Trinity College. He had composed this song for his daughter on his own creation, a twelve-tone nose-flute. They had apparantly been riding on a one-hump dromedary-camel, while playing that song. And so, the instrument was named after the animal. Jenny’s father heard a bazaar gypsy playing that song in the Persian Gulf back in 1991 and learned how to sing it.
“Don’t you fear, little girl, for your daddy’s here ...”
Jenny tried to control her own feelings of guilt over not having told her parents about the hunch she had the day before the flight.
After all, her parents had been to the Maledives before.
“It wasn’t your fault, Jenny,” she told herself.
Don’t you fear, for your daddy’s here?
Jenny looked up.
Maybe daddy was here.
The ever so faint and distant laughter echoing from over by the forest caught Jenny’s attention, no girl with freckles anymore, but a buxom beauty with a house of her own.
Jenny looked out across the Irish landscape and saw her husband walking toward the grounds hand in hand with her daughter, the little girl smelling a fresh daisy, telling her father, Jenny’s husband, some funny story her friend had told her at school, just like Jenny had told her own father stories from school while strolling these grounds.
Jenny’s lip trembled.
She looked up, feeling that sensation again.
“Time is irrelevant,” she whispered to herself, looking out. “Isn’t that so?”
It was almost as if her father and mother both answered her.
It was almost as if they hadn’t crashed in that plane in the Indian Ocean at all.
It was almost as if they ... were alive.
But ... they were ... right?
“Things don’t matter,” Jenny went on. “Not really.”
Something compelled Jenny just to leave, like a breath of fresh air calling her out into the open. She left the heart, the candle holder and the book on that table, things the new owner and his wife had fallen in love with. What did she know? Maybe the new owner was a carpenter-dentist with a candle fetisch.
Was that funny?
It was out on the terrace that she heard that melody, very faint, discreet, even.
A melody came reverberating over from the corner pub named “Finnegan’s Wake”, a melody played on a tin whistle that sounded almost like ... that old lullaby her father had sung to her. That silly dromedary song back from the Persian Gulf.
It so it came to pass that Jenny Wordsmith stood there on the terrace of her parents’ old house, realizing her family had brought company. And so she ended up chatting with the new owner and his dear ones, her own daugher Moira, full of freckles and red hair, cuddling up against her mom’s beige cashmere coat, smelling the daisy, avoiding the new owner’s rowdy boy, kicking the grass and jumping on stones.
Somewhere in the distance, a tin whistle played a dainty tune that sounded almost like a very old tune an old soldier had heard while strolling with his friend down the Persian Gulf.
The Wordsmith family strolled away from their own past that day, while the new owner walked up to the lonely table in the dining room, picking up a book about dental hygiene and smiling.
“I used to know the author of this book, honey,” the new owner told his wife.
The wife put down the candle holder she had liked, picking up the purple love-heart and smiling, while looking at the book. “Is Mr. Wordsmith a dentist just like you?”
The man shook his head. “I never asked him that.”
A little boy with freckles and red hair came rushing in with his Star Wars-toy, making laser-sword sounding noises.
The new family looked out into the distance, hearing that faint melody played on a tin whistle. All the while, while the past met the present, the clean and fresh air scattered the clouds and shot a radiant beam of sunlight onto Galway, giving the two families the feeling that, indeed, two souls had returned from heaven to watch over those who still incarnate.
The wind whispered three sweet words into their ears that day:
“Time is irrelevant.”
~Charles E.J. Moulton