Harsh Rain Falls On Holy Stones by Mark McConville

Harsh Rain Falls On Holy Stones.

She pulls the cover over her eyes and embraces the darkness. From now on, she’d like to conceal her face and body. Over these past few years, love has been strained, life has been a mammoth task. Smoking cigarettes and drinking cheap vodka delivers the only real pleasure, speaking to anyone other than the cat takes courage. All over this wooden floor lies empty bottles and written letters to someone she wholeheartedly adored. His name is secretive, a code. In full bloom, he was a handsome eccentric, a poet, a charismatic believer in hope. His dazzling features kept her glued to him, but it wasn’t only that, his intelligence intensified the relationship.

These days building social empires isn’t on the agenda. Crossing off days on a calendar keeps her heart fulfilled. Maybe one day she’ll venture beyond the walls to seek aid, and trap those demons in a web of fire in her sophisticated mind. Trapping those voices which tell her she isn’t worthy, would take a pill or two and determination. Hardship exists and while she drinks the last of the vodka under the cover, she unwraps herself.

The girl playing with her own sense of self pulls down the cover and watches the cat drink from the tap. By looking on, as the tap drips, her standards have slipped. Neglecting a cat is one thing, but neglecting herself is dangerous. Not eating, not dreaming must take its toll, and it has. Grubby hands, dirty nails, unkempt hair, all on show.

Since his departure, moments of solitude have overshadowed glimmers of hope and clear-cut clarity. Love must answer the questions? But it can’t, it doesn’t have a beating heart, a skull, a brain, a tongue, or a mind. It is what it is, a showing of joy and connection. Disconnection overwhelms her life. Discontent also digs deep into the equation.

She rubs dead skin from her face. She has to leave the isolation. Today is a big day. A day of peace, a solemn day. For her, it will be a struggle. An endless exertion of her social capacity. Firstly, her reclusive nature hinders everything. Hopelessness may derail all moments of normality.

Makeup does the trick. All greyness has been dissipated and covered. Exuberant she is not, but the mirror, if alive, would not recognize her. Pulling over a white shirt onto a skeletal structure almost feels like a waste. She is wasting away, slipping away, peeling away. Underweight and fading, but reluctant to die yet. Before all that, there’s a place to be.

Dressed in black. Lipstick ready. The girl takes a deep breath. Ankles twitching, hands sweaty, equipped with a speech for the ages. Only one thing is missing, the man of her dreams. In hindsight, he probably wouldn’t want to see her like this. Broken and malnourished, enraged by the world and its feeble defenses.

A black car arrives outside her one-bedroom house. The driver opens the door. The seats offer comfortability and the car offers a shield, a sheet of armor. Vodka drunk, hiding it will take imagination and restraint. It could go two ways, a drunken daze could take hold, or revelations could spark unrest?

The driver speaks about the weather. It’s cold outside, people shiver and splutter. It’s been colder this year than before. The girl is still under the influence, looking at shiny buttons on her blouse, seeing floaters in her eyes. She’s tired and aching for another drop of alcohol to infuse her body, but a liver can take only so much. She feels stranded in this life. No one visits. On her way to the place of reckoning, fake people will scatter, they’ll say sorry, but then they’ll disband. Family values are sacred to some.

The car stops outside the church. Miserable weather impedes. A hopeless feeling churns her stomach. Harsh rain falls on holy stones. She retreats from the car. No umbrella to cover her long, frayed hair. Still drunk and angry at the world, she turns and stares at the flock of people walking into the church. A cigarette sounds about right, but she can’t mar fresh air.

There’s no strategic plan to how this will unfold. The inner sanctum will be teeming. Her nerves at breaking point, her heart pumping at a dangerous tempo. Time is precious. Inside this room, people read eulogies of how they knew and loved the deceased. Her speech could be misconstrued, subjected to ridicule, deemed unworthy.

The doors open and she walks into a cathedral populated by a sea of black. They’re all singing a verse. She feels like a sardine, a small object in a box of hammers. Fabricated under stress, demented, and monitored. Under scrutiny, she sings also, trapped in this room. After voices dissipate. The young girl who is damaged, disturbed, and misunderstood, stands at the front of the sea of black. Her freckled face on show. Her vulnerability on edge. Eyes fixated, in the line of sight.

‘‘In time I will meet you again. Through the light I will go. Up there, angels surge through the sky, and I hope they’ll pick me. You were my warrior, a pillar of strength. I’m lost in a whirlpool of alcohol and despair. Forgotten by people who once tended to my grazes. I am tainted, dripping in rain and poison. I wish you could aid me in my pursuit in trying to rebuild my life, but impossibility strangles all hope. To you I praise, to you I send love,’’

If the ground could swallow, she would ask it to devour every piece of her. Through the middle she walks with her head down. Sparks fly in her head, memories of a joyous past swirl through the raging blaze. She isn’t settled, the cloud is still swollen, but a sense of calm has momentarily been instilled.