I’ve been working on this story for a few months, playing with the idea in my head for even longer. It’s the story about the decisions we make and the paths we take. It’s a story of the intersection of lives, of the chain reactions we live with, and the cross roads we all face. Most of all it’s a story of every man’s contradictions, and of the things we wrestle with in life, including the wrestling with ourselves.
Prologue: Dark Night
The rain fell on everything. On the old wood planks of the deck, on the thick stretched ropes holding the ships to the dock, on the stevedores hustling to load a still large pile of cargo, the rain fell on everything. And it fell on the drenched shoulders of a young man looking up at the Maria Carmela, scanning its windows, looking, hoping.
An hour would pass, and he just stood there, still looking, still hoping, still completely soaked, shivering cold, yet he did not mind so much as he single-mindedly searched.
After yet another hour, the sound of ship engines revving added to the noise of the rain, the anchor was raised, and the ropes released. The Maria Carmela slowly separated from the dock and pushed ahead.
He watched it sail away, though technically the boat had no sail. He watched it get more and more blurry behind layers of rain until it was a blur, until it was a distant shade, and he watched that shade became smaller and smaller, until it was a dot, until it was gone.
The young man stood in the same place for a few minutes. Without realizing, his right fist clenched, snapping the stem of a single rose he had been holding. He brought his hands to wipe the tears now mixing with the rain on his face. After a a little more than a minute, he stopped. He did not cry anymore after that. He would never cry again. He turned and walked away, his own shadow becoming a blur, then a dot, and smaller it become until it too was gone into that dark night.
And the rain continued to fall on fateful dark night that spawned a thousand dark nights.
(40 years later…)
If people were walking by the dock that morning they would have seen two silhouettes sitting on the sea wall watching the sun rise, a girl’s head leaning on a boy’s shoulder.
“I’m really excited for this job.” David told Ann. “To be able to learn from such a great man, to be able to interact with him. This is a dream come true.”
“I’m happy for you. I know how much you want this. You know, I’ve heard some things about him. People say he’s not a very nice man.”
“Every great man has critics.”
“They say he has a dark heart.”
“The man is a genius. Of course he has detractors.”
“They say no one lasts with him, not his old assistants, not the women he beds.”
“No one is perfect. You and I aren’t perfect. But Michael, he’s a great man, no matter what anyone says. Don’t worry. Oh! Look at the time! I have to go.”
“Go show them how to tell a real story.” Ann told David. “Go show that old man.” she told him as she handed him a small brown bag.
“Don’t talk about him that way. Michael is the greatest writer, heck, the greatest artist, alive today. What’s this?” David asked her as he found something inside his bag.
“It’s a surprise. Open it when you get to work.”
“You know that I don’t like surprises.”
“You’ll like this one. I promise.” she smiled, rendering David unable to do anything but happily accept her mystery.
“I’ll make you proud.” he said as he started to walk away. “I’ll make you so proud.”
“I’m already proud of you.”
“I mean really really proud.”
“I’m already really really proud.”
“You know what I mean.” David said as he kissed her forehead, stood, and started to walk.
“No I don’t know what you mean. I’m already really really proud of you.” Ann said to him as she watched him walk away.
He didn’t hear her.