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Sunset Sailboats
  • Writer's pictureMelanie Marino

A Heart and Mind Ablaze: a short story by Melanie Marino

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

A Heart and Mind Ablaze


The stardust black car door opened easily as she willfully made her way out of the memory laden atmosphere, wishing the consuming thoughts could be exited as efficiently. Scanning the five o’clock rush of vehicles coming off the bridge, Abby uselessly looked for his truck, instantly recognizing the futility. There was no gesture that would successfully get his attention. No grandiose action to get him to respond. No amount of beauty, brilliance, or charm was enough to make him want her. Most of her texts were left unread. Hot burning pain rose up from Abby’s heart while her vision blurred as she heard herself plead to God to kill her. Grabbing her neck, Abby’s pace deadened as she looked for anything to distract her mind from his image. His perfect, gorgeous face and delectable body. Instead, her mind flooded with a memory of a text she sent Blaze months ago, a text inspired and written from the very depths of longing from her heart and soul. She sent him images of her favorite hike up a 500-foot-hill overlooking the Catskill Mountains; a place she frequented for emotional healing and spiritual nourishment. Without any trees, the sun often shone warmly on her skin creating comforting chills soothing her being. Abby spent hours atop Burger Hill receiving solace from the immense pain she carried. She always used her small designer backpack as a makeshift pillow while laying on one of the flat stone benches that emitted heat of their own from the blazing sun.

The text she sent Blaze guided him to mentally place himself at the base of the path, surrounded by wildflower meadows active with butter and dragonflies. Teetering on surreal, the landscape and clouds seemed brushed by strokes of an exceptional painter. Each picture led him slowly up, past the dancing wheatgrass, and the distant elegant mansions. The path remained steep providing stunning views of the purple-blue Catskill Mountain Range. As Blaze crested the Hill, his gaze settled upon a rectangular silver box with a red velvet bow sitting on the farthest of the three long flat stone benches. Attached to the box, gently blowing in the breeze was a silver, crescent moon shaped tag with Blaze’s name written elegantly on the underside. Grazing the tips of his fingers along the plush ribbon, Blaze tugged a strand, loosening the bow enough to remove the lid. Peeking in, he observed, in blue Chalcedony, the words “turn around”. Inhaling, he turned, gasping, as his eyes took in Abby in a sheer white chiffon gown, glistening in the sun’s rays. Unable to move from the sight of her, Abby deliberately went to him, in a fashion Blaze would later describe as “floating” while extending her right hand. Arriving close enough for them to touch, he observed a metal gold box engraved with the ancient Druid symbol triskeles resting in her palm. Tracing his fingers over the markings; power, love, and energy surged through him. Peering into his eyes, Abby nodded at Blaze to take the box. Picking it up with his right hand, he carefully placed it in his left. As he opened the box, Blaze noticed the same etchings on the interior of the top with one exception. A phrase, a question living forever in that space meant for him only, “will you marry me?” Below, gently held in golden velvet laid a white gold ring of fire opal, ruby and sapphire. A ring fit for a King. Blaze her King.

Abby shook her head violently to eradicate the memory. Oh God please make me forget his shining presence and tender touch. His deeply meaningful kisses and powerful embrace. I am no match for his spell casting. Images of his charms devouring her pure soul with the compassion a hawk exhibits as it hovers over a nest of baby sparrows swarmed her. She gave herself to him entirely, loving him from depths she did not know existed in her being. Possessing and owning every infinite universe within the cells and atoms of her physically along with all ethereal matter of her spiritually. She refused deliverance from his Pan-like pull. God please help me. My body begs and pleads for him consistently. I have no relief.

Turning towards the trailhead, the dark grey road morphed into a brick mosaic with enormous planters filled with tall sea grasses blooming with peacock-looking feathers of copper and dark royal purple. A faded white food truck selling orange creamsicles, chocolate covered bananas, and other summery items sat nestled near the entrance of the long walkway. An appreciation of the landscaped beauty superficially swept through Abby though joy wouldn’t supersede or penetrate the colossal longing and excruciating pain. The walkway itself severely lacked welcoming charm, but truthfully it was only the proximity that influenced this destination, so the design care came as a pleasant surprise.

Triple checking the closure of zippers on her black Calvin Klein backpack, Abby began the journey, thankful for the numerous people walking, biking and rollerblading. Moving steadily then finding a rhythm, she created stories about the people, well, at least the interesting looking ones. They did not know she had looked their way as her gaze held from behind mirrored rose gold colored sunglasses. Their ages and ethnicities were as vast as the droplets of water beneath her.

The sun warmed Abby’s back as her black cap-sleeved shirt eagerly absorbed the intense golden rays. Good thing, for the wind had been persistent all day and had no intention of subsiding. A bolt of saltwater essence engulfed Abby’s senses, momentarily transporting her to frequent childhood vacations along the Eastern Seaboard; days of innocence and blind hope for the future. Stopping and glancing to the right, dizzying emotions spilled out from her body. How?? Why?? The heaving of her chest inspired a haphazard schizophrenic symphony with gasps and guttural sounds erupting from her throat and vocal cords. Realizing the need for anonymity, Abby continued silently sobbing. Two women clothed in cranberry colored scrubs approached busily bantering about the bureaucratic injustices in the regional heart hospital as a throw-back hippie circled on rollerblades. Eyeing Abby he closed in creating tighter oval laps. Ugh! How can he think he has a chance with me! Shuddering, hugging the wall on her right, she successfully blocked his path. A tremendous flag blew majestically ahead signifying the halfway mark.

Blaze –

Glancing around his spacious office, Blaze decided to take his lunch at the imposing dark cherry wood conference table surrounded by windows facing North and West. He purposefully chose this office on the fourth floor, two floors down from the top, to not appear pretentious, always wanting to be approachable making for better work relations. Not hungry but ready for a break, Blaze settled into the black leather erogenous chair, leaning back entirely, distractedly feeling his chest to see if it was still there in his suit pocket. Grazing his fingers along the smooth, silky table, he imagined it was Her that his fingertips were gently caressing. Her otherworldly skin. He could feel the contour of her slim, toned, tan body as he envisioned her laying naked on her side pressed fully against his. She often did not seem real, as if his imagination had conjured her from every ideal that existed within himself, though he never uttered a word, leaving her to wonder his true feelings and intent. She had no idea the power she held over him. How enraptured he was that a woman could be and offer all that she did without motive or thought, having those qualities as innate as if part of her genetic make-up, part of her soul. He did everything in his power to forget Her, for a large part of him did not want to be consumed with a love this intoxicating and divine. Instead he wished for the days when his career and prestige fulfilled him the most. A time when relationships took the very last row in a seemingly endless library. Days that felt simple and uncomplicated providing a freedom to live unencumbered. He never felt so bound with connection and desire as he did with Her. He knew he should tell Her. He could see that sweet face of hers light up with ecstatic bliss and childlike wonder. But he knew he wouldn’t. Romantic feelings weren’t something he felt comfortable with. He didn’t want to be that vulnerable. Didn’t want to give Her a chance to hurt him. So, a secret it would remain; never to see the light of day. What he couldn’t hide were the feelings that poured out of him into Her. She expressed multiple times feeling this energy, this love, demanding he verbalize what she could intensely feel. He only did once, barely spewing it out in a squeak. It wasn’t very convincing. “Blaze?” His secretary invaded his processing.

“Yes Elaine?”

“There seems to be an emergency on the Walkway and it’s really interfering with traffic. Is it okay with you if I go home a little early?”

“Sure. But what’s happening on the Walkway?” Blaze got up from his chair walking directly to the windows looking West.

“I’m not sure. Heart attack? Stabbing? Sexual Assault? Suicide attempt? Whatever it is there’s lots of emergency personnel.” Blaze ignored a quick but violently deep pain that pierced his heart. No stranger to ‘weird’ experiences, he had been repressing all aspects of his ‘gifts’ since, well, since becoming involved with Her. She encouraged and accelerated these parts of him just by being Her. And to distance himself from Her, he had to turn off the messages he received. It was easier, yet harder, to block his spiritual side while blocking Her. Trying to shake Her away from his thoughts, he focused on Elaine.

“You know what? I’ll check my phone. There’s bound to be news there about it.”

“Okay. Will you text me? I really want to get going. I kind of feel like it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

“Sure Elaine. I’ll text you later, but by that time it may be on the local news.” Blaze flashed his sexy smile giving her a light-hearted wink.

“Ah yes, maybe. Thank you Blaze.”

“You got it.” Blaze checked his notifications and sure enough a paper was livestreaming the event. Blaze focused in as he absentmindedly grabbed half of his pulled pork sandwich. The dreadfully inexperienced modern-day news anchor spoke deadpan while describing the event.

“A woman…” Blaze’s sandwich fell to the floor. Vertigo took over as his mind spun out of control. His mouth frozen in a silent scream. It was Her. His love; His life. It was Abby.

Abby –

Lost in the power behind the open flag waving through the air, Abby thought about the deep true love people during wartime experience. Embedded in the reality of finality and the fragility of life, they are willing to battle and overcome the most challenging obstacles to be with the object of their desire. No hardship being too overwhelming. No adversity too daunting. Abby desperately wished Blaze loved her like that. She honestly couldn’t understand why he did not for she loved him with a passion that had no parallel. And everyone, including strangers, were constantly moved by her beauty and compassion. The older she grew, truly listening to feedback from others, the more she absorbed the unique, amazing qualities she possessed. She wished Blaze not only saw these attributes but was willing to do anything to be an active part of her life daily, endlessly thankful for this extraordinary love that God blessed them with. Fighting the temptation to check if he had read her message from the night before, she became increasingly conscious of the low height of the wall she was clinging to. How easy it would be to… Abby shook her head attempting to rid herself of the thought. Stopping, she unzipped her bag grabbing her phone to see if he had read her text. Unaware of holding her breath, she felt air escape with the realization he had not. Abby started to climb over the side.

Blaze –

Gripping the steering wheel, Blaze slammed into the driver’s side door as his truck rattled and shook from the speed of which he was driving over the massive potholes in the unpaved parking lot. Throwing it in park, he lurched forward. Leaving the keys inside he began running to the entrance of the walkway.

“Sir! Sir! Excuse me! You’re not allowed to go there!” Blaze didn’t hear or see the city police officer guarding the entrance. Swiftly moving with determination, he continued to make his way to Abby praying he wasn’t too late. “White male, medium build and height inbound.” The officer radioed to those ahead.

“Copy.” What am I going to say? What am I going to do? But he knew exactly what he was going to do. Play it cool as usual. Even in this he was not going to give her the satisfaction of knowing the truth. He just couldn’t. A searing bolt ran through his body momentarily slowing him down but not stopping him.

“He’s still going! Must be on some kind of drug, Crystal Meth maybe? Tazing did nothing. Coming up on the quarter mile mark.” Hyper focused he knew he was close. He could feel her awesome presence. I have to get to her. I must see her.

“Stop!” Suddenly a wall of officers blocked his path.

“What?” he questioned indignantly. Filled with impenetrable tenacity jumping erratically to see over their fortress, he demanded with absolute authority, “Get out of my way I need to get through!”

“Through to what? What are you doing here?”

“I must see…”

“See what?” He froze. What could he say? She wasn’t his wife or even his girlfriend. She was his lover, but most importantly she was… she was his secret. Looking around he saw her. His heart stopped while his body surged with unfathomable passion.

Abby –

The view from the ledge provided full scope of the waves glistening with perfect sparkles of sunlight. So pretty. She was not in a rush for she was okay experiencing these last moments in peace with nature and the vibrant world around her. Vaguely cognizant of activity surrounding her, she heard a woman gently speaking, though she had no awareness as to what she was saying. Two swans shared their love for each other in an alcove off to Abby’s right making the classic heart shaped symbol with their necks as black vultures flew above. Abby did not take either sighting lightly having a deep connection to mammals, insects, spiders and amphibians knowing they carry personal messages if one is willing to listen. While nearly everyone knows that swans mate for life, few know black vultures are exceedingly more loyal and faithful to their life partner. Even more curious is the fact that black vultures aren’t native to New York State, the first couple spotted within the local Minnewaska State Park in 1981. Abby contemplated the meaning of seeing these black vultures. She and Blaze were approximately ten around 1981. She was sure they had a brief encounter then for Abby lived a mile from his parents’ summer house in a neighborhood she barely frequented but happened to that summer. Having costarred in a local school production, Abby became close with a girl that lived but a few doors down from Blaze’s parents. She was certain he passed by with his posse of friends one day as she waited for her friend to answer the door. Moments like these were suspended in time as part of their connection and eventuality. Abby knew that they were meant to be together. That they were in fact each other’s divinely chosen mate. She watched the black vultures settle onto the wall a few feet from her. Why God? Why? How can I possibly live without him knowing any other relationship will fail miserably at having even a fraction of the love, purity, innocence and passion? Abby inhaled deeply, filling her lungs with the salty air, barely able to see the vultures and swans through layers of tears. She absolutely did not want to live without him. And she did not want to live without their love. Closing her eyes, she prepared to jump.

Blaze –

Looking the closest officer in the eyes, Blaze agitatedly paced barely speaking the burdensome words that were squeezing his chest, “You don’t understand.” The world now violently spinning he struggled to maintain composure, stumbling as if inebriated by the finest Bombay Sapphire gin. Clutching his stomach his shaking legs gave way as his body collapsed before them. Attempting to fight hyperventilating, he cried out, “She is planning to jump because of me.” The debilitating burden now spoken Blaze curled up into the fetal position. “Please God, please. Take my life, please. Don’t let Abby die. I want her to live.”

Abby –

Brought back to her roots, the word of God says in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way they should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Abby began singing:

O Lord my God when I in awesome wonder Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made I see the stars I hear the rolling thunder Thy power throughout the universe displayed Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee How great Thou art, How great Thou art Then sings my soul My Savior God to Thee

“Abby” Oh dear God I hear his voice. His sweet melodic mesmerizing voice. God please don’t do this to me now. I cannot bear to hear his voice and not be with him. God no, please. “Abby please. Turn around. Let me see you.” Is this true? Is he here? Did he come for me? Shaking her head Abby questioned her sanity, doubting that he would come for her after all this time.

“No, you’re not real. You exist only in my mind. I cannot face this truth before death. I cannot bear another disappointment; another shattered belief.” Abby stared at the shimmering water.

“Abby I am real and I am here. Turn around. Please.” Abby heard his shiny black dress shoes click on the cement. Oh dear God he really is here. Gasping, she lightly caressed her lips feeling by memory his. Why is he here? Did he come to save face, protecting his image by interfering with fate? Is he here to stop me from dying only to leave me alone again? This I cannot take. I cannot live this life without him.

“Abby. Come here.” Even now, in this moment, Abby could not deny him. She could not disobey his command. “What are you doing?” Grinning, with his twinkling eyes he drew her in.

“What do you mean? Must I go to such extreme lengths to bestow my eyes upon you? To be in your presence? I cannot take being apart from you any longer. My heart continually grieves in your absence. I have no desire to live in this world without you.”

“Abby. Remember that amazing text you sent me? The one at Burger Hill?” Abby’s throat tightened as her heart stung with fresh pain.

“Of course, I remember. You never responded.” Blaze bowed his head looking at her through his lashes. Locking eyes he continued to hold her gaze while pulling a box from the inside pocket of his sand colored suit. A box he now held out to Abby from the palm of his right hand. What is this? Abby stared in disbelief at the gold box in his hand. A gold box with the same engravings as the one in her text, the Druid symbol of everlasting love: triskeles. Breathing in she stepped over the side towards Blaze, tingling all over. Reaching out she traced the symbol with her fingertips feeling the same power, energy and love she imagined Blaze did. Trembling, she pried open the box revealing an emerald cut white sapphire ring in white gold nestled in gold velvet . Abby’s knees gave way as Blaze caught her saying,

“I told you. I am real. I am here. And I’m not going anywhere.”

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