It had been a long night, one of those that shapes every day of your life thereafter. The eastern horizon was blushing as she and I walked side-by-side up a hill onto a ridge. From there most of the city was laid bare before our eyes. Streets and intersections and businesses and homes that we knew, full of people whose names and lives we knew, whose children had played with our children. We just stood there, looking, reminiscing, regretting, in a flow of words that made no sound. There was no going back. It was past time to part ways. But how do you say Goodbye when the Goodbye is mandated by forces outside your control? The past—it’s a wonderful, damning, beautiful bitch of a thing. You look back and what do you see? You can almost taste the happiness of the times that still sends thrills rocketing through your body. The memories bounce around inside you, bells and whistles sounding in your heart and mind and other parts of your body. It was good, very good, while it lasted. But who are you fooling with selective memories? As if the trembling angst that shook you, time and again, did not forever warp your psyche. As if while living in the squalidness of evil, you could escape the stench sinking into your skin. It was the best and the worst of times, but ultimately, the worst of the worst.
I don’t know what she thought would happen. I didn’t even know what I thought would happen. You get to the point where you live not day by day, not even hour by hour, but sin by sin. Every hand on the clock is one that strokes iniquity, easing along time until the next hand is ready to massage it further around the dial. The future is so frightening that to ignore it is your only chance at maintaining some semblance of sanity. So you walk backward into the not-yet, savoring the what-has-been, and staying as drunk as possible on the wine of the now.
As the sun stretched its rays further and further, the predawn dark dissipated. I looked at her, but she wouldn’t look at me. Her eyes were transfixed on some distant object—the city? a street? a house? a person? Who knows.
It was just like her to be standing here, ignoring me, lost in some inner world to which I would never be granted access. It was her world, she the solitary resident. Whether that inner world was more akin to heaven, or hell, only she could say. But she never spoke of it, except in silences that betokened speeches I didn’t have the heart to hear.
The moment had come. The past, its weal and woe, was being left behind. And into a future fogged with uncertainly, but veiled with vestiges of hope, I would trek.
I moved in front of her. I kissed her lips. And that taste, the sting of the salt, I’ll never forget. I turned my back on her, and moved on to catch up with her husband, Lot, and their two daughters, who had never looked back.
An Allegory on Repentance, on Losing Life and Keeping It.
Just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. Luke 17