The man ambled down the alley back towards the lake. He was tired, alone. Always on the outside. He could never focus for very long. Distractions were everywhere. His bones ached, and his soul hurt after being surrounded by so many people. It was essential, though, if he wanted to drown out the cacophony of noise in his head.
He chose to live apart from the multitude of others. They were loud, sometimes angry, sometimes lost. Always sad. They could pretend, but he saw through. He saw the dark cloud of despair that surrounded the smiling faces. He had never been able to act content.
His home meager, but it was his. He grabbed his fishing pole, baited it, and hoped for dinner — perch, small but enough. His Gramps had taught him to fish on the river when he was younger. His Grandfather was one of the few people in his life that understood him. Gramps had grown up on the Colville reservation and had taken the man in after Mom went away.
After his mother had left, he was called Hawke. He could not remember his name from before. He did not recall much anymore.
He hadn’t made it easy on Gramps. The man had been sixteen the first time he hit his grandfather. He balled his fist and punched him square in the jaw. Gramps had just stood there, silent until asking, “why?”
You took my Mom away, The man had thought. You forced her to leave so I would be alone. He never spoke his thoughts out loud, and Gramps never asked why again. He just stood there, taking punch after punch every time the man was angry.
Once the man had gotten so angry, he stole a small skinning knife from his grandfather’s tackle box. Rage had exploded like fireworks in his head as he waved the blade at Gramps.
His grandfather had just stared at him sadly, a single tear running down his face. “Go.” he had said. So the man went.
He remembered little of his mother. Small, slight, with dark green eyes. Her hair was long and wavy. He remembered the way it tickled his face when she hugged him. He remembered lying in bed with tears streaming down his face when she would go away. Hunger gnawing at him, scrounging for something, anything, to eat.
When she was happy, her voice was soft, and she would sing him lullabies. They would play in the park and hold hands.
When he left, he decided he would find his mother. Instead, he found Aileen. Beautiful Aileen with hair like fire and a bright smile that took you far away. They were a family once. He had even gotten a job cleaning at night. The pandemonium in is him was softer when she held him.
When the girl was born, she was the most precious thing the world had ever created, with her pink face and plaintive cry. But Aileen no longer soothed the man’s demons. She only had eyes for the girl.
She took the girl away one day after the man got angry, and he was alone again.
The hair on his neck stood up. Someone or Something was watching him.
A noise sounded in the brush: slight scratching and a soft cry like an infant.
He did have memories of the girl, his daughter. Aileen eventually let him come and spend time with her.
The girl never liked him. When she was young, she would cry for her mother, and as the girl got older, she just ignored the man.
His Daughter was never able to tolerate him as Gramps or even Aileen did. His daughter had never understood the voices calling him to keep moving. He had tried to explain it to her, but it just made him more irate. One day, she stopped wanting to visit with him.
Tired of the cognizance that sometimes flooded his mind, He crawled onto the little wooden
rowboat he called home. Just as he was going to pull the tarp over his head, he saw it. Eyes dark as the deepest pool. Small but wise. The creature’s eyes met his, then it vanished. It had felt like home, reminding him of the warm embrace of his mother’s arms or fishing with his Gramps. Hawk sighed and settled down for the night.
The morning birds had started their songs muffled by the tarp. The air surrounding the man was stuffy. He heard his name. "Hawke, Hawke, are you there?" It was the fancy guy. He came by now and again. He gave him food, asked him questions.
Once he offered to find the girl, but she didn't want to speak to the man.
Sometimes the man would comply and talk with the fancy guy. Today he did not want to be seen. The eyes from last night still haunted him. So he was silent.
“Hawke? It’s Thanksgiving; I brought you some food. I’ll leave it by your boat, Okay?” the voice intoned.
The man was silent. Eventually, the fancy guy left, and the man exited his small boat to sit on the shore, ignoring the Thanksgiving feast. The wind whispered his name, and his mind cleared for a brief moment. These times held the peace he was so often missing. Then the static erupted into chaos once again.
A small movement caught his eye. The tiny creature with eyes that caught fire with dreams was there again. It glowed, lacking the shadows that followed the rest of the world. It stood on its hind legs, staring at the man as if it was drinking in his soul. He could feel the light filling him. He could feel his mother’s warm hug and the patient voice of his grandfather instructing him on fishing. He could see Aileen’s bright smile as she gazed at their daughter. The creature dropped on all fours and stalked slowly toward the lake.
The man followed. Stepping lightly into the water, he let it engulf his legs. It welcomed him home. The creature had disappeared under the soft swells, but the man knew where to find it. He could see it glow. He continued until the frigid water was up to his waist. It started to feel warmer, safe, like a blanket of calm. It crested his shoulders, shelter. Time to go home, he mused as the water engulfed him.