He arrived at my doorstep in the late afternoon. That was only time Neil Shah would ever visit. As soon as I opened the door I could see that his back was faced towards me. Suddenly he whirled around, blew past me, and made himself at home in my living room.
He situated his affects near the edge of the room, closest to the window. I was accustomed to these visits as they usually occurred around early spring.
“How’s your husband?” he asked, avoiding eye contact with me.
“He’s still out” I responded while cleaning the mud he dragged in.
He continued to stare out the window. Then he abruptly turned to me and smiled. “I’ll just have to catch him next April”, Neil said. He paused and returned to fix his gaze past the window. The bright fog outside caused the light seeping in to wash out his normally tan face.
As I finished putting away the mop I turned to my weary-eyed guest. His black, wrinkled parka was still on and I knew he had no intention of taking it off. The man sat leaning forward still looking outside the window as if he were expecting someone to show their face in it. He rested his elbows on his knees and continuously tapped the toe of his beat-up converses on the ground.
Though I was used to these meetings, this particular visit bothered me.
I knew this man was cursed.
Whether he was running from something or towards it, he was never seen at night. “I gotta keep walking towards the sun” he would say loftily with a pretentious, fake smile. Whatever he did, this was his atonement. Blessed by eternal day, but stripped of any opportunity to rest. This was something he brought upon himself; I knew that much.
He rose suddenly, gathered his things, walked past me, and stood in front of the door that he just barged through not more than 5 minutes ago. He let out a sigh, “I gotta keep moving or the moon and my thoughts will catch up with me”.
“This was a short one, Neil” I remember saying into his back.
He reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out something. His back was still to me so I couldn’t see what it was. I could tell he was staring at it because his neck fell forward. He must have been staring at it intensely because he stood in the same pose for at least half a minute. Then he rotated his body slowly towards me. What I saw broke my composure.
It was a glowing orb with the diameter of a quarter. Wisps of what looked like flames emanated from the sphere which gave off an unearthly red-orange glow as if it was the gaseous manifestation of passion itself. I must have been under some sort of mind trip because the the entire room darkened as if the object in Neil’s hands had re-focused all the surrounding light to it. Not only did the artifact give off light, it seemed to pulsate. Entrainment occurred immediately and the orb resonated with me visually. Neil and I became entranced by the sphere and its pure, objective beauty. I don’t know what is good and right in this world, but it didn’t matter. Whatever happiness and peace is, it is derived from this thing. As usual, Neil broke the moment with his awkward body movements. He looked up at me with the most ridiculous grin as if to say everything was going to be okay. It was a sincere smile.
He packed away the glorious sphere back into that parka of his. Mr. Shah hopped down the steps of my porch skipping every other as if he were five years old. He lit a cigarette as he walked away until his figure was consumed by the ominous fog.