Thursday 11 January 2024

Brooding Hills, by David Summerfield, espresso


Just before dawn, an apparition in a hooded billowing cape entered the gray farmhouse. Inside the dark figure let the cape drop to form a pool of water on the linoleum. Jonas sat in a chair in front of the window looking at the hovering clouds as a leak in the ceiling dripped water with metronome-like precision on the floor. He looked up to see his reflection in an empty bottle of Lord Calvert, a 9mm Browning lay on the desk. Jonas slumped deeper into the cracked leather chair, he thought of her as the storm raged.


It was not the loss of Kendra that brought you here. It was yourself you’d lost or hadn’t come to know. In the beginning, you stalked Kendra under the guise of friendship with the ulterior motive of making her your lover. When you realized it was not going to happen, you decided to cut ties. She came after you, crying; you saw an invitation to exploit her vulnerabilities and unhappiness and decided to stay on.

     You felt great pride, exhilaration, privelege even to be with her. You placed Kendra on a pedestal, assumed by some karmic coincidence you were meant to be together. But you supplicated yourself, became what she wanted you to be. She was your focus; you never challenged her. It never occurred to you there was any other way to act toward a woman, especially one so beautiful, ellipsoid features under a black mane over square shoulders, ass perfectly shelved over long straight legs, in heels, in jeans, blouse open, lips embossed, eyes dark like a whore, intelligent, delightful; she’d mastered all the looks women give all the sayings women say. You felt lucky to have her, might lose her if you didn’t keep complimenting her too much, keep giving her a self-esteem boost whenever the big house, fine car and loving husband made her unhappy.

     But Kendra was using you, too. You came to know how vulnerable she was to men’s attentions, easily influenced; most of her friends were men, in that stable of men she kept, you had your own stall. Outside of her marriage you were never able to verify your exclusivity with her; you tried but you could never be sure. Kendra enticed you to make a move. Realizing you couldn’t have been the only one you continued your solicitation of her, finding it difficult to sustain, something stirring inside, even as you’d gotten what you wanted, you finally recognized your behaviors as humiliating, masquerading yourself as a supplicant when instead you were a predator and chameleon. You thought, too, you were in love with Kendra; truth was you never loved her at all, that powerful aching obsession only infatuation, free all along from any delusion of love, you’d been wallowing in that painful aftermath of something you never felt to begin with, mired in that space between your deceptive illusions and a stable manhood. But it was over now; your identities whatever they were collided, and Kendra didn’t want you. Flush with additional suitors, another man’s wife, she was gone, “It is what it is,” she’d said.


Jonas decided not to destroy himself. Feeling silly a little stupid he unbolted the farmhouse door to leave his self-imposed exile. Looking at the horizon, shielding his eyes from the sun, Jonas walked up the hill and down the dirt road to the gated entrance. He climbed into his Wrangler, sat, and stared. He thought he would keep moving forward toward authenticity, to love as a man should, invert his feelings, make himself a prize, a woman’s privelege to be with, knowing predation and changing colors were malignancies, knowing that attracting a woman was by-product of living without scheme or deception, knowing that refining himself would not be for having his value validated by another. Going forward he would find his power over the power of a woman by pursuing his passions he would accept and respect himself.

     Jonas thought of Kendra’s defects in a way he never thought before, imperfections that made her like any other woman, in a backless dress some slight curve or line was missing, her neck had a certain slope, her nose was too big. Jonas started the engine the Wrangler spun away in a hail of loose gravel, it sprayed over the gate bare metal pole and engraving on the nameplate Brooding Hills. The storm had passed, Jonas would never know again the version of himself that went with it.


About the author  

David Summerfield is a graduate of Frostburg State University, Maryland, and a veteran of the Iraq war. He has been an editor, columnist, and contributor to publications within his home state of West Virginia. His twenty pieces of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and photo art have appeared in sixteen literary journals. 

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1 comment:

  1. Good story, David. I can picture their dysfunctional relationship so clearly!