he last moon-dyed bubble burst atop the surface of the dark, boggy pond. A graceful New England summer breeze licked the black surface sending ripples crawling towards the lush ferns that lined the banks. The midnight moon smiled piously, perched high upon an altar of stars like some sort of celestial priest. Jackson could not help but sigh at the beauty that surrounded him, knowing all to well that this would be his last trip to the secret pond.
Standing at the water’s edge, ankles bound and weighted, he removed a pack of Camels from his tuxedo breast pocket. He perched a cigarette between his dry lips and lit it, exhaling a satisfying plume of blue smoke into the atmosphere. As Jackson watched the carcinogenic cloud entwine itself with the beams of moonlight dripping from above, memories of the first time he brought Celia to his secret pond flooded his brain.
A lilac-soaked springtime wind has swirled around his teenage lover causing her strawberry-blonde hair to dance about her soft cheeks, as if the locks were enchanted under one of Mother Nature’s spells. Bright, majestic sunshine glimmered in her deep brown eyes, reflecting the warmth she had felt for him at the time. It had been the first and only occasion that he had cared for anyone enough to reveal his hidden pond. They spent that whole day basking in each other’s radiance, making love on its banks with true passion. As if alone in a universe created solely for their pleasure, they had watched the sun melt its hues across sky, some cosmic artist spreading his oils upon the great blue dome of canvas for their eyes only. That had been their sunset. Their love had forged it. Jackson could still hear Celia’s voice proclaim that they would share a thousand more sunsets, pledging her soul unto him forever. Forever. Jackson had to laugh.
That perfect day had been six years ago when the two were still juniors in high school. Up until this morning, Jackson and Celia hadn’t even spoken for a year. So much had changed since that mystical day. The undying love they had shared at the pond had only kept them together for another three months when Celia had decided that seniors in high school were more mature, and could better provide the “emotional needs” a sixteen-year-old girl required. Through the course of the following years, their traveled paths had forked and they had grown distant. Jackson, still very much in love, had done all he could to keep informed about his dear Celia, prodding mutual friends for any news they would offer. Usually the information about her recent whereabouts filled him with even more desire, seeing as he had always harbored the notion that one day the two would reunite. That is, until he found out about her upcoming wedding.
xpelling another blue cloud into a midair waltz, Jackson recalled the nausea and terror he had felt when the horrible realization had befallen him. For the first time in six years, he had had to embrace the fact that Celia would never again be his. From nowhere, Fate appeared with her unforgiving claws to rip into his ribcage, tearing out his heart to be smashed into a black, useless paste. Jackson was convinced that on some karmic level this was a great romantic injustice, and that it was up to him to remedy Cupid’s misguided arrow and regain Celia’s love for all eternity.
He had spent the last few days preparing the romantic extravaganza, and had set the wheels of his plan in motion that morning with a phone call to Celia. Jackson was still inflated with the bravery it had required to make that first leap. Dialing those seven digits had stirred the current…that lifted the swell…that created the wave that had carried Celia back into his loving arms.
Jackson puffed out a perfect smoke-ring and recalled the two sitting at the park, drinking coffee earlier that afternoon. His: cream, two sugars. Hers: cream, two sugars and enough sedatives to relax a small pony. Before Celia nodded off, they had discussed the strange flowing river of life and how the other was maintaining afloat within it, and promised to speak to each other more often. Celia had even mentioned her upcoming wedding. Jackson’s stellar performance of surprise and congratulations had been worthy of an Oscar.
She had probably been stoned from the downers, but Jackson could not get the joyful, loving face Celia had worn at the park out of his head. It had been much more soothing than the one she wore when she woke up at the pond bound, gagged and wearing the wedding dress Jackson had rented.
Jackson had watched tears, which could only have been of joy, slip down her cheeks as he told her how the two were destined to inflame the cosmos with their passion, and that they would burn on together for all eternity, inextinguishable and infinite. In silence, he had held her trembling body for hours, breaking the hush only once to say, “Wasn’t that a beautiful sunset, dear?” And with the sinking of the great yellow sphere, only but the last stage of Jackson’s plan had remained unaccomplished.
Jackson looked down at his hands and saw the smoke circling his fingers. Those hands, just moments before, had thrown his bride to her watery grave. He knew that it had been for the best though. A love such as theirs comes along once a millennium and he was not about to live the tragedy of unrequited true love.
The fiery ring at the tip of his cigarette had found its way to the speckled filter, signaling the time for Jackson to proclaim his never-ending vow of love as well. He flicked the butt into the cool thick grass, watching the orange trail it left in its flight. Jackson then reverently peered at the moon, awaiting his cue.
“I do,” he whispered. Then Jackson jumped into the pond.
The devoted groom sank to the bottom and felt around for his anchored bride. Finding her slowly swaying body in the dark depths, he locked his with his soul mate’s arms, and was filled with no emotion but pure love.
A few moments later, the last moon-dyed bubble burst atop the surface of the dark, boggy pond.