Philip was out of the hospital for three days when he heard the terrible news. His grandfather had passed away some time in the night. The funeral would be held at the end of the week. Philip had three days to prepare himself. He was living with his parents, for he was still not use to his new condition. Blindness made doing everything difficult for him. Simple tasks that he took for granted he now loathed. Just getting out of bed in the morning and changing his clothes was an ordeal. Many of times he would have to suffer under laughs from his father or a comment from his mother about the clashing colors he wore. And every time he would snap back at them with a wicked mouth. He could no longer see the sun, so his world was full of darkness.
And in this darkness he rotted.
Days went by and Philip would barely get out of bed. He would lie there, rubbing his fingertips across the scars over his eyes, and bathe in the torment of self-pity. He had forsaken his life, renounced god, and burnt every bridge he had come to form in his life. There were only three people who came to visit him: his attending physician, Dr. Randolph, who was still looking after him, the military scientist, Dr. Fitzsimons, and his ex-wife, Sarah. Many of the meetings would go on without much conversation. Sarah would come visit, but spend most of her time with Philip's parents, awaiting the day he would come out of his depression. Dr. Fitzsimons would come only to show his support, he would give Philip a routine check-up, which was just a repetition of what Dr. Randolph would do.
Finally, the day came when Philip had to get out of his bed, take a shower, and leave his house. It was the day of his grandfather's funeral. While in the shower Philip thought about his last conversation with his grandfather...
'The Harvest Moon, all that Cherokee nonsense. Funny, how the old man needed religion to get him through his last days, how cliche. And yet, maybe there is some truth there. I don't deny that there are gods, but I doubt those dimwitted Indians had it right. And yet...the god in my dream...was... a storm. The Cherokee and most Indian tribes believed in the elements to be supernatural entities. What is my grandfather was right? And I blew him off. I am truly an asshole...'
Philip was almost on the brink of tears from his strong wave of erupting self-hatred. If it hadn't been for the water pouring down his face from the shower nozzle, he might have caught himself actually shedding a tear of regret. But could he even cry? Alas, he finished up in the shower, got himself together, and went back to his room to start getting dressed. A task that he no longer could handle alone. There waiting for Philip in his room was his mother.
He had almost forgotten what her face looked like. It had been so long since he last saw her. Even when Philip was home before the military, he rarely ever went home. He kept to himself, through and through, waiting for his life to take course. When it did not naturally, he forced it to by enlisting. And we all know what happened since then. But now, Philip was back home with his mother, and she was dressing him in politely dark colors, with a suit jacket, and a plain black tie. It was like he was five years old again. Total regression. He let her do it with little words. Even though they were in the same room, she felt as though they were miles apart. Philip, refusing to leave his dark little world, and his Mother trying to hold back the fear that she utterly failed with her only son.
Said Philip, but it sounded more like an order. His mother choked on his command. For two reasons: the thought of his new-found dependency on his blindness symbolized by his need for the glasses, and the lack of change in personality that she thought would surely come to fruition. For in Mrs. Dresden's mind Philip was always an introvert, he kept to himself in school, not making many friends, even in marriage he jumped ship because the intimacy was too much (or that's what she thought was the problem). And now that he was locked in his own world, Mrs. Dresden prayed that it would have an adverse reaction to his psyche and get him to make a crucial change in his life for the better and become an outgoing person, maybe even patching things up with Sarah. But, it unfortunately only exacerbated things, and Philip fell further into his solitude and depression. So, they sat in silence, except for that one interrupting command. When finished they came downstairs, Philip grabbed his smooth, ivory cane from the umbrella stand, and together, Mr. and Mrs. Dresden, and Philip filed into their 1973 Cadillac.
Mr. Dresden was much like his son, with only one distinct difference, when Mr. Dresden found his wife his entire world changed. He became the man that she saw in him, and that man was far from a recluse. Mr. Dresden saw his meeting Mrs. Dresden as a necessary change in his life. If he did not go through this change, then he would have ended up...well...like his son. Together, they drove to the cemetery. Philip did not want to be there. But he knew he would feel both regretful once again and resentful at himself. There was no way to please himself. Everywhere he turned, misery was waiting for him.
They were the first ones to arrive at the cemetery. For they had skipped over the Church portion of the funeral due to Philip's lack of initiative in getting out of bed. Philip took both his Father and Mother's arms and walked in between them. After some time waiting in place, he could feel the air around him vent into the lungs of the gathering mourners. Soon enough, he heard the voice of the priest giving the closing ceremony before they lowered his grandfather's casket into the grave. Philip laughed, this christian priest was preaching about a man that no longer believed or followed in their religion. Philip pictured an ancient medicine man leading a rain-dance around the grave, to honor the Cherokee gods. Philip's mockery sadistically brightened his spirit. The sliding of the ropes lowering the casket lingered in Philip's ears and sent a soft shiver down his spine, giving him goose-bumps. The pitter-patter of the footsteps rounding the hole gave Philip the clue he needed to figure out that everyone was throwing their flowers down the grave and saying their last good-byes.
"And so lays John Archibald Ridge in his final resting place, now and forever, in the glory of god."
The priest gave his last prayer and Philip heard the shovels digging into the earth around him and the dirt being poured into the hole. After a couple minutes of repetitive sounds, Philip was tugged by his Mother, they were getting ready to leave. "I'm gonna stay." He responded to her tug. "But how will you get home?"
"Jesus christ Mom! I'm not helpless." And without anymore debate they left Philip graveside. He sat on the grass, assuming that he was facing the new grave. The air returned to its full presence and Philip took it in with relief. Now that he was alone, he could truly say good-bye to his grandfather. Philip tried to say the words he wanted to say to his grandfather before he died aloud, but only a couple of words came out before he completely broke down...
"I'm... I'm...so sorry....I-"
Philip grasped the blades of grass brushing up against his pant-legs and the tears tried to puncture his scar tissue. But they could not get out, and Philip's misery was building up. His eye sockets felt horrible, tiny pustules filling up with tear-drops. He was a monster. Simply not human. He could not cry. What man cannot cry? Philip tore the grass out of the ground like he wanted to tear the scarred skin off his eyes. But at the climax of his grief a gentle drop of water made a tiny splash on his cheek.
The temperature dropped significantly, the wind kicked up, and the skies darkened. Philip was beginning to see, dim images, inverted colors, green and blue absent, grey and black forthcoming. A storm was brewing, and with it, was Philip's redemption. He stood up and took a look around at this new world of bright storm clouds and black earth.
Commotion in the Sky,
clouds clashing, Asundered Heavens,
The STORM HARVESTER Approaches....