The summer was bright and colourful, as my summers had once been bright and colourful. Once, my rainbow of iridescence had curved over my heart, burying itself deep in the soft tissue and pooling in pots of liquid gold. Then, the rainbows had faded, extinguished, trapped out by the grey dismal clouds I had wrapped about myself. Suddenly, now, the clouds had parted and a ray of yellow sunshine shone down on the dark land. Shani's light was warming my soul, bringing it back to peace and chastity.
We played pool each Saturday, Shani, Clara, my parents and I, and I must say that I improved a great deal, great enough to beat them all once in a while - but I could not, try as I did, beat the sunshine at her own game. I was happy - so happy - but I had not the childlike trust in happiness that Shani delighted in. I searched and I searched, but I could not discover the ability to find unconditional laughter at all things in my heart.
Then one evening, a dark evening that seemed to brood and loom like the remembrance of an old nightmare, I felt my feet stir and head towards the coast.
What was I thinking as I sat on the sea wall, my eyes locking on the ever-changing motion of the waves? Soon I was bobbing and swaying with the tide, and moody with the navy isolation of the moment.
Shani had left Delaware the previous day. I popped in at her house early in the morning to see her off, receive a last eager hug and a final keen peck on the cheek. I enjoyed my affectionate intimacy with Shani - I really did. I regret it now, for I am a hypocrite and a monster, I see, but what teenage boy doesn't feel a thrill at the sincere admiration in the eyes of an adoring girl? I was no exception. I enjoyed every gesture.
So I was thinking of Shani. But as I stared across the rolling waves, the vast Atlantic, I was also thinking of Deanna Macpherson. It was all flaxen slides of sunshine over in America - but the fantastically dark cascade was over there in England, still. Nothing had changed. I was gone, but the rain was still there, the sharp corners and the squelch of mud.
As I mused, the rain seemed to bore down from England, tiny silver darts, each a dagger to my mood, an arrow well-aimed. The rain had finally caught up with me.
No way! I thought. This is Delaware! You can't be sad again! I thought you were past all that, Den O'Derron! I thought you'd finally learned to recognise your emotions and deal with them!
I have, my other self replied with a timeless tone.
Why aren't you, then, eh? I thought.
Okay, my stubborn side said, making a quick decision.
Lifting the corners of my mouth, I let myself smile, and as I raised my head to the raindrops, I felt a great sense of honesty and celebration in the cool chill. How wonderful to be out in such a storm! The beauties of nature - and I alone in it, but one with it. I was independent; I was enduring; I was blissfully uncivilised! The true joyousness of a naturally happy existence. I erupted in a wide grin of joy and teeth.
And then I realised how easy it had been to convert my mood. How easy it was to choose how I was to feel. My automatic reaction to the rain had been depression, to slips into the throes of despair and remain bleak and disconsolate. But I could just as easily smile and feel mirthful for an indistinct but unpeturbedly solid reason.
What does that mean? I thought.
Well, it means that I can choose what I want to feel and who I want to be. The first reaction is not always the most effective one, but when an emotion is well-chosen, it is as true and clarion as the blue sky on a clear day.