By Alex R. Encomienda

Sometimes life told stories in strange cases and the complexity of its subject was overlooked despite the story having a solid underlying meaning. It was no wonder why so many philosophers died during an age where things should have made sense by then. The undertow of dark matters was shaped as a hexagon, Ariel’s father Shire used to say. It had odd corners that stuck out just when things were going smoothly on the other side. And then there were people who were milligrams and faces that were mirrors because of the two faces that came from them.

Of course there were odds and evens and infinites and finites, dimes and nickels (who he referred to as other boys) and even Stevens who were odd Todds. There was a countless amount of geometry patterns in the world that it was just so hard to figure all of them out and relate to them so Ariel’s father decided to call them people and places. It was so much simpler to put numbers on people and say “Oh there goes so and so again!” but to be quite frank, it just wasn’t the truth. There were not enough numbers one can say without getting lost and not enough shapes and patterns to place people in because they were so diverse. He never noticed how many people suffered from stigmatizing disorders such as pyromania, necrophilia and even dendrophobia. Where did they belong in the geometry world anyway?

But there was no need to point out all the faults in people and all the bridges and gaps between mothers and sons, fathers and daughters and everything in between. There was just being alive and well and apparently for Shire, that was not enough. He was so adamant about keeping up with the patterns in life and seeing whether the same thing that happened at the market two years ago would happen again today because he parked in the same parking lot. It was driving him to an early stage of insanity!

But late at night when all the stars were out and all the sleeping people were tucked away and safe from harm, judgment and chaos; he gazed deeply at the infinite space and saw a pattern within the stars. He was never any good at putting together the pieces on a puzzle or riddling a riddle to another, but what he saw was infinity. It existed alright, and it was ever so distant he could not imagine the years it would take to journey even to the closest star and back. He was glaring at eternity, the blackest hole within a memory. Eternity existed because if one person thought about it and knew it was there and believed in it, how could it not exist?

Just as if a person is sleepy and yearning to rest his eyes, sleep must exist. Well if Shire hoped and dreamed in all of his years that he could rocket through space and journey through infinity, who’s to tell him it never existed?

Shire wanted to believe that things are just there and without a reason. He wanted to believe in time and ninety five years (or however long it took him to croak) but after such a time bewildered with eternity, he was unable to. People are not born with a configuration of genetics and places are not built because one man decided that the grass was greener on the other side; there was a reason for things to be and there was an endless cycle called existence coined by the geometer of life known as God. Shire could have sworn he knew who he was his entire thirty five years and he could have sworn he’d seen every kind of person out there with only a little swap in genetic traits and personalities until he created Ariel Veronica. That was a day worth keeping in the stars and he never forgot the wonder he felt in his mind after finding out it was a baby girl he was having with his wife.   If he could only keep that feeling trapped in a box just long enough until he passes, he would be just fine with that. He would treasure it with everything he had; his bliss and his thoughts.

One year after Ariel was born, Shire’s wife crossed over. She was expecting it somehow but he could not expect something so horrible to occur out of nowhere. He was afraid he would never come to terms with it afterwards and there were many times he was sure he could not go on but he did. Ariel was growing quickly and sadly, life goes on. He did get over her death and came to terms. It was not an easy few years at all but it helped him to appreciate even his most distant loved ones. That happens in life just as other ordeals do- they come and go as they please; and so did his wife.

They were not married too long before Ariel was born but they were not very intimate with each other either. Shire was too much of a thinker to ever enjoy romance. He would fret over this and fret over that; blow things out of proportion and jump to conclusions. Eh, he was a drifter. He could say his wife was as well but only to an extent because in all honesty, he was too much of a weirdo to be cooler than his wife; and she was the easiest going most down to earth woman he had ever met (which was not very much).

Shire lived with Ariel in Nova Scotia, Canada. It was such a cold little town that hardly any visitors came to and all of the markets and shops were of friendly faces and although things became quite repetitive quickly, he would never like to move anywhere else. He became fully accustomed to his quiet life that he could not see the pleasures people got out of living in the city. Although, he did admire the city folks’ rainy days and heard about the calming showers they had during winter seasons. Rain, rain upon the streets of New York.

On the week days, Ariel was home schooled in their humble little house in the center of greens. Her teacher, Mr. Josephs had quite an eye for her and often complimented her. He was the nicest man there could have been in Nova Scotia. He often catered to Shire’s odd schedule as a mathematician. Mr. Josephs was occasionally called Mr. Alligator Man because there was one time during June where a rainstorm caused their power to go out and while Josephs was there, he could not tutor Ariel properly so the three of them went into the television room and told stories. Josephs told a story about the time he fought an alligator to save his messenger (which he never did clarify its contents) and surprisingly won. Although Ariel was somewhat suspicious that it was not true, it remains a mystery if it was or not. Also, Shire was just curious about what was so important in his messenger that he needed to fight an alligator for it. Perhaps Mr. Josephs should be called Mr. Mystery Man.

Usually, Ariel would simply nod off to sleep when she became tiresome and Mr. Josephs would have a good laugh with Shire about music and other entertainments in the dining room and afterwards, Shire was left in silent tranquility to think about the plans for the weekend.

The weekend was such a hurray for Ariel (as if she did not have enough indulgences) but for Shire, it meant more time to lesson her on the maths of this world- and nobody hated math more than Ariel. She was just not good enough at it, or so she thought; and she was very slow at the problems she did happen to know the answers to. When Shire would walk into the television room with a stack of flash cards, she would complain of a stomach ache just to avoid his lectures. He honestly didn’t know what was so difficult about simple math and why Ariel disliked it so much. He wondered if she picked up the distaste for it from a relative but he recalled his own parents loving the subject.

It would rain very often during the autumn days and Ariel had her favorite coat that was also the cheapest and it was made of corduroy. Every day when she skipped along the small driveway of their northeastern home, Shire would wake up and peak outside, seeing her thin little body charming a dark brown corduroy coat that was missing a button and once in a while, she would not be skipping but she would be jump roping. He would giggle and say to himself, “poor girl” because she was always holed up inside with him and he can imagine how boring it must be at times.

Ariel always wondered why Shire was so adamant on teaching her “stupid” math. She understood that five was equal to three doves and two birds and that two could not add up without joining together to make three. She understood quite a lot more than he thought and she might have been convinced at times that she knew things he didn’t know. But she was still curious about his own time and his own hobbies. When he wasn’t enjoying those god awful bottles of cheap liquor outside and helping her with her jammies, playing little sue with her and watching films in the television room, what was he doing?

It was funny to think, but when she was a bit younger she always thought her father was also the father of other little girls and when he put her to bed, he would spend time with his other daughters. But that was silly because how can he leave and come back so fast? He wasn’t a ninja or a ghost!

When she got over that ludicrous idea, she started to sneak into his bed because she would always fear that a flood would occur and wash away their house and since she was in another bed in her own room, she’ll lose her father in the flood and have to find her own way to safety and she could not even swim. During those peaceful trips to his room though, she would feel soft and light, as if something carried her to her father. She would think it was her mother, the woman of muteness whom she never got to meet. The tales Shire would tell about her mother would soften her heart because at the end, he said to her, “You look just like her and you talk just like her because a part of her is inside of you; but don’t think too much about it or else you’ll forget to be yourself.”

Ariel was something of a mystery to her extended family, whom she was never quite fond of; but she was actually just very bashful. A certain aunt always remarked about her silence and once assumed that the child had selective mutism. Ariel was mostly aware of these terms and these comments but then someone would bring her a plate of macaroni and cheese and a glass of her favorite lemonade and she was content with her silence. After all, she was being herself regardless of what others said.

Years passed by and Ariel grew to be thirteen years old. The sentiments and curiosities she embodied vanished through the years and Shire noticed that all of her interests had changed as well. What once captured her attention was now but a speck in the dirt to her and he was unsure how he felt about her growing up. As a father, he felt obligated to teach her something- anything; even if it was merely how to strap on her bra or how to buy a house. As long as he knew she was growing into the world and the world was not growing in her. There were an awful lot of tragedies in town lately and it saddened Shire because he was only a single father and who would ever listen to him?

He knew the Parker family around the corner well enough and invited them over for dinner once. The man who lived there identified with his situation as a single father and for months the two shared somewhat of a friendship over beers and laughs but something must have happened between them because he was seeing less and less of the man. It was only last month he found out the man was going through an existential crisis and needed someone to medicate him. Shire knew the man was just too hard headed to listen to his lectures so he left him alone; but doesn’t everyone go through a similar crisis at one point in their life? He knew he went through his own years ago when he lost his Fiona.

The memories Shire had with his wife were bittersweet; bitter of her loss and sweetened by her memory. There were times when Shire did not quite feel like Shire but instead he felt like a fossil of himself. Those were also the times when, in his mathematics, he discovered sacred geometry. The spiral of a buttercup always matched a certain number and just like the stars in a pattern; they matched a certain flower. Perhaps, in his mind things do happen for a reason and that same reason might be why buttercups and daisies all share the same enigmatic pattern. 

One day after Ariel was upset with him for God knows what (There was always something), he walked the tiny steps down to the cellar and noticed how serene the scent was; wooden aromas with an antique- like quality flew through his nostrils and there he made a plan to turn the cellar into their second living room. It was much too snug not to spend hours in so he bought a couch and a mahogany table that could fit an entire family and turned its lonesomeness into a liveliness of a bear and his cub.

The wine cellar was filled with such beauty; old and yet so subtle. It was definitely the subtleness that seemed so beautiful. Oftentimes, he would ask Ariel if he can take a few pictures of her down there so he could send them to extended family but once she was stung by a hornet that was trapped in the windowpane so she did not go down there anymore.

There were several cases where her demeanor changed; when she was ill, when Shire was gone and when she was content. She did not express herself like other little girls would; not even when she was cramping!

Wintertime was their favorite besides spring because in one week they could fit in things they would not do in ten weeks during summer. Ariel would always love to pull out her winter garments and snow boots as it sure did snow like there was no tomorrow. She remembered when she first saw the white piles on her grass she was afraid to touch it and kept screaming, “It’s the end of the world!”

Shire had built a little tree house for Ariel that same year and it was a sturdy piece of work. The heaps of snow piled on it until the nails became weak. Ariel was sad to see it weaken so one Saturday morning, Shire pulled his lazy bum off the sofa and made some little adjustments to it.

When Ariel woke up and peaked her little teddy bear face out the window he recalled a very happy little girl. Her face lit up with a joyous expression that almost made him teary eyed so he picked her up, twirled her around and kissed her all up saying, “Let me see happy!”

She then gave the widest smile and jumped up and down in glee.

That night, they decided to camp out in the tree house and read tall tales from Mother Goose’s Library. He let her wear her mother’s furry navy blanket and cozied up with her all throughout the night.

Nowadays, she was not very interested in the tree house. It aged without her interest; collecting dirt and cobwebs all by its lonesome. She was more intrigued by what was on television then what was going on outside. Even the way she gave her answers had a different tone; she was serious and wordy now. Though, she was still homeschooled- Mr. Josephs was no longer her teacher.
Instead, she had the bland and bald Mr. Edwards. Oftentimes, she would pretend to feel sick so the man could go away and later, Shire would see her talking on the telephone to friends from a few blocks away.

After supper one day, he drove her to see a friend behind the beautiful row of willows. It was the middle of December and it was quite cold at night.

“Just a few hours, alright. I have to be in bed early tonight so I can’t be gallivanting all over town for you,” he said.

She smiled at him a forgivable little face and threw on her coat shouting, “I love you!”

He returned home just in time to see his favorite comedy marathon so he prepared himself some leftovers and grabbed a cold beer from the fridge but he felt very lonely without Ariel so he phoned her and she did not answer. He figured that she was probably having fun with her friend so he left her alone for a few hours. What sort of trouble can two teenage girls get in during such a cold night anyways?

He fell asleep for what felt like fifteen minutes and woke up to a phone call. He peered at the carriage clock on the lamp stand and realized two more hours passed.

“Hello?” he answered.

“Is this Ariel’s father?” asked the woman on the other line.

“Yes, I’m sorry I had fallen asleep. Is she ready for me to come and get her?”

“Your daughter stabbed my daughter with a pencil and ran off,” the woman stammered.

Shire remembered feeling such guilt and hurried to go find his little girl. He drove up and down every street in the neighborhood twice and was beginning to worry when he saw a thin figure walking along a moonlit street underneath huge camphoras. He drove beside her and honked the horn and she looked at him with a grieving look on her face. It was a look he wished he could just erase with a funny joke or a magic trick but she was not a child anymore. Even her presence felt different beside him during the silent drive home.

When Ariel was fifteen she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Shire remembered spending the entire day in the bathroom crying and asking, “Why my child? Why my little Ariel?”

After Ariel found out she was going to stay three days in a behavioral health clinic she gave Shire a great big hug and squeezed him with all of her might. Those were the most difficult three days Shire had ever experienced. He remembered pondering through the house void of all liveliness and comfort. He took long showers and even drank wine from the bottle while showering which he never did before. Each day however, he would phone the clinic and listen to updates on his daughter’s behavior. On the third day, he went to go pick her up. One doctor said she had an outburst on the second day after he called the clinic so they gave him two containers for her mood changes and Shire believed that they caused some kind of bad omen to Ariel because afterwards, she did have sudden mood swings. Most of them were out of frustration and others were because she simply wanted things her way like at the pizza parlor, the schoolyard and at the grocery store.

Living with Ariel became somewhat tiresome after two years. His efforts to make her happy while being content himself were futile; she was like stone at the dinner table and occasionally in the living room. Of course there was a smile on her face every once in a while but those were on such rainy days when the two only had each other. There was a certain comfort in being solemn; he understood depression too well. At one point between walking from the bathroom and resting  on the bed he caught a slight feeling he remembered from sometime back. He thought that he may have been going through what Ariel is going through in a different way but then it fled him; she was going through something entirely different.

On Christmas day however, Shire met Ariel’s other side he had not seen in such a long while. Ariel made him a Christmas list at the beginning of December and her number one was a chubby bunny rabbit she named Mrs. Bunny. She was the cutest, fluffiest cottontail around and she was so curious and adamant to be with Ariel. The rain hadn’t stopped pouring and the skies never stopped roaring thunder but it was a good day. Ariel almost looked like her mother that day when she was sitting across Shire at the table. She had the fleshy cheeks like her mother had and her smile made her eyes the shape of a sideways teardrop. It almost looked as if she was happier than before actually.

“Are you happy with what I got you for Christmas?” Shire asked.

Ariel nodded, “The happiest!”

After dinner, Shire cleaned up the wrapping paper from the floor and found a small square shaped present nestled safely under the tree.

“Ariel! You forgot to open this one,” he said.

She glanced at him quickly and then scurried to open it up. As she did so, he tried remembering what he got her and just as he thought of the word; diary, there was a small chocolate colored pamphlet in Ariel’s hands. She looked slightly confused at first but then looked at Shire with a smile, “It’s beautiful! What should I write in it?”

He made her morning, he made her afternoon and gave her such a happy little face; he could not ruin it with cluelessness so he improvised.

“You could be a writer. Write whatever you want whenever you want and perhaps someday when you’re ready; the world can read it,” he said.

Ariel continued smiling and said, “I know what I’m going to do. I’ll write about my life; our life.”

Shire felt her warmth and drew a sigh, “That’s a perfect idea.”

That night as she fell asleep on the living room sofa he threw a drab colored quilt over her and saw her diary sitting on top of the marbled table. He picked it up and opened the first page and read her words; This is the beginning. He noticed it did not have a title though and every story deserved a title so he added at the top of the pamphlet, Sacred Geometry for Ariel V.

Seven years have passed by and Ariel was twenty four. She would devote a certain amount of time to write her day’s thoughts and sentiments in the pamphlet. Shire died of curiosity a few times but he promised Ariel he would not read it as it was her close therapist. Sometimes he peaked at her pages as she sat beside him while watching television and he saw words; Dad and I, happy, sad, night, morning and love.

During a rare monsoon one night, Ariel was sick so he followed her upstairs and she slept with a grey plastic tub beside her in case she lost her dinner. The pamphlet was downstairs on the dining room table and Shire was feeling very curious so he thought that perhaps since he gave the pamphlet to Ariel as a gift she would not be so bothered if he read one little page. He convinced himself that it was not such a big deal and began to read with eager eyes:

     Dear Diary,
     Today started off as a good day. Me and my dad went to the grocery store and came back to eat pasta and salad. I felt very good all day and I didn’t even think about sadness. When I was watching television after dinner though I saw someone getting married on a show. I wish that someday I could find someone to marry me but I can’t talk to people. If I can’t talk to people then how can I marry someone? I felt hopeless after that so I went to bed and cried. Hopefully tomorrow is a better day.

Shire felt culpable; regretful so he closed the booklet and put it back in its place.

Ariel was not the quietest amongst him and he recalled her being somewhat playful with her teachers (at least her favorites) but he wondered if she would ever speak to someone that was not in the family. Will she ever talk to a boy? He wondered about her thoughts and wished that he could invite her to a pillow fight like when she was younger but she has grown up and things were now glum and dismal. For the rest of that night, Shire thought about Ariel’s health and happiness and began thinking about certain shapes to match her feelings with to understand her better but it was to no avail. There were no shapes he could relate her to except a diamond because she was complicated and difficult to figure out as diamonds don’t have just one degree. Perhaps thirteen, forty two or a hundred and seven! In that case, Ariel had a hundred degrees of inner turbulence.

Mrs. Bunny was Ariel’s happiness for the longest time and Ariel never grew tired of toying with her furry friend. As Ariel grew, Mrs. Bunny grew as well; chubbier and fluffier with every year. Shire was aging too but he was in some kind of despond; he developed a mass in his heart that he had been inspecting for quite some time and recently he was told he needed surgery.

Ariel came into his room one night to show him Mrs. Bunny’s cute habits but she noticed Shire was not his usual self. When he explained his situation to her, she took it the wrong way. Ariel was always the sensitive one (as was her mother) and it took quite a while to get her back in that comfort space but eventually she calmed down with a flush in her cheeks.

“Listen, love; everything happens for a reason. I’m going to be alright. That’s probably why I caught it just in time. Did I ever share with you my story about the frog and its tadpole?”

“Yes, dad, you told me that story a hundred times,” Ariel replied softly.

“Hmm, what about the sun, moon and stars?” he asked.

Ariel nodded, “Yes.”

Shire mumbled to himself and Ariel examined his face to see if there was any pain in him but to her surprise, she found quite the opposite; pleasure. It was Shire’s soft eyes or the look of longevity in his face. Perhaps, it was her in his eyes.

“Have I ever told you the one about the octahedron?”

“Oh, please not this again,” she replied.

“Just listen, Ariel. There was an octahedron that grew up being told it was just an octahedron because people didn’t understand its complexity. As more and more people began to understand this octahedron, they saw that it was also a duel polyhedron of a cube. Then many years passed and people began to see that it was also a bipyramid and an antiprism. Once the modern ages came, the octahedron realized it was more than it thought it was and began to live without the fear of not knowing where it belonged,” he explained.

He looked up and saw Ariel’s flushed face pondering over the story. She gave a sniffle and wiped her face and then she said, “I don’t understand it, dad.”

He smiled softly and kissed her forehead saying, “You’ll understand it soon enough, love.”

Six years fell off of the home’s Precious Moments calendar. Ariel woke up to a world of odds and evens, infinites and finites and dimes and nickels (who were even Stevens and odd Todds). She stood tall and upright bearing a body of sacred notes and quotes locked up in her sacred chest where memories of a father and daughter slept. Charming a velvet corduroy coat and a face of complexity, she looked at pictures of Mrs. Bunny and herself at an earlier age, a picture of her and Shire at the park when she was seven years old and another picture of Shire framed with golden charm; blissful and eternal. She admired it with soft eyes; adamant and deep before she stroked the picture and smiled. Ariel grabbed her house key and walked to work while looking at the sky’s blue and white. She wondered what she was going to eat for lunch.


About the Author:

Alex R. Encomienda is an author of fiction and poetry. He began writing at age nine and since then attended writing workshop classes, lecture classes and journalism classes taught by established authors. Alex has been featured in The Opiate magazine, Claudius Speaks and Kaaterskill Basin amongst other journals.