First Reads: The Impermanence Of Lilies

A melancholic tribute to the nature of life and a yearning for love, in a story that reaches across lifetimes, borders, and the space between two hearts. This is an excerpt from The Impermanence Of Lilies by Daniel Yeo

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We are always searching.

Searching for something we cannot voice. Something we cannot share. Knowing what we are searching for, only after we have found it. Sometimes, it goes around, fleeting out of reach. Sometimes, it comes to us, finding us, instead of us finding it. It finds us at a time we could not have known, a place we could not have seen.

We never find things where we seek. Life is far too wily, and wondrous for that. The world is full of wrong times, and wrong places. Once in a while, in many moons, they lead to one right time, at one right place. I wonder what they seek. Those visitors who come through the wrought iron gates of Beacon Park. Under the gloomy shadows cast by the morose, unyielding clouds that paint the skies and days a special shade of grey. Those who walk over the fallen bodies of leaves slain by the seasons. Who enter the home to memories of people long lived and dead. People who took their earthly bodies to their graves,  but left their stories for those to come.

This home to spirits, a statue, and its ghost.

I wonder if they come filled with a distant curiosity. Like the way we are drawn to a crowd and its commotion, and then scurry away when we find only the commonplace. Is the past a circus animal, to be forever flogged for the amusement of spectators?

Do they come with a longing for a time long gone? Some other time when the sun always shone, the grass always grew green and tall, and colours always danced in our eyes and in our souls. A yearning for things not there, seen through a mist and then remembered forever.

Or do they long for a person long gone and yet still in their hearts? A person they knew and loved, and still know and love. Because a person can exist in different ways, that are sometimes even stronger ways.

Shying away in the western end of the park gardens is a Staffordshire man. He stands upon a pedestal of Cornish granite, yet braves the determined battering of wind and rain, enduring the indignities of callous birds. Flesh and bone now bronze and rust, he scans the horizon as he so often used to do.

Beneath him the words:
COMMANDER
EDWARD JOHN SMITH, RD, RNR
BORN JANUARY 27 1850 DIED APRIL 1912
BEQUEATHING TO HIS COUNTRYMEN
THE MEMORY & EXAMPLE OF A GREAT HEART
A BRAVE LIFE AND A HEROIC DEATH

 

At him they peer, sometimes alone, sometimes not. Those wanderers to whom this monument is simply another mark, on another map. Disinterested children with disinterested parents who are struggling to impart an absent interest. All of them looking forward to moving on to the next thing they can then look away from. They drop in their dribs and drabs in the random days of the year.

 

I have been told there is a solitary figure. On the dawn of the day of winter giving way to spring, the figure comes with a simple easel, a modest canvas, a trifling palette, and a small wooden box of brushes and colours. She paints, and having done so, waits as though waiting for a memory to pass.

Or perhaps to come.

Only she knows, looking on the statue’s stoic face. On the statue’s squint eyes, stern countenance, and crossed arms.

I never knew I looked like that.

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About the author

Daniel Yeo has always been obsessed about the deeper meaning of things, and finding the threads that run through them. He expresses those discoveries through words. In the daytime, he writes for a living. In the nighttime, he writes to live. He writes fiction so there may be some truth to his words. He studied Mass Communications at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. 

The Impermanence of Lilies is his first novel.

Take a look at his book here!

 

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