Lara T.

The Philosopher

 From birth, it seemed Brighton had been destined for more than he was offered. It wasn’t that he didn’t work hard, but there was an easiness to his effort that was as infuriating as it was indecipherable. Brighton could count the academic questions that had stumped him over the years on one hand, but he couldn’t touch how many nights he’d spent trying to figure out what his life meant. It seemed like restlessness had replaced the blood in his veins, and as he watched evening fade to dusk which faded to sunrise, Brighton wondered how far away satisfaction really was. Why was he here? Why was anyone?

Days passed, suns and moons set and rose over Brighton as he wandered curiously out into the world. Majoring in philosophy at the best of the universities, Brighton found city life and city people leaving thumbprints of influence on him as he struggled to get a hand on his desires. People came and went, events occurred and faded into memory- but nothing felt permanent. Surely, somewhere was the moment where life froze into a solid frame Brighton could step into and understand

After graduating, Brighton hit the road. He met people constantly, but ultimately ended up leaving alone. He had an inner intensity that seemed to make people livid. No matter what they tried, he always wanted more, expected better. Brighton didn’t mind. He knew true friends would have stayed. A fulfilling life came with the constant shadows of friends, and, of course, love.

Brighton tumbled into a beach city, where the streets pumped vivacity and pulsed with the lively chatter of curious young adults unsure of the world and their place in it. He thrived on the constant flow of ideas, reveled in the casual atmospheres of discussion. New friends circled like a carousel around him, with girlfriends who seemed to jump on and leave for flashier attractions in heartbeats. But somewhere in this chaos came clarity- the louder the noise, the more silent and reflective Brighton’s mind became.

The excitement over the imminent lecture of The Philosopher, the man who redefined classical and modern thought, tipped Brighton’s world upside-down. He sat front and center at the lecture, absorbing The Philosopher’s discussions. “We all dream of other lives, I suppose. We all want to live a thousand existences during our time here. But we can’t, can we?”[1] Brighton reveled in the words so much he didn’t see her hand shoot up. “But Sir,” the girl asked, eyebrows narrowed in concentration but brown eyes alight, “isn’t one existence enough?”

It was an interesting point but it was only a pinprick in a galaxy of shooting stars filling Brighton’s mind as he sat in a local café after. He took a cautious sip of coffee and noticed the girl. She was pretty enough, and for a moment he even considered going over and talking to her. Across the room, she recognized Brighton. He was uniquely beautiful- his face constructed of angles, but at the same time smooth. Against more rational judgment, she took the seat next to his.

Her name was Kayleigh. They talked until the ice in the latte had melted with many of their inhibitions. He wrote her number on a napkin, she wrote his on her arm. He lingered in the café and watched her run across the street to the ‘DON’T WALK’ sign. It was Kayleigh who called, and as the night reincarnated to sunrise the conversation hadn’t died.

A year later they were still together, relationship defying definition. Brighton had scraps of paper he called a novel, and Kayleigh moved with him to a beachside house away from the city. They’d pass nights under the sky, talking and watching the waves. Years later, Brighton published his first book, Kayleigh celebrating with him. That same night, Brighton trashed every word he’d written and brought up new thoughts, Kayleigh next to him listening.

She laughed easily, he was hardly satisfied. She’d slam the door, but he won the arguments. Somehow the strings of laughter managed to keep all the fights from breaking them apart. Their bohemian existence was abusively cavalier, but it was theirs. Standing under midnight, Kayleigh looked up at Brighton and told him she loved him.

Brighton was surprised at how dissonant it sounded. Love wasn’t something they’d ever said seriously to each other. Brighton looked back at their time together, how simple it seemed, and told Kayleigh he didn’t love her back.

She stared at him, eyes disbelieving and yet unsurprised. A million thoughts were visibly racing through her mind but none made it to her lips. He boxed up her things the next day and dropped them off in town. She wasn’t coming back for them.

He wandered along the beach, questioning, like he always had. More books were published, and he detested them all. He began lecturing, discussing philosophy globally. After awhile the lines of critical acclaim numbered the same as the lines on Brighton’s face. They called him an enlightened genius, a flawless testament to philosophy; hailed him for his unwavering dedication to the search for truth.

Age crept up on Brighton as the surf crept up the sand. He was old and he knew it and he was tired. What was the key to a satisfactory life? The sun was setting and the stormy gray waves were coming together when it hit him. Had the boy whose eyes were so desperately been peeled for truth so blindly walked by it? In his own determination for perfection, he’d pushed it away. And Kayleigh. It had been real, hadn’t it? He’d loved her and hadn’t even realized they’d had the love he always saw himself having. Brighton began to realize in his fervent search for the perfect life, he hadn’t really lived at all.

Brighton’s eyes stared blankly at the unforgiving sea. The sun had dipped beneath the horizon now, the tide was waltzing backwards, and the restless philosopher was still.

[1] Lehane, Dennis. Darkness, Take My Hand. 1996. N.p.: William Morrow & Company,


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