…and though the world fell all about like tarnished snowflakes shaved from an iron sky, I walked on. My father’s words rang through my ears in those moments, loud and true. How, when he’d lain there on his deathbed with nothing, having been nothing, having proven nothing, he’d still dared to influence my butterfly future. He’d pursed his lips together as though having eaten a lemon, his eyes squinting, and hissed, “Make do, son. It’s all you’re good for.” I’d closed his curtains and walked away. I never stopped.
…there was a truth in the recalled memory, but not my own. Mankind had made do and then panicked when realising themselves having stagnated. I, on the other hand, would never stagnate, for light always reaches the horizon, and then the next, and then another, until finally touching the shore. I would break upon hers, even if I walked through a thousand such chaotic nightmares. What other choice had I? That’s what lost souls were for.
A thin veil of mist delays the dawn. The stars sense it, blazing a trillion semi-permanent goodbyes. Glitter applied to the night, a decorative destiny, the bats fly higher as the swallows awaken, but neither feels fulfilled. A familiar feeling, one I’ve known far too long.
I love these moments, these hints of the beyond. My own private purgatory without having to suffer the indignity of demise, I inhale the damp air, laugh as it laps at my lungs, imagine the soil above me. Somewhere, a barren soul remains as arid as ever.
The spiders have the right idea, hanging their nets to capture the moment. They toil in relentless circles, the dew doing nothing to dampen their spirits. If spiders have spirits, that is? I really ought to know.
A blood-red sun emerges like a sliced tomato atop a decaying salad. This distant giant pulses through the clouds, pours through the mists and fruits in tangerine as a dispelled dawn. My grey nowhere is gone.
I hide in the shadow of an ancient oak. Well, ancient compared to most, anyway. Here, where night’s shawl lingers in a cool kiss, I observe the sparkling gold between the leaves. Like drifting embers, I think. Like the world’s burning. But burning isn’t my job. Never has been. That’s for someone else entirely.
The first arrives later than usual after most people have had their coffees and lunch. She is followed by more, a steady procession of once life. I greet them with a sickle smile and a hollow hello. This is the best I can muster. I try, though. Really, I do.
The rest of the daylight hours are busy, bordering on suicidal. I manage them as I always have, with grim determination.
There is no respite at night, if anything, it’s worse. It’s like they await obsidian in the same way I do grey, intensifying their efforts at self-persecution, war, murder, capitulation. But who am I to judge, as that’s the job of another. Who am I? Yet, I do. This is what they’ve made me. Me! This is what I’ve become.
Dawn, and all is still. I breathe in every peaceful moment whilst the night dwellers tuck themselves in to sleep and the day roamers rub their eyes. I wish I could stay here forever, stood between the sun and the stars.
The tears pool in my amphitheatre caverns.
I am the one you all must meet. I am the darkness glimpsed through the mist. If you hear me, you’re elsewhere. If you see me, you’ve arrived. I will welcome you as best I can, but the truth is, I couldn’t care less.
Lost in moonlit moments, we walked along the creaking pier, as wicked surf stripped the ancient wood of yesteryear’s memories. “We’re ocean bound,” I called to a nosey seagull. He cawed a warning, one we chose to ignore. We held each other as we drowned, no longer lost, just smiling.
Lands are divided by borders, some obvious, others not. Whether lines on a map or cracks in the earth, borders separate. Add war into this equation, and ours was wider than most.
She stood waiting with the others, wearing the same desperate expression they all wore. Families removed from each other. Children unstitched from their parents. Soulmates lost to limbo.
They lifted the rope at the agreed upon time, Lissette and the other refugees pouring forth like an unblocked drain. How could the bridge hold them? But it did. It was their replacing the rope that made us both cry.
She had no status, no place in this world. She barely had a life. Then again, neither did I.
We met one Easter morning and had married by tea in an unorthodox ceremony involving a stray cat who fussed our feet like catnip. It then peed on the floor. We laughed like hyenas. The pastor didn’t. The next day became our anniversary, and the next, and the next. Not a great legacy but something. We all must have something.
We left the city for the coast on an empty bus, a move in direct opposition to the latest trends, and got off at the last stop because the driver made us. He smiled as he did so like a man in the know.
We found a tiny house with a bed, a toilet, a door, and a view. This was all we required. This and each other.
It began soon after.
She forgot my name by Halloween and my face by Christmas. My voice went last. Perhaps it reassured her? A somnambulist by day, worse still by night, she wandered. I wandered with her when I could. It was only a matter of time.
New Year’s Day. I found her mangled body upon the rocky shore. She’d stepped from the cliffs as though them our lawn, whilst the sea fret tickled her eyelids and vindictive gulls egged her on. I was sad, but not inconsolable.
I buried her deeper than I ought, marking her grave with a simple cross of two bound sticks. There, I scratched the message: To My beloved Wife.
Later, when malicious gossip made the pastor aware of my situation, he visited one gloomy afternoon.
“It’s untitled, anonymous!” he exclaimed.
“What is?” I replied.
“Her grave, man. Her grave!”
“As was she.”
“Because she had no name?” he ventured, calming at my obvious heartbreak.
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