Alchemist (December 2015)

At some point, cheating death gets very boring.

It starts as a rush, a spectacle. A high that lifts you then drops you and you love the pain. In the beginning, you have so much to give away. Things seem so worthless when staring into the face of immortality, when the whole world is yours to have if you sacrifice some here and there. Then again you’ll give up your sight too later. It’s worth at least twenty years if it’s clear enough. You’ll count those years like they mean something, like value is something you could ever understand after trading away everything you were given just for time.

Five more years, five more hours, five more minutes, five more seconds.

If you hadn’t given up your memories, maybe you’d remember you wanted this. Outlasting everyone else. Conquering death while those around you dropped to it. If you still had your emotions, maybe you’d care. Maybe you’d regret it. Maybe you’d cry those tears you threw away. Maybe you’d laugh and laugh and laugh because all the precious time you collected was just a waste of time.

Ifs don’t matter. Now all you’ve got is a soul. One last thing you can trade. The only card left in your deck. It didn’t take long to tire of an existence of all those hoarded years. You’re not attached to them just like everything else.

What can please you?

Something new

You/your soul is a distant dream unraveled and disseminated into particles. The concept of you is erased, in place of a new existence defined as…

 

 

Bubbles drift overhead, floating higher and higher until they burst and disappear. Suspended in the middle of a cerulean blue world, uninterrupted, the feeling of wetness subsides into nothingness like the void of the universe.

No one’s explored the vast ocean like this, discovered every detail, every creature, the murky depths unveiled for lifeless, scattered particles of a once intact soul, a once so-long-ago whole person.

Sinking underwater, drifting over coral, scraping and cutting but satisfying an itch, an inkling to be something

alive again

Something new

            Scattered, infinite stars, galaxies that expand further than any of the thousand particles can reach

Something new

Bright, hot liquid shelled in the center of the earth, unreachable

Fewer particles remain.

Something new

Would it be more of achievement to know all the universe’s secrets, to be grander than God? Is that what comes next?

Just one particle left.

This is it.

Something new

What do you mean this is boring?

Something new

There’s nothing new.

Something

There’s nothing.

START OVER?

#

At some point, cheating Death gets very boring. So I didn’t. I walked with him when he offered out his hand and it was warm. I didn’t ask where we were going as long as it was somewhere I’d never been.

Something new

We kept walking until we reached a cliff. He looked down then I looked down. The bottom was impossible to make out but clearly something was down there. He put a hand on my back and led me closer to the edge. He waited with his hand nestled there until I jumped on my own.

Something new

            I wish I’d said goodbye. I debate whether I should regret not saying it or let it go while I’m carried down. Everything’s dark and quiet except I could swear I hear him still above me breathing. I feel the shape of each of his fingers.

Something new

            I land on my feet. I see someone lying on the ground and lie with them and we stare up into the dark. Maybe they’re waiting for someone else to lie down too, but I’m content with it being only us. We don’t talk, but to fill the silence, they hum and it echoes around us. I close my eyes

Something new

            and wake up surrounded by hundreds of mirrors angled so that there are thousands of me staring back at me. I sit up and meet each me’s eyes one set at a time, slowly. I reach the last pair. All of the mirrors fall to pieces. Light bounces off the scattered fragments and makes everything glitter. I see it outlined on my skin.

Something new

            I’ll stay here a while.

 

 

 

Forest Walk (November 2015)

Howling, screeching, scratching drown out the thumps of a heart locked away behind a heaving chest. Drops of light slide down from her bare toes to the forest floor, illuminating broken leaves, dirt, bugs. She smudges the light on the soles of her feet, lets blackness take over her eyes instead. This comforts her. If she can’t see the monsters chasing her, maybe they don’t exist. Maybe the forest doesn’t exist. Maybe she’s just pretending to walk across a forest in the middle of the night, because she’s bored. Maybe she’s just hearing a story about a girl walking across a forest in the middle of the night. Maybe it’s just a dream.

She stays inside her darkness bubble as long as she can to keep safe. She journeys deeper into the forest that is no longer a forest but everywhere warmer, intimately familiar. The night gives way to each place she puts into the bubble, rolling grass blurring with white sand, carpet, rose-colored light, no light at all, the same soft fingers entwined with hers.

You’re okay. I’m here. Those familiar fingers brush through her hair, that beautiful voice slows her rush of breath.

What a feat to contain an entire love in one bubble, to capture its electric but subdued nature. Electric when their limbs tangle then squeeze she remembers that blood is pumping through her every second – she’s alive. More even, it’s subdued as closing her eyes. Letting her drift in a wordless space

 

 

only to be roused by a gentle whisper. Tie a red string between our fingers let me share my fate with your fate.

So she does. She loops the string around her finger.

She holds onto the moment with every piece of her concentration, wanting to stay there lucid. She stands still, creeps around the edges of her consciousness so that it won’t remember that nothing in her bubble really exists; everything outside of it does. Monsters continue to follow her completely-grounded-in-reality scent even if she denies them. The forest is still a forest, no matter what she names it, puts in it. The rattling branches, sticky mud lie under her feet no matter what she retreats to. She can run, hide, coil from, tuck away her fear of the world, her unpreparedness. Her head’s a safe place, a disconnected from the world place.

But, what’s that solving? Is she not grounded in a reality she can never escape from, every moment dragging her with it? Whether she believes the trees to be trees or their branches to be a tender human touch or

Who cares?

The imaginary won’t help her when she’s bleeding on the forest floor, limbs trapped in the jaws of her ignored monsters. The unreal can’t shield from the real.

What an epiphany.

Her consciousness flings her out of the bubble, shredding her apparitions, destroying them. The damage is done now. She’s made her choice (had she wanted it? the truth? was that what she came here for?) The girl she loves turns to mere wisps, falls away in her hands. Gone.

g

o

n

e.

In her stomach is a hollow emptiness that settles on then crushes her diaphragm. This reality she had been avoiding but found anyway in a fleeting moment of existentialism. What a foolish mistake.

Ignorance won’t welcome her back now. She’s forsaken it. Be alone then! Alone with five hundred beasts stampeding with pieces of the bubble staining their teeth.

She has no time to run. They trample her, pin her to the floor, let the forest bugs crawl through her hair. She becomes a part of the forest indistinguishable from any other, howling, screeching, scratching while they rip through her, separate her into pieces.

Had she really expected a humble, darkness bubble to save her from the world?

 

No, this was just for a brief happiness.

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Island of the Goddess (October 2015)

I lie under the moon, staring across at her as stars freckle her skin. Her hair glows silver, wreathed with lilies. I thread my fingers through it, wind it up in my hands, drawing closer. Her skin is under my lips. I worship her every outline. Give my soul as an offering.

Her breath puffs over my face as I’m pressed flush against her body. Her warmth wraps around me. I drink in the color of her cheeks, move my hands over her. Never stopping. She whispers to me. I nod, mumbling words that trail off into nothing, just to get her to speak. To move her lips. To bring ours back together.

Closer.

What I am and what she is blur. My thoughts dissolve into hers, losing myself, letting her take over. I becomes we, our blood pumping through one heart, our voice filling the night air.

This is home. This is home.

#
I’ve lived many lives with her. I die to be reborn in her lap, bending to the touch of her fingers once more. Her love is endless. I don’t waste a single drop of it – every moment is precious, unique from the last. An eternity would not bore me if she’s beside me.

Once we tire of this world, we can make a new one. She did it once before – when we first met.

Before her, I lived on a pitch-black planet. I stumbled, feeling my way around, never completely acquainted with anything. She showed me the sun. She taught me how to breathe right along with her. In. Out. In.

And then she kissed me.

I settle into a familiar comfort when her hand is in mine, recognizing the grooves in her palm. I explore the island with her. We’ll stay here for a while longer. A century of sand between our toes, of drifting emerald seas – swimming in her eyes. Our paradise, shared only by multicolor birds and fish.

#
She’s away on divine business. I try to be sympathetic. She does have a whole

universe to look out for. Other people need her attention, her touch, her consideration. They get to keep the words she gives them. The laughs she shares with them. All the things that I’m not there for.

Over these few lifetimes, my jealousy has evolved into a sense of… grudging acceptance. A chiding against my selfishness. Love is not a cage. I’ll never let it be – not for her.

For me? I’m homeless out of her arms.

Can I breathe when her rhythm is missing – when the steady in and out is replaced by a hollow silence?

We becomes I again. How dull it is to just be I, to be without all of the complementary parts of her that make me complete. That keep me stable. I would destroy the chaos inside me if I could.

#

She steadies me with her hands, pausing to assure my balance before wiping under my eyes. She isn’t afraid of what comes next. She knows that moments after I die, I’ll come back. Smile again when she squeezes me. Cast off the weight of my death to embrace a new life with her – one equally full of my love for her.

I start to fade. I’m not afraid either. I know what I’m going to wake up to. I anticipate a future that begins and ends and always contains her. Always contains us.

She asks me something troubling when I’m revived. What do you want in this life?

You, of course.

She drops the conversation soon after, but I know where she’s headed. It comes about whenever she returns from being gone for a while. She finds me in the same spot she left me, or floating – eyes closed – in the ocean. The mood will momentarily turn sour, when she tells me that she loves being we rather than I, but she still likes to be I. She’s comfortable being I. She hopes that I can like to be I too – that I can love the I apart from us in myself.

If I can do that, I might not have to die anymore.

Crossroads (September 2015)

I’ve travelled the world for many years, meeting strangers along the way that ask to join me. They don’t stick around for long, but we’ve gone on fantastic journeys together. I’ve crossed mountains topped with fresh white snow, and carved through grassy, rolling hills with everyone from lovers to thieves. I take in every story they tell me, committing it to memory as if it were my own. If it weren’t for them, perhaps I would not continue to trek from horizon to horizon. My destination is never as interesting as the people I’ve met.

A while back, a woman sat with me, cradling a newborn baby tightly in her arms. She was nearly out of breath when she found me. She kept quiet most of the journey, looking about her cautiously. She drew into herself as if at any moment something would leap out at her and her son. When she thought someone was looking, she would draw her long chestnut hair over her skin like a curtain, hiding the purple and black blossoms that detailed her skin.

On a few occasions, though, I heard her sing lullabies to her restless son. The guarded strain of her face fell away, weaving notes together that were full of only love. Her voice was as delicate as a butterfly’s wings. I strained to hear it over the steady rumbling of our travel, but her emotion was enough to shake me at my core.

She left without ever looking back.

A young man also made his way to me, eyes brighter than the stars. He knew exactly where he wanted to go. He carried around a bundled stack of letters, taking them out when everyone else had fallen asleep and mumbling their words like a prayer under the glow of the moon. So entranced with love, the fields of flowers that we passed were duller than ash to him. Roses could not hold up to the flush of her cheeks or the softness of her lips. Soon before long, I knew her name as well as he.

After ten years of waiting to return home, I did not expect him to be the most willing to wait. He told jokes and laughed with the others, coaxing a smile out of the baby and loosening the tautness of the mother’s frame. He was like a fire that ceased to extinguish, ready to engulf everyone in his light.

“We’ll be there soon.” He repeated until everyone else was convinced all it would take was a blink. Soon enough, he was chasing after Caroline.

My favorite of all the travelers I’ve come across though was an orphaned boy. He crept up to me, covered in dirt. He had no money to give, but a heart that outweighed all of the gold he could offer. Unlike the runaway mother, who wished to be anywhere but home, or the lovesick man who wished to return home, the boy just wanted to be.

At the time, we were in the midst of an unforgiving winter. Though I could not provide him much, I kept him warmer than he would’ve been on the streets. He never asked anything of me but shelter and I gave it to him. It was all I could spare, but he continued to hold his chin up.

He never accepted that the world was unforgiving, even after it abused him. He had faith that things could turn around. He believed, just as the other two, that the capacity of love made every hurdle and misgiving in life manageable.

He left before the ice could melt. The shame of stowing away sickened him like a poison. The lingering threat of being cast out sent more chills down his back than the blistering cold. He would leave before anyone could make him.

I wish he hadn’t gone so soon.

I’ve always been limited in what I could do for others. I can guide them to where they want to go, but I am bound to a specific path. I cannot alter course on my own whim. I cannot check up on the friends I’ve made. My journeys are fantastic, but fleeting. My memories of them are only a minute glimpse of their lives. They sometimes come back, but otherwise I am left in the dark.

What happened to the mother and her son? Do her faded bruises still haunt her? Does she choke up whenever her child asks where his father is? I could imagine her happier than she ever was in my care, but it would be just a fantasy. Reality is something I can’t see past my confines.

And of the lover and his Caroline, did they find each other? After all of their waiting, were they able to reclaim the affections of the past?

Is the boy still alive?

While I’m left to wonder, more people stream in to drag me past it. I bear more tales, holding tiny, fragile pieces of a life. The more I push forward, the more I see, I wish to stop and catch my breath. For, no matter how many miles I cover or faces I see, nothing will make up for the steel heart that inhibits me from a passion like theirs.