Interpreting Dreams

“So I’m in a field and I come upon a single tree. It’s not big. The canopy of the thing is maybe seven or eight feet high and it doesn’t cover a whole lot of ground. Anyway, I kneel down underneath it and I start noticing glimmers in the dirt at it’s base. I guess somewhere around this time it starts to rain pretty hard. But the canopy of the tree is guarding me from it like an umbrella so I’m not getting drenched and I’m not paying the rain much attention anyway. Instead, I’m intent on these glimmers I’m seeing in the dirt at the base of this tree and I begin to scrape at it.”

“Well, I’m digging through the dirt with my hands at this thing that is partially covered up and I pull it up to see it’s a coin. A nickle or quarter or dime or something. Then I notice more. Some are partially buried with only their centers exposed and some are just lying there atop the ground, plain as day.”

“The more I look, the more of them I see. All silvery coins just lying there in the dirt under this tree. Anyway, I start digging and picking up these silver coins–they were all silver, mostly nickels and dimes but some quarters too, I guess the important thing though was that they were all silver coins–all the while the rain is falling and I am staying relatively dry under the canopy of the tree. There are a few drops here and there that make it through but nothing that draws my attention away from excavating these coins. They are covered in dirt obviously and I’m gathering them up in my hands one by one.”

“Then the idea occurs to me to wash them off in the rain. So to give you an idea of how small this tree that I was kneeling under was, all I had to do was take them in my hand and reach out so that they caught the rain that was falling outside of it’s canopy. And this may have been the most vivid and impressing part of the dream: after washing them in the rain and bringing them back under the canopy, I held them in my hands and they were the most vibrant and clean shade of silver I could imagine.”

“They were beautiful, really. Like freshly minted coins. Then I gathered more and rinsed them in the rain by simply reaching my hand out. I did this until I had more crisp, clean, silver coins in my hand than I could carry. They were spilling out of my cupped hands in fact, but I wanted to take them all. I couldn’t though. And it ends with me trying, almost desperately, to corral all of these coins. And failing.”

“Some are spilling out of my hands. I don’t know though, for some reason, the way the rain was so effective in making the coins so clean, and the amazing silvery sheen of the coins after they had been rinsed in the rain, stand out the most to me about the dream. I’ve been thinking about it for days because the imagery has just stuck with me. But I have no clue what it could or might mean. What do you think?”

“Sounds pretty cool. There was nothing that happened after trying to gather all the coins?” Brian asked.

“Nope. Well yeah, there was, but it was kind of that weird segue into another dream that always happens. At any rate, I knew it wasn’t important, you know? The significance of the dream was definitely contained in the scene I just described to you.” Answered Paul.

There was a long silent pause as Brian contemplated the dreamscape that Paul just described. It was obviously important enough for Paul to share with him so Brian didn’t want to have nothing to say. Brian thought hard about the images described to him. Then something occurred to him.”You were finding coins–money–in the dirt?” He probed.

“Yeah. Cleaning them off in the rain that fell just outside the canopy of this tree I was under.”

Brian grasped on to the first inclination that came to him, “Well it sounds like maybe you are finding wealth, or riches of some kind, in humble places. Like maybe you’re pulling something from nothing. Diamonds in the rough kind of thing, ya know? How long have you been dating Melissa?”

“A year and a half or so. You saying she came from the dirt?” Paul responded.

“No, no man, just trying to piece things together.”

“Yeah, that was one of the first things I thought about too. Doesn’t seem quite satisfactory though. There was just something about how silver the coins became after washing them off in the rain.” There was another extended pause between the two, then Paul continued, “definitely something about how…unnaturally silver they became.”

That night as Paul was making his way through the streets on his drive towards his girlfriend’s house, the images he dreamt came to his mind again. He turned the stereo down so that all he heard was the working of his engine and other cars passing by. At a red light, the vividness of the coins came back to him. He became convinced that this was the crux of his dream. But there was still so much more to consider. He decided to take a detour.

“Hey, I thought you were going to be here sooner. I already started eating.” Melissa said as she welcomed her boyfriend into her apartment.

He kissed her and said, “It’s ok, I’m not really hungry. More tired than anything. I kinda just want to lay down, maybe sleep early.”

“Is everything ok?” Melissa asked.

“Yeah, work is just kicking my ass.” He embraced her warmly and gave her a reassuring kiss. Then he headed for the bedroom. As he lay awake in Melissa’s bed, she was doing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen. He was flat on his back and staring up at the ceiling. Then, very quickly, he sprung out of bed and reached into his day bag that he had placed next to the bed on the ground. He took out a small nylon pouch, a lighter, and a small plastic bag then stole away to the master bathroom.

He flushed the toilet but didn’t care enough to put up anything more in terms of a smoke screen. When he emerged Melissa was already changed and settling herself into the bed. Paul turned the lights off and joined her in bed.

Melissa drew close to him after they made love. “What did you have for dinner?” she asked him as she nestled her cheek against his chest.

“I didn’t have any dinner.” He answered in a drawl.

“You said you had already eaten.” She volleyed back.

He took a few beats to respond. “I said I wasn’t hungry. Never said I ate.” He was answering with few words and slurring his speech pretty badly.

She looked up at his face but he had his eyes closed and his expression was so blank that it all but gave him away. It seemed to Melissa like the standard template of a face before god puts any features on it. “Are you ok?” she investigated, leering ever more intently on his face.

He kept his face pointed toward the ceiling, his eyes closed, and answered shortly, “I’m tired.”

She reached across his body and switched on the lamp set atop her nightstand. Now he had to open his eyes. What she saw was a pair of glassy eyes in the dim light of the lamp. She hesitated for a moment, then spoke, “Don’t tell me–goddammit Paul, are you using again?!”

He didn’t answer–just shut his eyes up again, lying on his back.

“What the fuck Paul, did you just shoot up here in my room?!”

Still no answer or movement. Then Melissa climbed over him and reached into his day bag.

Paul snapped to life. “Hey! That’s not yours is it?!” It was like a comatose person being stabbed in the heart with a syringe of pure adrenaline.

That was all she needed to know. She stood over him beside the bed and he propped himself up on his elbows. “Goddammit Paul, when did you start using again?” She demanded.

“Not that it’s any of your business but tonight was the first time in over a year.” he answered coolly.

“Not that it’s any of my business?!” She echoed, most appalled.

He began puling himself out of bed and gathering his clothes that were strewn all over the bed. “Well, I figure it’s my body, and so long as what I do with my body doesn’t effect you in any negative way, you don’t need to know about it.” He responded as he pulled his shirt over his head and down his lean torso.

“Jesus, you’re a fucking asshole when you’re on that shit!” Melissa gasped out.

He began puling his pants up and cinching his belt. “And you’re a potty mouth when you’re sober so I guess we’re even.” He flung his day bag over his shoulder and made for the door.

“Where are you going?” Melissa demanded.

“Home.” Paul answered. He walked out of her bedroom and she heard the front door open and close quietly.

Once Paul was home, he shot up one more time. That night, there was a full moon and Paul could see it from his bedroom window as he sat, smacked out, on the edge of his bed. His high put him in a daze and he stayed staring at the bright, full moon as the thoughts passed from one edge of his brain to the other, and finally on to oblivion.

The moon shone a pale, milky white and while striking to behold, ‘nothing like the coins’ Paul thought. He could sit erect no longer and fell backwards on his bed.

Almost a week passed before he heard anything from Melissa. As he saw her name flash suddenly on the screen of his phone, he became aware just how much time had passed since the night he left her apartment. He was surprised at how long she was able to wait. He answered her call, “Hello.”

“Jesus you even sound high again,” was her greeting.

“That’s funny because I’m not.” He replied in a flat tone that made it clear that he had no interest in arguing her assumption.

“Yeah right, so–” before Melissa could continue any further, Paul stopped her. “If you called to scold me, I don’t want to hear it. In fact, whatever the reason you called me, you’re probably going to be disappointed.”

“I’m already disappointed. You’re using again.” her voice was still fiery after the handful of days since Paul heard it last. At this last statement of hers, Paul remembered her nature as it really was underneath all her layers of insincere kindness and civility; self-serving, and at it’s core, completely uninterested in the concerns of others.

He was getting angry and he didn’t want to grow angry from this exchange. “Melissa, I don’t want you to call me again. I don’t want you to text me, I do’;t want you to email me, and I definitely don’t want you coming to my apartment anymore. I don’t want to see you anymore–at all, in any sense.”

He could hear her huff incredulously, a pause, and then, “I can’t believe what a scumbag you must have always been–and how apparently good you were at hiding it for so long. I can’t believe your choosing fucking heroin over me.”

He put an end to her ranting right there, “Whoa whoa whoa…let’s make this clear. I’m not choosing heroin or anything over you. I’m just not choosing you.”

A week passed since Paul’s phone conversation with Melissa and he had scarcely left his apartment. He was deliberately putting himself through a hellish cycle–using to excess one day then letting a couple days pass while he suffered self-imposed withdrawals.

On his table were half-eaten meals that he couldn’t choke down. His bed was a mass of clothes. Sweaters that he would squirm into when his withdrawal made him steely cold, and shed when he began to sweat uncontrollably.

There were a dozen quarter-empty to half-empty plastic water bottles scattered across the floor of his bedroom. His fridge was empty but his kitchen was sloppy with haphazardly slapped together and abandoned meals that were starting to give the whole place a rounded, rancid smell.

Of course, during this period, he had not been to work at all which is what prompted all the calls from Brian that went missed or unanswered. Paul had let his phone battery die and only ever charged it and looked at it when he needed to re-up. In fact, as far as Paul could remember, he hadn’t left his apartment at all except for the sole purpose of scoring.

And that is what prompted Paul to plug his phone in and look at it on this day. This was an “on” day so he allowed himself to shoot up but he was almost completely out. It was time to pick up and this is when he saw all the missed calls from his boss–these were wholeheartedly expected–but almost as many calls from his co-worker, friend of 6 years, and the only person Paul had described his dream to. Brian.

This triggered a new train of thought in Paul’s brain that was, in it’s current state, having plenty of trouble communicating effectively between lobes. He scrolled through all the missed calls and figured that this was a chore that should be handled in person.

Paul and Brian arranged to meet at a cafe that was close to their office. Brian was already there and seated at the outside table under an awning where they almost always had lunch together. Paul sauntered up to the cafe and spotted Brian quickly. As he walked toward him, he thought about how long he had known this man and how little he really knew him.

Brian sat back in his chair and just stared at Paul while he walked over. “Christ, I didn’t want to believe it, I didn’t even want to consider it. Fuck man, what happened?”

“Nothing.” Paul replied and sat down. He hated that his heroin use was always the first thing anyone mentioned. Which was, in part, why he secluded himself for a week. He hated even more that he couldn’t hide when he was high. Brian had actually told him once that he walks a certain way when he’s smacked up.

“Something must’ve happened man. You were doing so well.” Brian commented.

Paul was getting incredibly tired of hearing how well he was doing and that “well” equaled “clean.” Brian had known Paul when he was completely lost in addiction, and when he got clean and started living a life that most people would call normal; a job, a girlfriend, and lack of a swallowing addiction.

Paul was already getting frustrated with Brian’s words and began regretting his decision to meet him in person. But he closed his eyes and refocused as well as he could in his current state. “Like I said, nothing happened. Anyway I’m not here to talk about that.”

Just then, a waitress walked up and interjected. Brian ordered a latte and Denver omelette. Paul didn’t order anything.

“Really. What are you here to talk about? You know Melissa called me crying, saying that you broke up with her.”

At this last statement, Paul’s focus sharpened to a needlepoint. He didn’t say anything for a few seconds; just stared into Brian’s eyes. “Why do you suppose she called you?”

“Because we’re friends, and she was distraught.” Brian answered.

Paul let it go. “Do you remember that dream I told you about? The one with the coins and the rain?” Paul asked.

Brian moved the pupils of his eyes in an upward arc; thinking. “Yeah, I think so. Why?”

“I think I’ve finally realized what it means.” Paul said calmly.

“What’s that?” Brian inquired.

“Well you suggested that it meant that I would find something or somethings of value in humble places. Or unexpected places or whatever. And to be honest, I’ve been wondering about this dream–what it meant–until this moment. I know now that we both looked at the images all out of order. The coins don’t represent something outside of me. They actually represent me. My life. In the dream I rinsed them in the rain that fell outside the shelter of the canopy of the tree I was under until they were so beautifully, vividly, silver. Now I know that I have to cleanse myself, my life, of all the dirt that I’ve sunk it into over the years for it to be truly beautiful. I have to shed the dirt.”

“I agree,” commented Brian in a tone of relief. He continued, “You could start with that shit,” pointing at the crook of Paul’s arm.

“Nah” replied Paul. “That’s not it. There’s real dirt in my life. There was a pause between them and then Paul continued. “I met you here because I wanted to let you know that we’re not friends. I’m not going to see you anymore after this. I’m going to lose your number and I suggest you do the same.”

“Wow, where is this coming from?” Brian asked but Paul didn’t answer. Instead, he stood up, got ready to walk away and asked, “Do you remember my housewarming party? After I stopped using, had been working full-time for a long time, hooked up with Melissa, and leased my apartment?”

Brian answered suspiciously, “Yeah…”

“I saw you. I saw you and Melissa.”

Like a boxer on the ropes, Brian replied, “You saw us? That’s great, we saw you too. We saw Tim, Lindsey, Jared, Sam…Mike. We all saw each other that night. What’s your point?”

“You grabbed her ass. You grabbed her ass and she laughed. You whispered something in her ear and then you guys proceeded to exchange numbers.” Paul answered.

“Paul, nothing came of that. We were drunk, ok? I’m sorry. Anyway that was years ago man, and you’re just bringing it up now?” Brian contended.

“Goodbye Brian,” Paul said and walked away.

A few nights later Paul gathered up the last few hundred dollars he had left in his bank account, called his connect, and bought as much smack as he could. Then he drove out to Santa Monica and parked about a half mile away from the pier.

He took from his car a heavy sweater that he immediately flung on, a flannel shirt, and a pre-prepped syringe filled with all the junk he just bought. It was late and all the patrons had vacated the cold windy beach hours ago but the lights of the pier were still blazing.

‘It’s nice’ Paul thought to himself as he trekked to where the sand begins to slope down and the foam sizzles out on the shore. He put the flannel down on the sand and sat on it. And with the cornucopia of unnatural light coming from the ferris wheel flashing and rotating off in the distance, the sound of the ocean threatening to soak or sweep him away, and a silvery moon shining in the sky, he shot up everything in the syringe.

He immediately fell flat on his back atop his flannel and saw the planes taking off from the airport low in the night sky. His hope was that he will have shed the last specks of dirt from himself.

 

 

A Silver Tongue

Spring, 2003

In all likelihood, this was the final straw. Deniet had flown to Toronto, spent 4 days there (one day longer than necessary or planned for), and returned to Seattle without briefing anyone from the accounts team; all without ever once meeting with the client. Jordan Deniet’s tenure at Lewis & Sedgwick had been a precarious one that his colleagues could never wrap their heads around.

In drunken moments, Jordan even confessed to some of his coworkers that he got the job in part by lying about his education. “I’ve never even set foot on the OSU campus!” then he busted out laughing. This latest scoffing of company policy was the crown jewel of his myriad transgressions, however: a huge client completely blown off and ignored.

Jordan strode into his superior’s office to discuss this latest brazen act of disregard without the slightest display of nerves.

“How is Toronto in the spring, Deniet? I’ve never had the opportunity to see it.” Hollins sarcastically inquired.

“Oh, just fine. Beautiful city. Charmingly international.” Jordan replied without skipping a beat.

“Yeah, I’m sure you had a great time. Lewis & Sedgwick footing the bill and all. I trust you stayed entertained, well-fed…drunk.”

“You know it Mr. Hollins.” Jordan said with a smirk, his right leg propped up on his left knee, fingers interlaced over his waist.

Hollins laughed and continued, “Deniet, I’m not going to ask you why you didn’t meet with Nathaniel, I don’t care. You’re gone and that’s a foregone conclusion. And I’m happy. Your book here at Lewis & Sedgwick is closed so there is, thank Christ, no need to try and figure out why you ignored a client with a 2.4 million dollar contract on his hands. Now that I can talk to you like the normal piece of shit that you are, I am curious, not as your former boss. I don’t know, think of me as someone you would talk to casually at a bar. What did you do in Toronto while you were supposed to be working? What could you have possibly been doing besides getting drunk on the company dollar?”

Jordan answered very dryly, “Toronto is a very nice city. I walked around a lot. In fact I was walking to Nathaniel’s hotel when I got sidetracked by a promising canal tour. After that, I just never bothered following up with him. Oh, and on Sunday the Sonics were scheduled to play the Raptors, so I stayed an extra day for that in case you were wondering.”

“I wasn’t.” Hollins replied. “You can leave now.”

As Deniet stood up to exit Hollins’ office, the phone rang. “There is a good chance that’s Mr. Lewis,” he said with his back turned as he left the office.

 

Fall, 2005

“I slept with another woman. In Toronto.” Jordan spoke these words to his wife’s back while she was busying herself in the kitchen. The statement was completely unprovoked. They hadn’t even been having a conversation. He simply stood up from his desk in the study, walked into the kitchen, and made his confession.

Mya heard the words, perked her head up, and stared forward while trying to process them. They didn’t seem to make sense in the order he had said them in. She turned around to see her husband standing in the doorway of the kitchen. He was looking directly into her eyes. Her husband of 8 years liked to joke but she could always tell when he was saying something in jest. When he was serious, he had a straight as an arrow gaze and an insensate expression on his face. This was the look he wore this moment. She could tell he wasn’t joking but she asked anyway, “You’re being serious?”

“Yes,” while he nodded his head shallowly.

“You slept with a woman in Toronto…that was at least 2 years ago and you’re telling me now?” She was still clinging to an iota of disbelief.

Jordan nodded his head silently this time. One of the only times his wife had ever seen him at a loss for words.

“Why are you telling me this now?” Mya asked.

“I don’t know. The guilt is getting to me I think.” he answered.

Mya remembered the work trip on which her loving husband’s infidelity supposedly occurred. Mainly because one or two weeks after he returned from it, he was promoted to head of accounts.

That night, Jordan slept on the couch while his wife lay in bed trying to figure out what all of this meant to her. She could barely believe it was true. He had acted perfectly normal for two years and showed no sign of dissatisfaction prior to the trip. No changes and certainly no inkling of an extra-marital affair. Her thoughts kept her from sleep. The fact that he was able to play it so cool for so long scared her. She didn’t know what to make of this news but the more she thought about it, the angrier she became.

All she knew is that she would make him leave; stay somewhere else first thing in the morning for as long as it took for her to decide what to do. While she lay awake in bed, Jordan crept into the room. She allowed him to sit on the bed and they talked for almost an hour.

Jordan talked in the same tone he used with Mya almost a decade ago when he convinced her that having children, at any point in their relationship was a mistake. He emphasized the word mistake. Mya knew the tone well as she played that conversation over and over again in her mind over the next 8 years. In that conversation 8 year ago he pointed out eloquently and in great detail all that would–he assured her that this was a certainty–go wrong if they had kids. And she was convinced.

He spent the rest of the night by her side, holding her. The next morning, he was still in the house. And the morning after that, and the morning after that. She hadn’t even made him pack his bags.

 

Summer, 1981

When Jordan came to he was being pushed from behind across a driveway into a connecting garage. A pair of large, rough hands held both his arms behind his back. The hands twisted his arm up toward his shoulder blade whenever he resisted. He became conscious into a thick brain haze. He must have been drugged with something because there was an acrid, chemical smell, totally unnatural, lingering in his nostrils. He looked up and saw the moon low in the sky. There were heavy footsteps behind him. Jordan shook his head trying to dispel the fog in his mind. He craned his neck over his shoulder to see who it was that was pushing him but a sharp, hard twist of his arm by the man corralling him put a stop to all that.

The man–the fog slowly burning off from consciousness…wait, 2 sets of footfalls–the two men prodded him into the fluorescent lit garage and forced him to sit in a chair in the center of it–all the while being careful to stay behind him. They obviously didn’t want their faces to be seen. Jordan was forcefully sat and his wrists were bound by–Jordan counted–4 zip ties behind his back.

“You’ve already made a mistake.” Jordan stated before the men could leave the garage. “You can’t be professionals, if there even is such a thing. It’s only been a few hours so we can’t be far from Seattle.” Jordan scrambled to recall his last memory. He quickly remembered walking home from school with his 6th grade classmate, a struggle, then nothing until regaining consciousness on the cold driveway. “My friend, the one I was walking with, say you, at least him, who knows how many others. I know I’m not far from home.”

Somehow, Jordan Deniet was able to grasp what was happening to him very quickly and when he did, an erstwhile dormant instinct rose to the proscenium of his mind: talk or die. Just keep talking. “Your hands are rough and this is a house a few hours away.” ‘Don’t say “maybe,” don’t be passive, state facts, make statements even if they aren’t completely true!’ The thoughts flashed across Jordan’s mind like neon marquee lighting displaying a play title and actors’ names. “A house a few hours outside of Seattle. Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, Colombia City, or Georgetown maybe.”

The men stood silent, hearing the words coming from this boy. “It’s cold, this garage is like all the other garages I’ve seen. Seattle! You’re from here, see!? A Seattle license plate!”

The men traced the line of sight of the boy’s head from behind. “God fucking…!” One of them exclaimed, seeing an old, loose license plate sticking out of some shelving.

“It ends in 6-4!” Jordan proclaimed. One of the men quickly yanked the plate form the shelf and then turned off the garage light.

“Shut up kid” one of the men said with an upwards inflection–a warning tone that implied that more words would result in physical assault.

“You are, you are from here, I can tell by your voice. This garage can fit 2 cars.” ‘More facts’ the thoughts flashed in Jordan’s mind. “I’m still alive. You guys aren’t killers. You’ve taken me for something that you need me alive for or else I would be dead already.”

“Don’t be so fucking sure!” One of them exclaimed. Then Jordan heard one of the men leave the garage.

“You’ve already made mistakes. This is probably the first time you’ve done this. I hear about kidnappers being caught on the news all the time. It’s common and they always get sent to prison for life or executed. You’ve already made mistakes and your bound to make more.” Jordan continued. He heard the other man return and frantically continued his rant. “The air is very cold and my parents already know I’m gone. You’ll make more mist-” He felt a rag shoved into his face from behind. The smell, the acrid chemical smell, this time 100 times stronger. He struggled under the large hand. Jordan felt a primal, screeching fear for a second and then nothingness.

When Jordan woke up, he was being shook to life by an old haggard-looking woman. He was lying, unharmed, on the bench of a bus stop. He shook his head wearily, barely hearing, and even less, comprehending the words of the old woman, who was obviously gravely concerned to see a young boy sleeping on a bus stop bench alone at the crack of dawn.

Jordan continued to ignore the words of the bewildered woman and looked up at the awning of the bus stop. It read “Powell & Hearth.” Jordan knew the streets. He was only a few miles from his home.

Stations of the Heart Chapter 18: Jaded One

It hadn’t crossed Jed’s mind- his thoughts while he was in the desert and forest were majorly occupied with finding a way out- but now as Jed was negotiating his way down the wall of his hometown, he realized that soon he would step foot on familiar ground after not having done so for so long. The inside of the wall was textured and craggy so Jed had no problem climbing down via natural foot and hand holds. Carefully he made his way down to the cobble stoned ground. His feet were planted down in his hometown once again and he turned to face it. The streets were dark but dim light from the homes of the fortunate boys who had companions and the weak light from the three crescent moons above made the passageways, avenues, and alleys navigable. Indeed, Jed had known every street and route available in his home town as well as he knew his own name, but what Jed was looking at now seemed completely foreign to him. He stood there looking as far down the major avenue as he could. This place didn’t feel like his home. True it looked exactly the same; the streets, the homes, even the smell of moisture tinging off the cobblestones underfoot, but something was undoubtedly different. As Jed stood contemplating, he realized that it wasn’t the town that was different, it was himself. Jed had always felt content in his hometown- before his journey that is- but now all he felt was contempt. A hollow, empty feeling caverned out his insides as he stared at the streets of his home. When Jed, not of his own volition, set out on the journey, it was with the goal of coming back home. But so much had happened, so much had been experienced by Jed in between then and now that at present, Jed came to a most tragic conclusion: home was the last place he wanted to be. This place was not Jed’s home anymore, he didn’t belong there. Still, there was no going back. Where could he even go? He was shut out of the forest by his would-be spirit companion, and if he wandered the desert alone he would surely die. He didn’t really want to do either of those things anyway, but in that moment, he couldn’t think of a place he actually wanted to be. It was like there was no place for him anywhere, no home. The boy Jed Ano who was taken from his home, traveled a great distance, experienced much, and returned with no companion to call his own, had no choice. All that was left was forward motion. With that, Jed began walking down the broad main avenue of his town, toward his home.

As Jed walked through his hometown, he felt a though he could wretch at any moment. The songs and sounds of the boys who came back with companions made him sick to his stomach. He envied them, he resented them even, and couldn’t imagine how he could cope with hearing those sounds every night from now on. Initially, Jed wrote off the unease of his stomach as his sour emotions being projected on his physical form. But as Jed continued to walk, he realized that his queasy stomach was not a psychosomatic occurrence, but rather the product of a profound hunger deep in his gut. Jed was hopelessly hungry and there was nothing that could be done about it there in his hometown. There was no food to speak of there. Jed wondered how the other boys who ventured beyond the walls of the town managed to quell their hunger. Maybe they had never eaten anything in the forest to begin with and therefore their hunger had never been awoken. This got Jed thinking about the other boy’s journey’s. Were all of our encounters different? Am I the only one who now feels an insatiable hunger? Jed wondered these things but in the background of all he pondered was the physical ailment of his stomach. He had hoped beyond hope that a long, hearty drink from his canteen would help to sate his hunger and calm his stomach. But before he could even reach for his canteen he remembered that it was empty. He drank the last of the water when he had exhausted himself outside the walls of the town. ‘No matter’ Jed thought optimistically, ‘I can just go refill it at the well.’ Jed was grateful for the menial task that now presented itself; it provided him with a goal he could actually achieve, no matter how fleeting or trivial. A distraction from the emptiness he felt inside. So Jed altered his course ever so slightly and headed toward the center of town and the well with its vital content. The waters of the well had been the only sustenance available to the boys of the town, but it was all they needed-Jed included. This was true until Jed was introduced to meat at the feast of Pintiler. It may have been true of the other boys who went away from town as well because most of them never left their homes to collect water after they had returned. Some never left thir homes again at all and were never seen again. Jed wondered if the boys who came back with companions felt the same hunger he did. He quickly dismissed the thought and reasoned that they were in all likelihood too enveloped in bliss to ever be troubled by hunger. Whether they tasted the food in the forest or not. Jed took his conclusion as hard truth because of the few vague recollections he could muster from his time with his phantasmal companion in the house of spirits, he knew there was no such thing as hunger- indeed nothing of the outside world existed at all- when communing in that heavenly state. Jed could not recall feeling anything but an immeasurable warmth and ebullience during his interminable time with the enigmatic spirit. But now Jed was back on earth, mingled in with the rest of the unfortunates, the blissfully ignorant, and select blessed. ‘What a loathsome mixture of individuals’ Jed thought to himself. ‘That we should all have to return to the same place and live amongst each other seems like some kind of cruel joke or criminal indifference. But of who’s design?’ Jed thought about this for a few moments but couldn’t think of anyone to blame when he came to the conclusion that there was probably no one tending the light of the day or watching over the darkness of the night. Whatever the reason, Jed was now alone, making his way to the well at the center of town in the hopes that water would cease the very real hunger he felt within himself.

In short order Jed arrived at the well and found himself a bit reluctant to approach it. After all, it was from the well that the waters that swept him away to that insane forest arose. The well, the heart of the town, the eternal provider of life-sustaining water, it was the last thing Jed saw of his hometown before he was thrust into an odyssey which still had no discernible purpose that Jed could fathom. It was unchanged. Stoic in its readiness to give willingly. Jed walked up to the rim which was as high as his belly button as it had been before he left. From this inadvertent measurement, he realized he had not grown any taller, as the boys who returned home with companions had. Jed looked down and saw that the water was high in the well, almost reaching the rim. The surface was calm and smooth as though it hadn’t been disturbed in hours. He looked down at the water and saw his own reflection in it. He stared at himself for several minutes. It was the first time Jed had ever studied his own face. His jawline was sharply angled. His nose was crooked and a little high off his face but everything else seemed to be in good proportion. Dark and heavy shadows hung beneath deep and perfectly shaped almond eyes. He was struck by the appearance of his own eyes because within them was a profound sadness. A sadness that was transmitted whether Jed could help it or not. ‘What a sad looking person’ Jed observed to himself and tried to force a totally unnatural smile. The reflected smile looked ridiculous to Jed and he gave it up. That was when he noticed something else reflected in the well water. It was a silver crescent. ‘The moon’ Jed realized, ‘but where are the others?’ Jed tilted his head toward the dark sky and say only the silver crescent moon. The red and blue moons had completely disappeared. This saddened Jed immensely but he was at a total loss as to why. Somehow he felt emptier inside now that there was only the original moon he had known his entire life and not the others. Still, even the silver moon before had been a full one, now it was some foreign scythed shape. Not even half of what it used to be. It seemed like every trace of familiarity, every memento of former happiness was taking its leave from Jed’s life, just as the moons above were. Jed could feel the emptiness inside him grow, just like the sky overhead was being emptied of light. A tangible emptiness radiated inside of Jed, so much so that it became a physical aching. Jed bent over the rim of the well and hung his head. “What am I supposed to do?” he whispered quietly down to the water. “How am I supposed to proceed?” Moments of quiet despair often lead to moments of great clarity and in this way, Jed heard a phrase ringing in his head. It pushed through the unmanageable dross that was filling his head and made its way to the forefront of Jed’s thoughts. ‘Forward motion.’ Jed tried to file it away among the droves of thoughts crowding his consciousness but it persisted behind every thought Jed had. ‘Forward motion.’ ‘Forward motion.’ ‘Forward motion.’ ‘Forward motion.’ ‘Forward motion.’ ‘FORWARD MOTION!’ It was as though the words were branded onto Jed’s brain but after a few moments of meditation, Jed knew what they meant and in that moment of clarity and revelation, Jed suddenly felt a great weight lifted from his being and felt himself in a state of odd, empty, peace. Every nagging thought i his mind was suddenly purged and all that remained was his next move. Jed knew what he had to do; he had to move forward. From the moment Jed arrived outside the walls of his hometown, he knew that it was not where he needed to be, or at least he knew it was not where his journey would truly end. Jed was filled with relief, clarity and resolve. He stood up straight, took a deep breath and did what he came to the well to do- draw water from it. Jed took his canteen in hand and scooped up enough water for one single drink.

As Jed walked down the winding streets and alleyways towards his home, he could hear the songs and communions of the fortunate boys and their companions. He could feel the emptiness emanating from the homes of the unfortunate ones because the echoed the same emptiness that rang inside himself. Only, none of these things made Jed sad anymore. He looked upon all of the humble houses and whether they were alive with laughter or dead with silence, he smiled at all of them. It occurred to Jed that he would have liked to see what his face looked like now that he was wearing a genuine smile but, ‘Oh well’ he reasoned with himself, ‘forward motion.’ It was different now that he was walking through the streets of his hometown. Different because he felt everything. He felt the loneliness and sorrow of the unfortunates. He felt the exuberance and elation of the fortunate ones.and all he could bring himself to do was smile upon both alike. Any resentment or envy had dissolved into the ether with the discovery of his new goal. He himself had felt both emotional polar opposites and everything in between and all he could do now was smile at all of it. Maybe he was smiling because it all seemed so petty now, maybe he had finally snapped, or maybe he was smiling because unlike anyone else in his hometown, he knew where he was going next. Jed didn’t know which was the true reason but it didn’t matter in the least. After all Jed had been through, all he had gained and lost, he realized that he never truly lost himself. No matter who he had become in the forest or the desert, he realized now that he had always retained himself, just as Lashpat the great snake had advised him to. This gave Jed great comfort and courage. Jed looked upon all the homes, felt everything, and smiled.

Jed stood before it, staring at it. He smirked at it lovingly as a proud parent would when watching his child at play. He never paid more attention to it in all his years as he did now. He ran his hand gently across its solid surface, feeling the grizzled grains against his palm. Finally he reached for the knob and entered the door to his home. A stagnant cold overcame him upon entry, he felt bad for leaving his faithful home alone for so long. He walked all throughout the interior of the house, which didn’t take long at all, it only consisted of a few empty rooms with maybe a chair here and a table there, but Jed sat in every chair and leaned his elbows against every table as if to make amends with the old house for being absent for so long. He ran his fingers along the cool walls nostalgically as he made his way to his bedroom- the room where he had spent so many dreamless nights in blissful ignorance. That all changed of course, when the night came in which he had had a dream and his life would set out on a course that would change him forever. But in this moment, Jed only remembered those peaceful nights when he would sleep soundly and unperturbed by any cryptic nocturnal messages. He made it to his bedroom, looked upon his bed…and smiled. As Jed walked toward his bed, he took a quick inventory of all the possessions on his person: one raising tree seed, and a canteen with enough water in it for one drink only. Jed sat down on his bed and took a look around his mostly empty room, held the makeshift pouch containing the raising tree seed in one hand and his canteen in the other and thought to himself, ‘I can’t believe this was all I needed.’ At this, Jed chuckled to himself. Then Jed looked out his window as he had done so many times during those peaceful nights. Only this time, instead of seeing a full, bright, and somehow wholesome silver moon, he saw only darkness. Not even the meager crescent shaped remnant of the silver moon hung in the sky. It had completely disappeared. At this, Jed smiled. It was time for Jed to move forward. Jed took the last raising tree seed from his pouch and put it in his mouth. His tongue balanced it flat inside his open mouth. Jed hesitated for a moment. and let his mind settle into some serious thought. He looked around his room, closed his eyes, and imagined, as hard as he could, all the places he had been, all the creatures he had seen, all the sounds and smells and tastes that washed over him like a tidal wave. Then, with eyes still securely shut, all of these images disappeared and Jed suddenly felt like he was a gigantic empty room all by himself. A heavy lump grew in his throat and a warm tear streamed down his face. He open his eyes and declared to himself and to all that is unknown, unseen, and to those who will never know these words were spoken but to whom they were certainly addressed, “As much as this is for me, it is also for Lashpat, Iparel, the poor giant desert lizard, and even the ever-confused Nashper and Railnia. Forward motion.” With that, Jed raised his canteen to his mouth, gulped down the water, and swallowed the raising tree seed. It was Iparel’s last beautiful gift to Jed. His canteen was now completely empty and he placed it on the small table next to his bed. He laid down flat on his back, closed his eyes, and slept.

A beautiful dream: Something light but at the same time dense with moisture was yielding to his moving body. Hes eyes were closed, but he could feel a vast space with nothing in it both above and below him. Cool air was whisping past him at brisk speeds. It was a new sensation to be sure, exhilarating but peaceful and calming at the same time. He could hear the wind rushing in his ears and he wanted to embrace it because it was so soothing. Though his eyes were closed he could tell it was night time because the darkness behind his eyelids was deep and absolute. He wasn’t cold but he wasn’t too warm either, he was somewhere in the zone of tolerably cool. Comfortably cool even. Sounds of wind blowing by at a healthy speed filed his ears, steadily, consistently, almost like white noise. Great open space above and below him. ‘Open your eyes.’ Fog surrounded him and he was definitely moving. No concept of orientation. Up? Down? All he knew was that he was moving at a cooling pace, but neither of his arms or legs were in motion. Fog still surrounded him. Fog? No, maybe, possibly clouds? The it all breaks away. Staring down at the ground, but from an apparently great height. ‘I’m flying. Effortlessly flying.’ the ground below is featureless. Just some sand dunes and consequential shadows. It’s night time, but he could see clearly. It is still unfathomably comfortable. The breezy night air caressing his body and filing his lungs with serene vitality. Then he sees something break the mostly featureless landscape. Birds? ‘Why do hey look so familiar?’ A small flock of them. ‘Wait, are they upside down? Eyes?!’ A great ‘GRRROOOPPPPP!’ is heard like a ghostly echo from across a great bay He feels a definite sense of familiarity but can’t place it. The upside down birds with eyes in their wings are flying far below him but he follows them from above. The moist clouds disappear from him and just as he notices this, an undoubtedly familiar sight sprawls out underneath him. He is now flying above his hometown. He sees the walls surrounding it, the homes that populate it, and that is when he sees it. In the space that the boy Jed Ano’s house once occupied, a huge, mighty tree now stands.

 

-The End

Stations of the Heart Chapter 15: The Consistently Unstable Ground

Jed knew this feeling all too well. He had felt the earth tremble beneath his feet many times since entering the forest, and now, in the desert, he was feeling it again. Without hesitation, Jed darted up the basin, climbing upward on all fours. The sand flew out from under his feet and palms but Jed raced like a rabid animal to get out. Jed stumbled over the rim of the basin and recovered himself. Wild-eyed, Jed looked down into the basin he had just escaped and saw still another piece of vegetation push its way up from underground, but this time it wasn’t an old, regal tree. It was a wicked-looking giant cactus. It pushed itself up, violently quaking the earth as it did, until it was about thirty feet tall off the ground. It had leveled the ground inside the circle of flag staffs, and the basin was no more. What stood in front of Jed now was a crooked, giant cactus with needle-point thorns as long as Jed’s body but a thousand times thinner. They were packed together incredibly tightly so they numbered well into the millions. At the top of the cactus, unblemished by thorns, was a beautiful flower colored the same majestic blue color of the raising tree seeds, of which Jed was still carrying a couple in his pouch. It was an insane looking plant, with eight arms that bent like elbows in all directions; one down, up, forward, backward, and every direction in between. Jed was backing away from it, but kept his eyes affixed to the deranged cactus that was still cascading sand from its twisted form. He wanted no part of the malevolent-looking cactus and he began to try to decipher the direction the flag staffs were leading him in before they dead-ended at this enigmatic cactus. His hand still stung from being pricked by the thorn of the cactus; a smear of damp blood was congealing in his palm. The cactus stood quiet, towering over the desert like a gnarled sentinel. After Jed decided on a direction, he walked on cautiously, keeping an eye on the cactus and making sure to walk well around it. After a while of uneventful walking Jed became more assured that the cactus posed no threat to him, but it still lingered in his thoughts. He couldn’t shake a feeling of strange pity for the odd plant. Its contorted form almost gave it a demeanor of resentment. It stood completely alone in the desert. Jed imagined that it was once a straight, normal-looking cactus and over time, it wrenched itself in defiance of the desert it so resented for making it live an existence of solitude. Now it was an ugly mutation of what it use to be. These thoughts provided Jed with a transitory distraction from the reality that he still did not know where he was going. He continued to imagine what the cactus may have looked like before it became warped and crooked. Then Jed grew cynical of his own thoughts and figured that he was giving too much life to an object that was not even alive. Jed checked himself, ‘Of course it’s alive’ he thought, ‘ it pushed itself up from the ground, and even if its body is dead, that beautiful flower on top of it was definitely still alive.’ The flower. The flower that was the same color of the raising tree seeds he kept in his pouch. Jed stopped his aimless trek. The cactus was now well behind him but Jed turned around and looked at it. He was far enough that it looked to be only half of its actual size, but still close enough that he could see its crooked profile in the distance clearly. He took a few steps forward to get a better look. He was curious. Just how similar were the colors of the flower and the raising tree seeds? When he got close enough to see the color of the flower, he pulled out a seed and held it out in front of him so that in Jed’s view, it was juxtaposed to the flower, still well off in the distance. He closed one eye and compared the two closely. There was no mistaking it; they were exactly the same color. At the very moment Jed came to his conclusion, he detected some movement in the cactus. Subtle at first but as Jed squinted his eyes and studied the giant plant he could see that it was…writhing. It’s giant stock was swaying and its bent limbs were reaching in all directions for some invisible prize. It was almost as if the cactus was squirming in pain, or reaching for something. But what? Jed held out the seed further toward the cactus and when he did, the plant twisted and roiled more intensely. It sensed the seed, it wanted it. Then the squirming stopped and the great cactus fell over and crashed down on the sand. The impact sent a veil of sand over the downed cactus and sent a shock-wave that Jed felt under his feet, even at the safe distance he stood away from the desert plant. When the cloud of sand settled, Jed could see that the cactus lay completely felled on the ground. Jed’s pity for the cactus evolved into full-fledged sympathy. He no longer feared the now defunct cactus off in the distance. Instead, he felt an inexplicable kinship with the solitary vegetation, like they were the same on the inside. Against all the logic that plead for Jed to stay put in that moment, Jed began walking back toward the cactus. As Jed got closer, he noticed the flower, which was now level with the ground, was still writhing as though pained, and its blue color was radiating and becoming intensely deep. Now Jed was standing only a dozen feet away from it. It struggled more fervently as Jed got closer. He stopped. The flower was alive with movement. Its abysmal blue pedals were flowing so languidly that it became impossible to tell where one ended and another began. They undulated like the fluid swells of the deep sea. Then the flower began to unfurl. Jed was put on guard again. Something was happening. Slowly, the flower was spreading itself open. A translucent ooze began to seep out at first. Jed stepped back. The flower now heaved in pained, sequenced, pushes. Then something began to emerge from its center. It was some kind of tail. It was spiked and covered with the natural, gooey sap from the flower. A pair of rough, scaly hind legs pushed free out of the flower now, then a long torso, and finally, with one last great heave from the flower, the creature was completely emerged. It was covered in the sticky slime of the flowers innards. The flower itself now lay emaciated, pale blue, and dead. There was no movement for a while and Jed began backing away in fear. Then the creature that emerged from the flower began to move tepidly. It shakily rose to its feet and turned to face Jed. It was a giant lizard four times the size of Jed. It was covered with horns and spikes so that it resembled the cactus itself. Spikes ran the length of its spine down to the tip of its tail. Four great spikes stuck out of the crooks of each of its elbows. Its body was covered in thick scales like plates of armor. Rows of spikes ran down its back. There were horned-plates protruding from its face and spikes lining the ridges of its jaw. Its chest was furrowed with thousands of sharp-pointed plates. The eyes were rimmed with spikes and its brow was jagged and hardened. Atop its massive head were six huge, curved horns. It looked like touching the softest part of this creatures body would cut your hand wide open.

Jed was stunned. The lizard was obviously disoriented and as Jed looked into its wild, searching eyes, he could see that it was incredibly weary. The lizard caught sight of Jed and Jed turned to run for his life. The massive lizard shook off what he could of the gunk from the flower but it was still dripping with it. It staggered maladroitly after Jed who was running at top speed. Its eyes were half-open and tired even though they were well protected from the flying sand with narrow eyelets and rough scales. It desperately chased after Jed who was able to keep a distance of about ten feet between he and the creature as he ran. Then the creature spewed forth from its mouth a long gluey tongue and whipped it toward Jed. Jed felt air rush by his face and caught only a glimpse of a fast moving object that struck the ground next to him and flung up granules of sand before flashing out of sight. Jed stopped to turn and face the lizard, he knew he could not outrun it for long. The lizard stopped running as well as Jed examined it to see what kind of weapon it had used to try and strike him, but Jed saw nothing but the lizard. They squared off for a few seconds then the lizard lunged at Jed but Jed rolled under it as it jumped so that they ended up facing each other again but now on opposite ends. The lizard was done sizing Jed up and this time there was no squaring off. Instead, the lizard immediately shit its viscid tongue out at Jed so that Jed could now see what had nearly struck him when his back was turned. Jed could not react in time. The tongue was whipped out quicker than Jed could blink his eye, but luckily the weary lizard’s aim was off and the syrupy tongue struck the sand at Jed’s feet. Another lightning-quick strike hit nothing but air above Jed’s head as he ducked just in time. Jed could not dodge the tongue, he knew that. Each strike had been closer than the last and the lizard, with half-open eyes, was correcting his aim with each attempt. Jed knew the only way to avoid the lizard’s lingual weapon was to anticipate when it was going to be deployed. Jed strafed slowly to his left studying the lizard carefully. The lizard was aiming. Jed focused on the monstrous reptile’s eyes- there was a slight twitch. Jed leaped to his right and sure enough the lizard’s tongue darted toward where Jed was standing. He had found its tell: a subtle spasm of the lizard’s bulging ocular muscles. Jed had bought himself some time, but how could he escape this situation? Jed thought rapidly as he kept his own eyes on those of his reptilian menace. Another twitch, another lunge, another near miss. The lizard roared a raspy, high-pitched squeal in frustration. Jed knew he couldn’t keep this up for much longer, but then an idea hit him. Jed slowly but steadily backed up, back toward the giant felled cactus. The lizard pursued its prey with single-mindedness and determination. The cactus was close now. Jed backed up close to it, waiting for the moment. The ocular twinge, Jed jumped forward and the sticky tongue darted above his head and struck the cactus, only this time it did not recoil back to the lizard’s gaping mouth. The tongue was impaled in at least a dozen places by the tightly packed spikes of the now lifeless cactus. It was stuck.The lizard wheezed and wailed shrilly in pain. It’s mouth was still agape and its long, pink, soft adhesive tongue stretched out straight between it and the cactus to which it was now stuck. Jed had to act quickly, he knew the spikes that stabbed the lizard’s tongue in place would not hold for long. Then Jed carefully approached the cactus and cautiously put both hands on an individual spike. He braced himself, dug his heels into the sand and began pulling hard. The spike, its host now dead, was brittle and did not offer much resistance. It broke off after a moderate use of force on Jed’s part, and he now held in his hand what may as well have been a rapier. He gripped the base of the long, narrow, but still incredibly sharp spike with both hands. Jed knew the long needle would have no effect on the reptiles skin, but Jed was eying its open mouth. He walked close to the incapacitated reptiles head. It was struggling mightily. Jed raised the spike, intending to thrust it into the lizard’s open mouth and down its throat. The spikes would not hold the creature’s tongue for much longer so Jed had to act quickly. He primed himself but he was hesitant. The beast thrashed and Jed heard the creaking of the spikes that were stabbed through its tongue. It was now or never. “I don’t want to do this!” Jed spoke to the lizard. “I shouldn’t be made to do this, it’s not right.” Jed looked into the eyes of the lizard. They were filled with fear. It looked so desperate, so weary. Jed held the spike to the lizards mouth, raised it above his head, and thrust it down harmlessly into the sand near the lizard’s long, cloven forelegs. Jed couldn’t do it/ He was sympathetic toward the creature. In it’s eyes he saw the same fear and desperation that Jed himself had felt so many times in this place. But Jed knew the creature would not be bound for long so he began to run. He hoped the lizard would be stuck long enough so that he could run over the horizon and out of sight. He did not get far. Jed failed to mind the lizard’s vicious tail and before Jed was out of its reach, it whipped Jed across the head in a final desperate attempt to subdue its prey. It worked. The impact sent Jed flying and he hit the ground just a few lengths away from the momentarily downed reptile. He had been hit so hard, he could not get up. he felt a haze creep over his mind. He was losing consciousness. The spiked tail had not only blunted Jed but also opened up a gash across Jed’s forehead and down to his left temple. The slashed flesh was bleeding bountifully and flowing into Jed’s eyes. He struggled to keep them open but unconsciousness was overtaking him rapidly. He couldn’t move. He felt a sensation of slipping calmly away from himself. Jed summoned all his strength to fight the sensation when he heard a sound that jolted his very core and ignited a deathly fear inside his mind. It was the sound of spikes snapping off of the dead cactus. Through a milky, crimson veil provided by Jed’s own blood, Jed saw the giant lizard break free and slowly lumber towards him. He saw the bloodied beast get closer and closer through a filter of blood-red until it was standing directly over him. Jed felt the hot breath of the creature as it belted out a triumphant, droning roar. Jed was terrified. It was over, Jed knew, and as the last bit of awareness seeped out of Jed’s mind he felt the all too familiar sensation. The sensation that seemed to define all of Jed’s experiences in this place. Jed felt the earth shake beneath his body. then he slipped into unconsciousness.

Stations of the Heart Chapter 13: Back to the World

At this point, no one can ever know how long Jed Ano existed in this state. Seconds, hours, months, decades- no one will ever know, not even Jed himself but one thing is certain: it did not last forever. This is known because Jed slowly felt himself regathering his consciousness. The warm cocoon that had enveloped him seemed to now be pushing him out, back to reality. Jed slowly began to regain his sight like a newborn baby seeing the world for the first time. He was unaware of the rest of his body or of where he was or what he was doing. All he could do was see. All he could feel was something like a slow awakening. Through half open eyes he saw walls. Walls of a place he had been before but he couldn’t place. He studied the walls and saw that they were moving. Then he realized that the walls themselves weren’t actually moving but rather the designs on the walls. Curvy, vine-like, sinews were slithering across the wall languidly. It was hypnotic. ‘Where am I’ Jed thought to himself. The thought seemed to spur another level of consciousness; Jed was now aware of his head. He continued to study the wall. The designs were slithering, ‘Slithering like snakes’ Jed surmised. ‘Snakes’ the word hung in his mind prevalently and then Jed became aware of his torso. ‘Snakes, snakes. Why does that seem so familiar?’ Jed continued on a speeding train of thought. ‘I’ve met a snake before, talked to one, but what about?’ Jed’s thoughts grew bolder and more distinguished from one another in his mind. He became aware of his arms. ‘The snake warned me of something’ he thought. He studied the flowing walls ever more intently. They sleeked slowly and fluidly and familiarly. ‘Don’t lose…don’t lose…don’t lose something’ he pondered. ‘But what?’ With eyes fixed on the wall, he noticed one large, distinguished sect of the design move ahead of the body of flowing art from which it came. It flowed faster and began to shine a blue light. Jed followed it as it moved along the wall. ‘Don’t lose…’ Jed chanted. Then the tip of the rogue design formed into the head of a snake. Something clicked inside of Jed and he remembered. The snake on the wall mouthed it at the same time Jed said it aloud, “Don’t lose yourself!” In an instant, Jed was aware of his legs, entire body, and everything around him. He was standing, once again in the great roundhouse. ‘Had I ever left?’ he questioned himself. Everything was as he remembered it; the glass ceiling, the brilliant moons and stars above it, the walls, it was all the same except there were no other spirits in the room with him besides the familiar orange one whom he was standing in front of once again. It was just the two of them. All the other spirits had disappeared.

This had been by far the strangest experience Jed had been a part of in this place. The strangest atop a long list of incredibly bizarre events. At this moment, Jed rather felt like he did when he climbed out of the stone structure where the Pintiler feast was held and realized he could not get back to Iparel: woefully defeated. Though his eyes saw many weird sights, and his ears heard many odd sounds in this forest, nothing could compare to the utterly alien experience his very being was made subject to. Jed felt he was no longer the same. He had nearly ceased to exist altogether and although he managed to pull himself back to the world, he knew he had come back with something missing. His spirit had been invaded and he felt rearranged, sullied, sifted through, and undeniably altered. Everything he had gone through to this point- nearly drowned and washed away to the forest, the upside down birds, the giant birds, the queer game between spiders and birds, meeting Iparel, the crab chef, the savage feast, talking serpents, and an ever self-contradicting tortoise with two heads- was somehow leading to this. He knew his journey was coming to a conclusion. He wondered what had become of Iparel, Nashper and Railnia, and Lashpat. Lashpat had warned him well. In fact, he surely saved Jed’s life. He warned Jed to not lose himself. Lashpat also told him that he would have a pivotal choice to make in the roundhouse- Jed supposed that choice would be presented to him shortly. Jed looked down at his canteen- now nearly empty- and his pouch of seeds- now with only a couple of seeds left- then at the phantasm in front of him. ‘Was this thing to be my companion like the other boys had? Or would I return home alone like the others? Would I return home at all?’ These were the questions hanging in Jed’s mind at the time. ‘I suppose those are the kinds of decisions I am to make’ he concluded. He attempted to communicate with the spirit. “How long have I been here with you?”

The stars inside the cloud of the spirit flickered alternately in response. It sang its answer as well and Jed couldn’t understand at first. He tried to understand the sounds, but instead, he began to feel and intimate the words in his mind. They said, “There is no way to tell.”

Jed was taken aback at this communication. It was more of a transmission of attitude, feeling, and intent. Jed began to ask another question but as he spoke, he instinctively turned the words into airy notes. “Why was I brought here?” Every word sounding more like a song that the last. He was song-speaking: the language of the spirits. The language that the boys who came back to the hometown with their companions spoke in the night as Jed laid in bed alone. Now Jed knew how they learned this language. In fact, it was not learned at all but rather given. Jed had been given the ability to turn his thoughts into song just as they other boys must have been given as well. But Jed wondered if he still possessed the ability to speak normally.

The spirit sang back, “You were brought here so that you may change. This place is a place of change. No one who passes through this forest comes out the same. It is a place of transition. Your life was becoming stagnant in your hometown and you were ready for the change. This is true because only those with the right eyes and spirits can see the signs of change. Only those who are prepared for change have the right eyes and spirits. That is why you were able to see that the sun in your hometown had changed colors and that is why the flood that swept through your hometown affected only you. It was a necessary change for your life. It must happen to those with the strongest minds.”

Jed replied in full song-speech, “I don’t feel like it was necessary and my mind does not feel very strong. In fact, all I want now is to feel how I have felt in this place, and to eat, I’m so hungry.”

The spirit replied to his mind, “Your mind must be strong, you dove deeper into the abyss than anyone before you and you somehow found your way back.”

“If my mind were strong in the first place I wouldn’t have dove so deep.” Jed retorted. the orange-hazed spirit said nothing to this. Jed waited for a response but it gave none, almost as though it was trying to come up with something to say but couldn’t. It conceded to Jed. “So what now?” Jed sang.

The spirit intimated back, “Now you choose whether you wish to stay here or return to your beloved hometown.”

“What will happen if I go home?” Jed submitted.

“You will be changed” The spirit replied.

“And if I stay here?”

“You will be changed.” The spirit answered. He knew that it meant that he would be changed into a snake. But he wasn’t sure what change was in store for him if he went home. Maybe just the change he now felt inside of him. Maybe he would gain height like some of the other boys in his hometown after they returned. The spirit felt Jed’s wondering. “You will be changed, that is all I can divulge.” The spirit conveyed to Jed. It continued. “Be warned that if you choose to go home, you will have to cross a vast, desolate, and lifeless desert wasteland.”

“Will you come with me?” Jed got to the point.

“I cannot say. I will be yours if you walk out of this house and I am on the other side of the door with you. You will be alone if I am not. But I can not tell you whether I will be with you or not.” The spirit answered.

“Why not?!” Jed desperately pleaded.

“It is simply impossible to say. I can not know.” It replied.

Jed was angry at the words, ‘I can not know.’ Defeat and submission washed over him again. He sighed heavily as he had done so many times before in this place. He thought in vain for a while but he knew all along that he yearned to go back home. To try to live a normal life again. But he yearned for so much more now. This place had made him to long for things he hadn’t before. He never wanted for anything before but now there was a powerful craving inside him for many things. He wanted to be with Iparel, he wanted to eat food again, he wanted to be merged with the spirit again, but he had wanted to return home all along. Even now. ‘I may not survive the desert, but if I stay here as a snake at least I will be safe. Maybe I could even look for Iparel.’ Jed thought for a long time, then sang his decision. “I choose to go home!”

“Very well.” Intimated the spirit. “Jed Ano, your mind is strong whether you accept it or not. Despite all of your new-found hungers and desires, your resolve remains steadfast. Your odyssey through this place has not stripped you of who you truly are. You retain some of the same Jed Ano you walked in here with. You choose to brave the desert wasteland knowing that you may not survive.”

Jed did not communicate it, but the spirit was feeling inside of Jed and it felt a fear of traveling through a dangerous terrain alone. But more powerful than the fear was Jed’s desire to return home, with a companion or without. His resolve had been shaken but not toppled. Jed felt fear, but it was only a novelty sensation. He knew that there was nothing he could encounter anymore that would shock or derail him, not even the peculiar visit of death itself. Anything he would encounter on the road ahead would only become fodder for the long list of weird, frightening, or elating things he had come across already. He was sort of, dulled in this sense. A gift and a curse. Nothing would ever be new for Jed anymore but nothing could ever catch him off guard again either. From now on, he would just be simply living. Walking. Walking through the earth, living for what it’s worth.

“It is time to embark on the final leg of your journey Jed Ano. Just beyond the exit of this house is a small meadow, past it is the desert, and on the other side of the desert is your hometown. I will open the door and you will be free to go. If I am not beside you on the outside of the house immediately after the door closes again, you will be alone. If you look beside you and see me, I will be yours forever.”

Two halves of the single, circular wall that enclosed the perimeter of the house were rolled back by the swirling designs, pulling opposite each other. Jed began walking toward the exit created by the opening walls while the spirit stayed in place. Jed approached the exit, looked back at the twinkling aura and said, “Maybe I will see you on the other side.”

“Maybe you will.” The spirit said to his mind.

Jed walked through. The walls rumbled slowly back together. They met with a thunder. The door was closed…

Stations of the Heart Chapter 10: Crossing the Bridge

“Why didn’t you come back for me?” Jed asked Nashper as he rode atop his enormous boulder-sized shell. They were slowly trekking through the cool, night time forest toward some as of yet unknown destination. The trees that Jed observed around himself were not shaped like the crescent moon, nor were they tall, straight, rigid and sentry-like. These were a new breed of tree altogether; wild, light-colored barks whose heights were much closer to the ground and gnarled like geriatric, old fingers reaching out into the air. They had untraceable trunks but four to six main limbs that crookedly stretched out from the beds of bone-dry, empty creeks flanking the curious two-headed turtles’ path on either side. though it was dark and Jed could hardly see more than a dozen feet ahead of him, he could tell that the path they were treading was not straight. They wound at a snails pace through the dense forest in very serpentine fashion. “Come back for you? Why would I do something like that?” Nashper inattentively mumbled back. “Because you said you would when you left me at that big rock!” Said Jed incredulously. “My dear boy, I told you already, there is no such direction as ‘back’ in this place. Forward movement is all that exists. I have never moved backwards in all my many years.” Nashper replied. The the contradictory Railnia chimed in, “That’s not true, we’ve moved backwards plenty of times.” “It only seems that way to you because your head is on the opposite end of our body” Nashper answered back. “That doesn’t make any sense!” cried Railnia. Jed thought it best to progress the conversation and interrupt the argument, “Then why did you tell me you’d come back for me?” Both Nashper and Railnia stayed silent at this for some time before Nashper finally answered in a genuinely contemplative tone, “I don’t know. I’m not sure why I would have been possessed to say a thing like that. To be quite honest, I can’t say that I clearly recall the incident you speak of.” A million arguments sprang up in Jed’s head as soon as he heard Nashper’s weak reply but resignation was quickly becoming the dominant feeling for Jed in this place…so he resigned. Jed shrugged his concern aside and sat in quiet contemplation atop the tortoise as they continued to bob through the forest slowly. He was not contemplating anything in particular, rather just passing the time by letting his mind wander. Nashper and Railnia were going on about some nonsense; arguing amongst each other. Jed wasn’t paying attention. Cross-legged and with chin in hand he lazily studied the trees that looked like bony hands reaching out toward him. As the trio slowly moved, Jed began to notice the trees getting closer to the ground. It was like they were all slowly sinking into the earth as the three of them moved forward. Jed perked up, unfolded his legs from under him, and propped himself up on hands and knees, looking over Nashper’s shell. He looked as hard as he could and soon concluded that the dry creek that these trees were growing from was getting deeper. Soon Jed was looking down on the tops of the trees. In no time, Jed could no longer see the trees at all, they had all fallen away, deep down in the ever-deeper creek. Nashper was taking them on a path that fell away on either side to depths unknown. Jed grew nervous and ventured to Nashper, “The path seems to be getting narrower doesn’t it?” “I haven’t noticed.” Nasper replied. “I have” Railnia reported. “Seems like we’re getting higher and higher up…dangerously high even.” Jed timidly commented, he didn’t want to startle his navigator, it was apparently a very long drop to the ground. “It’s perfectly safe” said Nashper. Jed could now hear the wind whistle steadily through what was now more of a canyon than a creek. In a noticeably nervous voice, Jed continued, “But if there is no going back in this place, doesn’t it stand to reason that you could never have been to the same place twice? How can you know this path is safe if you have never been here before?” “That’s true. I have never been here before but I know it is safe. I can just tell.” Nashper answered. “we have been here before, I’ve seen it in hindsight” added Railnia. “Now THAT doesn’t make any sense.” Nashper replied. “It makes perfect sense!” argued Railnia. Jed was not reassured by this exchange. By this time, Jed knew that the dry creek was far below them on either side. The three moons shone a strong light but not strong enough to illuminate the depths of the creek far far below. Jed did his best to look straight ahead and not to his sides, lest he be seized by fear of a death-plunge. He stared intently over Nashper’s head at the narrow path they tread and soon noticed a change. The mostly dirt path on which they walked was growing a bit wider and harder. This relieved Jed but before he could revel too long in relief, he was astounded by the structure which now took shape under the bluish moonlight before him. Nashper stopped at the foot of this structure…it was a massive bridge made of stone. “I believe our destination lies on the other side of this bridge.” said Nashper. “Our destination?” asked Jed, “Where are we going?” “A great house” he answered and gestured with his head to a high hill shrouded by fog on the other side of the bridge. “The house lies atop that hill” Jed stared intently at the hill but could make out no house on top of it. “What kind of house is it, and how do you know of it?” asked Jed. “everybody knows this house, simply common knowledge.” answered Nashper. Railnia chimed in directly after Nashper’s response. “This is the first I am hearing of it.” Again Jed’s fears were less than allayed by the exchange of the two-headed reptile, but it was of little consequence as Nashper advanced onto the bridge as he contended with Railnia. ‘Forward movement’ Jed timidly thought to himself.

As much as Nashper’s cryptic comments about the house to which they were headed puzzled Jed, he actually felt a bit more secure and calm as they walked down the bridge. For one thing, it was straight as an arrow not winding like their previous walkway. It was also a bit wider and had barriers of stone on both sides. Even though the stone of these barriers were brittle and decaying and even non-existent in some parts, some protection was better than no protection at all Jed concluded. As Jed rode atop Nashper’s shell these barriers were just enough to obscure how far below the bridge the earth really was. Jed was thankful for this because he was sure he would lose his equilibrium if his eyes were able to probe all the was down to the ground below. As it was, he had a good handle on how deep it was. The bridge itself looked very old to Jed. There were many cracks in its stone walkway and the stone itself was obviously battered by weather and traffic. The silvery-blue light of the moons above revealed old, ornate etchings on the inside of the barrier that were rubbed out presumably by weather and use. These etchings ran the length of the barrier and would have been lovely if they weren’t so corroded; fluid, swirling designs with clusters of what must have been flowers dispersed modestly throughout. The bridge evidently linked the interminable forest with a small range of foothills on the other side over an incredibly deep canyon. ‘If there was a body of water down there’ Jed thought to himself ‘it must have been a huge, wild river that has long since been dry.’

They continued across the bridge for what seemed to Jed to be at least an hour. Jed noticed that the three moons had barely moved in the sky but the crescent-shaped blue one was now completely full. Jed once again held his chin in his hand and wore a bored demeanor, but something soon peaked his interest. He perked his head up when he saw something new on the bridge. It was some kind of perch in the shape of a “T” sticking out atop the bridge’s barricade. It was made of the same gray stone as the bridge and there was one about every twelve feet for as far as Jed could see. Before Jed could wonder what these perches were for, he felt a terrible rumble beneath him. The bridge quaked ad Jed was immediately seized by the fear that the bridge would crumble apart and he would free-fall to his death- but this fear quickly yielded to another. Jed was now staring at a gigantic black eyeball. A massive eyeball at least 14 feet in diameter. Jed was gawking, amazed at it and in an instant it shot up towards the sky. He gazed up, following it until it was too high for Jed to see. Then he looked back over the barricade and saw two incredibly tall black stalks. Then the stocks bent and moved forward. They were legs. Two giant birds-legs propping up the body of a giant black-feathered bird. Jed had been faced with the enormous bird’s eyeball. He looked up and could now see it’s feathery body, long neck and beaked head. It was massive. It walked and every footstep caused the earth and bridge to shake. Then Jed caught another just ahead of the first one. Then another behind it, until he saw one after one shoot up from the empty canyon below. Each one of their legs growing, shooting up at an impossible rate and pushing their heads towards the sky. Soon there were to many to count and their all-black bodies were difficult to make out against the dark canyon. They all tread forward on either side of Jed. Without a word Nashper and Railnia retreated into their shell, legs and all. Jed was alone and frightfully unaware of what would happen next so he did what felt most natural: he ran. He slid down Nashper’s shell and ran as fast as he could to the other side of the bridge. The giant birds noticed him and began lunging their colossal heads downward and pecking at him. Their beaks came crashing down on the bridge walkway creating huge craters in the stone. Jed lunged left to avoid a gigantic black beak, picked himself up, sprinted, then lunged right to avoid another. Each time the enormous heads came speeding downward they created a great ‘woosh’ of air. Jed’s mind was white-blank with fear and adrenaline, but he knew he couldn’t survive much longer. He had to get to the other side of the bridge in a mad haste. He ran as fast as he could to the point where his lungs pinched. A beak came plowing down in the center of the walkway right in front of Jed. Jed jumped hard to the right. He felt the bridge fly out from under him- he had jumped clear off. He reached his hand out and grab hold of one of the “T” shaped perches. He was hanging by one hand over the side of the bridge. Sprinting had sapped the strength from his body. He could barely hang on and surely couldn’t lift himself up with only one hand. Jed hung there, helpless and sure that his time was coming to an end. Then he felt the air grow warm. He turned his head over his shoulder and saw a giant bird leaning over and looking directly at him. Jed was staring down its impossibly long beak and back to its huge eyes far behind. The bird jerked its head and Jed, fueled by primal survival necessity, swung his free arm up and reached as hard as he could and grabbed onto the barricade. With everything in him he pulled himself up and over the the barricade just as the bird shot it’s beak forward and punched a massive dent into the side of the bridge. He gathered himself and started running again, but there was nothing left in Jed’s tank. His breathing turned into a dry heave and he felt himself passing out. His head rolled back but just as his vision became blurry he noticed that the crescent-shaped blue moon was filling up fast. He stopped running, doubled over in labored breathing and saw the legs of all the birds shrink and shoot back downwards into the canyon. The pudgy bodies of the giant birds fell rapidly towards the ground until Jed could see them no more. Jed collapsed to his knees in exhaustion and relief. After a few moments Jed saw some normal sized black birds flying all around the bridge. One by one they all slowly landed on the perches that were posted at intervals on the bridge. Jed looked up again at the moons and saw that all three, once again were full. Turning his attention back to the birds, he noticed a dead silence. The black birds that sat on each perch were now stone. Jed stood astonished. He contemplated to himself while still trying to catch his breath. ‘These have to be the same giant birds from a minute ago’ he thought to himself. Jed never needed a drink of water more than he did in that moment so he gulped down a good amount from his canteen. It was now almost empty. Jed now walked at a cautious pace toward the end of the bridge, still thinking of and looking at the now stone birds. ‘They somehow lost their giant size and gained wings’ he thought. ‘Affected by the phases of the moons.’ Now he walked in silence while the sentinel birds watched him with their lifeless, stone eyes, one at each perch. Jed felt uneasy but soon sighted the land at the end of the bridge. He walked onto the soft dirt and never felt safer.

Once on the other side of the bridge, Jed found himself confronted with a great, steep, hill blanketed in a dense forest. He began to hike up it. Something wafted into his ears. It was sweet singing. Interminable singing. He looked towards the top of the hill and saw it was from a great roundhouse. He pushed on, climbing up toward the house. Jed had never felt hunger before, but now he found himself thinking ‘I’m hungry, I hope they have food.’

A Scene From A Love Long Passed

He rang the doorbell and almost immediately heard the thudding feet of a running five-year old against the hardwood floor. In an instant the door was pulled open and Judith stood in front of Him. She ran to His legs and He bent down to pick her up and gave her a kiss on the cheek that He had been saving for her for a week. He believed that He was more excited to see her than she was to see Him, but how can you really quantify such emotions? “Are you ready to go?” Judith asked in an enunciated tongue that was well beyond her years. She was an impossibly bright little girl and He could barely remember a time when she spoke like a child. “Not even a ‘hello, I missed you I’m happy to see you?'” He responded. “Of course I missed you, I don’t have to say it.” Judith rebutted , a bit embarrassed, burying her face in His shoulder. “Well it’s nice to hear it every once in a while especially since I’ve missed you so darn much!” Giving her another affectionate kiss on the cheek to which she giggled coyly and burrowed her face deeper into His shoulder. “And yes I am ready I just have to use the bathroom.” He put her down and she ran excitedly back in the house to grab her backpack filled with all manner of grandiose toys. The kind of grandeur that only an excited child can place on his or her most prized objects when they are about to go on a trip. They were going to the L.A. Zoo. Judith loved animals and her backpack was full of stuffed ones so she could compare them to the real thing. “Where is your mother?” He asked. “Upstairs getting pretty.” Judith answered.

He stepped into the bathroom, unzipped and began leaking himself dry. He stared at the wall in front of Him and reflected on how much He really did miss Judith. It had only been a week since He saw her last but it felt unhealthily long. Probably because He had been looking forward to this day all week, He figured. He truly loved that little girl, as if she was His own. He finished up, washed His hands, and opened the bathroom door to find little Judith standing right outside with her backpack strapped on and something that looked like a book in her hands. “I made something for you” Judith stated quietly. She handed it over to Him. It was a makeshift book bound with yarn and leafed with different colored construction paper. There was a drawing of Him and Judith on the cover but no title. He opened it up and flipped through the pages. Every other page had a drawing of He and Judith engaged in some activity: at the zoo, visiting the Eiffel Tower, playing piano together, doing cartwheels in some fantasy-scape. Next to each drawing was a blank page. “This is a beautiful book but why did you leave all these pages blank?” “So you can write a story based on the pictures.” He was a journalist and aspiring writer and Judith loved to read some of His more outlandish fantasy short stories. He had to stifle watery eyes as He examined the lovingly prepared book. He had no children of His own and He was 29, still single, and with no prospects of being wed anytime soon. He hadn’t really loved anyone for many a year but after Judith was born He found someone He could shower His affection upon. It was strange especially since she was not even His child, they shared no blood. He was something of an honorary Uncle but there was no denying that they were good together. Before He realized it His daytime activities of drinking beer and shooting the shit with His friends were replaced by trips to the zoo, watching animated kids films at the movies, and dentist and doctor appointments. She didn’t like to go to any kind of medical office with anyone but Him because He was good at dispelling the fear. She loved Him immensely as well. The time he spent with her were welcomed by Judith’s mother and father since it gave them some time to themselves. Thus, He spent as much time as He could with little Judith, and at this moment with her precious gift in His hands, He felt the paralyzing and immaculate love He had for this little girl radiate inside of Him. He picked her up and hugged her as tight as He could without hurting her. Judith reciprocated by wrapping her arms around His neck. At that moment She was walking down the stairs picking some lint off of Her blazer. She stopped mid-flight when She caught sight of the scene that was transpiring between Him and Her daughter. Judith ran the idea of the book by Her earlier in the week and She told Judith that He would love it. She saw the book in His hands and knew what She was witnessing. She liked the fact that He was so close to Judith in fact, when she was born, She sort of hoped He would be part of her life. She stood silent and watched the scene in secret. Judith was happiest when she was with Him. Kind of like how She use to be.

Her eyes watered up just as He put Judith down and whispered something in her ear. As He straightened up He saw Her standing on the stairs, watching. They made eye contact and in that moment, a thousand memories flashed between them. The trip to San Diego that was supposed to be romantic and was until She began puking Her guts out all over the hotel bed. The time She drove three hours to Santa Barbara to pick Him up just because He was bored and She wanted to see Him. Their best date at the observatory. The time She spent all night talking to Him when they first started dating. When She spent two days fine-tuning His Power Point presentation for speech class. She could hardly believe that She was ever willing to do so much for Him. These were things She hadn’t thought of in years. In that moment, a frisson of feelings rose up in both of them that had lay dormant for years. Feelings thought to be long gone. Feelings suppressed. She remembered how happy She use to get whenever they saw each other. He remembered how much She use to occupy His thoughts and how She always use to give the sweetest slight smile whenever He kissed Her while She was asleep. In that moment, they were seeing each other with eyes they hadn’t used in years.Years had passed and they were different people now, yet somehow still the same. The love they used to share was neglected and forgotten and through the years they had come to terms with that and were able to keep on living. They had now known each other for twelve years, much longer than She had known even her husband and still saw each other as often as He came to see Judith, but not like they were seeing each other in this moment. It was a moment of clarity, of remembrance. In that moment they both silently acknowledged that what they shared all those years ago was not forgotten. The moment lasted maybe four seconds, but it spanned an infinite timeline of love long since passed. Judith anxiously tugged at His hand “Lets go!” and just like that, the reality of the present made its stark presence undeniably known. “Where’s Mark?” He asked. “Getting the oil changed, are you excited?” Turning Her attention to Her daughter. She loved her more than She’d ever be able to express. “Yes, I got all my animals and I’m ready to go!” Judith responded. “We better get going before the lions fall asleep.” He said, turning His attention back to Judith. Judith raced out the door toward His car in he driveway. He turned back to Her and said soberly, “It was good seeing you.” She gave a small laugh and said, “C’mon you see me every week.” He stood halfway out the door, looked at Her one last time and said, “I know.”

Opposition

There will never be any uncertainty about who these words are directed toward. Today, on your birthday (not the actual day of this post) I celebrate my contempt for you. Elliott Smith’s “XO” seems to go hand-in-hand with this new found stance of loathing and discontent. Perfect timing I suppose. An album with an apparently oppositional stance as opposed to a self-destructive one. That is where I am now. Sure, I have some blood on my hands but I was not the one to decide that it was too much blood to bear. The fault that lies on every single individual’s head was not what was exceeded by me. I’ve done nothing more than what a rational person would call sane and just. Still, I was harshly sentenced by an irrational judge drunk on some brand of delusion I can never know for a crime that called for nothing more than a loving embrace. That’s the hardest part: knowing that a better woman would have loved me, and thinking she was that type of woman. I oppose you and take pity on the next poor soul you choose to abuse and mistakenly abandon in place of an inner-void that you refuse to learn how to fill on your own.

“To someone half as smart, you’d be a work of art.”

A.T. Fields Up

“There is no good in humanity” -Brandon G.

Human relationships are such a hopelessly flawed dynamic. Like puzzle pieces that were never meant to fit together. There is rarely any equality or benevolence in human relationships-everyone is always looking to get one over on someone else. The porcupines dilemma-the closer we get to one another, the more we hurt each other. It’s as though we were all born with (or acquired) a void that no other living being could fulfill but that will always appear that someone else could fulfill. And so we push on, hopelessly passing on to interactions that will never give us what we really need to feel complete. From one to another, doing damage to ourselves and others, creating a wake of burned bridges and dashed hopes. Feeling emptier and emptier as we go along. There is nothing good in humanity so it stands to reason that we can do no good for each other. Humans are the blind but ever-persevering drifter trying to find a comfortable home on a lifeless planet. In this sense, our blindness is our fuel, forever propelling us to search further for something that I suspect can only be found in ourselves and completely apart from others. Humans seem to be inherently incapable of satisfying the psycho-needs of other humans, but at the same time have an incredible driving sense that they can. This void is why we seek god, love, beauty, career, drugs, highs, and destructive lows. Anything to distract us from the reality that there is nothing anyone else can do to make us feel OK. Those who cannot find “it” within themselves (myself included) are doomed to look outward until they invariably reach the dead-end that in one sense or another, awaits us all.

I can’t get away from the concept that we can be so destructive for each other. Still we eternally look to each other for comfort and happiness. This is my argument against intelligent design. If there were anything intelligent about our supposed creation we would not have this black hole inside each of us that consumes everything good and bad about us and reduces them to nothingness.

“I will bring whom I perceive to be a good person into my life in order to supplement my own character and make myself a better and more complete individual.”

Seems like a good idea right? I thought so too but as it turns out it just led me to resent, despise, and alienate myself from something beautiful that I could not maintain. Like buying a Bentley that you don’t know how to drive and ultimately end up crashing. Are we doing any good? Are we doing more harm than healing to one another? I once read that charity is a flawed, selfish, and ultimately destructive act. Now I can see how that may be. Destruction is a natural act for humans so who is to say that we will not rain destructive forces down upon those we hold close to ourselves. We are such flawed beings that we can do little good for each other, yet we can not live alone. Human relationships are a diseased and delirious phenomenon that cruelly can not be avoided. Life plays yet another cruel joke.