Carrying my moderately heavy and slightly overstuffed bag through the streets while dodging the vacant vessels of skin and bones is making a small bead of sweat form on my brow and a tiny ember of rage grow in the pit of my stomach. Everywhere seems like uphill right now and at that moment I remind myself of what I’m headed towards. Holding a rock in one hand and pushing against a hard place with the other, I’m walking towards a tiny hidden locker of uncertainty and half-truths. A place that’s cozy and warm but cut off from the world I know and should be a part of. The combination of pushing two worlds away from each other along with my mind and heart splitting apart is bringing me excruciating inner pain. The hot sweat gathering where my duffel rubs and rests on my back is becoming uncomfortable and annoying so I shift the strap further across my collar and skip a bit to jostle the bag into a new position.
I crest what seems like a hill but is likely my mind coming to ease as I generally get a hold of some calmness and map out my route through the narrow streets. I have this odd urge to always walk what seems the quickest way from A to B and this probably attributes to many of my lapses of ‘walk-rage’ but I’ve also found that the rhythmic roll of electronic drums and square base bring me comfort and pace in my strides. The only distraction from my auditory blinders is the clattering bell of the tram as it warns me only a few meters away of its imminent monstrous approach. A flash in my mind occurs on the validity of the brakes on the old rusty car hauling by me. I can almost hear each individual bolt, screw and rivet creak and bend as it whittles its corroded self down to slivers wondrously holding the carriage together in a cacophony of shuttering scrap metal. Perhaps the heap would crumble around me if it were ever to attempt to run me down. Sometimes I silently thank the mayhem of the outside world for butting into my stream of conscious white noise and reminding of where I need to turn.
I’m at your street and heading down towards your flat. It’s mere meters from the corner and as I step up to the main entrance door downstairs and ring the bell I am overcome with nervousness and anxiety. After a few seconds I am buzzed in and as my spirited strides carry me up the lung-burning stairs to the top floor I hear the chink of the door lock open followed by only the sound of my boots dusty heels pushing off of each stair in time to the light hiss of drum beats emanating from my earphones resting around my neck. I’m rounding the last mezzanine to your apartment and as I come to the door I’m looking up at you, your face alight with joy and excitement along with a sense of relief that I’m finally there. Nothing makes me feel more welcome, more expected and more needed. All residual negativity melts away from my tired soul and I say hello, kiss your cheeks and then embrace you kissing your warm neck and smelling your soft skin. I’ve missed this. I’ve missed this place and this feeling. But no longer. I am finally home…
A dull ache becomes a slow and intensifying throb. My chest tightens as my blood thins and boils throughout my tense body. I feel a searing heat flush through my skin from my head to my clenched fists. My breathing stops momentarily until I realize it and swallow what seem like a stone in my throat. All of my muscles stiffen and then go cold as I sit with a glazed stare , slightly hunched over with my mouth cracked open. The dryness of my lips keeps me in a numb reality but all I real want is to go back into the warmth of darkness. To coil up like a snake under the security of a rock. But reality pulls me back out and forces me to consciously live again. It’s the circumstance and the situation. It affects me more than I could expect. The stiffness within me prevents me from escape. Either that or the need to hold onto what I’m losing. My grip is slipping and my palms are sweaty. I can feel the paleness over my face and recognize its reflection in those around me. It paralyses me even more and I begin to choke on my dry throat. I close my mouth and grind my teeth as I force my mind to resume conscious thought so I can react to what’s happening. I feel like I’m trying to catching my breath after being kicked in the chest. It hurts and swells inside me like the sensation of falling in a dream. I hate this. I deserve this. I choke it down and push through. I still wish things had been different.
The violent rocking of the boat is mentionable in respect to both how large the craft is and how rough the sea outside must be. I wouldn’t know as my cabin is located deep in the belly of the hull of the ship. I’ve been down here for an indeterminate amount of time but I’d guess for hours, maybe even a couple of days. The storm has been raging and turning the sea for a long time and our old vessel is being shaken and tossed about like a ball in a bingo rack. It creaks and moans as its salt-rusted joints bend and sway with every pitch of the hard unforgiving sea as it slams into the hull with a frightful force. But I trust this old boat. I’ve been sailing on this ship forever and these seas for even longer. As treacherous and unpredictable as the sea and weather is I still, and always will, have faith in my vessel and it’s old-handed crew. These men, these soldiers of the sea, have been a part of my crew for well over 20 years and even more have been my dear friends through life’s up and downs, like the tides along the shores. And like this ship we work and live in we all have character. We all have our stories and our winding roads we’ve been down, each of them leading us to one similar present destination. The bonds created between comrades on our shared seafaring journey are as strong as the iron welds and rivets holding this old boat together. We have our creaks and our groans, especially during rough times but we always stay strong and steadfast. A band of water gypsies roaming the open seas in search of our next port of call where we’ll gather our required supplies, find a place to drink, remember and then to forget. We always reminisce about the old days of land life and past loves and friendships but soon turn our thoughts back to the endless open expanse that is our true calling. Our home. The seas.
I close the door behind me as it screeches shut with an ear piercing sound only an old rusty heavy iron door can make. My face contorts as I close my eyes trying to block out the noise that’s continuing to ring inside my head that is now spinning. Am I drunk or drugged? I’m sweating profusely and my shirt is soaked through completely. Leaning against the door I slide down with a thud to the ground and open my eyes. I can’t see a thing and all I feel is the cold hard floor beneath me and the coarse grit of the oxidized metal on my back. The room feels tiny like a box as I can hear the short echo of my breath reverberating off of the walls. I can’t seem to catch my breath as if there were no air in the room at all. I begin to gasp for breath and as I do my head begins to spin even more from oxygen deprivation. I feel a great pressure all around me bearing down on me like the weight of a thousand oceans, to the point which I can’t take it anymore. My muscles give out and I scream as my body goes limp, sliding sideways and down the hard surface onto my shoulder and face, the coolness of the floor on my cheek being the only sensation I have left. I give up and let the darkness take over me, bringing me into its silent and comforting arms. Slipping into unconsciousness my mind begins to fold in on itself, smaller and smaller into a microcosm of implosion. It feels as if all my bones are separating and my muscles and tendons have all stretched and melted away as my limbs pull apart. No pain, just intense sensation and a numb mind reeling back on my skull. I choke on my tongue and bite down on my teeth with so much force it feels as if my molars will shatter at any moment. And then I’m falling backwards, the now cold air whipping at my back as I catch speed and plummet downward. I can feel moisture collecting on the back of my body along with short flashes of coldness as if I were falling through clouds, but the truth is I have no idea where I am or what’s truly happening. I can’t even move and I can barely breath. Every breath I try to take gets colder and colder and soon I begin to feel my lungs start to freeze as the condensation on my body turns to ice. In a moment I am engulfed in frigid solid ice and I am no longer breathing, only falling. I can feel the ground below me getting closer and before I can even think about what is happening I hit the ground, smashing into a million icy pieces. I disintegrate and am released.
I come home, but no one is there. I reach out, but no reaches back. No warmth. I fumble in the dark looking for something familiar, but the space is just empty and cold. I know I’m not alone, but I’m left in a deafening silence. To know you’re there and to know you’re alive does nothing for me but twist my stomach and mind. Heavy and sour are my insides as I think too much. If only closing my eyes would help me escape I would do it forever. But like a cold wet blanket upon my shoulders I cannot shake free. It seeps into my bones and aches my muscles to the core. I scream at the top of my lungs and yet I hear nothing, no reflection and no echo. Just deafening silence.
I walk down the path. The trees bowing over me in an arc of cool shade as beams of sunlight pierce the branches and strike my face like a picket fence. I can feel the slight heat of the beams of light contrasting the coolness of my skin in the fading afternoon. I follow the winding trail through the whispering woods, stepping in time to the music in my earphones. It’s getting chilly and I roll my sleeves down and cross my arms to tuck my hands under them. The wind is starting to pick up and nip at me through my thermal shirt. Chills begin to run up my spine and goosebumps grow on my skin. But the cold doesn’t stop me from moving ahead. Drawn to something I know not of, I press on with an eagerness I’ve never felt before. I have to get there. I have to be there as soon as possible. But where and why I cannot tell you. It’s as magnetic and powerful as anything I’ve ever felt. Like water to a sponge I’m drawn closer and into what lies ahead. I can see a distant glimmer of light which appears to be an opening. As I grow nearer I can begin to see the faint outlines of a figure I can not yet recognize. It is a woman and she has long flowing hair. Like fire it flows from her head in all directions. As the clearing grows closer my eyes follow her outline as it curves it’s way down her body, over her shoulders, down around her hips and along her legs. My heart skips a beat causing me to clutch my chest and stumble, almost falling to the ground. But, I catch myself and lengthen my strides. The clearing is before me and as I step out of the cool dense trees and into the warm open clearing time stops, or at least if feels like it. Everything is in slow motion. Seconds turn to minutes and minutes to hours as I watch life slowly pass me by. She grows closer to me but all I see is a beautiful black figure, her gentle movement gliding her along the ground towards me. As she gets closer she slowly reaches her hand out to me. I take it in mine as she comes to me, our hands falling together to our sides, both hands now holding each others. Our bodies close and warm with lips mere inches apart, she releases my hand, slowly and lovingly putting hers against my cheek. I close my eyes and feel the warmth of her hand as her energy flows into my face, causing me to smile with delight. She laughs and smiles back at me. Even with my eyes closed I can see her now in my mind. I can feel ever bit of her presence around me. Her hand runs from my cheek down towards and over my lips, pausing momentarily with a single finger. And as she pulls her finger away I am blessed with a kiss that is soft, passionate and full of sweet love. My face goes weak and I can do nothing but breathe in and sigh deeply. Her warmth now begins to increase, heating my lips and hands and continuing into my body. I can feel the hot energy circulating around me and into my skin, deep into my bones. It is then that she presses her body into mine and puts her arms around me, holding me tight. My arms fall around hers and wrap around her shoulders and back, holding her as we kiss. The heat is so intense now that I feel like I may burn up but at the same time I feel as if this heat, this fire is protecting me. A safe and impenetrable cocoon of fire and love, and everything else in this world disappears. Within this light all I see is beauty and life. All I feel is love and pure joy. All around me and constantly flowing, it surges through me giving me life and a sense of belonging. It’s in this embrace that we travel through the stars and the heavens, in each others arms and perpetual. This is my love.
I am standing in a room lit by yellowish fluorescent lights and smelling of stark clay-like silt. I have no idea where I am but it doesn’t feel natural. I am facing an off white wall with a dark wood railing a few feet in front of me along with a dusty old desk with cheap wood laminate that’s stained with what looks like coffee rings and pen ink. My vision is clear to the center of my sight but all around my peripheral it is dark and shadowy. I cannot look around. I can only face forward and down a little. It is silent, as usual, and in a sudden yet undeterminable moment I sense and realize that there is a long steel pin running into my mouth and straight through my right cheek. I have no idea how it got there or when it happened but what I do know is the odd pain of shock and cold sensation of metal in my mouth is real. The metallic taste in my mouth could either be from the slightly rusted pin in my face or the traces of blood trickling out of the interior of the wound. My face feels mildly paralyzed and dumb but my hands are free and I reach to pull out the foreign object. As I begin to pull I feel the tug of friction between the rusty pin and my skin and then the pain comes. Fast and hard, it hits me like a hammer to my face. It’s a searing, burning pain mixed with cold, dull ache and it is almost unbearable. My face contorts and I try to tense my face and cheek muscles in order to apply some resistance to the tugging of the pin as I pull it out. It feels like it’s taking forever, as if the steel pin were 10 feet long. Hand over hand I pull. Tears are streaming down my face as I dry-heave from the pain. And at the moment when the pin reaches its end and I pull it free I feel a popping sensation as my wound bursts from within and fills my mouth with putrid blood so fast that spurts of it fly forth and splatter on a newly seen folded piece of white paper on the desk. I was expecting relief and a release from the grip of pain but instead I am now filled with horror. I have no idea why mouth is gushing with blood at the rate it is and in a natural reaction I open mouth to spit out the contents of what now feels like coagulated blood. It won’t seem to end and stop coming out. I can taste it now. Sour and acrid with a metallic taste like rotten juice from a rusty tin cup from 100 years ago. My cheeks are still bulging with liquid that is now a thick saliva like texture as I look down and see clearly what is coming from my mouth. It looks like old dark blood from a hospital floor. Black and burgundy with what looks like chunks of tissue and mucus. I am revolted at the sight of what came out of me and that is when I realize it is no longer pouring out of me. My mouth is raw and sore but at least it is empty. The taste and texture of week old blood still lines my mouth. I put my hands on the desk to hold myself as I try to catch my breath and as I look up slightly I notice the folded piece of paper with a single splotch of blackish blood on it. And then I notice little wisps of chemical smoke coming up from the spot where there is now a hole as if my sputum were burning through it like sulfuric acid. My mind twists in confusion and an even greater sense of horror as I mentally scramble to understand what is happening. And as I begin to fade into a frightful unconsciousness I wake up with a jolt…