Talk

Golden sandy dune, indigo twilight sky. A familiar voice, a flood of relief.

He paced in front of me, kicking sand with his feet.

‘Have you any idea how much trouble you have caused? Any idea at all? Jesus Fucking Christ Eden. You’ve surpassed yourself this time! Talking to people about it? Uploading it online? Trying to attract attention to yourself in the biggest way possible! You would have been in a coma within a second of hitting return. You could have been lost forever, so you’d better have a pretty fucking good explanation prepared because you have pissed a lot of people off. Me especially. Well?’

I bit the side of my cheek, trying to avoid his gaze. I missed you, I thought.

‘You missed me? You missed me? You destroyed the world because you missed me? Well, that’s alright then! The entire history of civilisation, humankind, everything. Erased, all gone. Because you missed me? Any other repressed feelings you’d like to share? Despair perhaps? Or misery? I’m sure that I have a few galaxies lying around not doing much that would benefit hugely from a dose of your emotions. You stupid, selfish moron!’ He grabbed me and shook me harder than I would like.

Anger rose in my chest and I shoved him away from me. ‘ You know, you are usually far nicer to me in this world. It’s been a pretty shitty day truth be told, the very least I’d expect is that my dream-you would be a little kinder.’

‘Oh holy fuck, you think you are dreaming? Have you completely forgotten what is going on here?’

‘What’s going on here is that you are pissing me right off.’ I started walking away.

He caught up to me and gazed deep into my eyes. ‘Seriously Eden, have you forgotten what is going on?’

I shrugged, ‘What is going on?’

‘Fuck!’ He kicked the sand and muttered, ‘Fuck, fuck, fuck. You’ve been under too long’.

‘Too long for what? What the hell?’

‘Hell. Exactly.’ He shook me again, ‘Eden, seriously, I need you to remember’.

‘Remember what? You are talking crazy. And to be honest you are scaring me a little’.

‘I can’t tell you. It has to come from you. You have to trust me. You don’t need to be scared – well actually you do- but not if you remember. Quickly.’

‘Trust you? Are you kidding? Almost everything that comes out of your mouth is a lie’.

‘If it wasn’t I wouldn’t need you to trust me. Please. Try.’

‘I am trying’, I said through gritted teeth. ‘But you’re not exactly being helpful.’

‘You’d be surprised.’

‘Really? If this is helpful, can we skip obtuse?’

‘You know, you are really quite funny when you are angry’.

‘Can you fuck off and starting talking sensible?’

He sighed, ‘No. I can’t and you have no idea how much I wish I could.’ He leaned forward and touched his forehead to mine. ‘The point is you have to remember. That is the key to everything’.

‘The way you said everything, it sounded like everything. Trust me, nothing in my head is that important.’

He squeezed my hands. ‘You are going to wake up now. You cannot forget that you need to remember. You have to take this memory with you’.

‘You said I wasn’t dreaming!’

‘I might have lied’.

‘I hate you’.

‘I often feel the same. Now…wake up Eden’.

2 + 2 = 5

Desire was still searing through me from the feel of Seth pushing against me as we stood outside in the Nevada sunshine watching the huge fountains of the Bellagio firing turrets of water into the sky. 

What if I wrote a symphony and dedicated it to you?” Seth said.

“Oh my God, can you stop?” I laughed, riding the thrill of that delicious thought. “By all means write a symphony, that would be incredible, but dedicate it to me as your friend. I’d believe that.”

Seth‘s eyes stayed fixed on the jets of spray dancing in time to the music. “I’ve always wanted to write a symphony.”

“There’s nothing stopping you.”

“I guess,” he said as we began walking again.

At New York, New York someone had rigged the dummy of a man in an orange jumpsuit onto the bridge. Hanging from his neck, it looked like a suicide. The Halloween antics were already beginning. In the Irish pub, a middle aged peroxide blonde of wrestler proportions directed us to an outside table. She took our order of coffee for two, coupled with a Cafferys for Seth and a Guinness for me and left us with the menus.

While we were browsing the list of food, a bride and groom hopped up onto the wall surrounding the tables and posed for a photo. They looked so happy and carefree and part of me couldnt help thinking that it could have been Seth and I sat up there if I had made different choices with my life.

Hey, you cant sit there. The waitress bellowed at them placing a cafetiere before us.

Weve just got married, lady. We only want a quick photo, the groom shouted back at her.

Be sure it is quick or youll get me fired, she said, turning to us and rolling her eyes. Ready to order?

Seth chose a full Irish breakfast and I went for a bacon soda bread sandwich. She nodded her head, made a note on her pad and went to shoo the newly-weds from their perch.

I took a sip of my Guinness and added some milk to my coffee. Have you read Blind Faith by Ben Elton? I asked Seth.

Nope, whats it about?

It’s kind of a modern day 1984. Its set a hundred years in the future when we are lives are dictated by social networking sites. Everyone is expected to upload every detail of their lives as videos to the social network and if they dont they are considered subversive and dangerous. So instead of Big Brother watching us, we have our friends and peers taking on that role instead. Ben Elton clearly doesnt like Facebook.

I suppose that is a natural reaction to new technology he said. Theres always someone who can see the bad side.

Yes and its not that Im unsympathetic to those views but I think the advantages far outweigh the risks. If a social revolution comes I think those sort of sites will be very instrumental in affecting the change.

Seth lifted his cup and blew the steam from the coffee before taking a mouthful. Really? How so?

In the new Dan Brown it says how easy dissemination of ideas is in this day and age. If you had a message to spread it would be so easy to reach out to the four corners of the earth now if you wanted, probably within twenty four hours. Imagine how far the Celestine thing could have gone if that technology was a common back then. Its like what Marx was saying about Communism. I think we are getting very close to the conditions being right for that step now, in our lifetimes. And I definitely think that we should consider using Facebook when promoting the book, give away the first chapter free or something to generate interest. The publishers of the Mortal Instruments series did, only I couldnt read it because it was for US residents only.

Its definitely worth considering, Seth said as the waitress appeared holding two plates of food. She placed them before us, fetched a wire basket containing bottles of various sauces and then left us to eat.

I watched Seth pour streaks of ketchup over his baked beans with a look of mild horror on my face.

What? he smiled, catching the look.

I shook my head. Ketchup and beans, its plain wrong.

You dont know what youre missing, he laughed.

Weirdo. I muttered taking a bite of my sandwich.

Magic

A month ago I lost my mind.

Again.

I can’t remember if this is the fifth or sixth time now. I’m not sure that keeping count of the times my brain has lost its grip on this world is particularly helpful or constructive. I used to try and hide it, insulate myself from the world for two weeks and wait until the storm passed and I could emerge as if nothing had happened. Since I am not the most sociable of creatures, often it could be concealed to all but those closest to me.

Every episode has common features: reality becomes elastic, time reveals itself as nothing but an illusion and the walls between worlds feel thinner. Thin enough that if I were to find just the right spot and I were to push hard enough, I could slip through into an alternate reality. I always thought that in that other world our love was a certainty.

But now I am not so sure.

Something changed this time around. This madness blew in on a different wind. Or maybe when it blew in I was a different person. This time, along with the chaos it has brought clarity. Our story was never our story. It was never about you and me. It was about me finding myself. You were just the conduit by which I entered the labyrinth. You were the sledgehammer that destroyed the old version of me so that I could build myself into a better, wiser person.

Perhaps there is even more to it than that.

When we found each other again the last time around, the final time around, I was just beginning my study of philosophy. My books were talking to me of Jung and synchronicity and then you were back in my life and talking to me about Jung and synchronicity. In my head 2 + 2 = 5. I thought that everything was pointing to you. But what if you were just there to point me to the message the universe was trying to tell me?

If you were the white rabbit, I was so busy chasing you that I completely failed to discover Wonderland.

But now you are gone and Wonderland keeps calling. I think that perhaps it is time to find out if I am the right Alice.

Pride has stopped me taking this path. I thought that without my friend beside me, the journey was meaningless. The truth is that the journey now has more meaning. This was a path that could only have been walked alone. I clung to you like a child to a toy. I clung to the pain of losing you as proof that I wasn’t strong enough to face life alone. My sunken dream was all the evidence I needed.

My sunken dream is evidence that I was on completely the wrong path. You were a minor detour to teach me harsh but necessary truths so I could become who I needed to be. I set my sights far too low. I moulded myself to your beliefs. You were the chrysalis that bound me.

Now the blood is pumping into my wings and I’m fighting to break free.

No more running away from who I am. No more running from what life is trying to teach me. No more pretending to be someone I am not.

Each madness is a moment of transformation. An invitation to leave myself behind. A time to strip myself down to the atoms of my sense of self. A chance to rebuild myself as the person I want to be.

Eden version 7.0

Who am I now?

Someone who still believes in magic.

Yes I do.

Of course I do.

And Love.

Above all things, Love.

I’m Yours – Part 1

Perhaps he was doing the merciful thing, I told myself. He knew that I hated the arrivals catwalk, where you have precisely half a second to locate your friends before everyone else regards you as a sad loser. Besides, how would I have greeted him if he was there? Run to him like reunited lovers? No. Stand there and wait for him to come running to me? Never going to happen. Walk over casually to him and hug him? Maybe. His absence made all these questions irrelevant. It should have triggered panic, a dawning realisation that I might be spending the next ten days alone but the overwhelming feeling of freedom dismissed any fear of that.

Perhaps he was just running late. I was supposed to arrive two hours later than I actually did. Somehow, I had misread the flight times on my ticket confirmation, even though I had read that email a million times. Im one of those people that checks they have their ticket and passport compulsively on the drive to the airport and because I had booked it online, normally preferring face-to-face, I was particularly nervous about it. I had read and re-read the automated message from Virgin a thousand times, until it was ingrained in my brain. Yet like an idiot, I had still managed to confuse the times.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps

I found a bench nearby and had only been sat there for a couple of minutes when I felt him enter the airport. I could feel his energy drawing closer to mine. I tried not to fidget as he approached, resisting the urge to check my appearance one last time as that burning beacon drew closer and closer. Then, a woman dressed entirely in white steeped to the side and there he was, as beautiful and alluring as ever.

My heart skipped a beat as I watched Seth look around for me, those unmistakable eyes blazing blue behind his trendy specs. His silver hair was shorter than I had ever seen it before, normally he wore it longer and spiked with wax, hed probably just had it cut. He was fitter too, his muscles defined under his jeans and t-shirt, and even the unzipped hoodie he was wearing didnt disguise the bulge of his biceps, but he had lost more weight than Id expected. Seth had obviously been training hard.

Noticing something else, I frowned.

When had he begun slouching? This was completely new. Id always thought that he had a confident swagger, shoulders back, at ease with the world. The man before me looked exhausted, as though all his energy had been drained out of him. I knew that Seth worked too hard but I wasnt sure whether his body language was down to his career or coming to meet me.

What if he hadnt really wanted me to fly over and visit him? What if we werent as good friends as I thought we were? Maybe Thor was right and this affinity that I felt was all a figment of my imagination?

The usual paranoid garbage.

I took a deep breath and called out his name.

He turned to me, his face lighting up. “Eden!”

“Hey Seth, how’s it going?” I stood and was enveloped in a massive hug, his scent swept over me, scattering my fears. It felt incredible to be that close to him.

Still holding onto me, his voice muffled by my hair and my tight grip on him, he replied “Really good. Its amazing to have you here. How was your flight? Did you get your gin and tonic?”

“Of course!” I laughed as we finally released each other. “Thanks for picking me up. I wouldn’t have minded waiting, seeing as I was such a fool getting the times mixed up.”

“Like I would have left you waiting here by yourself! Don’t be silly, its my pleasure. I am only sorry that I have to go back to work for a bit, but you’ll be ok in my flat for a couple of hours, right?” He took my suitcase as he said it and looked at me apologetically.

“Seth, I promise I will be fine. We have got so much time together in the next few days that it is probably best if I have a while alone to get my head around it,” I gave him an impish smile “You know, keep pinching myself to try and believe that this is really happening.”

He squeezed my hand as we approached his sleek, black jeep. “Trust me,” he said looking deep into my eyes “This is really happening.”

I felt the colour rise in my cheeks as I climbed into the passenger seat. My heart was beating so hard that I was sure he could hear it.

Hunter

The truth is you have broken me. It’s been almost nine years since I last saw your face and your voice caressed my ears. Nine years since the thrill of your drug raced through my veins. Nine years of building a wall around my heart to stop it being broken by love again. Thinking about it, I wonder if I built those defences to stop the pain getting out. The pain of your absence is the only part of you I have left.

It’s not like there haven’t been other men. My marriage was destroyed, that was inevitable. So I chased other prey. Once a hunter, always a hunter. There was the cliched relationship with a younger man, a couple of shameful one night stands and a particularly appalling situation where I was left feeling dirty and used by someone to whom I never should have given a second of my time. The inescapable truth is that each and every time I was trying to chase the high you had given me.

I should have listened when we walked under the stars and you warned me of the dangers of love. Maybe I should never have contacted you again at all. Now I walk like a wraith in the wreckage of my life and I wonder what would have happened if our story had ended twenty years ago in that field. If San Francisco had never happened, if I could delete every word we had written to each other, would I be happy now? You took me higher than I ever believed possible. Is the devastation of that loss worth the fading memory of the ecstasy?

The night we first slept together ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind‘ was playing in the background. If I could erase and rewind it all, would I?

Would you?

I want to love again. I want to feel something again. Anything.

I don’t know how to start piecing the shattered remnants of my heart back together. I don’t even know if it is worth trying anymore. Before you, I believed that love was the only truth worth discovering. Now I think perhaps ignorance is a kindness.

Plug me back into the Matrix. Let me take the blue pill. Wake me up when it’s all over.

And yet, somewhere deep down in my soul there is the tiniest glimmer of hope that tells me to take a chance at life again.

You are gone and these ramblings are the last fading echoes of our story. The final purging of a tale that must find an ending. One day I’ll stop writing and begin to live again. Every tap of the keys is a step towards being clean of you. I long for the light.

Silence will fall.

Semi-Charmed Life

I am in a grove. A sea of blue flowers swirls into view as the mist parts around my feet. I step towards the centre of the clearing. A figure is sat with his back towards me; by instinct I know that it is you. A flute is pressed to your lips. You are playing our song. The seductive notes float through the air and mask my footsteps as I approach. I am within touching distance of you and my heart is pounding in my chest.

You turn to face me and holding my head in your hands, your thumbs wipe the tears from my eyes. Your beauty takes my breath away and seeing this you smile. Our eyes meet for the briefest second before I look away. You wrap me in your arms, my breathing becomes slower, deeper. Burying my face in your chest, I inhale and intoxicate myself on your scent. You move away and part us a little, your gaze searching for something.

Our eyes meet again but this time I am entranced. I imagine falling through them and reading your thoughts. A dozen images flash across my mind like reflections on a mirror. I am not sure whether these fantasies belong to you or me but my face burns all the same. You smile at me knowingly, your eyes twinkling.

You lean forward and our lips brush with the lightest of contact. I open my mouth to protest when a second kiss stops me dead. This one is intense and passionate and the sensation of pleasure that swells within me drowns any doubt I may have. You lie me back on the grass and the mists swirl around us.

We set about exploring each other’s bodies, not soft and intimate like my daydreams; aggressive and desperate, satisfying the desire burning within us. We fumble with clothing as if time is of the essence, not a second to be lost lest it be gone forever. Tiny water droplets glaze our skin like sweat. You push yourself into me and I am lost to everything but this moment. This is what it feels like when our worlds collide.

My body arches up to meet you as you thrust deeper and faster. I close my eyes as I begin to melt into the intensity of my orgasm. I feel your erection harden, your breath coming in short bestial grunts. The initial warmth subsides and now you feel cold inside me. In the world outside a trumpet blasts and startled I open my eyes. Pleasure becomes horror.

From your beautiful brow two horns have sprouted. Your torso remains unchanged but your legs are covered in dark brown fur. You feet are hooves which dig deep into the earth as you pin me to the ground. I try to scream but you stifle it with your hand. You pause mid-fuck as movement across the grove draws your attention. Your lips curl into a smile. With a final disgusted look down at me, you withdraw and bound through the foggy air. A group of nymphs dance and call, beckoning you to join them.

I wake sobbing.

Where is the Love?

I remember a night when we walked under the stars. We talked of love. You had been its victim and I was a dreamer seeking adventure. You said that you had parcelled your heart up in a cage, put it on a train and you were running as fast as you could in the opposite direction. You didn’t care where you were heading as long as it was as far as possible from the pain and chaos of love.

I begged you to reconsider.

I told you that love was the most exquisite drug, the only high worth chasing. You said it was like heroine, a temporary fix that would wreck destruction upon my world.

I said love was the air in my lungs and its breath set me free. You replied it was the sickness consuming us from within.

I thought love was the divine spark that set our souls on fire. You told me it was it was an inferno that burnt everyone to ash.

‘That’s your pain talking,’ I whispered. ‘It doesn’t have to end like that.’

‘Love is pain. There is no alternative ending.’

‘I can’t believe that.’

‘You will. One day you will.’

‘Love is worth the sacrifice.’

‘You don’t know what you are talking about.’

‘Then show me’

‘You don’t want that. I don’t want that.’

‘You don’t want me.’

‘You have no idea,’ you sighed.

‘You don’t want to believe that I love you.’

‘You love the idea of love.’

‘You love pushing me away’.

‘I’m saving you from yourself.’

‘I don’t need your protection.’

‘If only that were true.’

‘Why are you being like this?’

‘Love did this. I’m trying to stop it doing the same to you.’

Inferno – Canto V

And now the notes of anguish start to play

upon my ears; and now I find myself

where sounds on sounds of weeping pound at me.

I came to a place where no light shone at all,

bellowing like the sea racked by a tempest,

when warring winds attack it from both sides.

The infernal storm, eternal in its rage,

sweeps and drives the spirits with its blast:

it whirls them, lashing them with punishment.

When they are swept back past their place of judgement,

then come the shrieks, laments, and anguished cries;

there they blaspheme God’s almighty power.

I learned that to this place of punishment

all those who sin in lust have been condemned,

those who make reason slave to appetite;

and as the wings of starlings in the winter

bear them along in wide-spread, crowded flocks,

so does that wind propel the evil spirits:

now here, then there, and up and down, it drives them

with never any hope to comfort them-

hope not of rest but even of suffering less.

 

Dante Alighieri

Lines 25-45.

Translation by Mark Musa

 

Under Egyptian Skies (Part 1)

The priest watched as the sun slowly began its descent into the west bank of the Nile. Ra was entering the underworld. The hour was approaching.

He entered the temple alone. Inside, the camphor lamps were being lit. The sacred hieroglyphs adorning the walls danced in the firelight. On the ceiling silver stars sparkled in a lapis sky. He approached the alter and held a torch flame to the pile of incense that had already been laid out. The air was filled with the magic of frankincense and myrrh. The scene was set. All he had to do was wait.

He crossed to the temple’s far wall and pressed one of the carved symbols, a dot within a circle. A door swung open and he passed into the hidden chamber. He, Djeuti, a boy priest was about to fulfil his destiny and become a god. He let his robe fall to the floor and sunk into the milky waters of his bathing pool. His assistants emerged from the shadows and scrubbed his body with boar hair brushes. His blood tingled beneath his skin and his pulse quickened.

When they had finished, he climbed the steps and stood there naked and dripping whilst he was fanned by fronds of palm until dry. Jars were brought full of fragrant oils which melted easily into his hot skin. When his was fully anointed, his body was dusted with powdered silver and he glowed like a fallen star.

A low chanting began and the ceremonial kilt was brought and fastened around him with protective pins. A beaded belt of jasper and turquoise was knotted over the stiff linen. Bracelets and armlets were closed over his limbs, binding him to the temple and his duty. The sacred mask was carried on a strecher of woven reeds and placed before him. It was shaped like an ibis under a crescent moon. The face of God. Djeuti took it in his hands and gazed long into the hollow sockets. He imagined his eyes, the colour of waxed ultramarine filling their void. He wondered what she would feel when she looked upon them.

A royal mile to the south, the final preparations were made and the princess left her chamber.Her body was weak from fasting and trembled with a mixture of fear and thrill at what was to come. She leaned on her handmaiden for support as she descended the stone steps. Her voice was whisper as she spoke, “You are married Padme. Tell me, will this hurt?”

“It is love that hurts you Princess, not the act of making it,” her servant replied squeezing her hand in reassurance.

The entourage passed through the botanical gardens in silence. The exotic plants were drained of their colour by the twilight, reduced to monochrome shapes rooted in soil far away from their original home. Soon I shall be like them, thought the Princess. A trophy flower displayed to show the might of my King.

They moved into the avenue of sphinxes and she searched their stony gaze for clues to unravel the riddle of her life. They gave her no answer. Too soon the party reached the dock where the royal barge waited upon the water. Torches burned bright along the length of the boat, their fires reflected in the black water below.

She stepped onto the wooden deck and the drummers aboard began beating a slow pulsing rhythmn. The princess took her place on the golden throne, her heart pounding louder in her chest than the men could beat on their stretched drumskins. Padme sat at her feet and the princess leant down to her. “Sing me a song,” she whispered.

“What shall I sing you?”

“The Song of the Raven”

Padme’s voice echoed in the air and as the notes floated higher, the men adjusted their beat to match her rhythmn.

The princess closed her eyes and breathed deep, letting her mind drift away into solitude, carried by the dancing words. She felt the boat move below her as it was cast off from the dock. Oars were slid into the obsidian water and they left the bank and her innocence behind them.

In the darkness of his inner sanctum, the awakening God sat deep in silent meditation. His mind projected out from his body, ascending higher and higher into the sky above. He become a bird circling in the air. He could hear the music carried on the wind and her soul with it. His eyes snapped open. She approaches

He sat motionless as the drums and song grew louder and closer. Now she was alighting the barge and entering the complex itself. He could feel her gentle vibration resounding in the earth beneath him. She was walking between the towering pillars carved to resemble papyrus and lotus blossoms. Her eyes were downcast but he could feel her awe and how her heart marvelled at the temple’s beauty. He could feel something else too: her fear. He could sense it in the hesitation of every step.

His mind stayed with her, unseen and unnoticed until the party stopped before the temple of Al-Khemia. The moon was rising behind her, its silvery light directed through a gap in the outer wall. It was tracing a path along the ground towards her. Soon her feet were bathed in moonshine, then the curve of her ankles. It was time. The ritual was beginning.

Inside the temple, in the place where the boy Djeuti had sat, the god Thoth rose and took his place.

The princess felt the blood rise in her body as the power of the moon goddess, Nut, washed over her skin. The drums and song had stopped. Everything was silent. The night was still as though holding its breath, waiting for events to unfold. The air felt heavy and tight with latent energy. She shivered.

Her entourage had disappeared into the darkness and she stood alone at the entrance to the temple, watching as her shadow grew in the puddle of light. The ethereal silhouette of a slender young woman cast upon the stones. The moon rose above her and the shadow of the princess crossed the sacred threshold. Its head lay upon the feet of the waiting God.

The princess drew a deep breath and held it as her gaze was drawn higher. She saw the glistening skin, the beaded kilt, the honed chest. She wanted not to look but she couldn’t stop herself. Black, braided hair rested on broad shoulders leading to a graceful neck. The face of the ibis shone like a pearl in the moonlight as she looked upon the eternal eyes of God. In them, a distant fire burned bright. Her heart skipped a beat.

“Come Keshet’anan. The time is now”.

Her God knew her secret name and she had no choice but to obey.