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’.

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.

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.

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.’

ENTER

To avoid reality I dream. To reveal the reality of myself I dream.

The sky is indigo. The hour is late. My screen flashes yellow. I scan my fingerprint and it unlocks. A message awaits. It reads – Return to the Labyrinth

We’ve been here before you and I. Centuries ago you would have slipped away from your servitude on the whim of relief. Across the mud and dirt you would have appeared at the threshold of my door. The floor inside strewn with flotsom of a million adventures. The rose petals, the animal skins, blood scattered papyrus, and cracked and tarnished halos.

The sign above my door says ENTER. One simple word. It is a command, an invitation, a challenge. There is no warning. No words could contain the beauty and terror of what lurks within.

Everyone knows that something strange happens here. This is the road that leads to nowhere and everywhere. This is the place that vampires become victims. This is where pilgrims journey looking for saints and leave broken by their sin. Some that travel here never leave at all. Many are lost within these walls.

This is the labyrinth within and without the heart.

Tonight the threshold is the screen and the floor is lines of code. I let the book slide from my lap. ‘The Unfinished Tales of Uqbar’ falls to the ground. The clock on the wall carves out the seconds of this soul asylum but as I open the screen we have already fled. In the virtual arena a few zeroes to the left and our identities are changed. Binary is the mask that disguises us. I begin to type out a world where we belong. The landscape of our escape is the space between words.

Here the present is infinite. The past is nothing more than a fleeting memory. A ghost in a fog of misfiring synapses. The future is the untyped arrangement of endless possibilities. The truth is just a fragment of the whole.

Ever present, it leaks back to us. It leaks back in legends, in myths, in dreams. All we have to do is remember.

We enter the labyrinth as fools seeking paths not yet determined. We find ourselves in dead ends, we catch ourselves in our own traps. When we think it is over, it has only just begun. There is always a new possibility. There is always a hidden door. Take nothing for granted.

What is it I have to remember?

I build this reality.

This is the maze of my imagination.

ENTER

The Scientist

Our steps are slower as we return to the station. It is as if we are both walking towards something that we don’t want, but neither of us knows how to stop it. There are a few seconds of silence. The air is heavy with words left unsaid and no time to say them. Both of us are contemplating the thoughts inside our heads. Out of nowhere, a voice in mine urges me not to waste the precious few minutes remaining.

“I was thinking that our book should be a trilogy. All the greatest stories are. Lord of the Rings, His Dark Materials, The Divine Comedy. Remember I said that I was basing it on Dante’s journey and that Virgil was his guide? Well in Purgatory the reader gets to learn more of Virgil’s story…” I let the words tumble out before i can stop them and wait for you to realise what I am trying to say.

You glance at me with fear in your eyes. “I told you. I can’t write anymore”.

“Can’t or won’t?” Because you should, I feel that so deeply. I know it is the truth. And I think that deep down you do too.”

You are quiet. I don’t want to push you too hard but I feel compelled to tell you this.

Too soon we are stood by the train. There’s still ten minutes before it leaves. The doors are stood open and after the coldness of the night air, it looks warm and inviting.

“Come and sit with me?” I beg, pulling on your arm.

We sit next to each other and I turn towards you trying to catch your eye. You won’t look at me. In deference to your feelings I lower my gaze and focus on your hands. I take them in mine and suddenly everything I have wanted to say comes tumbling out.

“I know that you are scared you will become that person. I know that those memories pain you. But I think that it is hurting you not writing because that is what you are. You are trying to deny your god-given talent, to mask what is underneath, but you should know that you can never find true happiness that way. It took me years to work that out, please believe me. People care about you too much to let you become like that again. I care about you too much…”

Unconsciously I have been stroking the back of your hand with my thumb while I have been talking. It is madness to talk more. I know you don’t want me to. This is not what you want to hear and I don’t want to be the one saying it. I am paining you and that hurts me. But with utter certainty I know that no-one else will say it.

For whatever reason this has fallen at my feet and so I carry on my words regardless.

“Whoever you were back then, I don’t think it was really you. It was just your reaction to a bad situation. You cannot be afraid to love because you have been hurt before. It is not the making of mistakes that is the problem; it is whether we learn from them. Please, at least consider this. Please”

“It might be a little abstract,” you murmur.

I can see my reflection in the tears that glaze your eyes. Tears that you still won’t allow to fall. My heart breaks that I am the one who is forced to cause you this pain. I wish I could take it all back, that I could make you forget that I said it. I want to make it better.

I kiss you.

Without thinking, acting totally on instinct, I kiss your lips. I have waited years for this moment; wanted it so much it hurt. None of that matters now. All I care about is you and trying to fix this wound that I have reopened.

I expect you to push me away, or pull away, as our lips touch but you don’t. For one perfect moment nothing else in the universe exists except us and the love I have for you. It is a love that runs deeper than romance or friendship or anything else in Creation. It is a love that existed before time began and will last until the world fades.

It is a love I try to give you with a kiss.

Our eyes meet as I finally move away from you and I wonder if you felt it too.

“I should go,” you say.

In a flash you are out of the doors and walking through the station. I watch you all the way, longing with every fibre of my being that I could follow you with more than my eyes. You look over at me and raise your hand in goodbye. I smile and wave back and then you are gone.

You are gone.