A Forest

The sun is high above me. I trek through a golden ocean of ripening corn until the strains of a familiar tune float to my ears. Something stirs within me and I head towards an orchard to my right, intrigued to find the source of the melody.

The notes guide me amid the mottled red glow of the sunlight streaming through the branches above. An apple sweetness  intoxicates me and I come to a glad of yellow fairy lilies.It is in this space that music is being made and it is coming from you.

I stand watching, letting the vibrations of the lyre strings wash over me. Observing, yet unnoticed, I sink down in the shadow of a tree, savouring every note of your music.

I am so mesmerized by you that I do not notice the unicorn until it is halfway across the glade. She is as beautiful as the legends and more. She lays down before, mindful of her silver horn as she rests her head upon your lap. You play on unfazed; your song is all that matters. Her eyes close and her will is yours. You do not see it because you are gazing at the stars.

Mirroring you, I lean forward out of the shadows to do the same. A twig cracks under my weight. At once the unicorn springs up and gallops away. A streak of white against the darkness. You stand and look at me. For a second I can see the constellations reflected in your eyes, then the spell is broken. You turn and run.

Before I have time to chase I am awake.

Lose Control

I need sex.

I need a weekend in bed wrapped up in heat and sweat and lust. I need my body to shake with passion. I need to find myself in another person and for them to find themselves in me. I need the world to shrink to the space between us. I want my mind to be consumed with the pursuit of pleasure. I want to lose control.

My libido has woken up and I’m starting to obsess. It is making me reckless. The devil in me is starting to flirt with danger. I’m taking dates that I know I shouldn’t because I’m beginning to chase the thrill. Right now I’m in control. But I’m like an addict on the verge of a relapse, any day now I’m going to take the hit and to hell with the consequences. I can feel it drawing closer.

I want the anticipation. The flash of flesh in a low-lit room. The touch of lips on skin. The sound of a breath catching in a throat. A hand around my wrist. Desire searing through my veins.

Taking me higher.

Taking me harder.

Taking me over and over again.

This Isn’t Everything You Are

It is funny how loss can blindside you. Most days I think I’m fine. I think I’m over it. I tell myself I don’t care that you are gone from my life. And then something will happen and the whole illusion comes tumbling down.

The most recent instance was when I was flicking through the first book. Most of it doesn’t make sense to anyone but you and I. The vast majority of it is nothing but messages between us, late night ramblings on MSN about everything and nothing.

I shouldn’t keep it really. I should burn the whole fucking thing and be done with it. But I tell myself that it is a record of that time, it reflects who I was then and how I have grown and so I keep it and occasionally allow myself to torture myself with it. I hate how pathetic I was. A girl so in love with the wrong world.

I found a message where you asked me if I thought we’d be friends forever.

I replied that we’d been through so much, survived so much turmoil (mostly instigated by me and my inability to deal with my feelings for you). We’d always found a way to move past it, to keep walking the path, I thought there was nothing the world could throw at us that we would not overcome.

Until it did.

As is the way of these things, the final straw was actually a rather minor matter. It could have easily have been overcome if either of us had been so inclined. But I think that I had reached the very end of my tether and you were so concerned with protecting your carefully constructed world that neither of us had the will to carry on.

So we walked away.

I had always said you were my heroin and so it proved in those first few days of cold turkey. Perhaps in my mind I thought that the silence wouldn’t last, that one of us would crack and make contact. That had always been that way of it before. I was determined that it wouldn’t be me. Not this time. You had overstepped the mark by miles and cut me deeper than I thought possible. I knew I’d get through it, but I sure as hell wouldn’t be the one to come crawling back.

And then weeks passed and still the silence continued. By then I had started to get perspective. Just like an addict I looked at how I was when I was in contact with you and I realised that I didn’t really like that person. I didn’t want to be that girl. I needed to get clean. You might have been the fire that set my soul alight but the blaze had grown out of control and burnt my whole fucking life down to the ground. Before that I had thought I needed you in my life.

Then came the realisation that I needed you like a fish needs a bicycle.

You needed me because I fed your ego. And while you were busy chasing bright lights and cheap thrills, you knew that I would be a safe place to confess your sins. You lived your adventures and revelled in telling me of your conquests. You said that you needed my wisdom. I think you that you wanted someone who would listen to your boasting and bragging and lap it up. I was the fool that couldn’t get enough.

That is until we had our own adventure. A journey that started by the storm torn seas of San Francisco, through the peaks of the Sierra Nevada, to the neon signs of the City of Sin and back again. Months later I finished my rendering of that story and that was the thing that finally killed our friendship.

I had tried to portray our experiences as accurately as possible. You accused me of trying to destroy your life. Of course, you had gone back to your ex. Of course you had. Your same old safe bet. And you thought I was so full of desire and longing for you that I would tear your world apart to make you mine. For once in our friendship I had all the control and that scared the life out of you. Like a cornered animal, you lashed out. You didn’t need to do that. All you had to say was,

‘Please Eden, I love your book, but keep it for us. No-one else.’

And I would have done that. I would have done that in a heartbeat. I never need it to be shared with the world. I just wanted a memory of you, of our adventure. For us.

For myself.

But to accuse me to being this vicious, manipulative bitch. In that moment you utterly shattered my heart. You proved to me that you didn’t know me at all. You didn’t understand a single atom of my soul. And just like that bit in Labyrinth where Sarah realises that everything is junk and the walls start crumbling around her, I realised that this version of you that I had created was nothing but a simulation.

You weren’t this strong, wise, creative soul. You were just another scared boy who would fight tooth and nail to protect this bourgois fantasy you’d woven for yourself.

You didn’t care about Truth.

My book of our adventures was nothing but a mirror and when you saw it held up to your life you hated the reflection. You blamed me. You wounded me. I was so tired of battling your ego that I decided to withdraw.

I knew it would hurt me, I knew it meant leaving my book and everything I worked for behind. But I knew that if it meant I was free of you it was worth it. I needed to break the power you had over me.

And let me make it perfectly clear…

You have no power over me.

I may say that I miss you. I may say I wish to walk and talk and dream with you. But the ‘you’ that I want to do that with doesn’t exist. He never did. He was a figment of my imagination that was built on the fragments of fleeting memories. I took a real person – you- and rebuilt him into something that was worth my time and energy and love. You are not him and he is not you. You are a knave and he is a knight.

I believed your lies. Sometimes I got so lost in the illusion that I forgot reality. Blinded by deceit, I chose the door that led to certain death.

Now I’m reborn and my spirit is free. I know who you are and I am remembering everything I am.

This is a new beginning.

Sense of Discovery

‘Where am I?’

‘We are in the Labyrinth of Clouds. The beasts that were chasing you cannot enter here. Do not be fooled though, you are far from safe. You must be on your guard at all times’.

‘That’s far from reassuring.’ I muttered.

‘A smart mouth will get you precisely nowhere.’ The raven snapped back. ‘And don’t bother trying to remember the path, for the way will have changed if you ever return.’

‘Remember, don’t remember. I wish you dream folk would make up your minds!’

‘It’s not our minds that are the problem. That attitude of yours is hardly ideal. Now hush your tongue. If we are to make safe passage through here, I can’t do it looking like this’ With a shake of her feathers the white raven became a sky blue owl, her emerald eyes remained as piercing as ever.

‘Well I’m sure that has made all the difference!’

‘Again with the attitude! I don’t have to help you. You’re not my universe.’

I looked around me. The swirling mists confused the landscape. In the distance, dead ends became paths and seemingly obvious passageways became inpenetrable foliage. I knew that if I set out alone I’d be lost in seconds. I looked into her green eyes, ‘I guess I have no choice but to trust you. Can I at least know your name?’

The weight of her stare was uncomfortable but I forced myself to hold her gaze. Fear and fatigue were making me want to scramble for any semblance of control and if scoring petty points satisfied that urge then so be it.

After what seemed like an age she replied, ‘Many names have I had in the past and countless more before my time is through but the most helpful one for you is Queen Mab. Your Majesty will suffice.’

‘Oh well how gracious of you!’ I laughed, but inside my mind was racing. That name had resonated somewhere, I just couldn’t quite place why I recognised it.

‘You have precisely three seconds before I fly off and leave you to find your own way out. So swallow your pride and start walking’.

The curtness in her voice left no room for argument and I sensed that it would be unwise to test her patience any further. With an apprehensive heart and an owl on my shoulder, I began my journey into the Labyrinth of Clouds.

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.

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.

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

Girl Comes Incomplete

I dream.

I am running. Trapped in a valley, in the barren winter of my limbo.The disfigured boughs of blackened trees suppress the constellations above, suffocating all light. Beasts chase me and I flee blind. There is no chance of escape. This hunt is familiar and I know how it will end.

I stumble and feel them inch closer, their fiery breath burning hot on my neck.

A star breaks through the branches and hurtles towards me. As it approaches, its shape becomes defined against the darkness. I realise it isn’t a star but a bird. A snow white raven heading straight for me. I have no time to alter course, I know what fate awaits me if I slow my pace for a second. I brace for impact with the bird, but as we collide she alights on my shoulder and croaks directions into my ear. My legs respond of their own accord, her power over me is absolute.

In the distance, I see a patch of milky twilight.

“There,” she caws. “Run. There. Fast”.

My exhausted muscles scream but I dig deep and arrive at a wall of holly. The branches part at my arrival. I step though into a dense fog; the ground feels solid but supple. Pulsing with energy as though alive.

The jagged hedge closes behind me and the beasts cannot follow but still they chase my scent. Their noses sniff the ground, growling and yapping as they track my escape.

I turn to look into the raven’s emerald eyes for the first time. “Who are you?” I ask.

“A friend,” comes the reply.