Lift

The quest for happiness is a curious thing. Now I have finally found it, I seem to be intent on trying to push it away. The demons that I have been carrying around for so long are giving one last snarl. Fears are surfacing. Paranoia tries to overcome me once again.

It began yesterday. A subtle shift in mood. A whispering in my head that said he was going to cancel. That he wouldn’t want to see me, that he would have changed his mind about how he felt. I knew that I could have put it to death with a text. I knew that all I had to do was ask for reassurance and he would have given it willingly.

But habits need breaking.

For myself, for him, I cannot continue to carry the baggage of the past around. I want to exorcise the voices that try to keep me small. I want to be a better person. A person who believes I am worthy of his love. Happiness is not something to be scared of. The dream of us is so powerful that it will break through any wall or barrier or test. And when fear grips me in the early hours of the morning and I am consumed by doubts that I am enough for him, he holds me close and dissolves all of my uncertainties.

He is the key that unlocks the shackles with which I have kept myself bound. He is the light which extinguishes the shadows of my past. He is the calm at the centre of my storm. If I offer him more than I want to give, if I try and sell him a false fantasy, he sees straight through it. He takes my hand in his and I feel our souls entwine. He guides me away from the darkness and into the sunlit world of his love. When our eyes meet, I remember that I am his and he is mine.

We are perfect, just the way we are.

Together we are free.

Codex

The girl makes scribbled adjustments to the formula which has consumed her for the past few days. The pencil in her fingers cannot match the speed of the chemical reactions racing the labyrinthine corridors of her mind, so she begins writing in improvised shorthand in order to retain the thoughts before they slip the net.

It is a futile task, wholly absurd, like trying to write a diary on LSD. Even if there were words to express what she perceived, the actual formation of the blackened graphite symbols on the white page creates a rainbow vapour trail. It alters her reality further, forcing her tumbling into the letters themselves.

She knows what she must do, she knows that the bubble waits to be burst, but all her theorizing has little to offer for practical application and in truth she fears the consequences. She writes the final line and in doing so accepts the challenge.

She checks on her sleeping husband and gently kisses her two daughters, smiling at their tranquil sleep-blessed faces. Returning downstairs, she checks the time out of habit more than necessity and settles on the sofa. The disk already waits in the drive, she presses the button and forty five minutes later she hears a faint pop from inside her cranium. She slumps forward as blood pours from her nose and stains the page on her lap.

The secret of life resides in pulp fiction.

In the critical nanosecond before her heart flatlines, time is stopped. Two cloaked figures emerge from the shadowy corners of the room. One walks straight up to the limp body and pulls a black box from the depths of its robes. The other lingers nervously behind.

‘Is she dead?’ The Second questions.

‘Clearly not. Otherwise our purpose of being here would be entirely futile. Hurry we do not have much time. Open this. I can never remember the sequence.’

The First tosses the cube across the room and it is caught by shaking hands which immediately begin twisting and rotating the cube’s faces. Shades of black, barely perceptible but clearly present like the sheen of a raven’s wing, begin to realign.

The Second looks up from his work, ‘How is it possible that we do not have much time, if we have stopped time?’

The First sighs, ‘Have you been paying the slightest bit of attention? We have stopped time for her and ipso facto the rest of the world. The earth has stopped turning. It will not be long until that is noticed so hurry up!’

The last combination is executed and the cube begins to unfold itself. The Second emits a faint whimper and lets the developing creature fall to the floor onto its newly emerged feet. It narrows its blackened eyes focusing on the inert figure before it, before inhaling deep the surrounding air. Its appetite whetted, it lunges at the motionless girl. It catches the droplet of blood suspended mid-air between her chin and chest and then growls in a sub-sonic pitch. From its groin what appears to be a fern leaf uncurls.

‘Is this strictly necessary?’ The Second asks.

‘Not strictly but I felt that it was appropriate. Activation is such a messy job and he so enjoys his work. It is nothing she has not experienced before.’

‘It is something I have not experienced before,’ The Second declares, watching in fascinated horror as the beast enters the girl. Her lips part as his tip exists through her mouth. The Second begins to gag but cannot avert his eyes from the scene.

‘We are not here for your personal gratification demon!’ Fulfil your orders and get out!’ The First commands the beast and then turns to the Second. ‘What is wrong with you? If either of us succumb to sentimentality we’re fucked. Even more fucked than she is right now. She won’t even remember it, the R.A.T. will take care of that’.

‘It wasn’t her memory I was concerned with,’ The Second says feebly.

The tattooed skin on the nape of the girl’s neck is lifted. A demonic digit is inserted, piercing the vertebrae and travelling up the spinal fluid into the base of her brain. The slumbering rodent is located and awakened. The beast sneers in satisfaction and withdraws from her.

Quickly the First hits the button on the beast’s back and the demon reconfigures into the original cube, emitting shrieks and gas like a deflated doll. The girl enters cardiac arrest.

‘Time has been restarted, we must go.’

The First picks up the smoking cube, grabs the shaking Second and they disappear.

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.

The Simulacrum

The simulacrum is never what hides the truth – it is truth that hides the fact that there is none.

The simulacrum is true.

-Ecclesiastes

Jean Baudrillard

 

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’.