Layers

Attic-Leon Emphraim-faded.jpg

People are just layers and layers of secrets and he can see mine, I feel it. His eyes scour me, peeling away layer after layer and searching each one. I look into his steel-coloured eyes. I see nothing there. They’ve turned to glass. I feel my heartbeat everywhere and it has a thin, papery feeling to it, like it will make a crunching sound if pressed too hard. And then, and then, he steps out of the light, and shadows, like dark water, slip into his eye sockets. So, without a word, without a sound, and holding my breath, I turn and begin to walk away from him. I quicken my pace, pressing into the distance before me until everything between us becomes a vapour ~ all of it, the secrets, the lies, the suspicions and even the tender moments.

And suddenly, so suddenly, I collapse, as the whole of my grief flies out of my mouth in gigantic, mournful, wailing sounds. My vision goes black at the edges, then fades. When I open my eyes I see a swath of bodies, their eyes peering down curiously at me. After a few eternal seconds, I stand up, only to feel like I’ll collapse again ~ the heat of so many bodies pressing against me makes it nearly impossible to breathe.

Without warning he appears before me, his breath brushing my mouth like a kiss. The letters of his name sit delicately on my tongue, discreet in the alphabet like a wish. We find ourselves transported away to a silent and empty place, a place without language, a place where hearts just bleed red instead of words, a place where everything looks red, rather than static white. And my heart, wide open like a net, sits at his feet, hoping to catch the sparkle that had long spilled out of me, and into him.

White noise descends upon me and roars inside my head, crushing my thoughts until they splinter into slivers of themselves, and disintegrate into non-existence. Everything sounds like the snap and crunch of breaking bones. My heart crawls from its socket, up to my throat and into my brain. And my words? My words have become prisoners, locked behind my clenched teeth. So, I have become impotent, a sort of mute, a fizzled spark, like lightning in a bell jar. I sit, dazed, in the unfurnished place known as my mind, watching my sanity swing like a pendulum between reason and madness. I wrestle with the volatility of words, the uncertainty of feelings, and the impossibly of certitude. Guilt flickers. And the heartbeat of this space thunders in my ears.

Time pulls thin like taffy. He, once made of beaten gold, lives in the marrow of my bones. I find I cannot flush him out. And the stories, they linger inside me, urging me, like dying stars gasping for their last light, to tell them into existence. I contemplate questions, so many questions. And I wait for the walls to whisper their answers to me. But they don’t. I chew on my grief, which tastes bitter and stale. My throat smoulders. And the shadows, they tumble, as I fall out of the light. And into a pit of broken glass. My soul has become an orphan. The world looks fractured in my eyes, made of jagged, broken angles I can only measure with worming droplets of my blood. And so, I try to patch all the shards together, only to feel like a wounded child with scarred hands.

I love him the way people love faded photographs. He holds all the beauty of the world and feels like home. Only the photograph’s torn, the beauty, broken and that home, burned to the ground. Loving him makes me feel like Icarus, whose wings melted when he flew too close to the sun. My love has become a phantom pain, a spectre. And now the sky sags with rain it will not shed and my arms have grown tired of holding up the air around me. A war rages inside my mind. Can I find no way out of my mind? Will this grief ever stop clenching at my heart like an owl’s talon clenches its prey? I long to collapse into bed the way a corpse collapses into a shallow grave. And I long for the reprieve of a dreamless sleep.

Alas, I can find no reprieve. The warring factions of my mind will simply not allow it. The battle rages on. It rages on for so long that each side has all but forgotten just what they begun fighting about. Words pile up in the ether of my mind, trapped there, prisoners of war, the casualties of my grief, the casualties of my love for him. How many times can love kill me?

I don’t know.

The walls have no answers and I’ve lost the key to the attic of my mind.

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