Strangers

 

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Today.

I'm standing at the edge of the cliff. Warm yellow rays twirl inside the lighthouse and illuminate the brume that scatters itself amidst the sea spread out before me. We are all strangers. I say, to my mind, my brain. I am one too, an imposter, who replaced the person that breathed in this body yesterday. And tomorrow, someone will be next to take on this role. It’s inevitable, we shift and run and turn and spin in attempts to recover what is lost to the waves of time. Believing to have grasped answers, we fake whispers. And I’d heard them late into the night, in a pitch-black solemn place, where I contemplated the truth behind these invisible chains that bind us.

My stomach churns, when I try to recall the straight demeaning angles of the white room; it reminds me of moments I do not wish to repeat.

They will replace me.

I am disposable.

It is with these thoughts that I've come here, the fear, of never truly knowing.

I don't want to lose myself, which is why perhaps, I should cease to exist as this self. Yet, here I remain, my chattering teeth clinking; an orchestra in tune with my now trembling legs that dance in this cold and lonely venue. My fingers have warped into icicles. My lungs, they will not listen. My throat, it is constricted, it hurts; and a brief thought about choking to death right then and now arises in my guts.

And I want to laugh at it all, at the skin that mocks me, as it howls along to my own despicable song.

I gulp but there is nothing to swallow, for my mouth is too dry and my body too empty, my will to love it's gone; I could not seize it even if I tried. For my love, is not tender moments, affairs and passion beneath sheets in a cheap motel room with desperate departures six months later. It is fascination, magic, bewilderment for naught but one; and I’ve misplaced all twenty of them.

I peer down. Sharp rocks battle for my attention. I try to imagine how grotesque this end to a beginning who’d never truly departed will be, if anyone were to discover my body; how their reactions would turn.

Would it be a child?

Would he recall my decaying, maggot-filled corpse for the rest of his life?

Or would he let the strangers take over, because it would be too much?

Nature roars at my skin. She makes me feel all that I could not, in a life that was not mine to live. If someone were to ask why, I’d shout: Why not? If they were to insist, I’d retort the question: Why? And it would confuse them, and I would think good, because I am also lost and there are no horizons for people who wander.

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Yesterday.

I was forcefully brought into this world by a loving mother who cared too much.

She’d often say: It’ll be simple, you’ll see!

But I see to no avail, of this simplicity you speak of, and to even dream of acquiring it would be sin. For it is to wish, for a mind as nimble, as a trampled flower; and I was never quite green. So I drifted, I fought, along exquisite smiles of joy that people I never sincerely knew wore upon their faces.

“Change is good.” My teacher had always chanted to the classroom filled with curious peers, forced to live inside, to rot behind bars they cannot see either. I would nod and repeat, words of a sheep: change is good.

Yet over the time that I've left behind, trampled and killed under the sticky soles of my shoes, there has been no justice or redemption; only mild transformations over pains so light. They cling to your stiff and tired shoulders, until you are stalked by noises so discrete and ravaged by ever-growing stillness, blinking stoplights; a narrow alleyway at the peak of midnight.

Yes, I lived the dream, you could say I saw it all; however, life does not resume itself to merely viewing things for pleasure. If we do not take the time to observe the scenery instead of passing it by, we will never learn.

I tried to pray. The first God ordered me to get down on my knees, submit without question. As I spoke to him of tainted troubles, worries that would not pass, my silence rung louder, and yapped in my ears. That I am weak, that I am falling, it said. And I couldn’t remember, words that hid behind my lips. I was losing myself, to these echoes of the wilderness that spawned until they could grow no more. With an aching itch glued to the back of my skull, greedy fingers that tumbled unto all the wrong havens, I left that place; forevermore.

The second claimed it was money, and only that which could cleanse me. So I worked, I ran, across alien fields, holding foreign objects; artefacts closer to a sky I was forbidden to enter rather than a savior. It was noisy, it was crimson and vague, and I noticed a black thing within each of them. Sometimes it grew. At times it shrank. It was never there, but it was always here. And now there is a black thing within me, and it will not leave. It is stalking me, and I fear it, even if it is my own; I cannot accept it as so. It has no eyes, no openings or soul; it is just here, to devour me whole.

Without their permission, I abandoned my post. It was a goodbye to the blurry faces and unrecognizable screams, as I took with me in my blood now spoiled, a glint of faded dreams, of oceans and friends, that had not yet been struck by this fatal disease.

The final God, I discovered at the age of thirty-three. She had no fancy words to mumble, nor riches or jewels from other lands. But this being was unsullied, chaste and clean, and on the other side of the cage I had thrown myself in, she extended her hand and said: “Come.”

I barely remembered how to walk. So she held up my knees that buckled, as those of a new-born lamb would, and I made it to the other side of the street. Finally, I thought: a new door has been opened. Finally, I can move again.

Those vivid concepts obsessed me. It was wood to the fire that sparked this new devotion. I found myself unable to talk at times. So she kissed my mouth twice and held my dirty palms, becoming my senses, my voice; my salvation at once.

But soon, I bloomed anew, into someone else.

And, she did not like me anymore.

My God took a gun and pointed it towards the floor, as I opened the golden knob to find her lying on lovely violet sheets, amongst foreign shadows that were not mine. I couldn’t blame her, as she quickly shouted three words I cannot recall. She walked out of a now closed door, and I could only wonder: Why is it that I hadn't changed along with her.

I took my faults, my weighty luggage, departing with nothing left but a fleeting feeling of emptiness. Tired and sick, I ran from the memory of two unknown bodies packed on top of another.

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Yesterday, again.

It had been months.

I was not that person anymore. That bed had belonged to someone else that had once lived, a life of joy, in a happy home.

Inside these bones and when I’d stray, towards these bad, bad thoughts; I’d end up wondering what I had been doing at the time.

Where had I been hiding, when the stranger found her?

I held a brush. It erased the past. Within me I realized: the only deities worth worshipping were the clouds. They who watched everything from above, devoid of a sense of self, always to expire; a few hours later.

I’d stay up every other night and ponder on the meaning of their existence. But the truth is, I still don’t know what it’s about.

Perhaps, if one happens to find spirit in things that lack significance, then possibly that in itself, has meaning.

Years passed.

I cannot pinpoint when it started for sure. However, at some point I'd get up in the morning and, upon gazing into the mirror, had trouble seeing my face. I could perfectly perceive the rest of the bathroom without anything becoming a blur. But, my own features, they were exiled.

"Who are you?" I’d ask into the void.

Painting became a necessity. Spewing color after color in an attempt to find, or at least perhaps create, an answer to this question: I held the brush responsible for abolishing my walls. Yet as time went on, no matter how many skins I shed, I couldn't find the one I’d been seeking underneath. I felt like a homeless man, drifting further away from any proper clothes. I wanted to be clean. It unsettled me beyond reason. I started to grow mad on these emotions that drugged me with their concepts, as they abused the person I had aimed to become.

What am I?

From then on out it was just a matter of pretending.

Waking up.

Eating breakfast.

It was always the same meal, because I was undeserving of anything more. I'd pick at the burned toast with my only fork, promising myself that today would be new, and that I would find the right shade; the correct shapes and a word to describe these feelings that haunted me so.

It took three hundred and twenty-three sunsets to notice the consequences of my actions. By this point, I hadn't anymore needs for ridiculous words of comfort.

Deprived of answers, I created myself a false happiness by completing work after work. It kept me breathing. It kept me living. It kept me here. It was the much needed attachment, I had been yearning for.

It was the sentiment of feeling whole, a bay to anchor these weights tied to my shins, that I’d dragged for far too long. It was the joy I felt upon completing a piece.

And so, I had to do it again. Tomorrow, and the next day, and the one thereafter followed by the others for the rest of the year; and the remainder of my existence.

It was my raison d’être; it was my love.

But, my wrists, they would not work with me anymore. And the soles of my feet gave way, as I tumbled to the ground. I remember hearing my brush falling with a plunk as I hit the raw, merciless, and unforgiving floor.

Like a sailor out at sea in an ocean enraged, it drowned me, until I could breathe no more.

I remained, wilting between bright orange pillowcases for an hour. But an hour quickly turned into two, and two spoiled into a day, which then led to a week, followed by a month that rotted into years.

Still, I don't know what's wrong with me.

I trusted the thought, that if I poured all of my being into the shimmers of the past, the ones that appeared on the icy horizon of a pale dawn ruled by Winter, would turn into something; a passion. A canvas that had yet to be stained.

I could throw away the images, the creations, and painful reminders. But my flame has burned out. My limbs are too nimble. And I cannot speak, nor with body or mind. My shell is hollow, yet this apple is ripe, and keeps my blood running with songs of the heart.

Ah, I wonder when I began to falter, labeling such radical measures as the only way out. Perhaps it's always been there, inside of me, and I'd been in denial of myself. I tried to be a speck of dust that had dreams, a concept of the world different from my own where I'd believe that there was a greater plan for me, and a place where I was destined to be.

Perhaps, had I tried a little harder, given it more time, no matter the number of years, I wouldn’t have succumbed to the sympathy of sorrow and despair.

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