Written by StilleNacht
This work was last updated October 1, 2016
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Crackle-crackling-oh! There’s something over there! Darn it, can’t see what it is—
It looks like what a TV looks like when you tune onto an empty channel. It sounds like what radio sounds like when you leave it on an empty station. So, pretty much it looks and sounds like nothing. But it also sounds and smells and feels and looks like everything all at once. Comfortably numb, like the song. There’s a bunch of pink floyd stuck in my head now. It dances on a constantly shifting sea of blacks and grays in a way that reminds me of a group of cultists waiting for that super-obscure but magically significant time of the day to do their ritual of passage into the other world.
Ugh. Floyd. I liked the nothing better. At least the nothing wasn’t so distracting. Nothing is nice.
It’s peaceful. It’s quiet.
I think I can hear a voice.
Are you still with me? The voice asks.
Yes. I’m with you. Like jesus christ man where else could I be.
You’re being awfully quiet.
I’m not supposed to?
Oh, right. I’m supposed to be feeling everything all at once. He is my world, and my world is in his capable hands… maybe too literally, this time. I’m feeling some things now. Not many. But the static goes away, slowly, and is replaced. Noooo! I’ll miss you! I wave an insubstantial handkerchief. The boat departs. My sun hat is stolen by the wind. Cheeky bugger. He’s talking again. I feel like he’s been talking for a while but I haven’t been listening.
I don’t know if I can do this, is what he says.
Really. You don’t know if you can do this. I didn’t know about this either until it sort of just happened.
At least let me know you’re still there.
Suck it, bucko.
So, something about disorientation is that you can’t really tell where anything is. And that’s normal. That’s what the word ‘disorientation’ means. But what I’m trying to say is and I swear to god I really am, trying that is, not knowing where stuff around you is means not knowing where you are, and not knowing where you are is scary. Right now, I’m looking forwards—or backwards who cares—and I see all this shit. I could’ve sworn there was an elephant (really I bet he was friends with the floyd but at this point let’s say it’s still to be confirmed) but then this maid-lady-person came along and opened up its lid to make some beef and potato stew and the idea of it, the stew, not the maid, made me pretty hungry until I remembered that the hunger was just in my head and that I couldn’t feel hunger because, again, I’m disoriented. The important part is that the elephant was slash is in front of me, so I can situate him, but not myself. But to reorient the argument, what if it’s me that’s upside-down? Because just so you know that elephant back there? Yeah, he wasn’t right-side up. Oh well. At least I know where my crotch is. That’s always useful to know, especially if you want to know if you’re still fresh down there or if you smell like rotten sardine. Let me tell you where I think the rest of my body is. I think I can remember.
I am in a house, out there in the wilderness, where I assume there are few or no houses nearby. The wild’s pretty neat. It’s got hills carved out of bronze, almost as big as mountains but also not really, and not many gross typical country things like cows and chickens and whatnot. The house containing my body is on one of those hills. I bet if it had windows it would have an incredible view. You could see the lake over by the mountains—did I mention the mountains?—and could maybe possibly see the point where the lake water and the horizon line and the blue-ass sky meet. Good luck telling them apart though. The first time I came here was the first time I’d felt like things would be okay in a long, long, time. I wanted to go check out the trails. He insisted he come with me. I didn’t know why he wanted to come at the time but now I think it’s because he didn’t want me to run away. The paths out there are incredible. We walked all the way to the mountains and slept with only the stars for company. That night the moon grew in the sky until the light woke me but not him up at one in the morning. By then the moon was so plump that the sky and all the stars bent way down to us under the weight so that I felt like it was all just an arm’s length away. It was so heavy and bright and white, the moon was, that I had to prick it with a pin I found to leak the juice. The earth soaked it up hungrily. Once I saw that the moon was the right size again, I let it float back into the sky, and as this ball of gentleness flew off I saw it light up the surface of a world of hills and poplars and holes and there he was, right there next to me, asleep, unable to look or feel or smell or touch even the slightest bit of beauty but in its pure whiteness calm and peaceful, and I thought he looked so nice lying down there, so I cuddled up against his body and fell back asleep in his soft breaths. I could’ve sworn the stars seemed happier after that. Did you know bunnies and mountain goats don’t really care if there are humans nearby? You can’t get close enough to touch them, but you see plenty, and they don’t run away if you’re gentle. It’s like being one with nature but not the cliche, the real thing you never knew actually existed. And then there was the soft grass under our bodies.
It was peaceful. It was quiet.
The sun shined through disseminated clouds, the paths we took climbed sometimes but never too steeply, and the air was clean and pure and made me feel like I’d never really breathed before. At a lip of stone that overlooked through rivers of mist the path we’d taken and the home we’d come from I actually realized, completely consciously, that in those instants I had forgotten everything, life, things, stuff, feelings, myself, all gone for those few precious moments, so I checked how I felt, and I felt good. Kinda like how I feel when I have sex. Or kinda like the polar opposite of how I feel right before or right after sex. What can I say? I’m a cuddler.
He told me nature was his thing and that the people of the only village miles around, although still essentially strangers to him, were the most welcoming and friendly people he’d ever known in his life, that people were his thing nearly as much as nature was, and that he thought part of living out in the open was it gave you a certain carefree outlook on life that he could feel in all the people he met. He phrased it interestingly. Said they didn’t care about things that don’t matter. He told me about the times he’d gone swimming in the river, once alone and once not—I drank his every word. Yes, yes, that was imagery, drank like you drink from a stream, by kneeling down into the water. I also drank his semen. By kneeling down. That’s when he told me there was a forest blossoming on the hill at home, with new trees, fresh trees, trees that’ll become majestic and beautiful one day, and that he wanted to make the forest grow. He also said he wanted to keep a stockpile of lighter fluid nearby for that day he’d feel himself slipping away so he could set the trees on fire and himself with them. To quit life with a blast but also keep in touch with both the creative and destructive sides of nature. I said I would envy his death. So I promised him I’d come back and crucify him to the oldest tree to make sure he burned alive.
Oh man oh man oh man I can feel it again. Seme—
It’s runny. Like, super runny. And not sticky. It’s dripping onto my chest but it’s rolling down my belly.
Is he crying?
Between you and me, donna a donna, crying is difficult. Crying is always caused by difficult things you don’t want to think about and therefore doesn’t happen all on its own, unless it does, in which case it’s caused by difficult things you can’t even think about and is therefore even more difficult. It took me—me who didn’t shed a single tear of my own when all that back there happened—a very long time to process what happened that day. I’m going to give you my best little attempt at extrospection.
I think, maybe, he dehumanized me. During our time together he never told me much about himself and his hopes and dreams and fears except for those little things that come across as hopes and dreams but are really just things you care about that don’t define you all the way to the guts and to the core. But here’s the thing. If I’m speechless motionless and from his point of view brainless, what’s the difference between me and a lightbulb or a chair? In a way it’s only because he was able to to reach that psychopathic mindset only serial killers who pick up young semi-nubile hitchhiking girleens on roadsides, bring them to secluded areas, rape them (briefly. Ha!), and slice them to pieces can have, because no other mindset would be powerful or dehumanizing or mind-numbing enough to allow a human being to slice another to pieces or in our case to make that psychopathic human forget he’s not alone.
He wasn’t a man who enjoyed being alone, but he did live on a hill far away from civilization and could only visit people so often as they reminded him to, so there was no way he didn’t enjoy a little bit of solitude. In short, he didn’t cry out of loneliness I don’t think, although I could be wrong. I think being alone was just the enabler.
In life my greatest fear was always death. Maybe you’ll think it’s narcissistic of me to say so, but my biggest issue with death was that I was going to die, personally. Yeah, that’s right. Like an abstract phenomenon had a grudge against me. Thinking about how my poor poor self would stop living and stop doing all the things I wasted my life on and just plain stop being gave me existential crises. End of the rope, sorry, no luck, no cigar, fat chance. Except death isn’t about luck, it’s a certainty you never bother to confirm.
How many times, though, can you say you’ve seen someone truly be alone?
It’s so easy for me at least to think about what it’s like to be fully alone. I know what I do when I am. Confession: I like to make up songs in the shower and sing them to myself, but only when I know I won’t be heard. Confession: sometimes I cartwheel through hallways because walking is too sad and boring. Confession: I only ever feel like my thoughts are entirely my own when they’re unmolested by my situation, i.e., when I’m alone.
Even now that I’ve told you you still have no idea what I’m talking about. You think you know what I’m saying now because I’ve given you the theoreticals. But you haven’t experienced jack shit, so you don’t know. There’s no way you can know exactly what it’s like when I’m alone, just like there’s no way for me to know exactly what it’s like when anyone else is. Except now I do, since it happened to me, with him, and now I’ve seen a small giant of a fraction of him that no one before had ever seen and that nobody else likely ever will.
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.