Entwained

Entwained

Both standing now, the old man stares into the face of the young man who stares into the face of the clock. “She came to you willingly?” the young man finally asks. “It was an accident,” the old man answers. A small revelation falls upon the young man, “You haven’t come here with a message at all.” The old man smiles the largest smile he has ever smiled, “Yes.” “How much time do we have?” “She searches for Mox.” “Mox?” “Yes.” “Why?” “No one knows for sure.” “Jesus fucking christ, man!” “Yes. More or less,” the old man states, and now that he feels entertained, he sits back down at the table. “How did she find you by accident?” the young man, too, sheds his initial contempt and brings the chair back to the table and sits. “That goddamn boy, what’s his name?, Darby?” the old man answers. “That fucking corridor. Shit. Fucking Darby. Who still sends him?” “It was not that kind of scenario.” “What? She just showed up there, too?” “Yes,” the old man whispers, nearly inaudible. The young man feels another small revelation, “The message. Tell me now.” La salle de manger begins to fill with the sounds of meal preparation. The old man leans back in his chair and assumes his resting position, right arm hugging himself while the left elbow rests upon the arm as the left hand strokes his chin. You will be angry, the old man warns.

Understanding this, the young man stands and exits la salle de manger toward the outdoor courtyard. “Fresh air is good for the crazies,” they say, “It helps them feel normal.” Impeccable, the grass and foliage that surround the outdoor grounds of the facility are the responsibility of four full-time employees. Watered by hand, every dawn the four walk the two-acre property and spray the grass and foliage with water from a water-tank-on-wheels setup. Surrounding the entrance to the facility through the front doors rests a large garden full of blooming, brightly colored annuals. Around the facility, large, lush flowering trees grow and provide shade, branches for wooden swings, and the overall sense that this is a place for relaxation. Just outside the wall of large windows that line the fourth wall of the common area and stretches all the way through la salle de manger, another, larger garden of muted, flowering perennials require constant tending. Beyond the trees that line the facility and the expanse of flowering gardens, a reflective fountain sculpted of a luminous metal settles itself between a rockway and the stretches of velvety green grass that reach all the way down and around to a small stream. Fearing the innate danger of running water near a place where, often times, sufferers come to avoid that self-inflicted permanent rest, the landscape designers opted for a wide, shallow mirror of water. For the stream as well, a wide, shallow trickle makes its way through the outdoor grounds of the facility, where its source begins beyond the fence of the property and pools much farther down, almost a mile away from the facility’s entrance gate. In general, the outdoor area creates the semblance of calm, the serenity against which the profound nature of the sufferer’s suffering becomes obvious. Few sufferers ever venture out into the outdoor area, and most believe this lack of appreciation is mostly due to the overwhelming beauty of the landscape’s design. This, arguably, is the failure of the landscape designer who, sadly, refused to understand what a sufferer may want as opposed to whatever it was that the landscape designer decided a sufferer needs.

Beyond the flowering gardens, upon the rockway, the two men assemble. “Speak your piece,” the young man demands. The old man feels surprised at the hesitancy he feels in hurting this young man. The young man feels the old man’s hesitation. The old man pushes the feelings from his mind for there are greater risks in sparing the young man’s feelings. “Of course my feelings don’t matter,” the young man states. The old man looks at him, and with no feeling finally delivers his message, “She does not remember.” “She doesn’t remember what?” the young man asks a little disappointed, lacking the enormity of the old man’s words. The young man continues, “She wasn’t supposed to remember.” “You fail to understand. She does not remember anything,” the old man clarifies, and reiterates, “If you had seen her, you would’ve known, and I wouldn’t be here.” “But this message was not the motivation behind your visit today,” the young man begins to grasp. “Yes, as you realized a few moments ago,” the old man responds. “I won’t,” the young man asserts. The old man sighs as if knowing that the young man would resist so resolutely, “Then your words mean nothing, and if I see her again, I will keep her hidden no longer and will reveal her to the one you refuse to see on my behalf.” “You motherfucking shithead,” the young man retorts the futility, the disdain rising up yet again. “Yes, but no matter what I may seem to you, the truth still remains. Then, what will become of you?” the old man responds, confident, almost wishing for the defiance of the young man.

The young man thinks for a minute, caring no longer about what the old man might hear. “She will not be difficult to find because she does not know that she needs to remain hidden,” the old man answers. The young man closes his eyes to see if he can see her. The old man answers again, “Yes, but we now know the consequences of you playing savior.” The young man, eyes still closed, rapidly fires through thoughts about the answer he needs, now. The old man listens very carefully as the young man filters through the options. Finally, the young man opens his eyes and looks directly at the old man who, unflinchingly, looks directly, deeply back into the young man’s eyes. The old man decides, in that moment to help, “Yes.” Knowingly, the young man asks the question, “What happened when this happened to you two.” The old man, being who he is, answers with a question as he gestures to his own bodily self, “Have you ever known yourself at this age?” Confused, the young man responds, “Of course not.” “Exactly,” the old man speaks with congratulations, and then continues, “How is it that you think I’ve come to be this old?” The young man mulls over a few options, then finally concludes, “You both wanted to stay.” “Wanted? No.” The young man thinks for another second; he feels a horrible, sick feeling in his gut and whispers, “No. You couldn’t leave? But that’s …” “Fully possible,” the old man interrupts. “But that means you must be …” the young man attempts to guess. “You will lose your mind and your stay here in this facility will be compulsory rather than arbitrary if I tell you the truth,” the old man warns with his left hand, palm toward the young man, raised as if to stop the young man’s wonderings. “So, you’re here to save us?” the young man wisecracks, and then realizes, “You’re here to save yourself.” “The situation could unfold in a beneficial way for both of us,” the old man consoles. “Fuck you,” the young man spits. “Unfortunately,” the old man begins, “your fate sealed itself the moment she showed up at my house. My fate, fortunately, has shifted, and now, I have only opportunity. You have only to experience permanent absence.” Defiant, the young man squints, “Is that a promise?” “It is my guarantee,” the old man states as he leans in toward the young man for emphasis. “Unless I do your bidding,” the young man reasons. The old man smiles, “Yes.” “Fuck.”

The analyst  pokes her head out of the entrance/exit door of la salle de manger, into the outdoor area, “Hey you two. How’s it going? It’s dinner time. Would your visitor like to join you for dinner? It’s been quite the visit, if I may say so myself.” “Thank you kindly for the offer,” the old man begins, “but I should probably be off and leave this poor kid to his own devices. A day spent with an old man can oftentimes be strenuous and unpleasant.” “Well there’s plenty of food and space for you if you change your mind …” the analyst pauses again to allow the old man to interject his name. “It’s fine. Remember? It doesn’t matter,” the old man responds comically patronizing while commenting to the young man, The idiocy that is the Fear of Rudeness. I really do not know how you tolerate this. “You must be hungry. You didn’t eat any of the lunch the chef saved for you,” the analyst suggests at the young man. “Yes, I’ll eat in a minute. Thanks,” the young man responds genially. “Alright then. Please come visit again anytime!” the analyst offers the old man. “Oh, yes. I will be back,” the old man smiles disingenuously. The young man rolls his eyes at the old man and stares him down for a moment while the analyst excuses herself.

“I do not wish to return here,” the old man finally speaks. “I do not wish to visit the older woman,” the young man mocks by imitating the old man’s tone. “Such is the unfairness of life,” the old man explains. “Gah the gaul,” the young man begins, but just before he can spell out his rant the old man separates the young man’s thoughts from his words, “You know nothing.” “Take your leave. I will not do your bidding,” the young man decides. “Do not be an imbecile. I have already sent someone your way. Do not leave this place until you encounter him,” the old man instructs. “It should only be a few days,” the old man continues. “And what should I do until then?” the young man pouts like an infant. “Do what you already do here every day … nothing,” the old man punctuates. Still feeling defiant, the young man touts, “I make no promises.” “Yes, but I do,” the old man whispers, and as he moves to see himself through the doorway into la salle de manger so that he may check out at the registration desk at the entrance to the facility, the old man stops with the door hanging in his hand, turns to the young man and evokes a whirlwind of disaster, and just as the young man waves off the disruption the voice of the old man lingers within the back of the young man’s now burning hot right ear, Wake up! Profusely sweating again, he sits up straight in his bed, curls in agony and vomits on the floor in front of his nightstand.

He reaches out to the control panel to call for clean up. Someone, a male—since there are males, females and the like who clean the facility, specifically of hazardous materials and bodily fluids, males are sent to clean the personal spaces of male sufferers, females are sent to clean the personal spaces of female sufferers, etc.—who goes by the name “Kace,” which he reads off the front of “Kace’s” cleaning smock, comes up to clean his personal space of his bodily fluids. The task seems to him to last forever, but the efficiency of the cleaning staff results in the clean up taking less than two minutes. Nevertheless, he is alone.

Alone, again, appeased, he thinks to himself, but this time, not lonely. Before this day had come to an end, he remembered the lonesome feelings with which he was constantly bombarded simply because of the “lack” of the person upon whom his own existentialism rests. He lies naked on his bed, staring at the celestial design of the wallpaper. The one wish that penetrates his mind revolves around being alone. Being inextricably tied to another definitely has its problems, burdens, sufferings, and so, he wonders, all too often these days, what life must be like when all of the responsibility placed on a being who depends upon another falls away, disintegrates into the nothingness of meaning nothing to everyone and everything to no one. Those are the truly crazy people, he thinks to himself as he recalls the supposedly sad stories of all those unloved women, rejected men, the trite romance of needing a witness to their lives so that their lives hold meaning. No one ever thinks about what it means or what it must be like to be forever tied, forever joined, forever involved with just one other being. Of course, he knows he cannot live without her, and the mere thought of her makes him weep deep down in his soul, so deep in fact, that he usually ends up vomiting or shitting himself senseless, drawn into a deep sleep where he may see her but he cannot see her nor feel her. The endless betrayal of finding that person who, quite literally, fulfills you. Betrayal, he thinks, is not the right word. He longs to see her. He aches to feel her. The forgetting was a known effect. The forgetting was temporary. The forgetting was … was … necessary. He cannot bear to think of her any longer. All he wants is to be alone.

He relives the day that unfolded the day before. In an attempt to catch the minutiae of the old man’s words, movements, tells. The old man knows the secret. The old man holds the answer. Mother. Fucker. A slight, calm, gentle ring interrupts his thoughts as his control board dings to call his attention to a notification. The small screen blinks forth a message: “Breakfast will be served in five minutes.” He rolls over and decides that he will not eat fucking breakfast. Someone shouts up to him from the base of his ladder, “Are you dressed?” “No.” “You cannot skip more than two meals in a row without consequence.” “What is the consequence?” “ … “ “Exactly. Go away please,” he whines. “We’ve received a call for a visitor who has requested to be named on your Approved Visitors list.” He sits up, mildly curious but knowing of whom this someone speaks, “And?” “Don’t you want to know who it is before we approve him?” “I didn’t know last time.” “Very well then.” “Tell the chef that I only want the meats today.” “Tell him yourself,” the someone cajoles as he walks away, toward la salle de manger. Fuck. He looks to his control board and taps out a short message, “Chef, just meats please. Thnx.” With a deep breath, he lies back down on his bed, closes his eyes. Another slight, calm, gentle ring dings from the control panel. His body flails around the bed like a toddler. He reaches the control panel, “Fuck you, man. No more special requests until you show up for ten meals in a row, on time. The Lady Doc’s orders.” Shitfuck. A response of any nature he deems irrelevant and unnecessary. No breakfast it is then.

Where are you? he thinks as he clears his mind of every, single, tiny, little thing. He feels warm. He feels excited. His sleeping quarters turn a violent green. He knows that she, on some level, tries to find him. A stroke of warm sunlight. He blinks as he raises a hand to shield himself from the rays. The world is flat; it is indeed, and everything within it lacks depth.

Trust Me

Trust Me

Lately, I’ve been learning a lot about myself due to circumstances that I’ve created (but this is not about the circumstances). Unfortunately, most of these lessons are less than savory. Mostly, I’ve been confronted with these two ideas: Love and Trust. Both of the platonic variety (my sexual love life is on point with a Body Buddy the likes of which my world had never known before and of whom my world will never let go). Platonic love is a whole other story, and it requires almost more trust than sexual love because there are fewer ways to express that love, especially when—with regards to platonic love—saying, “I love you,” is usually inappropriate. But really, this is not a thing about love for it is a thing about Trust. And trust is not one of my stronger suits.

The thing about trust is that there are no guarantees, which is not the same as faith because faith requires the acceptance of ignorance. Trust requires the testing of facts against the words and actions that are to be trusted. Trust requires that you bet on the good. Trust demands that you sit in the unknown. Trust is built over the course of a long, steady test of words and events. The unrelenting need for proof that what someone says is what they mean and who they are. And this does not even include the keeping of sensitive information. If I had a metaphor (no matter how terrible), I’d share it.

My situation revolves around the simple trust of a young friend. Obviously, I cannot go into the specifics of the situation, as that would thusly make me untrustworthy, but I do not think it wrong to write about them (as the gender-neutral pronoun) in relation to myself under the terms of discovery. I know that I am trustworthy on many accounts, however, this does not mean that I will not break the trust of my young friend simply because I do not know what actions they will consider to be breaking their trust. I have more than a few inklings about what I can and cannot do, but mostly, I do not know what sorts of little things will cross their line.

The situation, more specifically, however, revolves around my development as a trust-worthy person. I am in constant fear that they will no longer trust me because they find me to be unworthy of their trust. And at the same time, I am also a bit fearful that I will end up heartbroken in the end. But all of this is on me. That is trust. Moving forward, carefully sharing and revealing ourselves to those around us who seem to care. Whether or not they care is not our issue. We trust and are handled (positively or poorly) by those to whom we give our trust, and we grow and become more enlightened as a person who trusts and is rewarded for that trust. Or that trust is broken, and we are enlightened through the feedback we receive when we learn, for certain, that a person cannot be trusted.

I have someone who delicately and gently holds me in my vulnerable state of trust and intimate love, but that seems so easy compared to the platonic love of friends. Cause … like … what if they don’t like me as much as someone else? But there are many different types of love and friendship and intimacy. They all, however, require a solid, strong, secure foundation of trust. Without the vulnerability of floating alone in that unknown space proves difficult at every stage of a relationship. Lest not forget, however, that the other person is also floating about in the unknown. And so, I suppose that the real gift is simply being given the opportunity to trust another human, and in turn, you might both win through the knowing of each by the other.

LA SALLE À MANGER

LA SALLE À MANGER

The three make their way down the short, wide corridor toward the cafeteria or as per the facility’s informational guidelines, la salle à manger. Being built in a time before anyone currently alive inside the facility, no one knows for sure why the dining room is the only room/area named in an Old-Earth language. Upon entering la salle à manger, one quickly notices that the layout feels simple and clean. To the right stretches the same large, floor-to-ceiling windows of the common area, but in la salle à manger, the windows continue around the far corner and stretch down the far wall until the windows meet another entrance/exit door to the outdoor activities courtyard.

The far left wall then houses a full-functioning, restaurant-style kitchen with a countertop and service window that opens out into la salle à manger. No one, since the inception of this current chef has ever entered the kitchen except the chef, of course, his two assistants and the three approved food suppliers. La salle à manger consists of buffet-style food service in the form of one long hot-food-holding apparatus and one long cold-food-holding apparatus. The food-holding apparati are covered at about the waist height of an averaged-sized human of the era, with glass so that one may see the contents of the buffet while reaching beneath the glass to grab the desired food with each food’s prescribed tongs.

Organized carefully within and throughout the middle of the space, not excluding the windowed walls, square four-top and rectangular two-top tables are meticulously arranged in a concise yet spacious order. Upon her arrival as the new facility’s manager or as her name plate states, “In-Line Management Head of Operations,” the analyst quickly sought to change out every wobbly table in the facility. This task seemed simple enough at first, but the analyst soon realized that tables are quite expensive. Despite the expense, the analyst opted for a table design that would prohibit even the future possibility of wobbliness. Thus, the reason why every table so meticulously sits in such meticulous order is because they are bolted into the floors, meaning the tables can never be moved from their designated locations, well, not never, obviously, but the task would prove to be difficult. The tops of the tables are of some heavy, equally expensive stone, but for the analyst this was all in a day’s work.

As for the chairs, the analyst held no unreasonable or specific compulsions as to what makes a great chair. So, the chairs are of some prefab, cushion-less, curve-backed, wooden assortment, which by the way, neither match the tables nor any other chairs, but they move about freely. The oddity of the chairs, as explained by the analyst helps to make la salle à manger feel more like a typical home, since the tables are so strictly positioned. The overall effect is somewhat pleasant in the general lack of rigidity often times found in other facilities for the similarly suffering.

Last thing, the curtains were not originally decided upon by the analyst, however, after the first time they [the curtains] were ordered to be taken down and cleaned, nearly all of the sufferers within the facility had their various, specific forms of a breakdown. Within the hour, the analyst ordered another set of matching curtains. Thus, there are two full sets of curtains for the vast expanse of floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the facility, including the windows of the common area, and when the curtains need to be washed, the employees responsible for such a task replace the dirty curtains with the other set while the dirty set are washed, stored and brought out when the hanging curtains are in need of a washing. As for the look of the curtains, they are of a plain, thick, dark, heavy plum-red velvet.

And so, it is within la salle à manger that the three sit at the four-top table at the far end of the room where the windows turn the corner. The chef, apparently familiar with what he likes to eat, set aside a plate of all the fixings with none of the main dishes. There is also a plate of various breads and butters and a plate of various fruits and vegetables. Taking in the compartmentalized nature of the food upon the table, the old man chuckles a bit with a comment, Interesting, into the mind of his host. Yet another thing about which you will never know anything, he responds back to the old man. The old man nods in agreement. The analyst attempts to mediate what she intuits as a tense situation, “Are you hungry, sir? I’m sorry I failed to get your name earlier.” “Yes, I could eat a little something, and don’t worry about it; it doesn’t matter,” the old man responds while simultaneously inserting, You still prefer the build-your-own method, into the mind of him he visits. He sits silent and still in the desperately futile attempt to not allow the old man to know anything he doesn’t want the old man to know. To him now, the analyst suggests that, “The chef must like you. He never saves food for anyone else, and generally, his policy is: If a meal is missed, the meal is missed.” You were wrong, she is a fool, he comments back to the old man while simultaneously responding to the analyst, “Yes, I am aware of the chef’s policy. I made a deal with him a while back, however.” “Ah,” the analyst goes on, “How fortuitous.”

The three sit in silence as he picks at some bread with his fingers, while the old man pokes at a cherry tomato with a fork. For what seems like an eternity, they sit, fairly motionless for a minute. Finally, the analyst decides that perhaps they need their privacy, “I will leave you two to it, then,” she states as she excuses herself from the table. “It was nice to meet you …” she stops to allow the old man to interject his name. “It doesn’t matter,” the old man responds with a gentle, kind smile. “Well, then. Come find me after your visitor leaves,” the analyst directs, “There is still the issue of yesterday’s incident we need to discuss.” He nods, and with a handful of bread, waves goodbye.

Breaking their silence with a full inhale as he stretches back in his chair, arms overhead, letting out a sigh of relief, the old man leans forward onto his elbows and looks at the young man across from him. “You’re being idiotic,” the old man begins. “You’re being deceptive,” the young man continues. “Very well,” the old man tries again as he pops the tomato into his mouth. “What do you need to know before I tell you what you need to know?” “How did you find me?” the young man asks. A gasp of frustration, “The idiocy,” the old man responds. “Why do you fucking care so much?” the young man reasserts. The old man cannot decide if he wants to tell this kid the truth. “I assume everything you say is a lie, so don’t worry about that,” the young man interjects. Ah, very good, the old man almost laughs out loud. Tell me what you want, the young man demands. I want to give you a message, the old man answers. Why? What do you get out of it? the young man inquires. I cannot tell you without also then revealing the message, the old man explains.

They sit in silence for another while. The young man decides that he will try to guess what the old man might want to divulge. Before the young man, however, can even get the beginnings of a first round of thoughts to condense, the old man laughs quietly, I will tell you what I wish you to know, and then you will know what I know. But first, may I ask you a question? The young man looks hard into the old man’s face, Do I have a choice? Patient and never looking brash, the old man responds, Unfortunately, the probability stands that you will, eventually, undoubtedly hear what I have to say before I leave. 

“Go on with it then,” the young man states aloud. “Ah, okay, I see,” the old man quips as he can feel the young man’s discomfort, and then the old man asks, “Have you seen her?” The young man doesn’t even think he simply responds, a lie, “Yes, of course.” Knowing the lie, the old man wonders to himself so that the young man may hear, It is possible. The young man looks out the window; he feels vulnerable. “And your message?” the young man states flatly while still gazing out into the courtyard. “I cannot help you if you’re going to lie to me,” the old man demands. “Okay then. Thank you for coming all this way to tell me something I already know,” the young man tests. “Fine. If this is how you want it to be, then I cannot force any knowledge upon you,” the old man concedes. “Know this,” the old man seemingly concludes, “by the time you realize you should have heard my message, I will be unable to cooperate, for the answers to the questions will have been discovered.” The old man stands to excuse himself from the young man’s presence.

An ear burns.

The young man mulls a very small inkling of a thought he hopes will be undetected by the old man, She is hidden. Yes, the old man confirms. Shit, the young man curses. That’s right, the old man reinforces. The young man knew of this already and begins to wonder how this knowing did not occur to him sooner, anger, confusion, the only question, You know why. Of course, that is why I am here, you idiot, the old man explains. How … the young man begins. I saw her. She just showed up at my house, the old man interrupts. The young man stands so abruptly that his chair gets knocked off its feet and tumbles about behind him. La salle à manger sits empty; no one looks in his direction.

On Niceness

On Niceness

Why is it so difficult to do good, to be good? Why does it seem as those it goes against our very nature to do good? Why is everyone so caught up in their own shit that they cannot even see other people much less treat them well? Why does the sun shine so bright? Why can I sometimes not hear the birds chirping? Why, when the obvious thing to do in a moment is just to simply be fucking nice, do so many people opt to be assholes? Even in the smallest, tiniest, most insignificant moments, people choose to harm rather than uplift. Is it really so difficult to be nice?

He & The Old Man

He & The Old Man

The waiting room serves the dual purpose of a holding area for both incoming sufferers and visitors who wish to visit those sufferers already inhabiting the facility. Decorated in what can only be described as gauche and obscene consistency, every surface—couches, tables, countertops, etc.—except the floor is colored a sky blue with painted, fluffy white clouds. Of an unusual rounded shape; there are no corners or creases where typically, corners and creases would exist in a three-dimensional room, which ends up giving the, at first striking but then, soothing sensation of being among the clouds. It is not entirely true that the entire space is colored a sky blue, for the reality is that the floors are colored a sort of evening blue with speck-like stars, and slightly before the floors begin to curve upward, the evening blue gradually lightens into a cobalt through the floor and wall curvature with half the wall being a cerulean, and then, perhaps at the typical head height of an average-sized human, the blue begins to turn a full, light sky onward up and across the ceiling. Even the windows are rounded but not circular. No one knows why or how this particular decorum was decided upon and became the decorum of choice. Some find the peculiarity nice for small talk among strangers who wait. Some find the peculiarity daunting for small talk among strangers who wait. All, nevertheless, talk about it.

The entrance to the facility reveals the large windows of the administrative offices to the left, and the outside wall of the rounded waiting room to the right. Decorated and furnished typically, in that lack-of-color or any oddity of interest, the foyer leads directly toward the registration counter, forces each entrant to veer slightly toward the right. There, the clouds begin to form. If, however, a left turn is made, the administrative offices and other such more technical and pragmatic areas of the facility will be found. On a sharp right, the waiting area in all its cloud-filled glory is easily accessible. If perusing coolly by the registration counter on the left and the waiting room on the right, the comfortable visitation area falls directly in front, and the clouds cease. If perusing fully around the rounded registration counter on the left, the common room, which houses all of the sufferers together in lofted cubbies, sits, and there too, the clouds cease. When entering the facility and that sharp left is taken, there are no clouds to be found within that banality. It is within this cloud-filled waiting room that his visitor sits … and waits.

As he makes his way down the gradient of green tints, he looks at the analyst, “Hello.” “Let’s go,” she responds. They walk together through the common area basically unnoticed. As they reach the double doors on the right side of the fourth wall of large windows, the analyst reaches for the left door handle and holds it open for him. He bows sardonically and is about to make a comment matched in attitude, but just as he begins to make his way through the doorway, he feels … a feeling … the feeling and stops. With the door now shut behind him, the analyst asks, “What now?” He slowly closes his eyes. Silent. He waits. He can just barely make out something, but it can’t be. He looks at the analyst, “What are you doing? Who put you up to this?” “Oh come on. What is this?” the analyst responds with an impatient huff. He believes her. “I really don’t want to do this today. You already agreed to a very quick, probably meaningless chat,” she continues. No, he thinks to himself, but what?

They continue together down the short hallway toward the waiting room. Curving now, the walls begin to brighten from essentially white to a light blue while the floors simultaneously darken from essentially white to a starry evening sky. “The grotesquery,” he spits as he intakes the change in decorum. “I like it,” the analyst admits. Just as they round the rounded corner that hides the inhabitants of the waiting room, he sees but just the tip of a shoe he knows all too well. Immediately upon this recognition he hears the voice of the old man speak, “Don’t.” He sees the old man fully now, seated upon one of the blue chairs painted over in clouds. The old man sees him fully now, standing in the typical clothing of civilian life. The old man slowly comes to a stand. The analyst suggests, “Perhaps we should move this to the visitor’s area?” Ignoring her, each stares the other down for an eternity. But only a second later, the analyst attempts to move them into the visitor’s area. He refuses to give the old man anything and remains blank. The old man concedes with raised arms as if being arrested and speaks again, “I promise.” The old man begins to make a move toward the visitor’s area. “It is the one thing you cannot ever know,” he responds without any movement toward the visitor’s area. “Yes, I suppose,” the old man states with slow steps continued toward the visitor’s area.

He bolts around over his shoulder and makes a run for it back into the common area. Stop, the old man speaks into his mind. You fucker, he thinks back at the old man just as he reaches the double doors of the sufferers’ living space. It’s just a message, the old man attempts. A set of doors between them now, he in the common area of the sufferers’ living space, the old man in the visitor’s area. The sufferers make their way to the dining area for lunch. He stands silent, quiet of mind behind the doors. The sufferers make their way back into the common area and disperse throughout the facility for various, prescribed activities, now that lunch has wrapped up. Who sent you? He finally asks. I am here because I want to be, the old man responds.

He bolts away from the door and runs toward the left doors of the fourth wall of large windows and exits the facility. He runs through the outdoor patio, onto a grassy courtyard. The old man leaves the facility and calmly walks around the building to the back where the sufferers may enjoy some fresh air in the courtyard. Let’s not make a scene, the old man suggests. That analyst seems smarter than average, the old man observes. You would know, he spits.” What … the fuck … do you want!” he screams, face ablaze. The old man reconsiders his decision to visit. He feels the shift within the old man, aloud now, “Don’t you fucking dare.” “Then promise me something,” the old man bribes. Fuck you! “Okay then, tell me something,” the old man counters. He turns his back on the old man wishing desperately he could mull this over. The old man hears his wish and offers, “I promise. I won’t listen.” “Impossible,” he winces. He doesn’t know what to do, and he is frozen within the blankness of his mind. The analyst appears at the door that leads back into the common area, “Is everything alright? You missed lunch, but the cooks saved you a few plates in case your visitor wants to eat with you.” “That sounds like a good idea,” the old man courteously states. “We should share a meal together, don’t you think?” the old man continues in suggestion. He can’t stand this. “I’m not hungry, thank you.” “But your visitor,” she begins. He turns to look at her and interrupts, “I don’t care.” You’re right. You never care, the old man whispers. Goddammit! “Let’s eat,” the old man states flatly with the semblance of as much excitement as is available to him. The three make their way back inside; the analyst holds the door open, while his head hangs low, and the old man follows.

A Siren Named Skye

A Siren Named Skye

I know a siren named Skye.

If you know her, count yourself lucky.

She runs this town with hair like a crown,

and she’ll kill you with a glance or smile.

Some power grows slow from deep within.

Some power is imbued.

Some power falls from the heavens above.

Some power is known within.

Shining makes the world aware,

of the glow that makes her shine.

Others will not like this glow,

but others, still, will be drawn.

She loves and loves

in circles all around,

but where is the love that cannot be found?

It’s pulled from the universe, so vast and broad.

It’s conjured, like magic, from the skyes.

Nobody will ever understand who she is;

that’s not the point.

Showing the world what she is capable of,

she longs for most from this life on high.

Him & Them

Him & Them

Day after day he continues the slow, dark climb out of obscurity. Exposure, the never-ending chase for … for … he runs; he examines; he punches himself in the face until … until the person around whom his entire world revolves takes notice and delivers … delivers … the semblance … a semblance of … resolution. He wants to go to there; there is where he will … will … the will to dare to dare to … want … the wanton … he stops; he paces; he wrings his hair between the unscrupulous grasp of his fists to force the mind to … give … to reveal … to tell all its secrets. The lies he tells himself satisfy him no longer, and when reality meets expectation, he runs with the perception … a perspective on … the perceptive nature where … when the behavior reflects the person behind the reinforcement.

She came to him in but only the vaguest sense. He felt her, the warmth, the love, the heat of longing between their sexual intercourse, and just as she was willing and able to give him everything he desired from her, only her, she vanished. Hidden, he remembered to tuck her behind his ear. Forgotten, that is when he lost her behind his ear. Every so often, when in the clutches of the luckiest of situations, she whispers to him in the cold, dark nights of forgotten dreams and remembered nightmares. Vastly unknown to the typical passerby, he sits, anxious, astutely aware of everything and yet, nothing makes any sense to him at all. He wanders, not as a not-lost wanderer. He feels, quite lost, most often times. The obscurity defines him in exactly the way that he would like to be defined. He moves within the world largely unnoticed. The people do not see him unless they know to look for him, but what kind of person looks for something about which they know nothing? He wonders, not as a self-seeking victim.

And there in the distance, a speck of light lighted and now lit by the flare of nostrils, an eyebrow lifted. He walks toward it; the lit light that was lighted grows. Closer now, he attempts to sneak up on it; the lit, lighted light retreats. He reaches a hand out towards it and easily takes hold of it. He ignites the light with a smooth, even blow of his breath. The light springs to lively life and scatters like confetti. One more deep breath in, Find her, he exhales. Consumed. The back of his right ear begins to burn. A gentle whisper, I am hidden; he remembers. You are lost, the gentle whisper continues. I am sleeping, he echoes within himself.

His eyes blink open; upon his back, the soothing, warm rays expanding above him suggest morning. Warm. He rolls over and feels the silken skin of a woman. No, he does not believe. Running his hand up the side of a naked, female body, the flesh is warm as his hands melt into the woman beside him. His hand reaches the shoulder of the female body, and just as he presses to roll the woman over to look upon her face, the gentle whisper of the voice he knows to belong to the woman he so desperately hopes is the woman lying besides him now envelopes him, I am hidden. Wake up. The droplets that release themselves from his face collect, and as the air meets them, a cold chill resonates from around the creases of his nostrils and that border where his face becomes scalp. His eyes open wide, wide awake. On his side, facing a wallpapered wall, he feels cold. Tears … the tears that burn … the burn of emotion … a stream of forgotten dreams that dry … the dried tears that salt the waters that brings life to all life. As he sits up the loneliness … the emptiness … no … he remembers. The feelings represent something more akin to despair, although, despair is not quite the word either. He’s been alone and lonely for so long now that the feeling feels normal. Honestly, he is sure, he does not know if he would like to depart from his feelings of loneliness; it sounds so … so … exposed.

“This is how the crazies live,” they say, “ They like to perch.” Perched, he slides on his butt down to the foot of his bed so that he may look over the balcony, into the common area. The common area is a large, vaulted open room with two dozen sets of stairs lining three of the four outer walls. The fourth wall, if standing directly in the middle of it, looking toward it, to the right, houses the doorway into and out of the common area, which leads to the waiting room, a comfortable room where visitors may visit, and where other sorts of administrative necessities are found. The fourth wall, to the left, houses one large doorway into and out of the common area, which leads directly to an outdoor, lushly lawned, activities-conducive space and leads down a short corridor through which the dining area is accessed. In between these two doors, the wall consists almost solely of large, floor-to-ceiling windows.

“The crazies like it this way,” they say, “They like to hear the goings on of other people.” The ladders lead to the semi-private sleeping areas of the sufferers. Each ladder boasts colored steps of all different variants, but they [the steps] are of all the same size, about a foot deep and a foot apart, vertically. Upon assignment of each sleeping cubby, the staff offers each incoming, new registrant the option to choose among a variety of colors for their ladder. These options, however, are not endless. What is available, nevertheless, ranges from a monochromatic scheme in a tint or shade, coordinating complementary colors, a rainbow-ordered set, or a random assortment. All must choose a color package, or a color package will be chosen for them. To look around the common area, at the ladders today, three ladders are missing the steps entirely, which means the sleeping cubby above is unoccupied. Some sufferers have opted for a random assortment, but most, oddly enough, have chosen the rainbow set. One sufferer has a monochromatic scheme of green tints, while one other has a monochromatic scheme of purple shades, “The closest,” they say, “to black without being black, which, of course, is not an option.”

At the top of each ladder, a cubby—the width and depth of which is large enough to house a bed large enough to sleep a large man comfortably, enough space for that same large man to lay on the floor next to the bed with arms and legs almost fully outstretched, a small dresser drawer that doubles as a bedside table, and as for the height, the ceiling of the cubby would force this same large man to bend nearly at the hips—reaches up and back, away from the common area’s walls. The three walls of the cubby are windowless and outfitted with wallpaper of various nature scenes, which may also be chosen. Lined with a balcony half the height of the cubby, the fourth wall serves as the cubby’s entrance and exit point. The banisters of the balcony must also be colorful, but usually, the installers simply match the colors of the banisters to the colors of the steps. Only once has a different color arrangement for the steps and banister ever been requested, but most believe this is due mostly to the fact that the sufferers simply do not know that they may request an alternate color arrangement. Lest not forget that the cubbies themselves are meant, first and foremost, for sleeping. Rest and leisure time, despite this, may be spent within, no matter. Each sufferer, however, must also clothe themselves within this space so as to not be in the nude when descending the ladder into the common area, but when the clothing is simple and slightly uniform, wriggling into each day’s outfit is no chore. The sufferers may also opt to don a simple robe and clothe themselves in their bathrooms.

As a point of concern for the safety of each cubby’s resident, the ladder also serves the purpose of … safety. Pressure sensitive, the steps of the ladder turn on the one light inside the cubby. That light, of course, may then be switched off via the touch-sensitive pad that controls the cubby’s light and temperature. Thus, when an intruder attempts to enter a cubby in which that intruder does not belong, the lights of the cubby turn on with hopes that the inhabitant, if at night, is awoken to the intruder’s presence. The steps also light up a small notification in the security room. No incident has ever come to fruition due to the seemingly unsafe nature of the ladders. That’s not to say, however, that none will occur, but since none has yet to occur, the ladders remain as a seemingly fair resolution.

To the right of the foot of each ladder is a small door that leads to a private bathroom beneath each sleeping cubby. The bathrooms are fairly typical in that the entire space is molded of some sort of rust- and mold-resistant material that is easily wiped down. This, of course, is for each sufferer’s safety. There are no bits and pieces that can be removed from other pieces. Sizable, there’s floor space where a large man may lay down upon the floor between the sink, toilet and bathing areas, but who would want to do such a thing?; no matter, the option has been made available. The bathtub, also of a size that may fit a large man comfortably, has only a faucet, which prohibits the act of showering and removes the need for a shower curtain along with its accoutrements. Small areas around the bathroom light up to reveal where to press to flush, per se, command hot or cold water to flow, soap to dispense, etc., etc.

An analyst makes her way through the common area, which at this time is being used for group games and artistic projects, toward the bottom of the monochromatic ladder of green tints. He sits, perched upon the edge of his bed, arms resting upon the banister, chin upon the arms, looking out with little interest at the activities below. The analyst looks up at him, “You have a visitor.” “There are no approved visitors on my ‘Approved Visitors’ list,” he responds. “Yes, but this is a matter of … clinical interest. Your visitor has requested to visit you, despite whether or not you will benefit from the visit.” “I do not wish to visit with my visitor.” “Unfortunately, you do not have a choice.” “If my visitor is, in fact, here to visit me, then of course I have the choice to refuse. If my, quote, visitor is not, in fact, a visitor, then label him or her accordingly.” The analyst sighs, “It’s such a battle with you. You’re the one who wants to be here. So, comply.” He’s always had a soft spot for this particular analyst, the no-bullshit type, and he’s always kind of thought it odd that she was the only one, after who knows how many tried, who understood him. “I see,” he supposedly concedes. “As if,” the analyst retorts, “I’ll give you five minutes. He’s in the waiting room.”