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News: My thoughts are clouds I cannot fathom into pastries.

--1 June 2018--

Quote: Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest of hearts. --Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

The Fellowship

August 2, 2018

18.08.02 - Figures in the Room {Short Story}

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A short story, inspired by midnight, Midnight (lyrics below), and Coldplay <3 and probably also conversations about metaphysical concepts and questions...such as, "What is there and what is there like?" Have you ever tried to define there without specifying a direct location? Hm. Have you ever tried to explain your mind and the space it occupies, outside of simply, "Tis somewhere in my brain I become I... and so I'm just the essence of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, throw in some cells and stuff and yeah...that's me." Let's get metaphysical, my peoples. Dive deep with me.

In the darkness before the dawn
In the swirling of this storm
When I'm rolling with the punches and hope is gone
Leave a light, a light on
Millions of miles from home
In the swirling swimming on
When I'm rolling with the thunder but bleed from thorns
Leave a light, a light on
Leave a light, a light on
Leave a light, a light on
Leave a light, a light on
In the darkness before the dawn
In the darkness before the dawn
Leave a light, a light on
Leave a light, a light on 

-------


The darkness of this room is a comfort to me. I stand in the dim refraction of light from the distant windows, my feet bare, my clothes loose and comfortable. My fingers brush through a tangled web of dust-gold strands that curve my face. I am tired, I am lonely, I am here. 

Before me stands a table of solid, dark wooden mahogany. Its surface is smooth and polished; set before it is one sturdy chair and on it have been set two globed bowls. I approach and take the chair, my bones creaking around my joints. The bowls are silver and absorb the dim afterlight into their euclidean surfaces. On the left, the contents are a thick, oil-slicked black of the darkest variety. I gaze at its unrippling surface and see no reflection of anything worth speaking about. On the right, the contents are as opposing to the black bowl as light is to dark. A thin, cream-white liquid is undisturbed in the depths. 

I pull both bowls closer to me and sit for a long time, staring at them. Reading their unchanging surfaces, trying to find meaning in the simplicity of their story. I see nothing. I am nothing. 

A door in the distance opens and shuts with a firm hand. Out of the shadows, a figure approaches - it is dressed head to toe in a gold robe that flows like liquid - I cannot make out the features, male or female or other. Perhaps spirit? Perhaps soul? I sit and watch it approach the table, where it takes a seat on the far opposite side. Its cavernous hood pools around what I suppose is a head. I wait. 

This is a place of knowledge, of wisdom; a place of you. The voice does not proceed from the figure's mouth but rather invades the thoughts of my mind as calmly as a drizzled rainfall meets the dust. I shift in my seat and continue waiting. 

Before you are two bowls. Do you know what these bowls represent? 

I look down at the filled silver before me - the glistening black and white draughts. My eyes return to the golden shape of the figure, "I might?" I hesitantly respond. 

And what would your guess be?

I wait a moment. Waiting is good, it allows me to collect my thoughts, although a part of me feels as if my thoughts are corporeal in this mysterious place. 

"Well, I think these might be collected memories or commentaries? I get the feeling there's more to this than meets the eye. These are no simple liquids, but pooled essence of the words spoken against and for me?"

The figure almost imperceptibly nods, and the gold hood ripples elegantly against its hidden figure. 

You have been called to furnish your mind. You left this place blank and desolate for too long. You have tormented yourself by staring in the bowls, by boxing up the products of society and leaving them to rot and mold in the depths of this place. It is yours to choose what you do with, but ultimately a choice must be made. You can no longer live here as if you rent it by the week - this is your semi-permanent abode and I am tasked to see you inhabit it to your fullest extent. 

I drink in the concept and my eyes shift back to the bowls. Commentary? Products of society? Am I supposed to paint with these? Am I supposed to drink these? What is the purpose of all this abstract nonsense. 

I sit and wonder over and over for a time and a half. The space surrounding me is silent and empty. The figure does not move. I wait. It speaks again, eventually. 

Sitting and thinking does no good to you, it only prolongs the inevitable. I cannot help you from here, although I can make the way easier. Take this.

A lantern materializes in front of me, between the bowls. It casts a warm, healthy golden glow on the stark realities beset on either side of it. The flickering light within draws my eyes hungrily and I feel warm somehow in this nonexistent space I think might be my mind. 

I look up, but the figure is gone and so is the second chair. I am alone again, but the faint sputter of the glass-cased flame makes me feel less afraid of this place. 

I extend a pale arm and take the lantern. The glow shifts around the pooled darkness as I lift it towards me. I look at the bowls and decide to leave them for now. 

Rising, I step away from the table with my golden glowing lantern and enter into the open space. Darkness flees before me and reveals boxes pushed haphazardly against the walls. I make my way to one and, setting down the lantern beside it, I pull open the cardboard mouth and glance inside. 

A pair of cobras stare back with glittery eyes that are overflowing with hate and malice. My breath catches in my throat and I slam the lid back in place - my heart beat skips violently against my wrists and I backstep, lantern in tow. I look to the table, half expecting the figure to have returned with malicious laughter gracing its covered shoulders. There's no one. 

I swallow and shift to a different set of boxes - these ones are small, red velvet cushions of luxury in the midst of a cardboard castle. 

I taste blood on my lip and force myself to breathe slowly. I set the lantern aside and pull the first tiny box from off the top of several that have been carelessly piled there. It feels light and soft in the palm of my sweating hand. 

Tentatively, I open the lid and look inside. 

A small white-gold ring is set in the thick fabric. A note has been tucked carefully on the inside top of the box. I pull it out and it crinkles as I open the folds. 

We're proud of you! The script is familiar to me. Some of the words are smudged, as if it has been read fondly, multiple times. I fold it back and tuck it in the lid. The ring glows hot and illuminates the room beyond the lantern light. 

I exhale loudly and then, slowly, I reach in and pluck it off its resting place and snugly place it on my finger. 

I glance up at the endless pile of boxes. Sorting through them will be chaos, but I must. 

I pull another box down at peel open the lid. The sweet, fresh smell of oatmeal cookies wafts into the air. I reach in and remove a platter piled high with still hot baked goods. Taking one, I bite in and am overwhelmed by the taste and smell. A caring heart, a comforting hand-on-shoulder, I am thrown backwards into memories of friends embracing, eyes glinting with joy, belly laughs, and dimpled smiles. 

I wipe tears off my face, they drip down my hand to my sleeve, and I bring the plate to the table. Gently, I set it down, far away from the two ominous bowls. I turn and make my way back to the boxes, eager to pull down the next one. 

It's a medium sized rectangular box about the length of my forearm. The exterior is varnished wood sealed by silver clasps. I undo the clasps and open the box. 

A pistol stares back at me. Cold, black, harsh and glittering. A note sits tucked by the trigger. I pull it out, my heart once more in my throat. The smell of fresh baked cookies seems stale and the honey-sweet taste fades in my mouth. 

I open the note once, twice - there are two more folds left when a strong hand sets upon my shoulder and I jump, whipping around. 

Another figure stands before me - this one covered head to toe in bronze armor. A heavy sword rests easily against its hip. I can't see its features through the shielded faceguard, but I glimpse the sparkle of eyes set deep within. 

Do you really need to read that? it asks me in my mind. 

I glance back at the box, now upended from my surprise. The pistol clattered noisily to the floor and seemed to stare back at me as though daring me to read the note. 

Do you really need to read that? the figure asked, more sternly this time. I knew the answer I should give - I knew the right thing to do, but a part of me resisted, desiring the bring on the pain of what I might read inside those last two folds. 

I picked up the pistol and returned it to the box. I stuffed the note back inside before shutting the lid and clasping the clasps. Jaw clenched and brow furrowed, I turned to the figure and said,

"No, I want to, but I shouldn't. I'm angry because this was here amidst the good things - the cookies, the ring. I don't know what to do with this. It's too much." 

The figure nodded as if in agreement and placed a soft gloved hand gently on my shoulder. The tender gesture softened the lines in my face. It reached out with a hand and motioned with its fingers - I understood and passed the box over. It grasped it tight before shifting to set it aside.

There are many things here - too many have been boxed up and left undealt with, and so the surprises will sometimes be unpleasant as you work through the piles. This is why you have been given the bowls. 

"I was wondering about those. Am I supposed to drink them? Paint with them? They look too thick to drink... toxic almost. I wasn't sure and no one said - the other figure just told me to furnish this place. I don't even know where to start."

I had the uncanny sense that the armored figure was smiling, and it spoke, 

Yes, let me show you. Take me to your table. 

I realized then that this figure could not see me or the room for that matter. Confused, I took its gloved hand in mine - it felt warm and confident - and I led it to the table. 

The black bowl will give you insight into the dark boxes. It will highlight the ones you need to throw away, the ones you need to store, and the ones you need to open and deal with. It will illuminate the lies and the destruction, the hurt and the anger. Drink of this one only as often as you are strong enough to deal with the darkness. It should not be taken every day - and it should not be taken alone. 

I nodded, "And the white one?"

The white one will highlight the boxes filled with good things. Drink of it as often as you can, for you need refreshment from the darkness of this place until it is once more filled with light. Fill your mind with things trustworthy and true, good and noble, honorable and pure. This bowl will give you insight into how that is managed. 

The figure reached to its right and pulled out a crystal-studded goblet that had not been there before. It passed the goblet to me and motioned for me to pick a bowl. I breathed out heavily and nodded. 

Reaching forward I dipped the cup into the white liquid. It was creamier and thicker than I thought. The side of the goblet streamed with the white substance and I brushed the edge against the side of the bowl to keep it from dripping. 

Raising it to my lips, I opened my mouth and drank. At first I tasted nothing, but then a comforting fragrance filled the air and the liquid turned sweet and magical on my tongue. If starlight and painted skies could have a flavour, this was it. Every cell in my body awoke and I leaned into the beauty of the moment, enraptured by the simplicity of how everything had changed with but a taste of the joy before me. 

I felt the graze of a palm against my shoulder blades and I turned to look at the armored figure. It was glowing so vibrantly now, as if the very sun itself decided to embody the plated metal fitted carefully around its lines and edges. I stepped back, but its hand held firm and the blinding light grew stronger. 

We emit what we embody. We embody what we dwell upon. We dwell upon that which impacts us. You must choose wisely what you will allow yourself to be impacted by - because it will change your glow. Do you understand?

I thought I did, so I nodded.

Now somewhere in your boxes, you'll find armor and other things of use as well - these will help you make this place a home. 

I felt self conscious of my present state, all pale and loose clothed and clearly unready for what I might find within the stored things towering around me. 

If you need help, simply ask. You might feel alone, but you are never alone.

I blinked and the figure was gone. The room was much brighter now, and somehow I felt ready. Turning my gaze back to the boxes, I became determined to find that suit of armor. So, with the lantern in one hand and a fresh cookie in the other, I set out to deal with the overwhelming mountain of boxes.

-------

Signed with lantern-light
Squeaks.

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