You can’t open your eyes. Your mouth is dry and rancid. In the back of your mind, there is a shadow of a memory. You chase it, try to grab it by the tail. It won’t work. It will slip through your mind’s hands and disappear.
The pain is an angry red glow. There is panic, too. You know you should remember, but you can't, and part of you doesn’t want to. Part of you thinks if you don’t ever open your eyes, you’ll never have to face it. You can live here in this awkward middle ground, aware but unaware.
The pain is an electric misery. It is a hurt so deep that it turns into sadness before you can stop it. You feel the tears building in your eyes, and you will them back. You hear people speaking softly, and you want to say something. Before you can, the darkness expands, pushing the pain far away. To a place where you can observe it without serving it.
Pain won’t be your master.
It’s a reprieve, but brief. The pain will be back. But for now, find a cozy place in the darkness. There will be time enough for meeting it in the light of day.
I hear the pain. The negotiations with the pain. And I LOVE "mind's hands."ReplyDelete
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There’s such a vivid sense of despair here. The grief and pain are overpowering and even without any specific details, the reader can identify with the narrator. I think that this makes it all the more powerful; there’s nothing here to make you think ‘that’s not me’ or to alienate you from the character. I’d like to read more – I know that much, for sure. (Mark A Morris)Delete
Joanie used to smile more. But you all did. Back in that time of happy chatter in the locker room, offering snapshots of your lives while you dried your hair and packed away your swimsuits. Now you see women going about with purpose. Nods of recognition and sisterhood and strength. But just one scratch of the surface starts the bleeding. The stories. Of this and that one lost, of this one who’d lost their way. Of the work that didn’t pan out, of the bodily integrity that is failing, and, of course, the anger. Not from all, though. Some give it up to God’s plan but are afraid to voice that in the middle of a group of Ulster County women of a certain age. Some shy from conflict and don’t speak at all, at least about the important things. But who are you to say that hairstyles and blueberry crumbles and home repairs are not important? Maybe feeling impotent to change the world this is the only agency they have and cling to it. You try not to judge but you’re human and it’s hard to stop. You turn to Joanie, not to proselytize, because that’s not your jam, but in empathy. Immersion in water brings all that to the surface, at least for you, and you want to hug them all and vow that you will work together to fix all these things. But there are rules in the locker room, written and unwritten, so you keep your distance. You ask if she’s okay, which gives anyone the option of gliding along the surface or going deeper. “Okay enough,” she says, and you can see her face closing down. Joanie used to smile more. But you all did. Maybe you didn’t mean it then, either.ReplyDelete
I love this. There’s such depth and insight in these words. I’m not qualified to comment on the veracity of much of this but it feels genuine to me and I thank you for the snapshots you’re sharing with us here. (Mark A Morris)Delete
I love the 'who are you to judge line' (and now I want crumble). I agree about the insight. The second line:But you all did - this is so sneaky and great, pulling so much humanity into this. Really cool sceneDelete
On the bus I saw a tiny soul,
a little life,
round, brown cheeks,
eyes deep, inky pools.
Pure innocence rocking
gently, socks up,
taking in everything.
His or her mum watching,
ever the protector.
The baby giggles soundless,
eyes screwed up in glee.
A little life starting out,
not knowing anger or greed,
fear or regret, just
here. Maybe he or she
knows more than us.
This simple act of
being happy, simply
This is delightful. I love the hope and sensitivity of this. It's so well observed and captures the scene perfectly. Bravo! (Mark A Morris)Delete
This is a lovely little reflection/slice of life. We all wonder about the people we encounter (at least I do) and there is strength in that acknowledgement.Delete
The perpetual night continued. The dark laid heavily on his senses, his attention following the noises outside his cell. The rushing of water, the whirring of fans: there was never a moment of true quiet. And he was here restless and alone, craving company.ReplyDelete
There was an irony to his predicament. His capsule was one of a million, maybe more. If he listened, he could hear some of the others. Hundreds more, hardly existing, just like he was right now. If he closed his mind and focused more tightly, he could reach deeper into the neural mist.
And still, there was no end to their number. The matrix was infinite, lives blurring until the collective whole unresolved into an unknowing mass of pale beige, a smothering of stubborn randomness and low-level fears.
There was always fear here. There were few safer places, but there was no care in this world. There was no contact, no sympathy: no humanity beyond the little they could share through indirect means. His awareness was an impediment, the serrated blade he'd turned on himself, like a child seeking a comfort it would never receive.
When would it end? Was there a place left where there was nothing? A retreat for his troubled mind.
He clamped down his shutters again, feeling the weight of the others. He turned on the curated night-time talk radio station, its AI host careful to never discuss anything that could offend. It was just inanities and gossip. A stream of dialogue presented to him in a tone convincing enough to engage his attention but insufficiently authentic to stir his desires.
“Yes, we’re anodyne and uninspiring. But we’re your means to an end. And you’ll submit to our draining away your consciousness each day because it’s whatever helps you sleep at night.”
(Mark A Morris)
I love the phrase neural mist. This is a really cool piece. It feels like the start of something epic. Ripe for a "but let me tell you how it happened" switch to backstory or continuing from this point. I'd definitely keep turning pages.Delete