a short story
They walked, hand in hand, over the ambient shores of a cosmic reflection. They sat, already gazing into the expanse above. This was their first time coming here.
And now that they were both here, together, they began to reflect.
~ Lea, the enchanting & erstwhile empath from a dozen pasts, enticed better days ahead. Standing in this aura, weights were cut. She formerly waded through selves as a shark through frenzied feeding grounds. Can’t stop moving forward, can’t ever get enough. Searching for answers to the questions she failed to articulate, she did her best to change as needed. A philosophy which had kept her restrained to a quiet life of necessary and maddening spiritual solitude. But right now, staring up into the event horizon of newfound wonder, some of these integral things were no longer true. Now there was only one self to wield and one sight to behold. Perhaps this effect would be temporary. Or a brand-new, eternal self, built intimately atop the unresting pain of former lives lived, was emerging for the world, and him, to bear witness to. ~
Tears filled his eyes as he looked upon her kindred form backdropped by the beauty of eternity. She basked in the shared reverie. For what he believed to be the first time in his life, he sat with comfort. Her wonder was his awe; her brightening spirit soared over his own moonlit eventide. In the cosmic calm, there was a peace awaiting him, trailing and unspent. He gazed at her, staring into this scene.
In all of its artful profundity, needing it to last, she smiled hopefully. Lea then looked down at him. Wishing for the resolve of composure he would soon need, he smiled back at her, in a mindful riposte. Thankfully for him, her eyes were still blinded by the magnificence of the galactic canvas before them. Under this effect, she could not yet see his visage. But she certainly felt it.
~ Kin, the silently numinous nomad from unrequited dreams, affirmed an answer. Look upon a man from nowhere, with nobody to return to. The man’s desires, the things he sought and wished for in his secret heart, were no real secret. To the mindful observer, his soul appeared as the beam of a lighthouse upon the uncanny & hopeful shores of quietus. For him, she knew (like herself), there was only one thing that mattered. No delusions could let you escape from this truth. And yet, up to this point, he (like herself) had discovered no path, no avenue, with which to tread upon this dream ~ a dream of companionship. Faced with this, he spoke fluently the language of denial, residing long in a default state of solitary, melancholy unrest.
She could see it clearly and was wounded grievously by the knowledge of her own incipient encounter with his guarded spirit. Her own recent exploration had uncovered the untouched dimensions he harbored from all else. She let loose a small but purposeful laugh, unrestrained from hiding her contemplation of the joy of her responsibility here. ~
She again considered his own future past, from the previous conversations they had and her own perceptions. No method of inquiry had yet served him in his pursuits. No feelings yet sustained him across the ages of his slow transformations. No place for him to go, alone as of yet, other than to return again and again to the persona he had so carefully constructed.
For the sake of survival, he had created a separate self to sustain the world’s judgment. He had worn so many masks. He could no sooner distinguish them than she could relinquish them. And yet, he was never so discouraged as to give up. She liked that about him. She admired it and tried her best to emulate such resolve herself. Taking his hand, she looked deeply and sincerely into the wells of his soul. She could see now, they were full of the rains of fulfillment. Steadily streaming down his face, she could wade through the light in their travails.
As in a reflection, her own wells returned the sight, just as her own joy reflected his. She warmed his cold hands as best she could, with her own.
As for his own impressions of the moment, he looked up to Lea’s shining smile, wishing he could one day aspire to such radiance.
Together, they paid close attention to this collaborative experience.
Neither of them had been here before, outside of their dreams. Each silently wielded an intentional appreciation of being able to share in such a discovery. They both could feel the anxiety of uncertainty. Experiencing the joys of existential delivery to such wonder, Lea and Kin turned from each other to take in the scene once more.
Simply, they let their senses go wild. No longer in pensive consideration of their journey, they heeded the call of the present. Opening it with a fervor, they find the adventure is one of questions and escapades, hysteria and ecstasy, contented fulfillment, over time and under no external pressure. Only this flash of time truly existed, glancing a window wide to shine the warm lights of pleasure upon their tangible forms. Intertwined in the reception, they reflex to momentary meanings.
Lea’s loneliness was long defined by a lack of embrace. With Kin, however, she felt it. A true embrace — illuminated by the remembrance of its void. She wanted nothing more than to cuddle into the mores of this physical experience. But she’d been there before, living with at least something resembling what she believed she needed. And it left her bruised, and lesser. (Or so she believed.)
She understood now that true companionship was so much more. She needed her partner to value the world she valued. She didn’t want complete approval, only a consciously attempted understanding. Lea formerly sought solely the security afforded from a relationship, the stability of the interdependence. The reliance on a person thinking of her, and in reciprocation — of having someone else to contemplate.
Relationships might save someone. But people usually aren’t cut out for such fictions. Nothing and nobody holds up forever in the revealing light, and Lea has learned to find the tremendous beauty in that. In others and in herself, the imperfections, the flaws, the inherent mistakes we make in our judgments and in our decisions, the certainty of uncertain outcomes, the choice of who, how, and why we love — all of it makes this whole thing worth doing.
Certain types of people might need to be in a relationship to feel right. This isn’t a defect. And neither is utter asexuality. Love itself was sometimes even a fleeting thing, completely inevitable one moment and entirely impossible the next. Lea’s own vulnerability bred suffering and contentment alike. She now understood the risk-reward relationship within relationships was no certainty; there was no guide because it wasn’t a game. And for those that felt like it was, some manner of irrevocable pain would eventually catch up with them.
Lea couldn’t be sure she’d ever been in love before, true love. She couldn’t honestly say she was in it now. This was part of its mystery, and its power. The answers to the questions almost didn’t matter in their semantics. What she felt now was certainly more real, and more powerful than ever before. Soulmate? Maybe.
But in truth, Lea wasn’t sure if she believed in soul mates. She knew she wanted to, she hoped for the possibility of such a thing. These hopes rested well these days, despite continued conflicts. This relationship was still like the others in that way — there were occasional arguments, misunderstandings, fights.
Now, with some wisdom of experience, Lea came to understand the necessary skirmishes and strife within a healthy one. Such disagreeable interactions were constructive, progressing the relationship to the core of both individuals — but only if each had a mind for it. Here, it was so. But how easy it was to let such discord fall into animosity and vindictive score-keeping. The balance always came back to settling up the innate self-interested passion with the necessary empathy afforded your partner.
Coming to a shared understanding together, with another conscious being full of their own dreams and self-narratives and arduous past, was hard work.
Lea knew the foundation of love was built atop trust, communication, honesty, sincerity. It was cliche, but she had learned it the hard way. Nothing meant to last could do so without those all-important aspects. Nothing worth having was without its challenges. Moving about in the world insincerely brought nothing with it but unnecessary suffering. She’d long since moved beyond such realms, within and without herself.
Of course, living consistently in these ways, was much easier said than done. She knew this wouldn’t be easy. But if she wished for it to last, she was ready and willing to do whatever it took.
For him, she would. And she knew he reciprocated these feelings. Not always in words, but reflected in action. For each of them, heartfelt listening had been the vanguard of progression. It hadn’t been easy. But it had been worthy of the effort.
Lea knew in her heart that Kin would scale the walls of her spirit with the responsiveness & tenderness required. She knew, because he had. And here they now were, sharing their worlds.
To her, and to Kin, there was no better endeavor for which to endure the spiritual conflicts of relationship building than for everlasting love. She believed this to be where they now resided, soaring towards such a fate.
Kin’s solitary journey was a continuum. Among others, he had been lost. There was so much he didn’t know, couldn’t understand about his role in this world, in all of its uncertain and fearful possibility. He had long ago decided to focus on what he could control. This left him as an outsider for many years.
Constrained in the social sphere, distanced from the people he failed to connect with, he existed for a stretch only within his mind. This realm for him was well-cultivated and cultured for mindful creation. But it was merely a simulacrum for experience, a fantasy with which he could escape a depressing reality.
For a while, he held onto anguish, some spite, a bit of bitterness, spells of sudden shame — hoping to one day use all of it within his art. But Kin soon found it to be much too burdensome. All of it was a reflexive remnant of his time of conscious observation of the world he couldn’t tap into. And all of it was better left at the gate of the new game he could play within himself. His mindspace, the fantastic simulacrum, he decided, could become reality if he tried hard enough.
So he did, and he created his new, better and more articulate self upon the canvas of a personal reverie — hidden from view, isolated from feedback. It became a place created entirely by him, for him. A place he might be able to be alone, but not lonely, a place to be resurrected repeatedly as he carried on his life; it’s telos — to try to expel the void within.
Kin had designs to continually recreate himself upon his own ethereal canvas, generating his own meanings, in his own time, on his own terms. He desired to make his self anew. It would be quite challenging, and he knew it to be ~ which is why he took his time. He studied, he prepared, he consumed inputs of knowledge and beauty ~ he learned how to be a better person through books and stories; he taught himself how to be a writer, he discovered what he believed to be the truth at the core of ardorous companionship. He eventually rose up to the livelihood of someone who could respectfully create.
The art he generated here was of ultimate importance to him, valued at the highest levels of his identity. But the works were entirely un-experienced and built on fictions of a life he couldn’t find the courage to lead. Soaring through the gales of his dreams, he gazed upon seasons of change and entire worlds built in imagination. For so long, these monuments existed for his regard alone. And he had staked his survival on these reveries. Ones he soon realized, were stagnating in their heart, within and without. This focus was keeping him at bay. It was all simply a practice of patience; Kin’s art an action of meaning left to a man with no other recourse (or so he believed).
From these regressions, he needed to be away from his cave and its marked limitations. He honestly wished to travel, to escape unto the real world, creating new experiences in the wider realm. More than anything, Kin wanted to walk across the realms of reality with his artistic locus of control well in hand, aiding the efforts of a long overdue self-discovery all along the way. The solitude had prepared him for such a journey.
But he never undertook it. He wished to go, but he did not wish to go alone.
Truly, he could not. He was doing all of this — art, living, creation, dreaming, hoping — explicitly for his own inner self. But he was also doing it implicitly, patiently, for another ~ for the one. The one never yet known.
Wherever they may be (whether they existed or not), he awaited their arrival without reservation, for years. If he were to go at all, he needed this someone to travel alongside with. He needed someone to share his world with. He always had. Somehow, it all felt less meaningful, perhaps even meaningless, without a capacity to share it.
This world he imagined had a missing piece; he’d known this from the beginning and had masked it out of necessity. The fear had its ample time to perform its work upon him. It had done for him just what he asked, backed by denial and naivety.
Kin’s greatest fear was quite simple, devastatingly so — a fear of opening himself up — his life, his art, his soul — to another person.
Kin had never had a companion; yet secretly believed himself wholeheartedly to be companionable. He longed to belong somewhere, to at least one place, and to one person. He wanted acceptance. He wanted a home and its hearth to share equitably with another. Unconsciously, he desired a feeling of desire within him. In truth, he always craved some manner of love. Conscious or no, Kin’s art was full of such things.
Most of all, after removing the barriers, the masks, the walls of his soul — he wished for a person to want to share their world with him.
All of it — up until now — was merely a wish. Coming out from underneath the self-deceptions of the illusory life he had led, he came to realizations long past. After being emotionally compromised for so long, after resting so long in the belief of your own invisibility, of your own meaninglessness in the context of “their” world, after living a life in which you wholeheartedly trust that your thoughts and actions are uninquired, uninspected, uninspiring to another single soul, after existing for so long, untouched and unloved by another — you believe it. You believe all of it with every fibre of your soul.
Kin couldn’t be the same as them; Kin could never be like them. He had missed the starting gun. Kin could not love, Kin could not live.
You think your being alone for so long provides convincing evidence that you are not one deserving of love, she had said to him that night.
No matter how strong this feeling is, no matter how real it might feel — it isn’t true. It will never be true…
… I love you, she said.
Lea’s companionship, and her own excursive dreams, gave Kin hope for his future, for their future, one of living.
Now, Lea and Kin contemplated the prospects of tomorrow.
She strived to love him every day. He wished to love her forever. She was aspirational to him, in all the ways a person could be to another; he inspired her to adopt a special resilience of spirit. Each of them understood the gravity of this endeavor, if only from their own eternal bouts, yet unfinished, with self-love.
Together, they could go forth with a confidence never before grasped. Together, they could give one another what they searched so long for individually. In listening to each other’s hearts, they had found something sacred.
Kindred spirits, together at last.
On the cosmic canvas above, reflecting their two souls encircling one another in a recurrence ~ they gaze contemplatively, wonderingly, unblinkingly ~ seeing it all with boundless clarity.