~ a short story
Breath. Breathe. Breathing again.
At the first, he awoke startled as from a dream.
They raised him outside, in the day’s open air. Light from the sky’s noonday bleeding stunted his reverie. Heinous were the rays, then the burning warmth. Matches grazed every inch of his pale skin, blasting his mind into immediacy. Too hot. Then, only moments later, a breeze wafted over his nudity. Frigid agony. Pain. It hath returned, too. Too cold. He blinked into proper presence. Eyeing flocks of flyers overhead and cloudforms drifting into the far realms beyond his sightlines, the slowly conscious man tried screaming. Nothing surfaced. Tickling wisps of dying grass canvased his backside. He grimaced. What was this in his chest, on it. What was this pressure weighing him into the earth? Guilt. A void. An absence of presence. He tried to remember the dream he’d been having. Too late. It must have been good. Because everything he experienced now was offsetting the fading aura of that dream; everything he was feeling now was lesser. Next, the sounds of a world he could recognize but had no memory of filtered through. Voices, discord, those chirping beasts in flight, chaos, crying, the hum of the primordial chords of existence somewhere far away but closing in fast and hard. Fingers were plugged into the soil. Part of the ritual, was it? When he pulled them free and looked upon them, dirtied and dripping, what remaining crumbling precipice there was of the wall shattered. It all came crashing down.
The tears flowed. From ashes to ashes, from the glowing dust off of stars, out of a daydream, back to a promised flesh. He’d returned.
When he finally raised his head to try and face his captors, he spotted the one standing upon his chest. Eye to eye with a bluebird cocking its little head, some of the pressure was relieved at the realization. He knew it. Just before the others surrounding him began to delight in their fruitions, the bird turned and flew away to retreat from the commotion, back up into the tranquil skies above. He reached towards it but could only grasp the rays falling onto his un-still form. They shadowed one of his eyes in a streak. Two blinks later, he was spirited away once more into unconsciousness to the sounds of sobs and cheers.
Alive! they exclaimed. Alive, he lamented.
“He is alive again.” Again, was the operative word. They said he’d been ‘returned.’ Resurrected. From where? Who? Who was returned? You. But who is me?
I am back, yet I have no memory of being here in the first place.
They tell me I was a hero. ‘Forever and ever.’ They told me I was already immortal. But the world is burning. I’m needed now more than ever. So they brought me back. The advancements had finally made it a possible thing. Though resources were limited and so is time, so they convened for months to decide upon a candidate. Someone to save us, some brave Apollo. Where are we now? was a question I asked somewhere along the way. In a bad way, was their unanimous response. Nations are falling. Leadership falters, icons corrupt, and prejudice and greed overtake more than they ever have before. We are conforming to the ease of pathology to escape pain, embracing dissonance to avoid responsibility for our sinning. Everything is business, transactional, exchanges of people and their time for equivalently valued materials. The people are trying to live in the face of death. By boot or by smog, new specters are summoned every day. People need inspiration. They want to dance. We yearn for a return of the sublime. Something to believe in again. A rebel’s rebel. A star. So I was the choice. I, more than any other, could be a locus for a recursive kind of hope. A cure for our collective cancer here in its latest stages. And I would want to. Someone like me could take it all on. A ‘special man’ from before, I was a vessel for our best impulses. An icon worthy of the name, the admiration, the adoration. I fought the ‘good fight,’ working restlessly through my painstaking creations to dispel the very demons now magnified and plaguing our conditions. With my art, my sound and my vision, I became a real hero. North Star to the outsiders and outcasts, I might do the same to the masses now classified as such in one way or another.
And so, they’d resurrected that hero for his second act. One of mythic proportions, one for the angels.
Of course, I had no say in the matter. But if I had, I think I’d know my answer. More and more as I experience this world once more and live and breathe within its confines, memories return. From both worlds. My life from before. And my existence within the dream.
Peace. Peace is the only kind of simplifying expression I can bring forth from my heart to give ground to my utterly unselfconscious daydream of eternity. Prior to this triumphant return, Perfection. Peace and perfection. Green sunlit fields, dappled with wildflowers scented for the sake of every breath being better than the last. Androgynous, beautiful bodies warmed by the rays and cooled by a temperate breeze from elsewheres worth exploring. Capable of being explored too. Bluebirds and redbirds and yellowbirds and lovebirds from the paradises above and below this station, arriving to land and be at rest upon the shoulders of constant companions ready for conversation and love-making and long holidays of walking amongst such lovely landscapes. Streams sighted along the brook below babbling an endless song I could harmonize to. The soft soil breathed within me a fullness of life, from stem to stern, coming up through my bare feet and up to the flowing tips of my strands of hair. Every verse, chorus, and solo of Paradiso I can recall in my dreams. Dreams I cannot remember or recapture now. Dreams I am only just now listlessly guessing at with these words. I’ll keep trying. At some point, the green gave way and plunged me back into this darkness.
I have to keep trying to remember, for their sake.
Now, here back in my ‘home,’ my shadow returns to beckon me. Shall I follow him with a grimace? Or with a dance? Doubtless, I was in heaven, and now I am in hell. A hell only known to me, relative to the context I solely hold. A burdensome responsibility falls upon me and my shadow here. To go forth with the knowledge of each station and my interference between them. But I love him, I think. How could I not? I embody his pain, even if I cannot recapture it all. And even with the return of the restless suffering so easily dispelled by even a moment’s spell in my unending restfulness, I think I am glad to be back. I love this condition, and I love it only given I know its radiant opposition. I love it! It’s not the side effects of the return, I am thinking that it must be love.
Though my past travails within this place are still surreal and unbelievable to me, I can relate to him and all his masks in one salient respect: He integrated his daemon into his art to the grandest effects. Even as I listen to it now, I cannot imagine myself doing as such. I cannot recreate any of this. Nor would I wish to. Not his — not my — style. A chameleon can continuously shift its form. And lo, it does so.
Much as his daemon forged for him a hallowed tapestry to inspire himself to share his personas with the world, influencing it if only for its own sake, I feel I can do the same with what differences I now have within me. I will. I am compelled. For I have my own muse now, to draw from and to bring forth, piece by piece, shaping this world anew with what feeble, famed forms I can muster.
All this uncertainty, all this pain, all this darkness unrelenting I am now subject to and we have resided in from origin — I know its adversary, its opposite, its light. For I have bathed in it even for a short while. I must be only one in a million. And having returned to this world to be an action man once more, I will create anew. A character, a performance, a renewed thoughtform worthy of its second opportunity to beautify the culture, ameliorate humanity’s folly.
My tulpa is love and loving in togetherness. And I will sing its song here, for the All before me listening and loving unto the last. I will do it for as long as I can, until I am free again.
For oh, now I know. I will be free. Just like that bluebird. I believe we all will be. Ain’t that just like me? ~