Misty Steps

~ a short story

I am walking through the mist. Everywhere around me it blurs and calms, distorts, invites. Lazy winds ring through me like I’m hollow. The waters lap at my heels. My shambling strides parallel the coast. Onward into the cold, pre-dawn mystery, I daydream of desolation. I cannot see the ocean but I can hear it; I cannot see any horizon but I can feel them all. The nearness of the ocean’s depths crosses out the restless press of so many possibilities.

Before me, after me. Apart from me. They break and pop like bubbles before my eyes. Only some of them do I poke. At random intervals, the sand at my feet becomes marked by patches of thin grass, tendrils from the inlands coming to invade the primordial break in this world. Those blades flicker in the wind, which blows over my numbing toes and tickles the bottoms.

This beachfront both repels and attracts, it stifles and caresses. Ebbs, flows. Like me now, at this stage. Stationary. Pleasantly so. But I can hear the train coming. Its headlight pierces the veil at my back; I cannot see it but I can damn well feel it.

So, I am walking into the mists.

Because there is something there, something near or far, for me.

Behind me, back on shore, off the front and on the tracks, in the thick of things, there are the choices. Of what to do, where to go, who to be. In the light and off the mist, they beckoned me every moment. Beckon me still.

Persist or flee. Perpetuate or abandon. Submit yourself before the machines — within the machine — or rot.

Do evil. Or be nothing.

I cross my eyes and let my vision fade away as I sigh into wide maw of the cooling mist. Even now, such a choice lays before me. Walking along the hazy waters as a conscious postponement, I am here almost purely in avoidance. My walk on the beach is nothing more than a delay to the inevitable response to the directive still on the table before me.

Do evil. Or be nothing. Do evil, or run away, distracting the self into a warm and comfy oblivion, an existence equally forgetful and forgettable. Do evil — or fall away, into the little nothings of an unaccountable history, infinitely deluded within fantasia. Prolonged nothingness, or swift and terrible evil…

Do evil! What do I mean by such a daring, extremified declaration? By following the paths laid out before me, I now consciously understand I’d be deferring my soul to powers I know to be unjust; powers I could not change or even influence — powers that depend absolutely upon their inherent sins of corruption and pathology in order to function and perpetuate themselves as they are. Evil. By going back there and *being*… I would be prostrate before the will and mercy — that is, mercilessness — of these totalizing forces. Forces of the world, ingrained and entrenched and almost entirely unstoppable to this point. Forces of the world and against much of it.

Forces of the world that draw me into them, to aid in their causes. In their evils.

And believe me, regardless of my entering inclinations for good, for change and hope, the intact reasons of the everyday working man in hand… inevitably, I would be broken to their designs, made effective toward their continuous will in this world, and ultimately, apprised of the ‘necessity’ of their role, necessarily obliviated to all its excesses and injustices. To be there, within its structure, as part of the system, over time would be to become utterly reversed on everything I now believe to be true… Timeless and merciless are their degradations; in their ability to turn ‘men’ like me, undefeated. I wouldn’t stand a chance.

Thus, to go back and participate is to choose to do evil. To do evil, to know it and not only *not* resist with any efficacy, but eventually embrace the job wholeheartedly, with my full moral backing unto it.

Evil rationalized. This is truly the worst kind.

And so, I am walking among the mists.

My honest belief, in my recursive return here to this beachfront and these eddying lines of misty wall after wall that I can traverse through, is that I may clarify myself within their pleasant obfuscations. In the mists wafting from this boundless seascape edge, in their dizzying currents, their sweet scenting, their refreshing coolness — in their opiating “fantasia” — I could dissipate my fraying soul into a culminating cord of understanding. Definite and strong, indestructible insofar that I keep clear about what it is I want, where I would wish to go, who I need to be. The essence of my existence, this potential rope spawning over the endless sands of this coast, within the mist, of it. A lifeline to hold onto.

This is what I hoped to achieve here. This is what I look for in the mist. To gain a grasp upon this livewire. Toward…

A new path. A new way of marking my course through this life.

Is it so much to ask for?

To not do evil. To pass by nothingness. To transcend them both in some kind of triumphant synthesis.

Why am I endlessly compelled unto one breach or the other…

In the mist, though… In this Real, such hopes — such ropes — are not easy to find, let alone grasp. In here, the dizziness of this freedom excites me yet makes me anxious. Cold, it is yet bursting with animation to be made finally warm. Damp but grateful for the slicking acceleration, I am able-bodied enough at least to move. Somewhere.

Honestly, as I walk through this fog, I feel as though I may dissipate altogether and become absorbed into the mist itself. With every step I come closer to this disappearing act. Now that I think about it, not so unattractive an outcome…

Imagine it! To never have to turn back again, to never have to go back onto the shore and its many responsibilities and burdens… And evils.

To become the mist. What a dream. “The misty man.” The misty stepper, always flurrying into a pleasant vibe of sweet nothings. Always just ahead of the True void. Always blowing this way or that, from the great wind off the sea. Calm, cool and collective. As the mist I may yet flourish.

For when I dissipate, perhaps it will become clear what it is I really want. More imperatively, what it is I can really do.

But alas, day after day I make these journeys to no avail. Walking along the beach, kicking up small slumps of sand with my heels. Severing my ties to that old world, ghosting everyone I ever knew. Out here in these mists, I fade from that old existence.

It brings me no joy. Every day, even less hope. For I am progressing along no other path. I am in avoidance, I am in fear. I am running away. Even as I walk, I am running.

I sever everything that made me a steely-nerved, glassy-eyed, fully concretized man of the shore. A Man of that ascended, forever-churning realm of steel and glass and concrete. I sever the ties that bound me to those previous prisons. But I do not march toward any kind of freedom I can ascertain. Certainly not competency. Contentment? Fat chance. 

In the mist, I am finding nothing save for these mild blues.

Hands on my sides, eyes closed, I stop now and dig my toes into the drenched, packed sand as the tide draws away. Sinking myself into place for a spell, my feet as the roots, I naturally await another wave’s ride in. Stationary, I let the vast blue settle about me.

I sigh and wait for something. 

For now, I guess this will have to be enough. ~

~ adapted from a dream ~