~ a short story
“The siren calls and the world spins.”
That is what they say. The old legends. Myths and stories about that which we cannot explain with materials and sciences. One way or another, they’re all about who She is and what She does.
My story isn’t so hard to understand. It all ended with me following what I thought to be my heart.
It started anew when I finally let it begin to beat.
But only at Her behest.
The first time I ever heard Her I was on the computer. In a land of make-believe. Disembodied, typing into the void, yearning for a response. An interaction. Some engagement.
With a distant beat, the sound of a song, I found myself being drawn away from my screen and toward that pond. Always, the damned pond.
The day was Tuesday and it was midnight. Or was it Wednesday? It doesn’t matter now. The days as they are named are part of the whole problem that brought about that terrifying wanderlust growing like a cancer within me, tempting me to the edges of the world, seducing me to the limits of my consciousness.
I left my desk in the dark, stepped out onto my deck with a weight in my gullet. The cool night air washed over me; rather than cleanse, the stuff just highlighted my pains, made them as apparent in my mind as the gooseflesh on my forearms. The moon cloaked itself behind abyssal clouds. From a faraway place, a faint wisp of smoke touched my lungs. Splinters dug into my toes.
I was alone, with only the song to guide me.
I’d just left my job. My wife. My life. All of it was behind me and I was waiting it out in my Tahoe cabin. One of six. My favorite place to go. Yet another haven for my gloom. I was beyond depressed, past suicidal. My companies were thriving. Returns approached maximization, with only the letdown to come. I was already folding my exits, taking my babies for all they were worth, handing off the executive reigns to my lessers, to the bodies I placed there out of convenience and negotiation and nepotism. I couldn’t be bothered to watch the reports anymore, to dig into the meetings, to innovate on our product mix or our service solutions. They’d hold the bag as it decayed. Approaching the half-century mark, retirement lay around the corner for me.
I was a phantom.
Maybe that’s why Her song touched me so.
“Lake” Lilith lies about a click away from my cabin. A small watery cemetery, without plants or fish, where I’d go to think when the world was beating me and my wife was cheating and my life was being torn asunder by an eventide of reckless decisions and indecisions.
That’s what Tahoe was for. For wading in the darkness. For deep psychic descent.
For visiting the pond at high night when there was nothing left to do.
The very last time I went to the shore of Lilith and the first time I stepped into its cool, sickly waters was the only time where I felt fully embodied. In myself. In this world.
I walked in with my phone firmly in my pocket. I left my laptop on in my bedroom back at the cabin. On its screen was sports or porn or a forum, I can’t remember now.
The starscape overhead beckoned me further into the icy liquid tomb.
As my feet crossed the boundary between my world and Hers, the song played on louder than before. The water shimmered with my presence. The sounds of birds and insects in the forest surrounding the water were silenced, as though they were listening to me, to the very same song strumming my core.
What I thought I wanted all along from this life paled in comparison to the lure of Her singing. I think the creatures understood this better than I. Their quiet urged me along to my fate.
I couldn’t even describe what that song sounded like if I wanted to. It was like a fantasy, like death and life mixed into one, a nadir and an apotheosis in the throes of love-making, the Big Bang spiraling around the Rapture.
I kept singing along even as my head dipped below and my whole body began to burn.
I saw Her in a high-definition reverie. Shared between us was the ambivalent clarity spawning out of the first moment awake from a brilliant and dreadful dream. We connected instantly.
I had to be fully submerged to find her, to see the voice that made my song.
Hair as black as space, Her cheeks were shades of crimson with a forehead that was sky blue, pulsing with ancient veins. But those eyes… as bright and tangible as the flares which lick out from the sun… those eyes were the final call.
Without a word, only in Her beautifully petrifying gaze, She told me:
I deserve your heart more than you do.
I knew in that moment that She was right. But I didn’t want Her to have it. I could not resist Her, but I yearned to persist. I desired to prove my worth to Her, to earn my own heart.
A long finger pointed down. I followed.
I swam down into the heart of the lake. The closer I got to the bottom, the louder the thrum buffeted me.
I understood that Her song had been working me since the moment of my birth. Her, more than any flaw or event, had been the source of my lifelong restlessness.
I swam down as the bubbles rose. I was coming home.
She told me that this was new for Her, too. She was taking a chance on me. She said She’d have already consumed a lesser man. She told me She had greater things in store for me.
I didn’t understand just how right She was.
When I emerged again from out of the surface of that pond known as Lake Lilith, I was no longer a Man. The wind did not swell into me, though I heard every bird and bee and sin swirling in the air about me.
I was something more, something more fit for this world at present.
I stepped back onto the shore with a smile on my face and a pair of hands fit to deal death to my old ways. My eyes did not glow like Hers, but they saw. They saw All.
It was then I remembered an old saying, the verbal outfit for an arrangement known as “Lilith’s Paradox”:
The only way to prove to a witch that you deserve your heart more than they do is to become one. ~