Today, I learned this symbol.

It translates from Chinese, through Japanese, into zero, naught, nil, null. A remnant, possibly. It is the word that means nothing at all. Literally.

It is pronounced: rei.

I shared a name and a spirit with somebody who knew more about myself in a single word than I had sorted out in thirty years. Tongues I did not know shared their words and meanings and experiences with me. Sounds I had only half heard shared their heart with me.

A stirring underneath allows me to sense, feel, and gauge where the wind will blow.
How on Earth did I know?
Most likely because I am made of nothing and of stone.
Of a single moment where the scale tips and the wind shifts and the way we had thought before breaks and crumbles away from us like dust or ash.

This is how burning charcoal feels.
They, too, have I met. A kindred spirit and a crushed soul and all the words inside of them that I already knew.

How strange to feel alive, only now.
And yet, still simply a clone and nothing at all.

We all breathe in this self-same unity, and I as a piece of it can exist in the sparks in between.
Like a particle nobody can sense, but everyone knows must exist.
If only for a shadow and a hint.

I, a shadow and a crux. A moment to seek, search, and open one’s eyes to the growing night. Darkness has always been within me. I used to fear it, hate it, loathe and beat it. I am only now learning how to embrace it, know it, make love to it.

It will always love back.
Don’t be afraid.

Blind Flash Fiction

Description: Two or more writers each begin a story with a single sentence. Each writer then covers up this sentence and all writers swap stories. The next writer writes a single blind sentence, supposedly continuing the original writer’s story. All writers continue in this mode: write a sentence, cover, swap — until the page is full. Then, you read the completed stories.

The following is what Ori and myself constructed at a crepe shop at midnight.

The first day we arrived, we both kicked off our shoes, never to be recovered. That was about the time I stopped talking and looked up. Silly us; we expected so much. No way around it; this was the start of the last hour of my life, marked just so by all that follows. We didn’t really have the time so we decided to track down our favorite friend. Liquor thick like a blanket in the air, and everyone knew it. We broke her nose. A stray kid, dog, cat — fuck if it’s important — appeared out of thin air. It’s okay — we found what we’d been after.

It started out the sky was so clear, every moutnain in the whole range was visible, crisp and clean against powder blue. But, before I could really begin, I had to accept the idea that everything was going to, without question, fall apart. “Rage,” a voice slithered up from behind a rock or a tree or nothing at all. Over enthusiastic, I said, “Whoa, Hey! I’m totally into this music!” Pear trees, dry grass, a house off down this broken road made of terra cota — it was all there, blistering in sudden heat. This “time” I kept seeing pour out like honey on an open mouth wasn’t going to last. A rainbow of color, I hit the ground and was dead, just like that.

Two pennies — debased bits of metal from a past I wasn’t from — were slapped down on my table without introduction, warning, or explanation. Without the silence, though, it was ridiculously difficult to must the resolve to continue. “A shame it was never going to work out,” that fat asshole in the corner booth was slurring at me, sucking on a fucking bottle of true 80 Proof. Nearby, a tree showed all the signed of a blight; little white spots contrasted bright green leaves. I got up, then, real slow and easy so nobody would notice the handgun in my pocket. Without the glasses, subtle things blurred together and lost poper definition. The explosive, ear-numbing sound happened before I even got the damned thing out of my little secret hiding place. Instead of trying to remember where they were, or quickly searching, they were carelessly and casually dismissed as unimportant. Three sounds all at once and nobody in that place would, later, know the difference: that motherfucker laughing, me screaming all panic and bloody muder, and two useless bits of metal clattering into the pool my blood was making on the cheap-ass linolium flooring.

They awoke to a bright morning, squinting into the dawn, afraid to let the light in much further than eyelashes. Sand trapped in a pinched glass cone slowly spilled down into a small pile at the bottom. The sun is often, if not always, unrelenting. Cutting through all this was red-orange light from these flame-shaped bulbs the Cheap ‘N’ Easy sells for two days work. In a near blind daze, they finally approached the day, or perhaps the day had first made it’s own cautious step nearer. As if breath were in them, the already nearby walls of the place really, honestly felt like they were leaning in — getting closer, closer, about to touch one another. Accordingly, a few voices could be heard around the streets, all quiet and soft but distinct in the otherwise even hum of the late morning. Paper white, which isn’t really even white at all, and a crack like an edge of sound being broken in half — then, nothing. It really didn’t take long for the morning to end, as it all was.

Crafted

It started out I couldn’t talk.

Words, communication, just opening my goddamn mouth and making a couple sounds for anyone else to hear was such a trepidatious, such a terrifying thing. My hands and chest, underarms, forearms, the nape and the back of my neck would sweat so profusely, I’d just be drowning in it. Literally choking on things I couldn’t bring myself to say. Stuttering and stammering and just fucking out of control.

I swiftly decided: I’d rather not speak, rather not be heard, rather sit mute in the corner of the room and just disappear. Thank you.

Then, one day, my hand started forming the words my tongue refused to. I drew conclusions on the tails of y’s, shallow little comprehensions on the edges of m’s, perfect circular reasoning on the upwards curves of u’s, and a whole world of difference happened in between the narrow peaks of a single w.

I signed my name in sloppy curvise so you’d know it really was me.
For the first time.
A me even I had never known.

Then, slowly, those lines, those edges, those bits of character crammed in between the narrow spaces of each individual letter became exactly who I was. It took on a depth my voice just simply refused to it. Took on form and shape, shade and gradient I never possessed in stark spotlight. It smoothed the corners and rounded out the pixels, faded the edges of the me that I couldn’t bear.

I fell headlong into the craft of writing, escaping everything else, until slowly I became this — an artistic creature with at least one tangible beautiful feature to it’s name.
More than a shadow and a half thought.
More than non-existent, terrified, sweating to death.

I cling now to writing because the rest of the world is the deep end, and I — no swimmer. Though I could delve the depths of the ocean and the torrent of an on-coming six foot wave, I could not navigate myself into their presence, into their parties, into their words and turns of phrases, into their social behaviors. Too far beyond all of that had I been born. And too long apart from it had I stayed.

So, in place of reality, I made my imaginary friends real to others. I made their faces visible on the back of a piece of napkin, gave these strange lovers form in the lined rigidity of a notebook, created worlds on blank sheets and blank screens for others to see what my mind had been possessed of all along.

I made you see what I had seen because I could not come up from it.
Creativity had swallowed me whole and this: these turns of cliches and twists of venacular, were the only way back.

Now, you say I write well. You say I create a visual experience. You say I am creative.
I am only desperate to be known.

Art, naturally, takes on this form easily and wears it with grace.
Without art, I would be graceless and silent.
If not for clever little letters and structures of images that craft for me what I simply cannot — I would be utterly alone.

Instead, you wander into this room of half-light and dance with me.
Though at the end of the night, we may have never known each other at all.
And yet–
I perfer this separation.
I hope you don’t mind.

Closure

Portland,

Your sad streets and bitter faces were a gateway that I passed through momentarily. A brief drizzle, grey and spreading, soaked though the edges of my clothes – my thoughts – my dreams and nightmares of you. Your ghosts are less prevalant, less real than those of the eastern breed. Those have teeth and venom, and once they get into you — you hardly fight at all.

We had a touch of fight in us, a bit of resistance, an ounce of struggle.
It got us through.
I passed through those moments one last time and ended up in your arms. Your embrace was as cold, as distant, as full of distaste as I imagined it would be.

This new place has, since, taken me into its arms in a way you never did. With you, it was fight all the way. A resentful, compacted, pressed down violence that slowly filtered into my blood from your skies and your air and your passageways.

The one comfort in you is the bridge where I always could have jumped.
I stood there looking out at your darkening lights that single night I laid beside you. One of your less-than-bitter passers-by stopped and leaned out a car window.

“Are you alright?” they asked, with a sad knowing look.
“Yes,” I even smiled. “I’m just looking at the city.”
“Are you sure,” so unsure.
“Yes,” and confirming for the both of us that this moment was passing through our skin like a ghost with hardly any mass at all pushing through our completely corporeal bodies. We shared eyes for just a second, just a moment. And in that moment, I turned from you — Portland — to the North where my future was.

The dowsing rain up further the mountain drowned out the tears you used to push me to. Here, in between this bay and this moutnain top, I feel a sort of safety and acceptance I never did down below.

Today, I try my hand at being a part of the flow and ebb of this place. A bed is in the mail, soon, for the two of us to sleep upon. You, city of passivity and agression never coming to light, will no longer fit beside me.
Today, whether or not my impressions are real come to light.

I hope the summer is kinder than that winter was.
We’ll have to wait and see.

At any rate, my time of cut lines and disconnected wires is all done. I’m back to get trapped back up. Back to fight where, what, how I know how.

String me up nice and tight, or else I’ll come loose again.

Stretches On [Day11-15]

The moments, the highs, the lows, the instances, days and nights all stretch together into one. A dashed white line and black borders are my sight the entire way. A parking lot with lights blaring bright, all night. Two stores in different locations with different weather, but the accents are the same. Three of these corporate incarnations have zero variation, despite the subtle changes of the places outside them.

Grackles in a stretch of land that looks wild, but the air hums with the off echoes of the highway in minors that sing like yokai all around me. The breeze here is black in yellow or green air-quality. The neon highway sign alerts me it is moderately safe to breathe.

This existence is a hyper-real movie, a video game with life-stakes just passing before me. All of it takes place within that white, death-covered cab. All of it leads to only one possible end. All of it is a taut rubber band against my inner wrist, just waiting to be released.

In the thick mid-continent air, I feel the tension building like a vessel climbing a ramp running up a mountain, cut deep in a thick line of pines. There are electrical poles alongside these emotions as they run up along the sides to ram into my chest like a semi-truck that failed to check its brakes and stop in the long blinding curve down into the valley below.

A single lie lies in between us, and I know its real before I really know it.

The dreams and nightmares of another life are here before me with faces and voices, every one. I speak so eloquently on the whys and hows of how and why we left. I think so quick and smooth, so fast like a synapse that happens just before the thought can make itself known to the brain. My spinal cord jerks me in the right direction long before you ever get to me.

This steady violence hidden, tucked and holding tack underneath me is like a second skin I wear whenever you get around to coming down.

We want so desperately to deceive ourselves and say, in an exhaled breath, that it’s the devices that are wrong.
If you try that truth, I don’t think I can find my way behind it.
If we lie along the electrified lines, we may find that this skin of ours grows sparks.

I might be burning inside, but can you smell the flesh as it slips off – hot and raw?

One more stretch before the end and the beginning and the next revision of whatever nightmare inside of a dream we’re living.

I took that long and empty road all alone. I slept in between blankets, pillows I was barely allowed, and the one thing I had even the remotest desire to drag back. Eyes of strangers overlooked me, watched over me, guarded or judged or protected me. And, in that single moment of half-wake, half-dream — I realised that the one thing I’m missing is the one thing I won’t ever need.

A highway overpass of hikasa nests like hornets and wasps swarm the metal death craft I’m in. The rain and electrical storms pound against this outer shell. But inside, I feel and hear nothing of it at all.

If I step out — all of life surrounds me. And the violence I fear is stronger on the inside than the out.
Inside these dead metal walls burning death away. I know the darkness builds greater behind my eyes than it ever does staring in the light.

And in two weeks, I realised I had never been alone.

Tomorrow takes the road back a way I have never gone before. To what, exactly, do I return?
Without an answer, the question just sits and, like a dull ember, burns into my empty belly.

It may have been my inheritance all along to burn down this way.
A slow glowing failure down a long tempered road.
And, nowhere on either side to go.

Curtains down [Day 10]

This comes to mind:

If something is impossibly difficult, perhaps there is a better way to go about things.

Everything along this thread, this farewell, this goodbye, this break and change has gone smoothly. Simple. Easy and done. Hardly a hitch that tried to break me.

And I can’t help but feeling — this is the right direction, finally, after years of uphill and backwards and three-forward, two-back — we arrive at something better.
A smoother surface to run our gears on.

A river meeting blockage will always find another route around.
I think, in my heart, I am finding these circumnavigational avenues to stones thrown in the way, blocking up peace and comprehension. I am, slowly, working a new way round.

This road is the beginning of something.
I have no doubt.

In 6 days, I return fully in a new shade and hue.
In 6 days, I return — physically — to you.

And this is how you were [Day 8/9]

Or rather, it’s how you are now. A slowly darkening landscape with the light carefully, beautifully going out. In my memory, you will stand some five/six months. A year or two might do you some good there. But, look over these emotions in a handful, a century and the images will be so blurred I’ll hardly recognize what made me once stir, come to life, and fall on hands and knees with tears in my eyes.

I sat in your back cuppboard crying like this one day while the sun was still high and we were still near it.
I sat on my hands and a stump, thinking somehow I could still grasp it.
Didn’t realize I had to let it loose, let it fall, give up and leave to really see it.

Now, I see stark white in the bright light all that I was missing from this place.
All this place was missing for me.
All I missed in its place.

Strange conclusions, all of these.
And yet, without those ropes and ties and lines and rings — I find I’m much more at peace.
And yet, so strange to be.