I am walking in a world where dark and light are one, and yet starkly separate. My surroundings are warm and pleasant, but also the most cold, lonely environment I've ever found myself in. It has almost the clinical detachment of an empty hospital, if ever a hospital were suspended open in space with no floors or ceilings or walls- just wind and cloud and sun and fog wrapping about everywhere, twining together dizzily and cradling me.
As I move, time weaves itself around me like cloth made of wind. Occasionally it snags, and for an instant I catch a glimpse into pasts and futures. Reaching out a hand, I grab a handful of the woven liquid strands, twining them around my fingers so that the enclosing void will not whisk them away. In the moving threads I see a picture, a memory I think I once held; two girls within it swing so high that it seems to them that they may touch the sky. They laugh, infected with childlike joy.
I am not sure if it is the cold or the memory, but my eyes are beginning to tear. Ah to be so young and innocent once more, never to have discovered anything beyond that moment and the reverie of peace it held. But soon the wind that blows in every direction unwraps the strings of time from my hoping hands and takes them away, reminding me that I have indeed moved on. Instead, a new thread wraps around my outstretched fingers and begins to play a new memory.
Here the same two girls sit, adolescent now, with two other girls. To the casual observer, they appear to be the very closest of friends, laughing and drawing near as though each word is part of some intimate conspiracy. But I, knowing the scene all too well, can read their eyes. One girl, short and dark haired, tries too hard to impress the others with her maturity, succeeding only in making jokes she does not fully understand. A girl with red-orange hair and jeans laughs too loudly, trying to mask her true feelings about everything and hoping none of them can see through the cracked porcelain mask. A tall blonde, one of the original two, dominates over all of them, her insecurities hidden behind too much makeup and defiant declarations on a black tee shirt. The last one, brunette and also of the original pair, looks on sadly, feeling rejected by those she cares most about and wondering why people so different from her should matter anyway.
I can no longer blame these tears on the force of wind and cold. The pain that the final girl feels but does not recognize in the others is so familiar…. The wind once more snatches the time from my fingers, but this time I do not grasp at it. I want these memories to disappear forever and never come to me again. However, the time that grasps at me is no longer within my control, and images flutter one after another in front of my eyes. Fragments of minutes or entire days catch on my hands, cupped to catch the rapidly falling tears.
A hand outstretched holds a small wrapped gift; two hands write on the same page; a book is passed from one desk to another; a group of girls walks away, leaving one staring forlorn at their backs; an angry look is smothered with closed eyes near to tears and headphones; a phone rings for hours and no one picks it up; two girls mark their heights on a wall to test who is really the tallest; a mirror reflects angry, disappointed eyes before being flipped and slammed down on a dresser top; a ballet class stops and watches a chubby young child execute a series of steps perfectly without cue; finally, a green eye twinkles with derisive laughter.
By now, tears flow freely down my face, are plucked away, and freeze in the balmy breeze. I sit silently on nothing, rocking myself softly and sobbing so no one will hear, no one will notice, no one will care. As I curl, head down, a hand comes to rest on my shoulder. I look upwards into a face reflecting the same pain I feel, and a hand is stretched out towards me to help me up. As I take it, I notice that there is a scar on the wrist. And another on the other… and the center of both feet… and all along the brows of a man who has entered this, the realm of my lonely heart. His hand fits into my own and he leads me off, out into a world of sunlight.