So alone was he that the normal sense of the word no longer applied to him. It was insufficient, it mocked his loneliness with the lack of strength evident in its meager expression. He had become the unsettled dust mote, swept off its resting place long ago and banished to a slow, swirling journey into oblivion. Though in reality the mote was not without companion, indeed it rushed to and fro in a veritable cloud of the same, all similarly bound to the gust of air. Performing the terrible dance of his life, he knew with an unsaid certainty that this would always be his fate, complete instability coupled with a total lack of comfort or support.
Each day was his immense playground, in which he would embark on a struggle against his arch enemy time. Utter boredom held him forever in its inescapable grasp, as he longed to defeat time in larger chunks, wearing away at his enemy until sleep would grant him a respite, come the night. Day after day continued without ere a change or subtle difference, and he hated the waking sensation and flood of memory pertaining to his current situation that assailed upon each morn.
His dreams taunted him, whispering unquestionable delights from the edges of his reality. From the corners of his mind they would slink away upon the first opening and rapid blink of his eye, as sleep was again vanquished for a time. Rarely could he bring again to mind the pleasures of which he maintained only the slightest recollection afterwards. This was no small mercy, for when they sprang ably enough to mind he soon was swept into a inexorable sadness, as he longed for the phantom of love and adoration that had beckoned to him from his fantasies of the night.
Life, if it could indeed be called life, went on for a great stretch in this fashion. Sleeping, waking, stumbling, stuttering, chaos, eating, drinking, and finally an escape into sleep again went the pattern of his days. Emotion formed a confusing if not entirely deviant portion of his existence, as its nature and reality always seemed to elude him. His true feelings as well as his humanity were a complete mystery to everyone including himself. A sensation of distance and separation from the experiences upon which his psyche fed each day encompassed him. He was not alive, not in any definition by which he knew the concept.
There was no need to reflect upon the past events that had placed him so in the world. In his current state he was timeless, never having changed, never having arrived, and never in sight of leaving. Eternity was a cruel conveyor belt upon which he trod, never looking back yet never making any headway forward. No goal was ever in sight, simply the vanishing point of the horizon, promising himů nothing. A soulless depression took hold of him and released his mind in fits, giving him occasion to hope for a change and then returning him to a state of cold apathy towards all that he saw.
Ending his life was an occasional fancy that he considered and whetted the knife of his mind upon. It felt so fine and noble, the thought of tracing his own reality, cutting short his future and making a definitive change of some sort. Surely it would aid him to disappear from the humdrum symphony of noise that was his life. One instrument less in the great orchestra could make no difference to any listener. Still he staid his hand, restraining his morbid urges in order to maintain some semblance of eventual progress towards an as yet unnamed and unknown goal.
One-day events made it clear with bitter despair that there would eventually be a change. Awareness of his own mortality and its rapidly approaching demise dawned anew upon him. He almost rejoiced as he wept, with the knowledge that no action on his part would be necessary to end it. Pity was something that he rarely allowed himself, but on this day he wallowed gloriously in a rich mire of the stuff. It became a balm on his raw wounds, that perfectly horrid awareness of the nearness of death. The alien bump on his young body was exactly of the kind his family had warned. The cancerous tissue became his savior.
Hidden as it was, it freed him of all concern. Even his well-developed paranoia felt secure that no one would learn his secret of despair. To him it was time bomb, referee, guidebook, and redemption. A constant hum of frozen terror held his mind against outside invasion. Things that would have caused icy stabs of panic into his heart days ago now became meaningless, and unable to faze him. Nothing held his interest in this world, and it became his booked and guaranteed passage into a new one.
The years went by. Long ago his hope of finding a mate to fulfill his deep-seated needs had dwindled and died. Others expected happiness, an attitude which defied his understanding continually. It was a sensation that was both alien and alarming to him, and therefore to be avoided to extremes. Punishment was the tonic that would cure the sickness in his soul, at least that was the stratagem of which he had been convinced. On the occurrence of hope for a better condition concerning his heart, his natural hatred of himself would intervene.
This is not to say that there were never any who would have sought to give him comfort and solace. From time to time one would appear with enough love and kindness to ease his suffering and make him whole. However wholeness is a shocking affair to one who has never been such, and its rejection is inevitable. Any seeking to aid him were treated callously and offensively, until they withdrew to a suitable distance, never to impede his penance again. Loneliness and desolation were his safety devices.
At last one came to him like an angel, with the insufferable ability to pierce his hardened defenses and break his shell into a thousand fragments. As a newborn infant, his skin was tender and soft and his voice trembled with wonder at the new world which he experienced. New sight was gifted to him in the transformation, and he glutted this sense with every fulfillment possible. Sensations that had long ago ceased to reach him because painfully sharp and crisp, giving him shivers of ecstasy.
More wondrous than the changes wrought upon himself were the many facets of his benevolent deliverer. She. The mere word was a new idea formed in his mind, implying all sorts of incredible whims and pleasures. She entailed everything that was wonderful and good and just in his new existence. She was the joy that let him rest comfortably as sleep took him each night, guided him through storybook dreams, and again filled him every morning up waking. So full was his life due to her mere presence after entry into it that it brimmed over and he shared his riches with the world.
Love. No longer a fleeting concept to be cursed and feared, it controlled him so strongly that it almost gave him cause to fear. They were bonded by the fabled ropes, which held tighter than any physical substance suitable for comparison. Security and peace were his world, nestled in the knowing that she was his and vice versa. Purpose and an affinity for living invaded what had been his cold desolation and left no room for the former occupants. Darkness was made to flee before the light as every corner of his being shone like the sun in the spring following a long winter.
Everything that he had been was undone. A new man made complete with the addition of a woman and her love. The conveyor belt was gone, he had bounded forward from its terrible pace with her aid and they now explored the horizon together. A beautiful sunset was forever arrayed before them as they charged across the gorgeous plain of life together, weeping for the loveliness of the sight. Never again did he feel the rain could fall, and nothing could ruin this incredible reformation of his life.
The past returned one day. In his morning shower a year after they had married, he remembered something of his past life. Staring at the wall, part of him shrank inwards and retreated again to that cold place that gave no illusion of safety within him. The water grew cold to match his mood as his enemy time flew by, suddenly increasing its pace, howling in fury as it regained its grasp upon him. Time had reversed its strategy and would now plow him forward at an unrelenting speed. He had forgotten the bump.
He could not bring himself to inform her of the terrible part of his past that yet retained a terrible and final grip upon him. After so short a time together in happiness, it seemed cruel and unjust that he should cause her pain now. In secret he availed himself of the medical attentions which he had so wantonly avoided years before. The pleasing bittersweet irony some cruel deity would find in his life bred an enormous anger, fouling his mind.
They fought. Horribly, painfully, shockingly, innocence-destroyed, they fought. She could not know of the foul storm that raged yet in his being. His was the blame for the shortness of her happiness, and forgiveness he forever placed beyond his reach. Pardon unobtainable, he sought to do her the only kindness of which he was able. Becoming anger personified, a black gulf stretched between them driving them apart until she was forced to flee.
So alone was he that the normal sense of the word no longer applied to him. It was insufficient, it mocked his loneliness with the lack of strength evident in its meager expression. So devastated and ravaged was he that utter desolation painted a poor panorama of his true state of mind. Some small comfort was afforded him in his final sacrifice, sparing the only creature to love him of the pain of mind-numbing loss. He shouldered the blame and guilt of her pain and enabled her to in time run free once more and find another to sooth her wounds he had so hated inflicting upon her.
No detailed description is necessary to sufficiently portray the withering of his body, for none can do it justice. Once the mind has released its sentience, the body soon falls into disarray, as the collapse and eventual defeat of an army after its leader's death. As his spirit lost its container and was spilled as water from an upset basin, it flew free. At last he was aware of his many fellow dust motes which swirled upwards in the same tumultuous cloud. The years went by.
© 2002 Robert H. Harrison