The glass cooled my skin as I pressed my forehead to the pane, peering in at the creature on display. Hands outstretched on both sides, I moved as close to the display as the barrier would allow me, periodically lifting up to wipe the fog from my breath on the glass. Its wrists and ankles were bound to wooden marionette poles, the grooves worn smooth from years of handling, into the shapes of giant fingers. Both were stained with the deep-red of forever wounds, of years of conditioning. The arms and legs were spread out in its master’s pose, an unnatural, wretched position, fixed to envision the perfect specimen of its species.
A smile was painted on its face, a bright, shiny grin with the corners reaching up to rosy cheeks. Its skin was dusted in glitter, glinting in the fluorescent lights and attracting every passing eye to its beauty. There was no escaping its marvel, its fascination. Its awe breathed in through the eyes, into the heart, into the soul, and stayed on the forefront of every mind that encountered it. There became a feeling of possession in one, evidenced by the encroaching crowds on both sides of me, each wanting to hide this showcase for themselves, to be the only cast within its light.
Its eyes captivated me the most though, brought me into another realm that only it and I could reach. Round orbs, the color of honey, bore into me, within me, through me. We stared at one another until the glass disappeared, until its bindings were no longer visible to my eye and we were only two individuals looking within one another, no thought of who was the spectator and who was the spectated being had, only equals. She recognized me as I recognized her.
She was a slave to the world, chained to it through her absolute beauty. The world had created her, and so it would keep her within its grasp until she was no longer useful, or dead. The snarls of her would-be owners screamed in my ears as they mauled at her from every side. Their grubby hands scratched down the glass, shuffling and pushing each other to get the perfect vision of her. I heard their whispers echoing into my ears, praying to their pagan gods to give them just one touch, one swipe along her perfect brow. Anger pushed its way out of me, screaming through my soul and out of my mouth, inflaming my vision until all I saw was red.
No. Fucking. More.
There would be no more of this spectacle.
Before either she or I registered what I was doing, the glass was shattered as I jarred my elbow into its mass. The girl looked more bewildered than me, her eyes gone wide in shock and fear at the suddenness. Shards rained down on our heads as I broke the bindings in one full swoop, ripping each off of her limbs and discarding them to the ground in disgust. The girl was free.
I moved to clear the way for our escape, too blinded by my own love for the girl to see the indecision in her eyes. I knew she would be crashing behind me, us each scrambling to move through the shocked crowds to freedom. I turned my head to find her hand to take, to help guide her along with me. She was not there.
The girl was frozen in her spot, grabbing at her floored bindings and staring at them. The glass lay all around her, shining and illuminating in the light like ice under the moon’s rays, mirroring her broken frame. I called to her over the roars of the muffled crowd, but she did not move. I screamed to her to follow me, but she did not move.
The crowd began to overtake her. I feared she would be swallowed by the chomping masses. I flung body by body out of my path to get back to her, but there were so many fleeing the remains. I would not reach her in time to stop her from being torn apart. But finally, she rose.
She cast off the spectators in one stopping glance. “No.” They immediately moved from her path, an unexpected authority in her voice. The girl arose and moved towards me, gently testing her balance and weight on long-forgotten legs. Inch by inch, her feet carried her from her tomb, towards a different life, towards her own life. Away.
Fingers flutter on heated skin, tracing each pathway, over each delicately formed curve and dip, down every perfect line of her form. I let my fingers trace over her every feature: over her lips, those lips which are constantly on the forefront of my mind, how they taste, how they feel against mine, how they curve into the most beautiful smile I have ever seen, and over her nose, over her cheekbones and jawline. The lips form into a soft smile as she feels me looking at her, but she does not open her eyes, does not break the silent moment as my eyes burn her image into my mind. Her chest rises and falls steadily, only quickening when my fingers move over heightened areas. I move my head down to rest on her chest, listening to her heart beating its march into my ears.
My arms pull her up and into me, each curve of her body fitting perfectly into mine, completing me. Our bodies no longer have beginning and ending points, the points of difference dissolving until we are one. Hearts beat as one. Lungs breath as one. The rays from the rising sun kiss over her naked skin, giving a glow to her angelic form.
My heart skips a beat in my chest as she opens her eyes to meet mine, my breath catching in my throat. Pools of amber meet my gaze, filled with every awe-inspiring beauty of the world. There, in this moment, I have reached my pinnacle of happiness. There can be no greater feeling. We lay there, she and I, without movement, without sound, comfortable in the silence and stillness of each other’s presence.
The ringing begins.
Her legs wrap around my waist, her arm draped over my chest and neck. I hold her tight, our bodies molding into one another, our souls one in the moment.
The ringing continues.
A wind picks up, threatening to pull her from my grasp, testing my hold around her back. Her fingers begin to slip from my chest, the gusting wind lifting her from me. I try to hold onto her, try to keep the wind from ripping her away from me, but I feel the strength in my limbs begin to whither. One by one, the fingers fail.
The ringing gets louder.
A scream pierces the wind, ripping out of my soul and through my lips. Her body begins to fade, to dematerialize into the wind. “You will not take her from me!” I scream to the wind, to the earth, to everyone, to anyone. I hold onto those solid places on her body, but even those begin to fade. My hands move through her.
The ringing takes over.
I can no longer hear my own screams to the ringing, can no longer cling to her body, can no longer keep her with me. But I see those lips, those lips that hold me in this world. I lean up and bring her into a searing kiss, feel the flames jump inside of my chest as our souls connect in parting. I feel her inside of me, telling me that I will be ok, that the daytime is here again. “I love you.” Tears stream down my face, and I know it’s over.
I roll over and turn off the alarm clock. Another day.
The world uniformly gives the linear process of birth, life, and death the title of a journey. We all have the same destination; we will all one day return to the earth how we emerged, from ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The world gives this lifeline as a path, a road on which we follow to lead to our ending, our final chapter.
At times, this line can be overwhelming, a tunnel where we can see the light at the end, but cannot see the walls to either side of us. We do not see the twists and bends, the ups and downs. We feel lost in the mazes our own lives and paths. But there are those that surround us who hold the lanterns, that can illuminate light onto our path. Often times, we let these guides be our family, our loved ones, our friends. They hold our hands and string us along with them on their journey to the end, instill in us how their way is the best way. “You don’t want to be in the dark, do you? Here, let me shine the light for you.” We may follow their paths for the rest of our lives and be happy knowing where the turns will be, be comforted knowing each step before it arrives.
But sometimes, we grab that lantern from them and let it fucking shatter. There are unknowns in the dark. There could be monsters; there could be pain. But we will stumble in the dark until we find our own paths to illuminate. We will find our partners for this lifetime, the perfect soul to hold our lantern with us, and travel with them until the end. The path is each man’s own to discover, not his parent’s or his friend’s.
People always tell me I’m a rebel. I do whatever I wanna do… And I wonder why.
Yeah, I have mohawk, but that doesn’t make me a rebel.
I’ve spent most of my life pleasing other people. Putting other people’s feelings before my own. Making decisions based on how it would affect the people that…
If we define a “rebel” as one who moves against society norms, then I suppose every great mind has been a rebel. History books are lined with those that have made ripples in the world with thoughts and beliefs that did not align with the rest of their neighbors. If there were never these rebels to shape the world, we, as mankind, would never make any progress in the way of social, political, economical, and every sort of change. Harriet Tubman stood against the slaveholders, leading people to freedom from their slavery bonds. Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus, starting a revolution of people for human rights. The Founding Fathers committed treason, being the ultimate form of rebellion, to form this great nation we live in today.
But is it considered rebellion to live for one’s own happiness, to seek one’s own path on this journey we call life? I do not believe so.
Those that do not follow our parent’s and family’s wills for us are not betraying our loved ones. This does not mean that we deem ourselves wolves and devour the sheep. We are not black sheep among God’s flock. We simply acknowledge that each man has his own walk with God to discover and follow, have his own ears to hear His callings to us.
But if society must call us rebels in order to make themselves feel better for never breaking away from their societal bonds, if they must gawk at our tattoos and scoff at our own forms of expression and thought, then I guess we should all stand up as fucking rebels.
All day my mind has screamed at me, ‘I want to go home.’ But I am home. This is it. My place of comfort is not a structure of brick and mortar; it is a person of blood and flesh, of smiles and tears and laughter. It is you.
This temporal world keeps my soul in chains, keeps me trapped inside this tiny, frail body of needs. I am always in need of something, of anything to keep me at rest, to keep me at bay. It howls inside of me, screams to the heavens to just leave me to rot. But I can see the lines in the air; I can see the tiny threads of connection blowing in the breeze, showing me the way to you.
I am in the car before I feel my feet moving, slamming the door shut behind me, revving the engine, and reversing full-force into the road. Sunlight beams through the car windows and warms my face and arms. I can feel you close. My soul is crying for its brother, for its other half. It is overwhelming. It dulls my senses, clouds my mind from logical thought until all I can see is your face. The peace is close. If I can only get to where you are, if I can just follow the threads down your path, I will find you at the other side.
The car screeches to a halt on rusty breaks. I stop moving.
The feeling of peace, of breath, of completeness, is trumped by my respect for you. I hear your voice in my head telling me that you need time alone, that you need time to be. I bow my head to the ground and let out my held breath. But the fire inside of me glows hot, threatening to burn me up if I don’t find you, to swallow me inside its passion. I know that you can feel me too. You can sense the closeness, can see the tethers in the sky bringing us together. You want to be alone.
The gentle rustling of the wind picked up the leaves alongside of me, tossing them into the air and then letting them come to rest in the same spot of grass beside me. I watched as it continued its cycle, lifting the dead leaves up and letting them fall again, over and over. The wind is cruel, I thought. It picks up the leaves as if to bring them to a new world, to show them a place beyond the invisible walls of their daily prison, beyond the tiny slice of land of their birth to the land of the unknown, only to release them in the same portion of earth as they began.
I looked at the leaves with a sad understanding, of the knowledge of what effect too much time spent in one place has on the traveler’s soul. I had never planned on coming back to my parent’s home, after spending so much time on my own. A certain set of circumstances, of which I tried to block from my forefront of thought at all costs, sent me crawling back to my childhood home. I valued my freedom, had come to enjoy the pleasures of being beyond the walls of watchful eyes, of forever knowing stares and glances. No, I was not pleased to be back in that place.
I could feel the change in the wind though, a subtle difference in the smell of it, in its core. Fall was approaching. A relief from the scorching Georgia summer, with its ever searing sunlight and spot-up storms of lightening, was on its way. A smile formed on my lips. I could smell it in the air: football games, soccer cleats, pumpkin pies, dying trees, and my favorite, leather jackets. The winds had changed.
Perhaps it is some yet to be identified sense left over from our long-ago ancestors, or perhaps we are instilled with the knowledge from cues from our parents, but the body can feel the change in season before the eyes can see the signs. We humans are far more connected with mother earth than we lead ourselves to believe. We pay other humans to study the atmosphere, to use million dollar machines and gadgets to prophesy the coming skies. But just like the beasts of the land, we feel the rain before it hits, smell it in the air and sense it in our bones. We feel the changes in the wind, hear the whisperings of the trees, saying that the time of growth is coming to an end.
Just as the earth was on the course of change, so too was I. I was as the leaves, picked up by any and every passing wind, determined that this gust would be my last; this gust would blow me to a new place in my life, a better place, a place beyond this one patch of sodden grass. But the wind never took me anywhere except back down on my knees, back to the rest of the dying leaves, a continuous cycle of hope and anticipation, and then realization, and then misery.
My eyes glanced over at the leaves as the wind swept them up again, swirling them around in a circle. But something was different. The wind was different. The leaves started on their usual path back downwards and were rushed back to the sky again in a sudden flourish of air. They raced across the yard, down past the farthest neighbors driveway, and out of sight. Finally the winds of change had brought them to a new world. Finally their prayers to be taken from their daily tortures were answered by a merciful god. Finally, they would discover the unknown for themselves.
I put out my cigarette on the bottom of my shoe, the lingering smell of burning tobacco in the air. The day’s sun was beginning its daily dying ritual in the sky, kissing each portion of earth goodnight as it sent its golden rays across the horizon. Tossing the smoking cigarette butt in the trash, I made my way past the remaining struggling piles of leaves and back inside. My own winds of change were approaching. I could feel it. I could feel the woman.
I lay in complete stillness, limbs relaxed in an absolute static, no twitch of movement from any muscle. My breathing continues a slow rhythm of evenness. In and out. In and out. My eyes are closed as in slumber, my ears listening only to the creaking of the house. I can feel my blood pounding through my veins, filling every inch of me with grief. I beg my mind to stop thinking, to obey me in stillness as my body does, to sink into the darkness of numbing sleep. But my calls are not answered. And so I lay.
I miss you most with the resting sun, when dying rays illuminate the sky in the same golden perfection as your skin. I see your smile in the peace of dusk, in that interim between the bustling of the day and the buzzing of the night. The last glimpses of day are as the shine in your eyes, radiating into the dull world, spreading your joy and brightening its every reach.
I miss you most with the rising sun, when the morning birds shake off their sleep and begin their songs, as beautiful as the voice that slips from your lips. The dawn’s light breaks through the darkness, as your touch brings me from the deepest of nightmares to the safety of your arms. The world awakens from its slumber as you do, sometimes to clouds, sometimes to clear skies, but always scaring away the darkness of the night to the beautiful light.
I miss you most with each breath of the day, with every passing moment I am away from you.