Whether she’s realized it or not, Tori has always been there for me during my darkest hours. Not necessarily doing anything to pull me out of the gloom per say, but there for me none the less.
Similarly, the 100 Word Song family has seen me through some pretty tough times as well. So, when I realized that they had joined forces this week, I decided to come out of my flash fiction song prompt hibernation, and play along.
It’s good to be back 100 Word Songers – I hope you enjoy…
It happened again.
I dreamt of being loved… of being cherished.
Of all the dreams, these are the worst. Of all the nightmares, the frights, these are the ones that cripple my nights.
Unlike reality, in the dream she stayed. She meant it. She didn’t have others.
Unlike reality, there weren’t arguments, nor struggles, nor threats of flight.
Unlike reality, she was still breathing when I awoke.
I awoke to the guards calling my name, ushering me distractedly from general population back into solitary.
They think I’m alone in there, but those damned dreams can follow through.
It was late Spring when the sky first turned gray. An ominous, oppressive gray, with just a smattering of pockets of light. As the months trudged on, every last one of them was slowly blotted out, and by the true beginning of summer, Michael could see only charcoal blackness, sooty and billowesque, whenever he dared to look upward.
The storm never broke, though for months now it had threatened to. The sheets of rain, filled out in triplicate, that Michael so longed to receive in the hopes of conducting the storm through to its end, thus returning the blue sky to his possession, never came. And though the bleak grayness was miles above his head, it pressed down upon his shoulders as if it were a living thing. Softly, Michael closed his eyes, imagining the gate once more.
It was a gate he’d never actually seen before, but one he knew existed. His love had told him about it, a gate of heavy metal, intricately woven and painted with a thick coat of black, the kind of paint that was always shiny, though seldom showed finger prints. It was the gate that entered you into the park, the park that hosted all the loves of the world, and all the lovers too. A place that existed only in the mind and, to those who knew how, the soul as well. Michael wished that his own soul would eventually possess such knowledge, but until then, his imagination was put to task, and performed the bulk of the work in creating this secret place within.
She was there already of course, puffy pink cotton candy in hand, offering it to him as if she were a child. For in this place, that is exactly what you are. Love cannot be trusted to the adult mind, for it is muddied by selfishness, desire, and ego. Only the child can properly appreciate the finer art of simply loving the person without question or motivation, because of who they are, versus what they can provide you, or what they have done, or what they have failed to do just yet.
Michael smiled to the real world, as his imaginary fingertips brushed against and gently pulled upon the offered treat. Never greedy, he took more than his share this time and, as was his normal habit, tightly rolled it up into a hard sugary rock, before placing it on his tongue. He smiled again, as he felt the sweetness melting in his mouth and slowly dribbling down his throat. She laughed in such a way as to almost make him open his eyes, thus destroying the illusion. At the last moment he caught himself however, instead looking at her with his mind’s eye before asking, “What? Why do you laugh, lover?” Giggling again, she replied, “Why not? To see you eat cotton candy is like watching a man with one arm build a bridge. Have you ever just enjoyed something, without first having to man-handle and control it into an almost totally different existence? Have you ever let be, just be?” Michael frowned slighty, as his immediate reaction was one of hurt. Hurt over the idea that he was already going well out of his way to meet her here in the park he had so diligently created mentally, only to find her “critiquing” something else altogether, instead of complimenting him for his efforts. But while all this played out in his head, in a melee of hurt and bruised ego, his mental voice to her said only, “why do you ask? Was I not enjoying the candy correctly?”
“Lover, you were,” she shook her head enthusiastically, “but only after you had made it into your own image. Only after you had hardened it, squashed the life out of it, made it ‘other’ than what it was intended to be. Darling, the candy was supposed to be light and fluffy, yet you felt for some reason that that was not good enough. Do you realize that by doing so continually throughout your life, you may still experience happiness, but miss out on Joy altogether? Why even here Michael, in this park, what do you see?” “I see banks and banks of greenery and ferns,” Michael retorted, “beautiful and lush and dew-kissed, all surrounded by big, bold and resolute sunflowers.” He said it cautiously, wondering if he had come to the correct conclusion.
Sensing this, her response was measured. “Hmmm, Michael, I really wish you would learn to come here by way of your soul, instead of through your imagination. You did not come up with an incorrect conclusion, lover, but you did create a place that is a mere shadow of the realness that surrounds us. Dear, all that you saw is here, but this is the park that hosts all the loves of the world, and all the lovers too. As such, it is awash with every type and sort of plant, draped with every color of flower. It is carpeted with not only grass, but earthen path and waterway too. Michael, much like Love is, this place has everything, and all of it is free.”
Crestfallen over not being able to see, and after trying so hard, Michael began to slowly open his real eyes, only to stop as he felt her hand tap gently upon his shoulder. The touch was light yet comforting, and it was only in his feeling it that he remembered how he hadn’t felt the pressure of the gray since he had entered here. She whispered softly, “Michael, I know you are leaving me now. I said something wrong maybe, or your ego is still too bruised to be here with me wholly. Regardless of why, I am sorry. Sorry for you, and for us. Dear, please try to be here in your soul. Please try to find this place through Joy, instead of happiness or want. I’ll be waiting for you here when you do. Until then, here is a kiss…”
A kiss that was never realized, as it was then that Michael’s boss, spying that he had another “goddammed lazy-lack sleeper” on his hands, thwacked Michael soundly back to reality, via the tried and true rolled up newspaper continually found in his hand. “Now git back ta work, ya turd!” was all the encouragement Michael received from him, as his boss stomped back to his office for a well-deserved nap himself. Listening to him clump noisily off, thwacking others occasionally along the way, Michael slowly rubbed the back of his head where the paper still stung, wondering to himself just which of the two places it was, in which “reality” really existed.
Bloggers note: Posted in response to The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt on Kindness, and resulting wholly from a dear friend offering me a bite of cotton candy, I wonder if I should flesh this out more, or leave it as a stand-alone piece. As always, your thoughts and critiques are requested… and no newspaper thwacks will result from sharing your honest opinion. Promise!
OK, here’s what I said. I said “I love these pics – as I love looking at the treetops as well. For me, they always have been the place where the earth touches the sky. The place where birds perch, mocking those of us who only wish we could fly.”
And here’s what she said in response. She said “Hey t, I trust that “Writer’s Block,” will break free any minute now. Thanks for stopping and for the comment. Onward and Upward. :)”
And would you believe, she was right!
As I drove home, I stopped staring at bumper stickers, and looked upwards instead to the spiny dead trees, softly scratching at the surface of the sky. Tickling it’s soft underside until the firmament almost giggled itself into a warmer shade of blue. Now don’t get me wrong, I also kept my eye on the road (you can’t say I haven’t learned anything from Jesus). But whereas a normal day would have found me ruminating about any number of things earthern-bound, I found my mind focused instead on the tree tops, stiffly swaying this way and that. I focused on them, and on how blessed they are to be able to “touch” the heavens as they do.
photo taken by Prasanna Gururajan
“But t, trees are hardly the tallest things we have, and barely do they touch the sky at all, by comparison.” True, but of all the monoliths upward bound, the trees are the bees knees – The wha..? – OK, I have no idea what I meant by that just now, but I felt driven to write it. It just seemed so right. Heck, I’m even gonna go back and read it again – hold on for a second – OK, I’m back. Digressions aside, instead of writing what I wrote, what I was actually going to make mention of was this: yes, the buildings climb higher than the trees. But these are of man, and as such, inherently corrupt. They do more to pierce the sky than tickle it. They thrust upward in function alone, invading and taking over, instead of peacibly coexisting. In short, they are rude and oversized phallic symbols, trying veinly to impregnate the sky with Man’s pride. Mountains too, reach much higher than the trees. But they reach so high as to no longer be visible to one so small as myself. In fact, in many cases they reach heights as to pass through the sky altogether, thus ruining the illusion in the process. So, of all the monoliths, I lean towards the trees when sky-dreaming, simply because they are the least inclined to act like monoliths in the first. Never mind the fact that lying on a soft blanket of grass, while sky gazing under a tree, is far more comfortable than laying on the sidewalk outside your local skyscraper and doing the same.
Within the trees you can find the animal that I am most jealous of, and for the purpose of today’s post, that animal is the bird. If I were feeling particularly base right now, I would insert a joke here implying that my jealousy revolved around the birds ability to publicly defecate anywhere, and without breaking stride. But seeing as I’m not feeling particularly base right now, I will refrain from making mention of any such thing. Instead, I will simply let you know that it’s not so much the bird I’m jealous of, as it is his power of flight. Flight. Can you imagine it? Flight without devices, or jets, or gizmos of any kind being required. Flight whenever desired, and for as long as as well. Flight, by simply spreading your wings and setting sail. Now, that’s for me Jack! I know that in order to have this power, I would also require hollow bones, a development that wouldn’t necessarily be to my advantage at the next bar fight. But let’s be honest, I can’t imagine I’m going to encounter any of those any time soon, so I’m willing to make the trade. Of course if C were here right now, she would also make mention of the fact that with hollow bones, my blogging days would be over as well, seeing as I’m a very aggressive hunter-pecker. My poor keyboard simply weeps every time I sit before it. Crying over the bruises that it will have to endure, as a result of the one thousand plus words I’m getting ready to inflict upon the blogosphere for that day. One brutally punched key at a time. Of course, if I could fly, I’m none to sure that my state of bloglessness would bother me too much. I’m of the belief I’d take flight over type to cure what ails me, open air over written word to set myself free. As I’m pretty sure the percentage regarding incidents of accidental bug consumption is about the same for either task, I’m thinking the power of flight would be a clear winner. Seeing as it’s a theory I’ll never be able to test, I fear you’re simply going to have to resolve yourselves to being stuck with me. But don’t feel too bad, at least you’re not my poor keyboard.
So, I am a grounded human who can not fly. One who is more rooted than the tree, simply by having the knowledge of my roots, the awareness of my chains. But unlike the trees, and the birds that rest upon them, I can dream. I can dream of tickling the sky while I fly across it. I can envision the world beneath me, and I can enjoy my vision. The tree may very well touch the sky. But it never knows that it does. And the bird may very well drop a bomb on the car of the biggest, richest Pisser ever, but it feels no righteous satisfaction in it’s action. Oh no, wait. That was going to be my “feeling particularly base” response. What I meant to say was this: the bird can simply take wing whenever it wants, but instead it is locked into so doing only when instinct mandates it. Of the three of us, it is only I who am truly free. Of the three, it is only I who will ever be able to suffer writers block, and be glad of the experience. I am neither the flying Prince nor the sky-tickling Old Lady Shade. I am rather, and possibly more importantly, the little child who can one day rise higher than them both.