Every story I tell myself begins with a question, but today I am all out. There’s just a sense of void. A hole in my head and my heart. A need to fill it with something, anything. I wander through a litany of past vices looking for an old familiar tingle that might tell me what I want. Nothing trips a switch. Something new then. Something I have never done but always wanted to.
That is how I end up on this ledge. Twenty stories up and the wind is pretty fierce. I look straight down at the street. It’s not quite dark but the streetlights are on already. I can make out small hurried specks zipping along the sidewalks and little coloured rectangles zooming between them on a graphite ribbon. Reminds me of those videos of electrons, or was it microbes? Tiny tiny lives. Micro reflecting macro, or vice versa, depending on the size of your ego.
My ego is huge, but unhappy. All those dreams that blew up and away from my grasp. All the life I could have had if I’d just let go for three seconds. I try to count the number of people I think would miss me and come up with a very small number. Barely a handful. So this is really it. The famous existential crossroad. And here is my question. Do I step back and retrace my steps – the very definition of insanity – hoping for a different outcome? Do I go left or right? Or do I take one step forward and hope for the best?
A light rain falls and I can see a hundred tiny rainbows beneath the lamps down near the street. I giggle and step forward and… I don’t fall. My feet slap against the side of the building and I am walking down the side of this highrise as if I had magnetic feet and the word was all metal. The rain falls on my perpendicular limbs like a hundred tiny pins with blunt edges. My hair hangs down beside my ears like a crazy punk do all out of whack. Gravity still works but not on my feet, which just keep walking, one in front of the other, towards those little rainbows and the damp stone blocks. No one looks up, which kind of bugs me because this is pretty awesome. But I don’t want to yell about it either, because that would be so uncool. I walk all the way down and hop lightly onto the pavement. Like Audrey Hepburn on a Sunday afternoon, I walk back into my building and take the elevator up to my floor. Back in my apartment, grinning like a schoolgirl, I make a cup of chamomile tea with a dash of cyanide. I leave the front door unlocked.
What makes you cringe? Is it the idea of spiders crawling over your face in the middle of the night and the fact that people keep telling you that urban myth about the 3 or 4 specimens that walk into your snoring maw in the dead of dark and wander down your throat? For them it is silence. Not all silence, mind you. Put them on a mountain in the middle of nowhere and they will sleep like a baby. No, they mean the silence between two people who cannot talk to each other anymore. There they sit, in a room surrounded by the cacophony of life. Each looking over at the other at the precise moment that the other one looks away. Each wanting to say a thousand things, but like some writer’s block, they can’t get their lips to part and utter the words. Both too afraid of what might come out. Both too afraid that whatever comes out will mean a change. Neither of them wants a change, but they know it cannot go on the way it is.
One gets up and moves into the kitchen. The white elephant lumbers after them and waits patiently while the kettle boils. The other remains in the living room, too afraid to follow, to afraid to stay there. What do you do with your hands when your life is collapsing? Is it rude to look at your phone? Maybe that’s the best thing to do.
A question comes from the other room. Something mundane about milk and sugar. You mumble a response, automatic words, hollow sounds that give commands but say nothing of intent. You pull up a page on world events. Burying yourself in the misery of others is so much easier than dealing with your own. The screen deflects the reality in this space and gives you an escape clause. How can someone get mad at you when you care so much about others?
The other returns. A cup is placed carefully in front of you. You barely look up to acknowledge it. Mumble thanks and carry on reading. The silence drags on for days.
It’s raining frogs in Avalon
And all the mist is blue
The cards don’t kiss and tell my love
They only speak to you
The symbols are so few my dear
The pathways known to divagate
And tumble down the rabbit holes
And throw around their pretty weight
And so I sit with dusty lips
And wait upon your truth
The magic has all gone now
The signs all stand as mute