“I can’t feel my heart beat?”
I couldn’t see her face but felt her pause. The pull between us.
I’m thirteen, I said again in my head, like a distant recollection or forgotten idea. And then she spoke.
“Can we sit?”
And she was sitting. She was sitting before me, I could feel, could tell, the way her voice descended.
There was a chaos, a crash of cymbals from the rush of bats, ravenous pouring through across the smooth stone ceiling, rapid Magnus flush I n the air for some shard of time, moments suspended like leaves in cob webs, before we found ourselves facing each other, fixed. Focused on one another. Lotus. In the black.
“You feel empty now, but you will fill up again.” She said.
“Since I was inside of you, like I was a part of you… My worries are magnified. And I’m concerned. What transformed into an affection, a maven, a miresome misdirected twist of the stake, used to be so gentle.
“I saw this whole life you live, and you battle the laws of existence to survive and conquer. And you are a just man resolute of apprehension. Like an architect.”
“Naw. I suck at math.” I said. She sat still.
“You know the only difference between having your eyes open or closed in the dark?”
Close them and see.”
“Be present with me,” She said.
I did and sat in the dark, growing colder. The center of my chest, my silent heart, reached outward like ice crystals.
“Can we go back? There’s nothing in this cave.” I said
“But we haven’t even made it there, yet.”
“Where?” I asked.
“The center. Where we cross betwixt and between. They say. The fairies I mean. They sing about this place, and I swear I’ve waited a billion too many years to come here with you.
“Oh gods, you’ve seen the fairies, haven’t you?! The woods are theirs. They’re everywhere. Oh madness. Tell me you’ve seen them!”
“Yes.” I said to suppress her. I didn’t tell her I’d seen them once, whence a wraith snatched her out of the space she hovered in seemingly weightless, and ate her horrifically.
“We can come back. I wanna go. This doesn’t feel right. Like, at all.” I said.
“Have you heard the Hymn of the Dire? I’d say most never have, but that’s dishonest. Do you know why?” She said with musical cheer.
“I don’t know,” I answered, at my end.
“Because it’s what,…rhetorical. The question. It’s rhetorical. What a fun word. Rhetoric. That’s a word that suits its scary tyre. Hard, armored, like a lock, a lingual lock. A locket. Oh stop Seraphia.”
“Yes.” Her pause compressed the silence of its presence to one dense knot of censure. “Yes, you have to not listen. I sat against the wind for seven and ten summers, under the banana canopies, and listened. I was censured, and alone, but that’s existence, isn’t James. To be alone, without the wilderness of expectation and demand. That’s was what we inured have learned. What it is to be that, isolated and alone.
“Finally I surrendered, absolved of all the words and images and notes I could remember. And blooming across that landscape came harmonies like wild flowers, of countless hues and genus resonating through the trunks of the jungle as through my own trunk. However, if I were to begin to wonder where or why or how, it would all be gone.
“Over a year, but now I know. I can hear the Dire.” She said.
The air stirred, and then, in a voice much closer to me, from eyes now analyzing me and listing to me tick, her voice. “I can show you.” She said, and took my hand. “Please come with me. I need you. I we can be gods. No brimstone. No demons. None of that nonsense. We can simply be so majestic. Create our own universe, one child at a time.
“James. The dying world, the failing ideas of fallen deities, is ONLY where you were born. What you come from. Just as, from those architects themselves, I was formed. Born. But that’s not where we may go. You understand. Together.
“We’ve both been abandoned, and we are both great. James, just as I am, you have become a Great Black Bird, and now we must take our majesty. Please.”
As she rounded of, her plea shivered, for the the first time since she first spoke, with fear. Again, “please.”
“You came to me, right?”
“I did,” she said. “I’ve waited for you since this world first became. I was compelled to come, to start from the start. To prove I couldn’t be what I believed I could. But then I came to you. To your time, to when I found you in your sleep, protecting and pining and simply sleeping, surviving.
“But in this, there are still parts of me that prank me, like a celestial shadow, released into this world, but only a shadow of me.
I was a celestial, you understand. I’ve been saying this. And once you’ve been eternal, you never really end. But what I did was this. I was compelled to ‘begin’ again. You understand.”
“I don’t. I just…don’t understand. I don’t wanna be scared. It’s just, gods and fairies and, my heart. It hurts. Worse than anything. I feel so cold, but burning alive, from the inside out. I’m terrified, and this cave is freaking me out.” I said “I just want to go home. I want out of here. Just, I need to wake up now.”
“Why would you abandon me?” She asked in a voice so crystal clear, right upon me, in my ear.
“No. But why do we have to be down here? Always in shadows? Why can’t we just be together like normal?” I said. “I’m ready. That’s all.”
The ache I’d felt in my chest that first night, this crippling ache of emptiness came upon me with a viciousness and took me to my knees.
“Please.” She said softly. Unsatisfied. “We have to make it James. Everything is there. It’s the promise I made you. A life together, where we can always be one. I know you feel that distance between us. That pull. That longing ache when we’re not together.”
“That’s just love. It hurts sometimes. That part of what makes it good.”
“No. We fix it. Contentment.” She said.
We moved forward to the last canal that stretched for miles towards a pinpoint of light. There she set me to my feet.
“This is the way. To our beginning. To end of ends. Come with me,” she said standing beside me now, taking my hand into the delicate flesh of hers.
We walked. Further we walked, the sweeter the scent and richer the warm washed over us. Closer we grew, closer the light, closer the heat from her hand into mine, the heat of her body into my, flames rising up intertwined, pouring into one another making furious love to the glory of the absence of light, until we had become one towering rapture strike the black night of the cave walls.
Only then we discovered, it was what this here, what we’d become now, that was the pinpoint light which we first saw, and sought.
We became a destiny together, by our own design.
And then we were transported from that wild place, into the dying world.
And we stood on wood of that boat, the deck board wet with sea and blood. And Windy with the young boy Peter, lying with one hand and a tiring heart. A languid heart that pulled on me, in Us.
We were one, now. Inside the empty shell of the man James, and he took all these memories… And I, the Great Black Bird, knew him then as well.
But the boy called for Pan, and so…
We vacated the shell human, James, with his hook and clubbed hand that curiously repelled us, exiting him liking passing through a doorway into this dying world, from the Never land.
And we took the boy.
And the rest is a final story.