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Fantasy

When you find this, it’ll be too late. By the time the last letter of this message is read, I will have flown the coop, so to speak. You might grieve, may turn to outrage at my actions, may deny them and declare that I’ll be back. (With the Terminator impression you always do—you know I love it). 

But I won’t be back. The world of empty promises was one I couldn’t stomach any longer. That pay raise seems inconsequential when I walk past homeless families on the way to work. The newest tech means nothing to me when I see videos of children starving. The generous offers of benefits and coverages seem like hollow echoes in the face of twelve-year-old soldiers forced to fight wars. 

The cyclone of luminescence dances precariously on my bedroom floor, a threatening portal inviting me in.

Sorry, but your world lost its hold on me. 

This is nothing against you. I loved you, and you know that. I hope you do, at least. When we wrestled, played basketball, built gift-baskets for children across the world— You have to know that I will carry those memories with me for the rest of my life.

But I had to go. 

An electric buzz hums as a surreal escape whispers elusive promises. "Enter, if you dare." I poke a finger into the dizzying array of greys and blues and greens. 

Limbo is nothingness. It’s emptiness. It’s trying to fill a void while sitting in the rotting barrel that devours everything good. Limbo is the excruciating effort to force a smile when there’s a non-cancer slowly eating you from the inside-out. 

Limbo is the sort of thing that they cannot fix with a diagnosis or a prescription or a new diet. Limbo can only be fixed by breaking the mould. I don’t think you’d believe me, and I’m sorry for that. I wish you could have come with me, but I know that’s not how it works. 

You can only enter when you choose to.

This letter will come as a hollow apology, especially when I don’t come back for supper, or tomorrow morning, or for pizza night next week. You’ll probably smear my name, or deny it altogether. I must have died, been kidnapped, or recruited into a top secret government agency that I couldn’t tell you about. The mind can be pretty deceptive when it’s in denial. There’s no way you’d accept that I left, on my own free will, because your world was tasteless to me. 

"There is nothing I can guarantee you. Leave your comfort zone and you could find a world fraught with dangers. I can only take you away. I cannot keep you safe."

How could anyone abandon a life they loved so much? Disenchantment, my love. The fairest of our world pales when we look to those we’ve left in the rubble. They are those that we abandoned as we fled the flames. How can I call myself enlightened when their blood screams from the soil? I’ve discovered that I cannot. 

Entering does not mean I can change anything. "You will still face evil and curses," the mist warns from its bed along the tiles. "You may see things that curdle your blood, make you long for your pleasant ignorance again." 

I can only say I am sorry, I am sorry, I am sorry again. I know how this must seem, as I prepare to plunge into the watery portal sweeping its tongues across the floor like a smokey flame. You could not understand it, because words cannot explain it. I have already done the best that I can, and still, my pleadings sound cryptic to you. Cryptic at best, insanity at worst. The world wants you to believe they’re doing their best, that there’s no better way. They’ve turned blindly from the most simple, the most basic, Better Way.

Waking up took forever. You have no idea how long it took to wake up. 

"It’s good to see you, old friend. Are you ready this time?"

I must have stood here a thousand times, the portal beckoning with equal quantities grace and menace. It’s always like this. 

"Jump, if you dare. But you’ll have to trust me to catch you. Do you think you can do that?"

A thousand times. A thousand times, yet never once did I say a single word to you. I know how it must weigh on you, the nightingale in a perfectly-crafted golden-gilded cage. How can one be so inconsiderate as to hate a golden cage? How can one writhe against pure-silver cuffs? When one sees so much worse, how can one hammer against ornate prison bars? 

I cannot tell you, because words cannot express it. The injustice cannot be spoken from a pedestal, or hounded on the streets. There is no demonstration that can express the fire in my soul. 

No one is safe in a cage, regardless of its beauty. No one is safe while people suffer, because suffering expands its grip, it is never satisfied, it is a devouring creature that wages war against all of humanity. If one suffers, we all suffer. Maybe not right away, but it is a toxin that gradually rots our flesh and bones. 

I cannot be happy in a golden cage while this monstrous dragon sits poised with its jaws open wide, ruby flecks flickering between its gaping lips as it prepares for its next meal.

I cannot rest easy while its growls reverberate through the halls of this golden cage. 

"The human capacity for suffering is monumental. You could run, but where to? You could fight, but you don’t even know what you are fighting against. Open your eyes, but you can never go back. Wake up, but you can never sleep again. Raise your head, but you can never again pretend you didn’t know."

To enter is to commit. To enter is to act. To enter is to propose solutions and see them through, to develop the keys for the cages, the crowbars for the locked windows, the knives for the cuffs. To enter is to love, even when the world seems loveless. 

"Time is running out. Now, now or never."

To enter is to hear, to listen, to grow, to love, to forgive, to hope. To never accept the lukewarm half-pleasantries of a world that would want me to sleep, to rage, to buy, but never to act. 

You are not ready yet, love. You would rather watch the news and turn it off when it gets too heavy. Talking is easier than acting. I do not fault you; I was there, too. It will take time for you to see what I see, to join me on the other side. I will be waiting for you when you’re ready. But you must abandon the ghosts of this world. Give up your supper so someone else may eat. Wealth will not save us. Are you ready to believe? To jump? To wake up? 

If so, it is time to jump through the face of the glowing portal in front of you. If not, I will see you later, when you come. 

"Enter, if you dare."

I placed the letter on the table, my heart in my throat and my blood pounding in my head. My love would see this letter, but surely not understand. It is not easy to understand. And I would not be there to explain it. Would my love ever forgive me? I could only hope and pray. But Time was up. I could not stand idle any longer. It is time to wake up, time to fly to the other side, where others who are Awake are slowly learning how to love unconditionally. Where others who are Awake can now teach me. 

I take a deep breath, hold it, and jump. 

What about you? What will you do, when the portal comes to you? Will you awake? Will you pretend you don’t hear its invitation? Will you hesitate, and eventually take the jump when you finally decide you’re ready?

"The only thing that matches the human capacity for hatred is the human capacity for love."

April 24, 2020 20:53

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2 comments

23:40 Apr 29, 2020

This is a well-written piece with a poetic bent. It's a touch cynical, but that's kind of the point, isn't it? We're all facing uncertain times, and our modern lives most definitely have a dark side that is unpleasant to examine; your story evoked that nicely. There's some tense confusion scattered throughout, and while it might have been intentional on the part of your narrator, speaking about the past and the present intermingled, it was a touch confusing as a reader. Overall, you painted a clear mood and tone, and took me on a tour ...

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Dey Knight
00:24 Apr 30, 2020

Thank you! It was a very tricky balance—trying to figure out a way to communicate confusion through the form of the text 😅 It’s the first time I’ve tried something more abstract (I usually stick to action/adventure)—ultimately this was draft #7 😂 I’m glad to hear you caught on to the sort of uncertainty surrounding the portal, and whether or not jumping through was a good idea.

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