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|I wrote the first section to try and explain how I felt when depressed, either that everything was my fault, nothing was in my control, or just plain helpless. My councellor suggested I continue it after I showed that to her, and try to resolve it. After working on it, I felt a lot better about myself, and had one of my few real stories.||
In each of the two square rooms that make up the pit is a young girl. Their blonde hair is thick, greasy and stringy, hanging over their faces like tattered shrouds. The rough smocks they wear are shapeless and colourless, more protection from the unending metal than actual clothing. If it were not for the sterileness of their environments, the girls would be filthy; as it is, they are merely unwashed.
The girl in the one side wails about her condition, and how she cannot change it. It is the fault of others, of people she has never seen, people she cannot manipulate into changing. There is nothing for her to do that would improve her life. She is blameless and helpless. Her one wish is for something to be her fault, so that she would have the power that dictated how it concluded. To do this, she beats herself, feeling pain that is of her own creation, the one thing in her life she can knows she can control. Because of this, her body is always covered in violet and blue bruises, obscene gems of sapphire and amethyst on the cool white satin of her skin, stitched in place with scarlet threads of blood.
The other girl cries out similarly. To her, everything is her fault, all the pain of her life and the world the result of something she has done or has not done. She wants to make things better, wants to improve the world so she can safely exist in it. And yet still things fail, she fails. And so she punishes herself, beating her body raw, raking the blood out of her skin with her nails, so that the next time she will finally know to do things right. Her one wish is for something to finally not be her fault, so she does not have to feel bad about not fixing it. But there is nothing that she sees that she cannot help, that she has not done wrong, and so the floor of her prison is constantly littered with small rubies of clotted, dried blood.
The girls can see each other through the glass, but they do not know of the other's existence. They believe that the glass is just a mirror; the figure in it a reflection of themselves. They look the same to each other, and with good reason. Their hands move together against their own bodies, copying the other for opposite purposes. Their mouths bellow out different words, but they scream together. And when they are both finally exhausted, they collapse together onto the cold metal floor, convulsing in pain, praying for their lives to finally be over. Then they sleep the sleep of the damned, plagued by dreams of emptiness and darkness and pain, which is still an ironic relief to the reality they must face awake.
I look down at these two girls, these two reflections of the same mind. I press my hand against the glass of my floor, as though this time it will finally pass through the barrier so I can help them. But meeting only resistance, I stop, and push a few strands of my limp blonde hair behind my ear. Then I roll onto my back, so I can look up to the cold metal ceiling of my cell. The two girls below me are so absorbed in their own suffering that they do not look up towards me. I do not know how they would respond if they ever saw me, the way I see them. But I can do nothing; our prisons are soundproof.
I lay there on my glass bed, wallowing in my own pain, the pain of knowing what is my fault, and what is not. What I can change, and what I cannot. Knowing I am to blame for the suffering of the two girls beneath me, and that there was nothing I could do to prevent it. Knowing that, if I were on the same level as them, I would only see myself reflected in the mirror, leeching my life from my veins onto my gray clothing. And I too send up a prayer, that all our suffering should at last come to an end.
And then, blissfully, the endless blackness takes me once more.
An infinite amount of time passes, unmarkable and unmeasureable in the unchanging state of our prison. The girls beneath me awaken, and begin their regular charade of lamentation and bemoaning. While our prisons are soundproof, I know perfectly well what each of them is saying, a mindless repetition of pain, fear and hatred. I have often wondered exactly how that is possible; I suppose that just knowing them is to understand them in every way, that just seeing them is to know them. I only wish that somehow they could see each other, see themselves, so they would be able to know each other as well.
As always I vainly press my hand against the glass, that simple clear obstacle that nevertheless means a world of difference in our joint existences. By doing so I wish against hope that now I will actually be able to help the lost souls below me, to at last free these two innocents from the prison of my own creation. Not wanting to favor one girl over the other, I purposely center myself over the barrier of their cells along my middle finger, equal halves and hopes to each of them.
Tears of frustration begin to pour down my cheeks as all I feel is the cold unendingness of the glass, mocking me with its strength, mocking my weakness. A lone tear falls from my face and lands on that smooth sheet, a single, shining pearl, ironic in the darkness and despair that surrounds me. I close my eyes against its brightness. It is hopeless, I finally admit to myself, something I have said and believed but never fully accepted until now. I will never be able to help the girls like this, no matter my pain or suffering.
I give up.
As the one thing I have clung to disappears, I can almost feel the glass beneath my hand shifting and changing. In the confusion that I am feeling, the sensation is almost welcome, and also strangely appropriate. It is not until my hand has sunk halfway into the glass that I realize it is not my imagination that the glass is moving, but reality.
I pull my hand up in shock as though it has been burned, although it is in actuality only slightly warmer than before. I stare amazed at the perfect imprint of my hand in the glass, of the perfect imprint of myself. I touch it in wonder, but it does not vanish like a mirage; I press my hand into it again, fitting into the perfectly cloned surface, but the sudden malleability of the glass has withdrawn, and it is like diamond once more.
Fear suddenly fills my heart, and I throw myself into the corner of my rectangular prison, as far from the blasphemous imprint in the center as possible. I have wished for change, longed for it for so long. Why does it scare me now?
The girls underneath me have stopped moaning in pain and fear, as have I. Instead, I am filled with wonderment, and hope. For once I have actually changed something in my prison; I have been in here so long that I had forgotten what that would have even been like to even imagine such a thing. Yet still I am confused about how, after all this time, I am finally able to do something. What have I done differently, what has changed?
I cried. But I have cried so often in the past, it is a miracle that I still have any tears left to shed.
I pressed against the glass. But I know that cold surface so well that I can almost feel it now, holding my hand in front of my face.
I gave upů
I gave up. That is something I have never done before. But why would admitting defeat give me success? What exactly did I give up on?
I gave up on trying to help the two girls. I stopped trying to improve the lives of others - and for once, allowed myself to relieve me of my pain and guilt. For once, for a few moments, I actually helped myself before others. I have been wishing for these two girls, longing for them, feeling a protective sort of motherhood over them; in the process, had I forgotten how to care for myself?
Suddenly, everything is clear, as though I see myself in the mirror for the first time. My problem, my prison, is not what I see - for I know I see the truth, I know I view my responsibilities honestly, unlike the girls beneath me who try to blame only others or only themselves, which is their prison - it is how I see it. They are so caught up in themselves, their own pain and suffering, that they can see nothing beyond the four walls of their cells. Me, I am so involved with the troubles of everyone outside of me, I have forgotten how to see myself. That would mean that the key to our prisons, our release is to change how and what we see, and to finally look at that which we have denied ourselves.
Ecstatically, I again place my hand into the mold I have made in the glass, and again I clear my mind of hoping and praying for the girls beneath me. Rather, I hope that somehow, by reaching them, they will be able to help me.
My hand slides through the meaningless glass so quickly I hardly realize it has happened until my hand is stopped by the glass wall separating the girls beneath me. The edge is surprisingly sharp, and I feel it slice into my palm like a razor. Two beads of blood form from that aperture, one on each side of the glass, even as I pull my hand back in shock. I watch in mute amazement as the droplets flow down the glass in a surreal quick slowness, leaving in their wake a pale pink trail to mark their progress.
One of the girls beneath me, the one who places the blame for the world's troubles on her own shoulders, notices the movement, and watches her drop of blood as though transfixed by its morbid beauty. While her convoluted mind could come up with a way to find fault in herself for this occurrence, the sheer novelty of it makes her unwilling to connect it in any way to herself, and so she places it independent of her in the hierarchy of her mind. Before it reaches the floor etched with her own blood, which would obviously sully the pure splendor of the scarlet pearl, she captures it upon her finger, and lets it catch the faint light until is sparkles and gleams like a ruby.
The other girl views her drop in horror. Blood to her had been something she could control, something that came from herself and nothing else. This droplet contradicts that, cruelly taking away the little control she has had in her life. Unwilling to allow this intruder to mar the proof of her previous control by mingling with the dried blood on her floor, she takes her palm and attacks the wetness, leaving a thin drying pink smear across the surface of the glass. The movement gives her a small rush of euphoria; she has faced the enemy that dared invade her familiar prison and, for the moment, won.
Then she takes her eyes away from the smear, to where her reflection should be, another comfortable constant. Instead she sees the other girl, looking at her own drop of blood with the innocent wonderment of a child with a new and delicate toy. The success of a moment before falls away as everything she understood about her reality is destroyed with a noiseless crash. I can sympathize with her; she must be feeling what I felt when the glass bent to my will for the first time. She lets out a high, pained screech - which I recognize as a sound I must have also made without realizing it at the time - that I can truly hear for the first time through the hole I have made.
The other girl whips her head up in shock, forgetting her thing of beauty in the horror of the unwanted sound that leaks from my cell through the hole left by my palm, ring finger and little finger. Her eyes lock with her twin's, and her mouth drops in a sort of silent scream at the implications of the unsymmetrical image across from her. It is amazing to me that even now - when they finally see each other for what they are, when one is still crying out like a banshee for the reality that just moments ago she wished gone and the other is staring in mute fright - their faces still mirror each other in appearance.
It had not occurred to me that the two girls would react to the other's presence so violently; na´vely, I had expected that once they saw each other they would be so happy as to forget everything else, so that I could be at peace. Forgetting my purpose of before to work towards helping myself alone, I cry out to them to try and reassure them. The both look up at me in greater shock, and I belatedly remember that they knew less of my existence than they had known about the other girl. But amazingly, they are calmed by my presence. It is almost as though, through my eyes, they can finally see themselves in truth reflected back at them. I remember by previous musings, about how seeing a person was to instantly know and understand them; perhaps I was more correct about that than I had thought.
But I am still not convinced that these two girls are truly free. They are still encased in their prisons of metal and glass, they are still separate. Then I realize that it was not coincidence that the one girl was the first to notice the truth of the "mirror." Still calling down to them, I explain how the first girl, who believed herself to be at blame for everything, had been manipulated by the other to beat herself; if she had not been there, the girl would have had no reason to punish herself, so in some way it was the other's fault. Furthermore, the second girl who believed she had no control over anyone's life, least of all her own, had therefore been in control over another; because of the other girl, she had been the one in charge.
They turn away from me to look at each other again. The fear in their eyes has been replaced with amazement and love. It doesn't matter if I am mistaken in my assumption on the placing of guilt. The idea alone is enough to give them the power to free themselves. Moving shakily onto their weak feet, but supported by purpose, they rush towards each other in joy. Meeting the cold glass of their separator, they begin to beat their fists upon its surface, anxious to touch the other girl, to make sure she is real. The wall sublimates almost instantly under the force of their attack, leaving behind a faintly sweet smelling perfume in the air. The incense moves over the two girls, lifting away the grease and blood and bruises, until they embrace each other in relief, bright golden hair shining and crisp white dresses floating in the air as they spin around like happy schoolchildren.
The scene beneath me is too much. There is the joy and peace I have always wanted for them, and now almost greedily want for myself. I put both my hands into the hole I have already made, left clear by the passing of the glass wall, and press aside the molecules of my floor until there is an opening large enough for me to drop through to the blissfulness below. But as I move to allow my body through it, I comprehend just how far above the two girls I am. A fall from such a distance would surely hurt me, possibly even kill me in my weak and battered state. The girls, realizing that I am not with them, call up to me, and I have to explain that even now I am trapped.
Immediately the two girls, without talking between themselves, join arms to form an impromptu net, saying that they would be able to safely catch me as I jump. Fear and longing war in my chest, and my eyes mist over until the girls beneath me blur and become almost one. I want so badly to be with them, to be like them, but I am understandable afraid. Can I put my life in their hands? Am I so weak that I have to trust others with my life, and am I strong enough to do so? Am I willing to take this chance for myself, and finally let others take care of me?
I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and jump.
Something - the movement of the morning sun in my window, the sound of my mother preparing breakfast downstairs, the ringing of my internal alarm clock - signals that it is time to awake, so I reluctantly move my cheek from the softness of my pillow. As I often do, in that innuendo between me begin awake and me first opening my eyes to face the day, I lay and muse about what I can remember of the dream I just had.
All I can grasp are a series of images, drifting through my mind in a lazy fashion. The most prominent is a fairly large triangular crystal prism that I had held in my palm, with three images of myself trapped in the faces. The crystal had cut my hand lengthwise, I remember, and I sit up in shock believing that it had truly happened. But I look at my palm, and find only a smooth, unmarked surface of skin.
Opening my eyes had banished some more of my dream from my immediate memory, and I desperately grasp at the last few images so I can look at them clearly. I see a poorly constructed house of metal-gray cards, which collapses in on itself until the smooth top and bottom cards press it into two dimensions, and then nothingness. I can also see three girls holding hands and dancing in a circle like a child's game of ring-around-the-rosie, moving faster until they blur together and there is only one girl left spinning, her blonde hair shining in the sun and her laughter ringing in the breeze. A few more things taunt the edges of my memory, but they are gone before I can identify them. But I feel it is no matter; I think I remember everything that I have to, and the rest is stored away in my subconscious for another dream.
Happily I swing my feet out of bed, and stand up to the smell of my mother cooking sausages just the way I like them. Walking towards my window, I pull back the half-open curtain and look out to the bright, new day.
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