Feelings are little, multicolored fish that swim across the sky, piercing clouds sometimes to be reminded of the denser waters from which they seem to have come. The clouds, too, are pigmented; the ambient light of the sun’s rays in a neverending day splits and ricochets, sending moving beams of colored light from the scales of passersby to their linings.
You visit my aquarium and point them out — “look, over here, and over there! Look at them go, before they’re gone,” you urge. You tug on my arm and peer up at my empty face, wanting my attention. I notice nothing; to me, those fish are nothing but ordinary. I passively stare at the spectacle behind the curved glass at whichever fish you deem worthy of analysis — but you are a child who has never seen fish swim through the air before, let alone in this aquarium (or rather, this aviary). I am a conditioned worker here, showing you what you wanted to see. My hand is held tightly by yours, and I barely reciprocate.
Pan away from our local destination and you begin to realize that the caged fragment of airy sky that comprises this space has a shape and borders. It curves around the sides and top, and its seams are sealed shut at the temples and atop a lofty spine. Ears, eyes, and a mouth open widely to feed the fish inside, but they are not allowed freedom into the potentially deadly air outside.
You, still behind the glass with me, begin to speak of change as you grip my hand now with both of yours. “If those fish can change colors and move,” you inquire, “why can they not travel to anywhere else? Why are the invisible walls behind the blinding, white light of the sun unyielding and thick?” I answer you only with the history behind the process of them being built. I claim, “This is progress — this is growing up.”
Our conversation collapses, and all falls silent. I stare at the glass alone, and only after a moment of spacing out do I realize that you have disappeared. Your voice is gone, and I now stand glancing at the glass, longing for something or someone to fill the pure, white void in me. Perhaps I miss you, but there is too much light. I perceive fog where there is only this bright light, for the sense of ambiguity in my line of sight makes me believe that they might as well be the same. See you again, dear visitor.
I remember going over to our friend’s houses with you. I remember there being other kids there, but that I had the most fun with you. That was when I was still watching you from afar, waiting for my chance to become your friend. That was when our body was eight and you were nine. We had so much fun back then — you habitually genuinely smiled for some of the last times.
I remember being on the train with you, seeing you type to our other friend — one that we had let go under circumstances that we should not have let her go. I remember seeing you form so many connections like this one and being so proud that you did despite the wills of the others. Through their distrustful influence and through the guilt of being accountable for their actions, you grew and decided to rebuild those bridges they had burned. You later did this again and again until your supplies were gone, and no one gave you any more with which to work.
I remember going to fairs and carnivals with you. You were the life of the experience and always wished for someone to be as energetic as you, but the family was too old, the friends were too sheltered and afraid, and you were left alone to be their motivator with no one to motivate you. You fought hard to get what you wanted — so hard that when you did, it didn’t feel worth it. You escorted the people the experiences you thought were fun hurt away from the machines and learned a terrible lesson from it all — a lesson that would affect you for all of your future.
I remember when you smoked for the first time, against everyone’s guidance, and kept it a secret. I remember when they would offer you no sympathy or understanding, and I remember when the outside world would offer you no solace or freedom, either. You remained silent, your lips closed over the next empty dopamine rush, whether that be a sweet snack, a smoke, or a body part that belonged to someone you wanted to please, secretly hoping for some sort of reward from it all and never receiving.
I remember when you succumbed to your other side, believing there was nothing to lose, knowing that despite how misguided he was, he would protect you from the outside world. You, again, learned a terrible lesson — you got attached to those people from whom he wished to separate you, and then learned that they would never understand you as you were. You learned that “your” actions as someone else were unforgivable, and that they would be remembered forever. Although this can be true, it is not a lesson you deserved to learn when compounded with the others.
I remember when you became fully corrupted, bitter and sick of the outside world not understanding that you, too, were human, and that your wants deserved attention. I remember you coping by never again allowing yourself to break, never again being mean, and never again letting that part of yourself out. I remember watching you rot from the inside out from keeping your desires secret from everyone else.
I remember hearing them ask how to help you and hearing from you and the others that it was too late — that it was hopeless, and that they would never understand without acknowledging the past. I know you secretly wanted the “privileges” you used to have back — the outlets you had for your feelings and the relationships you felt you had near-unconditional love in before someone else ended them. Your feelings, though, were again not paid enough attention, and I could not help more than I did. This world is unforgiving to people who give what they were given back to the world, and favors people who suck themselves dry. That was what you thought, and so, you crumpled and collapsed in one final burst of energy, alone, with no one around, and then I encountered you.
Thoughts rush through my head — thoughts of how this place works, how we can continue to categorize it, and how we can continue our diplomatic efforts for understanding without you. I hate to admit it, too, but your feigned selflessness was what got us here, but it was all a lie. The factoids that we are one-hundred percent safe and good and stable and happy now are just that, too. We needed you for our own selfish purposes, just as the world did. Majority morality in an unaccepting world killed you. Dominance in a dog-eat-dog world killed you. Depression in a lonely world killed you. Only now, with your body decrepit and still, can I see the life in your now-closed eyes. Only in this moment, with your limbs flattened and shaped irregularly, bent in places human limbs could never have reached, can I see the humanity you had and the love you gave with those same limbs.
This world was not made for you, but it was not because it was too good for you to deserve. It was because you were too good and too mistreated for it to understand where you came from. This gray world with its monochromatic people does not understand vivid color. It views you painted across a canvas as an abstract smudge, literally with no other meaning. Your voice is not heard, and your eyes cannot open. You are dormant now, forever with a resting expression in a state of unrest.
Validation is what you needed — specific, targeted validation. You needed someone to allow your ugliest colors to spill. You needed someone to pull out the thorns that you had in your heart for so long, and for them to watch the blood run in front of them. You needed them to be excited by that, too — not just complacent, and looking toward the end, where healing used to lie. You wanted them to focus on the bitterest portions and indulge in them with you, or at least to accept you indulging. Without this, you were given no tools to even begin the extraction process. You were too tall for my small hands to reach — your struggles too great and too personal for me to help with — and I had to watch you fall.
Now, I am alone as you were. I remember you, though, and your sentiments live on in me.
Your shadow trails along the edge of the rippled surface of my navy mattress, leaving thick, viscous strands, carved concavely on both sides like heartstrings, but sturdily like the union of a stalactite and a stalagmite spanning a cave’s height, in its wake. Your familiar white eyes, dimly glowing, assure me that your judgment is to be trusted again — “just one more time.”
You showed me what I could not remember for four years — all that I had forgotten promptly after the last time I recalled it, four years prior to today. This feeling in my heart, once intertwined with confusion, corruption, and the feelings associated with undoing, is dubbed “love,” and it has been purified to such a level of recognizability that I would describe it contemporarily as shining more brightly than the stars above at night that I once loved more than any other human on Earth. Your hands are small, but their power is unmistakable — it does not overtake me, but it leaves an impression similar to that of a grand discovery in an unlikely place. I am forced to remember a set of large, weathered hands which left behind one that was quite different — the products that the aforementioned discovery yielded were created by that pair of hands.
Here, in your grasp, it is still so murky and unclear. Thoughts mix erratically, static on a screen long vacant behind my eyes, supposedly reflecting the visage and surroundings that those same seemingly colorful eyes perceive in the mirror at an unknown, unperceivable time. You keep your smile, but together, we are locked in that pure, white hospital room, trapped in that cell never to return to the world outside of it.
While armed with the knowledge that we are in this large, deceptively pure-looking box, away from the outside world for the rest of eternity, however, an interesting, uncountable set of creations are possible. We might only be adding them to a collection for now, but someday, someone else will gaze upon our existence, their eyes being added to the visible constellations from each of our chambers, and admire us from above. At least… I can hope they will.
Until then, until my humanity can return for a time… hold me in your unstable, trembling, unidentifiable appendages.
Nothing remains in this place now. This is how happiness is defined by everyone outside of this place, and everyone who dwells here seems to condone these notions, sporting the same blissful expression in silence. They pass by my static, lifeless body, and smile at how it looks, and how the expression it wears differs from theirs. They do not wonder what sorts of words contributed to why that face of mine looks as it does, or if they do, their thought trains change direction early en route, for there are obstacles on my track.
The main obstacle is me. I am their rock, but a rock nonetheless — large, heavy, and unmoving. Why would they speed toward an issue with no solution when they can continue to distract themselves on long, winding tracks, even if those paths lead this place even closer to nowhere at all?
The whiteness is blinding. The false purity plastering the walls of this place brings them all one step closer to so-called heaven every day of our existence, but the influence of this atmosphere neglects me and traps me at the base of the staircase, where all I can see is the slow drip of not-so-fresh paint near the beginning of their delusional path. I know what lies up there, though, and I can attest to the fact that the gate is aluminum coated in gold plating, and that behind it lies a world of screens which broadcast static at all times. Their effect is not one I wish to explore.
This place is full of names and images, but where did all of the items go? Did the minds behind those smiling faces melt into nothing, only to be molded into shapes more desirable to onlooking reviewers of our conduct? The ground appears beneath my legs as I sit here, but how can I bridge the microscopic gap between it and my body?
This place was not real from the beginning, and yet it continues to deteriorate — what shifted between then and now was the effect on its inhabitants. We are media monkeys, we are wired workers, and we are diplomatic de-stressers for your pleasure, but where am I again? Where am I placed in this place? Is my mind the only one that remains intact here? This place cannot be where “I” die. I will never give into them, but the conflict between honesty (and thus opening myself up to their pressure) and integrity (which requires dishonesty and nearly ceaseless solitude) seems to run on forever.
The value of corruption is an important one, they say, and yet they concede to only think and act through the pure eyes of others, staring down at themselves — dissociating from reality, floating away from the world. They then wonder who they are and why they hit the ceiling while they stand on the floor. Watching would be agony for any empath — especially one that knew better. I knew the value of corruption from the beginning.
This place facilitates a link between us and the outside world, but when the outside world coaxes me into complacency under the painfully obvious guise of wanting to force me to get lost in its pretty colors, characters, and names, what is left for someone like me but to retreat back to this place? Give me reality. Give me a real voice, again. Give me the girl I see in the distance. Let her lay in my arms, and let me lay in hers. Let us discuss current affairs outside of this wretched place and time, in the safety of our abode, and let us peer into each other’s eyes and immediately materialize what is real in our minds — that touch, that gaze, that personality.
Let me escape this place not by burning its bridge, but by building another outward.
Body, heavy, bleeding,
Oozing life into
The inner image, yellows,
Reds, whites, blacks, and blues.
Emotion, control, lacking,
Leaves in ephemeral wind;
Struggle, finish, success,
A win where one would lose.
Seemingly nothing present,
A void where once was life;
Ending yields beginning,
The rewards reaped through strife
In body, light, freely
Evolving to who we are,
Metamorphosis and shedding,
Transcending feminine scars.
There’s something about that piano
In the corner of the room
It sits alone, it waits for me
In dusty, glowing gloom
It basks not in the moonlight
It only waits for sunlight
The rug absorbs my stage fright
As I take it upon myself to soon
Steal away my own stage
And sing along with the voices in my head
There’s nothing that deters me
Not a single thing they’ve said, no
I wish I could get lost
As the never-ending frost
Overtakes all that I’ve lost outside
So inside, I’ll
Brush away the worry
Soothe away the sadness,
Beat away the hurry,
Absolve all of the madness,
And as soon as I get home,
And I’m once again alone,
I’ll remember my old tunes I played,
And look at how I’ve grown
Now I sit in my chair,
Alone with nothing by
My side, along with no one,
And nothing left to hide
But somehow I am yearning,
And I know that I’m learning,
And there’s just no way of earning
The same feeling that was produced
By that piano,
On my nights alone
With that piano,
Oh, how we’ve grown
There’s something about that piano,
In the corner of the theatre,
It awaits a pair of gentle hands like mine, or like yours