The water was crystal blue. Small waves rippled and came in slowly, elegant and carefree. White birds flew overhead, mostly in silence. White sails glided by. The blue of the sky came down to meet the blue of the water at a hazy horizon. Light, water, and air swirled and gleamed and wafted purity to shore.
She stepped out of her way and came to the water. She passed the people running, walking, talking on their phones. She passed the couples and the clusters of teens on the cement stairs. She came reverently to the swaying blue and white. She came ready.
She came to the water and sat before it. She looked out to the blue, and then down to its very edge, down to where the duck crap pooled and the color was slightly green. Just beneath the dirty water she could make out large slabs of rock and concrete whose bottoms faded away into the dark deep. She felt a jab of fear but kept looking down. This was the water she had come for.
She walked out of the cave confidently. Her dress was torn and dirty, almost as dirty as her hair and her face. Her bones were prominent under her skin. The skin on her feet was calloused. But she walked regally, in the filth and wear and wasted away, out from the darkness and into the light.
She walked out, head held high. It had been days, months, years. All that time hiding, away from light, away from the others, away from the ones who had known her by name. The darkness had been full and deep and everywhere. Everywhere she turned in those days and months and years it had been darkness all around, sinking into the walls, sinking into the sky, sinking into her skin. Darkness that followed, that dwelt, darkness that was the only one who spoke her name. For days and months and years it had been nothing but darkness.
But now the days and months and years were up. They had had their say, and God knows they had had their way. But their time was up. Their say had been heard, and it had been answered. The darkness that permeated would stay and permeate and sink, but not into the space in which she would now live.
Tomorrow comes in a gallop set to beating drums and snapping whips.
Tomorrow sits high and aims straight.
Tomorrow comes to take what is his.
When you first came here, Tomorrow was your way out,
Your escape, your doorway, the exit from a deep, air-less cave.
Tomorrow was welcome salvation from agonizing Today.
When you first came here, Tomorrow was your friend.
It brought you newness and treasure chests filled with time.
When you first came here, Tomorrow rode out to meet you with glittering banners and songs. Tomorrow welcomed you with a smile and a sure hand.
When you first came here, Tomorrow was life.
If only I were brave, she thought, forgetting that she’d come all this way on her own.
She had been walking for miles, along the ragged shore. The wind had blown and the waves had risen. The cold water had splashed her shoulders. The sun had been bright and yet without warmth. The sun had liked to keep its distance.
The shore had wound almost endlessly behind her. She couldn’t remember now just when she had started on its path. Periodically she raised her eyes from the gray-black stones to see more endless raggedness before her. One day she had started walking and had kept on. She kept on now.
The sun started to move further away, falling back away from her, and she felt it shrink it rays away from her.
“That’s fine,” she said to it without looking back. “I know you like to go. I know you’ll be forced to return tomorrow.”
She came in shadows underneath a bright-lit sky.
She came shroud in darkness and deceit and false hopes
She flung onto anyone who would catch them.
She came waving her wands, spitting her vile, taking
Taking, taking, taking
Taking everything he had tried so hard to keep from her.
He had made promises that he had kept,
But she had come to snatch the promises away
To throw them to the dirt
And trample them until they were naught but ashes.
She came with all the hope and peace and love in the world
Not knowing that hope and peace and love look different through different eyes.
She came trying, with open arms,
To embrace all of the world, and all of him,
And found, when she drew her arms back towards herself,
That she had taken his very life.
She was young, but she should have known better. The days had been bright and hot, but tonight was cool. The sky was starless.
She waited until her family was asleep and then carefully went down stairs and out the door, pen and notebook, Bible, and discman in hand. Now it was just her and the night.
She was young, but not too young not to know.
The darkness was coming in. If she had had eyes to see, she would have seen it swirling slowly to her, like a haze drifting forward over the ocean. The darkness – the depth – was coming.
She was happy with her music and words she believed were true. She was happy writing worlds that no one else could see. Her eyes were nearsighted but sparkling. She was safe in all she did not know.
But she should have known.
I met you and fell into a hurricane. Wind and rain and gray swirled around me as I tumbled and spun and was thrust from one storm edge to the other. I reached out my hands to hold steady and found nothing but churning movement slipping through my fingers.
The sound was ringing in my ears – your name, your name, your name, shouted over and over through the pouring of rain and the whistling of wind. You said your name and it was a thunderclap in my ears. To this day it’s all I can hear.
My ears were ringing and my arms flailed. You came near and touched my skin – my skin pelted by water, scratched by debris, fully awake in the cold so cold it felt like fire. It was your hands on me that brought the storm’s embrace.