Writer

There are days when I wonder what it means to be a writer.

I wanted to be many things. I responded to my mother’s question of what I wanted to be when I grew up first with “scientist”. I felt really unique for responding in such a way, knowing with smug pride that others said “astronaut” or “president”. Years later, I found myself also wanting to be an astronaut, though an irrational fear of assassination kept me from ever wanting to be president.

Through the varied possibilities of future occupations, the one I landed on last was “writer”. I found that I enjoyed writing toward the tail end of high school, when everything was filled with bleeding emotion, and I was so certain that my typically teenage thoughts weren’t so typical. Yet now, looking back, there were even more formative moments throughout my life that imprinted writing on my heart.

There were the years of reading novels until academics sucked the joy out of reading. There was the time when, alternatively, I wrote a quasi-fictional short story about my cousins for a writing assignment that received a good reaction from classmates. And there were the many characters I created with friends, wanting to one day create a magnum opus with all of the fantastic heroes and villains we had imagined.

Whatever the case, the dream of writing for a living quietly died under the porch of busy adult life. I couldn’t be sure of when it happened, but peeking through the stairs that I had climbed in order to reach some semblance of functional being yielded the sickly sweet odour of decay that had yet to completely disappear.

I am now studying again, for a vocation that I do love; and yet I find myself looking back at the porch with more and more regularity. Even as the lights dim and the stars climb into the night, I remain outside, flicking through old writing in wonderment, unsure of who had written such words under my name. A deep desire to write, a hunger for words arranged in certain orders not yet discovered still resides within the pit of my stomach. I wonder if I will ever be afforded the opportunity to retreat into the early mist of morning, sighing to see my breath crystallise into the air in front of me; then I might be able to write for hours and days.

Then, I might know what it means to be a writer.

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The Ocean

The night you faced the sea frightened me more than anything in my life.

You stood and screamed as though you had no fear of the life leaving your lungs. Words dribbled intermittently from salt-encrusted lips, but for the most part, all I could hear was the fight of your voice against the waves.

It was as though you were throwing a challenge into an immovable opponent. You waded in, further and further, the slowness of the action contrasting the urgency in your eyes. Water crashed against your chest as though it was trying to stop your heart from the outside, but you would not be denied.

I called for you to come back, futilely, voice sounding quiet even inside of my throat. I knew that I would be drowned out by the roaring waves and the distant thunder, but I continued to call out to you. It felt as though I was lighting a candle and placing it amongst a sky full of stars, but I did not know what else to do.

Maybe one day, after I’ve learned how to swim the depths of your ocean, I could do more than call out to you from the shore.

The Clouds and the Sky

How the clouds and the skies move independent of one another.

In the distance, the horizon disappears, swallowed by the sea.

I sit, head back to drink in the entire world, and think of you by my side. When will the day come when you and I walk together beneath trees that sway with each breath that the oceans take? When will we explore empty nights, naming each star after the beauty marks upon the other’s skin?

I cannot fathom days like this without you, but you are the clouds and I am the sky.

Resurrected

If I could start all over with the knowledge I now hold, I would dedicate my entire life to pursuing you, for I know that before me you were, and after me you will be, and so there is only you. Yet I fear that I will still falter; that like a lost lamb, I will go astray. How I scoffed at your disciples as they closed their eyes in your presence; how I scorned the teachers who failed to recognise you. And yet I now understand, sympathetic to the unending plight that each man faces.

This, then, is the reason I fast. With great resolve and even greater desire for you, I seek to rid my life of the clutter, to banish forever the temptations that call out to me from all corners of my flesh. Never again will I fill my lungs with obstinate smoke; instead I will quench the fires that have burned all throughout my waking days with the tears you shed for me throughout eternity. I can start again, for you have resurrected me – you have given me a new life to dedicate to pursuing you, for there is only you and there will only ever be you.

Sojourn

Deep within my heart, a cry was lost – in the forest of my life, it disappeared. The everlasting light that resided within me accompanied this cry into the night and my empty heart could not weep.

I lit my lantern and entered the depths after my cry, but could only follow echoes. Running after every sound, I was met with only disappointment and dead ends. The rising earth and trees wrapped in shadows tracked my every movement, and eventually, I became lost too.

Yet, I could not lift a cry to be saved.

Hangman

On the sixth floor, I paused momentarily to catch my breath. The adrenaline had just about worn off, and the gravity of the situation had begun to dawn upon me. The elevator was not working at all, and the only way in or out was the fire exit from which I had just come.

The staircase. I looked back to see if any of them had followed me up. I slowly began to creep backwards without taking my eyes off the doorway leading out. It seemed safe for the time being, but who knew when –

I froze in place. I had backed into something fleshy – the unmistakable, putrid scent let me know that my life was at its mercy. I turned around slowly and faced a giant of a man.

Something was amiss. I stared at him, waiting for him to tear me apart, but realised that the feet were not quite touching the office floor. I stole a glance upward, noting how the neck was bent at an awkward angle, and my eyes dwelled momentarily on the tongue lolling out of the man’s wretched mouth, then moved past the eyes set forever forward, devoid of the despair that had no doubt forced the act – devoid, in fact, of any recognisable emotion.

My own eyes stopped finally on the rope around his neck. My sigh of relief came automatically.

I began looking over him again to see if there was anything I could use to defend myself with. There was, of course, nothing in his hands, and although I briefly considered checking his pockets, I decided against it. I looked him in the eyes again.

Strange. He peered back at me.

Squinting, I leaned a bit closer. I could have sworn that he had not been looking at me before. It was like those paintings where –

The man’s eyes rolled before settling back on me. I stumbled backwards, yelping unnaturally. My legs seemed to disappear from under my body, and I broke my fall with my hands.

A low guttural sound came from the man’s ruined throat, and his hands came up to the noose. The man’s flesh, looking more like old rags, tightened as long-dead muscle began to work again.

I stared in stupefied fear, unable to stand. The man pulled at the rope with both hands, gurgling horribly with each tug. His arms seemed to gain more strength with every move that he made. I stood back up finally, eyes trained upon the gruesome spectacle before me.

All at once, part of the rope disintegrated and the man hit the ground with a thud. The bones in his legs cracked, suddenly having to support dead weight that had come to life again. The piece of rope still around his neck trailed behind him like a horrific leash, unable to hold back the creature it was supposed to control.

His jaws worked up and down almost automatically and his tongue was immediately severed by his teeth. It fell to the ground with a sickening sound, like fresh meat being put on to a butcher’s table. His eyes rolled wildly as he slowly began to advance upon me. The rotten odour suddenly hit me like a punch to the stomach, and I gagged as I backed towards the staircase.

The realisation struck me again – I could only escape higher into the building, and there was no way out of this Hell…

Laura’s Water

Do you remember the night that you tried to hold me in your arms, but I just melted to water? You could have sucked me up through a straw or turned me into wine, but all you did was make it rain until I grew.

As a stream I trickled away, discovering everything far from your all-encompassing touch. The world felt so clear, but you showed me how shallow it all was with my next transformation.

When I became a river, I felt as though I could shape the earth around me. Twisting through it all, I dodged everything I didn’t know while still taking pieces with me. The world felt so small, but you showed me how deep it was because the rain never stopped.

I knew I was treacherous as an ocean, and I knew that I had seen it all. At the core, it all became silent. The running stopped. The world felt so old, but you showed me new things in the past – why not now?

The rain is finally gone, but it all feels so dry. Have you stopped the storm, or have you abandoned me altogether?