I had struggled within myself. I was working through the internal war which I always fought. The Lover, the Inflictor, the Jester, the Intellect, the Artist. We all periodically conflicted and we all occasionally worked together. Sometimes the Lover and Jester held hands and became the Flirt. At times it was the Inflictor and the Artist who drew together, romanticizing the dark withdrawal of Self-Hatred until the Intellect grabbed a hold and separated them once more. The Lover and the Artist became Passion insatiable.
So the war waged on. The one winning in whom I fed the most. I was aiming for balance but they each wrestled for Ultimate Power and Control.
During this time, a True Lover arose before me who took it upon himself to engage in battle for my soul as well. He claimed to see my true potential, one which he aimed to draw out of me and tame the animals within. Then along came another. He, I admit, never expressed his intentions nor pushed this issue and yet his presence was undeniable in my mind and heart. But these two Lovers so tore at my soul that I could see no way out.
Enter the Demon. He called upon favors owed from years past. He claimed he would destroy both these Lovers except I breathe his poison. I gazed out beyond Him and His vile stench seeing over His left shoulder the one and beyond the right, the other of my Lovers. Both unaware of the other but fighting for the same cause.
The Demon reached his gnarled talons toward me. Within its grip lay the can of poison. My heart clenched. This would save both of my Loves, yet neither would know. They would see a senseless waste. Perhaps a failing within themselves. Why couldn’t I save her? Wasn’t I enough? How did I not see the signs? Why did I have to love her? Regardless, I had to save them. My life for theirs.
I weighed the cost. The Jester agreed. The Lover conceded. The Artist nodded. The Inflictor was only too happy. The Intellect hung her head but knew the only answer, too. It was decided. For once we all were one. United but for a doomed cause. I saw no other course of action.
Reaching out, I carefully extracted the can from the claws of the Beast. It weighed practically nothing in my palm. The Demon smiled sharp teeth and the smell of burning flesh filled my nostrils. I glanced at my Lovers again. I stared down at the can. With trembling hands, I lifted it to my face and opened the lid.
The gas within was plain. I expected more. It held almost no smell. Still I hesitated but a moment before lifting it to my chin, then covering my lips and nose, I huffed as deeply as possible. Again and again until I knew it was gone. I felt numb. First my face. Next my hands. The empty can dropped from my lifeless fingers. My legs gave way and I fell to my side.
I felt, rather than saw, the Demon dissolve, His work done, His favor repaid with this one vile act. I lay but a moment immobilized. My mouth open, gasping for air I knew I could not attain. Then my lungs collapsed within my chest. My heart stopped for lack of oxygen. I lay there, my body dead, although my spirit stayed for a few moments to view the world through my fading eyes one last time. My vision dissolved, colors becoming muted and more muted until I only knew what they were by a rapidly diminishing memory.
My spirit, having no body left to occupy flew away; this dimension transmuted into another. Colors and sounds and touch and smell all intermixed and switched and became indiscernible one from the other. There were no three or four dimensions. It was two dimensional but also twenty.
Thought became reality. Reality was all in my mind. My mind couldn’t quite connect. I was floating and I was sinking. Shapes materialized before my mind’s-eye without actually coming into existence. I was without form. A vapor without the substance.
How long I became a part of this new “me” I couldn’t say, as time was no longer valid and neither was my self-identity. It could have been one minute or seven million millennia. It made no difference and in fact never crossed what passed for my mind.
It was during this span of existence that I felt a… yes, a sound. Not felt. Heard. Yes. I heard a sound. It was…. familiar. I… opened my… eyes. That was my phone. My cell phone ringing on the pillow next to me.
I stared at it. Did that really just happen? Where was I? The ringing stopped.
The Intellect claimed it was a dream. The Artist said it was too real. The Inflictor said nothing special could happen to me. The Jester claimed a cosmic joke. The Lover remained ominously silent.
tara caribou | ©2017 (revised 2019)
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