This is the fifth and final chapter of this short foray into fiction. Here is a link to the first for those who may wish to start at the beginning. We’ll return to our normally scheduled programming shortly, which as you may well have surmised, means I have no idea what comes next. Thank you so much for reading…
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Thinking there was a distinction between what was Love and what was not Love was the greatest handicap I ever faced… thinking there was a distance between who I was and who I might become. These enticing distinctions held me under their perpetual sway, threatening me with assorted castigations lest I provide the satisfaction they so desired. The judgment. The righteous choice. The verdict. They strung me out on their sweet promises, then blackmailed me into refereeing their silly games.
They forced me to call the balls and strikes of my own heart.
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When I yanked out the wire and tore through the web, I was freed of this thinking. I was no longer hoping to fulfill the promise of a better nature—no longer hoping to get my shot at setting things right. I was no longer hoping to be one who would be remembered, nor one who wished to be happily forgotten. I was no longer questioning my ability to find the wire, or capable of doubting my courage should the wire be found.
Screw the wire.
I was simply moving into the heat of the furnace with the full power of my being. I would find her, no matter where she was.
I stepped through the doorframe into a meadow of dried grass– a land of knee-high husks. The sky was clear, the light low and golden. The air was crisp and cool. It was the plainest it could be. The simplest. It was Occam’s razor at its sharpest. I followed a short trail of her blood, moving like a summoned power until I found her lying on her side. Blood was slowly bubbling from a gash along her ribs as I knelt down beside her in the grass.
She tried to raise her head in greeting, but she hadn’t the strength. It only fell back down into the straw. Her eyes were bulging and her breath coming in furtive lunges. I placed a hand on her shoulder to calm her, and I saw Jesus’ eyes again, in mine– those dancing flames. The entire glade was full of such light. Feeling the whole of her struggle pass through me, the urgency of her every inhalation dispersed into the sky of my own being. Little by little, she relaxed beneath my touch. Her breath deepened. Her pulse slowed. I ran my hand along the bridge of her nose, and when I rounded her nose she licked my hand, as if finding nourishment there.
She was my heart.
She had come for me.
I had come for her.
Such knowing, when it finally comes, is plain. It arises without contest. The light of the glade was clear on many such points. The wound at my side, for instance. Gone. As if it had never been. The light spoke of such things simply. The light carried the story of how she had stepped forward, and walked through my pain to carry me out. The light spoke of rejoining, and as we breathed together her own wound naturally came clean. When mystery is all you know, there can be no mysteries.
You think a pain is your own, your burden to carry, your puzzle to work out. You think you must master it. Be the one to set things right. The light was clear on this point: you must only be willing. Willing to let it come. Everything. That you might discover what never was, and what has always been.
The juncos began to arrive as she scrambled to her feet. They came one by one and perched on stalks of grass throughout the field, some near and some farther away, waving easily beneath the sky. Jesus and Hafiz were crossing the field to meet us. They were chatting. Hafiz wrapped a blanket around me. He welcomed me back with a long embrace, saying little. What could be said? The waters we each navigate are unique, the miasmas bizarre and isolating, but the journeys identical. Notes of such things cannot be meaningfully compared. We are each a secret meant to be shared the way bread is broken and passed around the table.
Something had passed from me, had vanished forever, but I couldn’t quite say what it was. No one could. The light was suggesting it really didn’t matter.
We put a blanket over her shoulders, too. She was leaning into me as we stood there, keeping close, pressing her weight into mine. We were relaxed. Emptied out.
Hafiz passed me a cup of hot tea and milk.
As we walked towards the road, I knew we would find shelter a little ways away. That’s what the light was mentioning. There’d be a family, and a meal. Children chasing each other around the table. Smiles and shrieks. Pony tails and elbows flying. There’d be little things that mattered more than I could ever explain, like the place settings. The rug by the door. The placement of the windows.
Jesus and I would slip out the door late in the night, and behold the stars. How could one story matter? How could it matter at all?
Yet how could it not? For everything had arisen, just so. Each star in its place.
By the time we hit the road and turned to face its length, she was gone—back where she had always been.
She was home. Inside of me. Where I could never lose her again.