Beneath the Stars

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: March 12, 2018

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Submitted: March 12, 2018



I speak, I describe, I cry and laugh, and speak my innermost heart to you. I am no liar, and so I try to let my blood, and my guts, and my liver speak to you too, how can you know me without knowing my stomach, and the silent workings of the enzymes in my body? To know the fragility of my heart must you not know the frailties of my bones? Where they bend, where they once cracked, how I feel them lodged in my flesh. I am willing to go farther than anyone has ever gone  so you could know me for what I am; yet you don't understand me, you never will, and nor will I. The weight of this terrible burden of loneliness crushes my heart. Is the human not the saddest animal? 


And you spoke so beautifully that night under the stars. How we lay there, gazing at stars and the living ghosts of those that are no more, and your every word redoubled time and time again the breadth of my cosmos, like a beating heart. So much did your words give me that night that my mind and my heart seldom could contain their joy at the unbearable burden of the beauty of the mystery which you shared with me. But never did I see you again. I still dream of you every night, I still see your face glued on passerbys: a lock of hair, a fold of a shirt's fabric, a white knee, a pair of solemn grey eyes—one and all summon your memory, and with it a comes that flood of terrible pain.


I thought I understood you so well that night under the stars; our first night under the stars; our last night under the stars. It is impossible, so I thought, to be given the entire universe by way of misunderstanding. Did you not speak of beauty, and strength, of an intensity of molten crucibles that melt time and space themselves, and of black holes that are anchors for entire galaxies? Did you not speak to me that night of meaning and love? Of hopefulness that our love will one day burn so fierce that time itself will dissolve and slither away before its terrible flame, while we relish in the eternity of the here and the now and the me and the you. That we could be each-others supermassive black holes, swallowing all that was ugly and redundant in each other's life , and spewing it out as meaning and light; that we were to be the anchors of each-others cosmos.


I know better now. Your departure taught me.


A terrible storm whirling, a black cloud of burgeoning gases pregnant with lightning and fire and lakes and lakes and lakes of grey water. And you, being the magician you are, somehow distilled it all into a single drop: definite, pure, singular. From your skies it fell, it was destined to fall into the waters at the heart of my highest ocean on top of my tallest mountain. Like the flap of a butterfly's wing that is the seed of mighty things, your drop noiselessly fell. So gentle was its touch at first that I almost missed it altogether. But I didn't, and the gentle quiver, a tiny ripple, barely perceptible, riding on the tops of the massive bulks of chaotic waves, reshaped the world. Tiny?—was it a drop, or a derelict moon that hurled with fury and rage into the heart of my ocean? Where there was nothing but unilluminated waves haphazardly rolling against each other, devouring one another, vying for dominance—nothing but pattern stretched as far as the eye could see, and far beyond. The place where your drop had fallen was now a throbbing heart that was a focus from which radiated circle after circle of tidal waves that surged past the ocean's narrow lips and flooded everything. The ocean was now all, and it all made sense. I truly believed that then my inside mirrored yours. 


But I didn't understand you, and now you are gone. Is it your failing? Is it mine? Perhaps I was not ready for the beautiful distilment of your words. Sometimes the words of those who are strong and clear even in their weakness and confusion can overwhelm those for whom life is always but a blur. Tasting the intoxication of clarity can cause such weary ones, as I was, to throw all caution and wisdom to the winds—they believe they had risen far above prudence. And yes, so ecstatically intoxicated was I that I threw caution and wisdom to the winds, though the dark depths that you shared with me, into which I was so suddenly thrown, were lands alien to me, sharp and hard. I didn't know what to make of the hesitation in your voice, of the long sighs and longer silences. They didn't fit my story, so in the pride of the newfound clarity with which you gifted me, I disregarded them, assuming them superfluous. Why waste my time on them if I had already grasped your full meaning?


I know better now.


Your suns, countless, monstrously large, hanging on the firmament of your void, were testimonies not for love but for searing pain that boiled and frothed. Their unbearable intensity did not melt time, absolving you from it, washing the terrible weight off you—it baked it, calcified it, with you studded in its midst; you felt snared, impaled by its claws. And your black holes: they were not beating hearts of galaxies, anchors of meaning and truth in the midst of the infinite flux of space and time. They were the death of all meaning, they were the end of life, they were maws, jaws, a plurality so vast that it collapsed on itself and turned the whole of your existence into unity—despair.


Could I have saved you? I still dream of you. Every night. The same terrible nightmare haunts me, and the same shrill cry bursting from my throat wakes me up at the exact same time. It is always the same. We are laying on our backs, and everything is as it was—the grass and the blanket, the sky and the stars, your hand in mine—it felt cold. You just told me that what we call stars are in fact suns, most of them far larger than our own. Every single star we can see is in the Milky-Way, you said, because other galaxies were so far away that though some were made of a trillion stars, we could not see them. Then you turned to me, searched my eyes, and told me very slowly, pronouncing each syllable as clear as possible, and still searching my eyes for something even while you spoke. You said that many of these stars, though they gleam so bravely—and isn't it astounding, you mused, how defiant they are against in their futile struggle to bring light against the infinite weight of the void that surrounds them—died a very long time ago. You still looked deep into my eyes, only that now a frantic edge crept into their search, isn't it fascinating, beautiful, such a bottomless mystery, you challenged me, that the dead sometimes look so alive, and that a lie can bring others so much light? I turned towards you and ran the back of my hand on your cheek. You look disappointed. You go on to tell me that what holds these trillion stars together is the supermassive-black-hole that is the beating heart of every single galaxy. And with each word you speak my horror grows: I see my starry eyed self with his dirty hands on your snow-white, eerily pale cheek, drowning in love, throwing all prudence away in pride and passion, nudging closer and closer to you.


A thousand times I fought to change the outcome, and this time is no different—if anything, my attempts grow more frantic each night.  I open my mouth. I know that this is the one chance I have to save you, to save me. If only I can stop myself from saying it, if only I can say what I could never have said that night, because that night taught me how to say it. You look up at me, hunched over you, in your expressive grey eyes hope and fear are intermingled. For the thousandth time I can see the tiny tear out of the corner of your right eye disappear. It is gone long before the blind man staring straight at your eyes, yet not into them, can. I am  going to say it again, I know. I am trying so hard that the jaws of my sleeping body are clenching again, even harder than yesterday, and tomorrow the fluorescent lights of my cubicle will cause me unbearable pain. I am trying so hard to say "I see you," to wrap my arms around your fragile frame and to hold you close, to make you feel that I really am there, body and soul, and that I know, I know. I try so hard that a capillary bursts on my forehead; when I brush my teeth tomorrow morning I will wonder at the a small blotch of purple just above, just between my eyes. But again, I fail. For the thousandth time, Instead, I say "I love you" with a mouth  whose lips are now writhing with passion and craving on your frozen lips. A blood-curdling scream bursts from my throat, profaning the pure of the darkest gloom and stifling silence that precedes sunrise, waking me up.


But I know better now. Our brief acquaintance and your passing-on taught me. It's been a month since I last dreamt of you.


The throbbing heart where your derelict moon, where your drop fell, the focus out of which irradiated the tidal waves of the flood that consumed me for a whole year, can finally rest. Your distilled inspiration, for all the destruction and violent birth that it birthed, never did shape my land to perfectly mirror yours. But I no longer think of this as a failure. For my sun already shines on a newly formed world, and from its oceans rises the vapor that already condenses into grey storm clouds. Strange forms, and half hearts, and all that is and isn't gathers on my horizon—pregnant, though it resembles in nothing but origin the storm you distilled into me a year ago. Its lightning licks lands newly uncovered by the relenting flood, starting fires in which strange lives are formed. Before long the pregnant storm you sowed in my depths will be too heavy. Then I too, as you did, as you taught me to, will distill my storm into a shimmering drop—into a word.

© Copyright 2018 tal engel. All rights reserved.

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