Untitled - The Cure
Hopelessly adrift in the eyes of the ghost again
Down on my knees with my hands in the air again
Pushing my face in the memory of you again
And I never know if it's real
Never know how I want it to feel
Never quite said what I wanted to say to you
Never quite managed the words to explain to you
Never quite knew how to make them believable
But now the time has gone
Another time undone
Never quite said what I wanted to say to you
Never quite managed the words to explain to you
Never quite knew how to make them believable
But now the time has gone
Another time undone
Hopelessly fighting the devil futility
Feeling the monster climb deeper inside of me
Feeling him gnawing my heart away hungrily
I'll never lose this pain
Never dream of you again
Another Time Undone
To be on a beach at midnight is to be in another world, a world where the sea controls the land and shapes it to its whim.
I don't know why the sea called me, but it did never the less. The endless rolling call of a soul to a soul. And so, I went where it beckoned.
I live on a remote island; I won't go into detail except to describe what it's like where I am now, and how these surroundings have come to change me in ways I never thought possible.
When my life really started was the day I arrived here, nothing on my back but the clothes I'd walked away with. Nothing to start my new life, but me. It fit somehow, more so than anything I'd ever done before.
I spent the first few nights on the beach - the beach, the dark and moonless beach of my dreams. That's when I first started seeing it. Every night at the same time, its shadowy form would slide from the sea, running along the beach towards the jungle, sliding into the darkness again before being truly observed.
At first I thought it a trick of the light, a dream I'd never shed. But after the first few times I saw this strange apparition, I began to doubt that it was any such thing. I set out to examine the reality that this elusive figure might be, discovering to my astonishment, footprints in the sand following the same path it followed each night.
I tracked them into the jungle, up until the overgrowth crowded out further view of those small footprints. I was forced to leave at that point, any further hunting of this dream to be done at another time.
The next night I followed it when it came from the sea, shining with its own light on the moonless night. I would find out what this strange figure was, and know its purpose. My life after the death of Duo Maxwell has been unreal from the start. Following a phantom from the sea could seem no stranger.
After the end of the war, I lost myself. I've heard that there are thousands of universes lying side by side, or on top of one another, or inside of each other, almost like lovers. I've heard that in each universe lies a different version of yourself or your world, where the tiniest changes have been made, and the entire place is different because of it. I sometimes wonder if he exists alive in these places. All because the tiniest of mistakes wasn't made, because the butterfly did not flap its wings.
I admit I couldn't handle life after his death, so I came here - here to where the sea called my name. I wonder now, if this was what drove me to see the hallucination that comes forth nightly, because it looks like Duo - Duo with long hair. I think I've gone mad.
I'd known Duo since we were children, we grew up in the same neighborhood, went to the same school, liked the same things. He was my best friend, my only friend. We grew up, we grew older, and we went to war as all good children do. And he died, as all good soldiers will. Was it my fault? Could I have saved him? I'll never know, but I'll always blame myself never the less.
This beach where I live reminds me of something he said once, of the smile on his face when he said it. Perhaps I've lied to myself, and that is the real reason I came here. He'd know, he always knew when I was lying, even if I didn't.
I find myself thinking of him more than ever. The creature that comes from the sea, it sees to that. It's my madness. I know it is. And yet, how can it be my insanity, when I find these footprints, when I see it so clearly? Tonight I will follow it again; tonight I will find out.
I have not slept in days now, my eyes waiting for the thing that is this…this monster. It wears his face, like a mask, seaweed hair draping its body in midnight. When at last, almost two nights ago, I was finally able to track it through the darkened jungle, I saw it clearly for the first time.
I watched as it crept through the brush ahead of me, moving like a shadow that flits well on the night. Occasionally a stray moonbeam would shed a cold sliver on his face, sharpening the cheekbones, eyes becoming hollows. It was not Duo, not as he'd been in life, and not in the light or lack of it.
At last, we came to a closing up of the jungle, a partitioning of branches and vines, underbrush and thorn -covered leaves. He swept through these things lightly, no noise except for the soft padding of his bare feet. I hid behind a bush as he stepped into the clearing beyond, unwilling to be seen by something that I knew nothing of.
He walked as if drawn to the moonlit pool, a small lagoon of light in the center of the jungle. My breath caught as clouds cleared and uncovered the moon fully, my eyes at last seeing the truth. Even in death, dreams can haunt, can send your mind into a screaming frenzy.
What stood at the edge of this dappled place was nothing more than a dreamlike fantasy. And of this, I would desperately try to convince myself when daylight was at last delivered to me with the rising sun.
In life Duo had been nothing more to me, perhaps everything to me, as a friend only. And with his death a hole was opened within my very soul, a shattered fragment of what had been and what never was. With the vision of this creature from the sea, it seemed as if the shards of my life could some how be put together again, melded into something whole once more. It was a foolish thought.
And what stood at the edge of this place, hidden in the jungle? A creature more singularly beautiful than Duo had ever been. A fantasy spun from cream and shadows. The ghost of my dead friend.
Apparently, I finally slept last night, my mind and body overworked by my thoughts and feelings. And when I awoke this morning on the beach, it was to find myself sandy and disheveled. But that is not what sent my heart beating frantically against my ribs. Often I fall asleep here and find no recollection of what I was doing before dropping off. Waking up in odd places has almost become standard; this was no less of the same.
What jolted my body into an upright position, was the indent of a body beside my own, the caving in of sand in the shape of a small figure. Had the monster then crept from the sea to sleep near me? Had it seen my body and decided to…to what? What could a demon that pretends to be my dead friend, want from me? Why does it haunt me this way? And when will it stop?
Or have I been right all along, have I really gone mad? I'm afraid - so very afraid that this is the truth, that my mind has finally fractured, the war and its subsequent losses splintering the very foundations of it. The dream I see each night, this waking nightmare, can only be a part of it all.
And deep down, buried inside of me, is this horrifying sense of loss and loneliness. I miss Duo so much sometimes, that it tastes like a bitter pill stuck inside my throat - something that cannot be swallowed no matter how I try to wash it down. It's a pain that constantly aches inside my chest, a clenching of heart muscles that never seems to release.
Is this monster, this false image of Duo…is it my salvation? Or is it more, and as I fear, my damnation?
Independence Day, a time back in America when we would be celebrated as upstanding citizens in the lighted eyes of the people. We were heroes of the war, undefeated and defeated, honored and cherished as those who fought the good fight. But all it brings to mind is him and what it was like as children together.
I spent the day on the beach, lying beneath a palm and blinding myself with the hot sun above. I let it burn my skin to a tender red, and still I lay beneath it, basking and baking. I was remembering a summer so long ago, and yet so near to me, a minute in time when our hands clasped sparklers, our smiles etched like twins between us, and his eyes meeting my own, winking in the way he had, begging me to catch fireflies and swim at night in the nearby streams.
And I would follow him, I always did. He always led me forward, into fun, into danger, and always we would come out whole again, unscathed.
Except, this time, we didn't.
And I keep asking, "why?"
Last night as I sat on the beach, a fire flaring near my feet, my hands crossed beneath my head. I listened to the waves, and watched the twinkling of the stars above. No fireworks lit my sky, and nothing disturbed my tranquility, so that when I heard those soft footsteps, padding along the sand, they caught my attention immediately. It was difficult to force my eyes to turn towards the sound, to look at him. For a long moment, I shook with the thought that when I did at last turn, I would find nothing there.
And so when I did turn, I did so quickly, reaching out my hand to grasp at what I could. My shock when I felt damp skin and that long, wet seaweed hair beneath my fingertips, to find at last, that this phantom was as solid as the ground, as real as I was, was unimaginable.
But how do you ask a ghost questions, and how will it answer? Will it tell you all you want to know, or will it remain silent and haunt you more than you thought possible?
The willpower I had to exert, in order to merely bring my eyes level with his face, hurt me. It burned me to look into his eyes, and see what I had feared, what I had hoped would be, what I had been afraid would be - that somehow, he was aware of me. Intelligence lit those remembered eyes, a smile twisting those familiar lips. The pain inside of me seemed to burst, tears streaming from my eyes with it, as if this was a way to let it out and release it all.
And then, time seemed to unwind and slow, spin to a halt as he leant forward, his eyes still centered on my face, bone-white fingers reaching for my cheek. I cringed as those pallid fingertips approached, reasonable fears assailing my mind. Would they feel as dead as they looked? Would they be cold and wet like the rest of him? Would they burn?
They were cold, but a cold that seemed natural, as if by wind and the chill of the water that he'd come from, not from the freeze of death, the stiffness of a life that has left a body. Even as his fingers trailed gently through my tears, I found myself falling to the sand, memories shattering my consciousness and leaving me to glide into the night of my dreaming.
How can I lose days like this? My memories are hazy, gone somewhere, and hidden from me. What I can remember has thankfully been written down, and so I can at least look upon what has happened in some way that is tangible.
That night he touched me, I slipped and fell from my sanity, down a well, into a pit. I have no more seams; I have torn my mind. No darning needle can repair this damage, sew up the fragments into something whole again.
He is dead and alive, he is not Duo, but he has to be.
Again, the memories haunt me and I see his death replayed behind my eyes.
It had been routine to check borders, recheck empty buildings, find lost souls, dig out the poor wretches who ran from the war. It was just a routine, something that we did, and always together we would go - the two of us, still together after so much time, so much fighting, and so much death.
We had grown, older now, two men instead of two boys, our friendship remaining to remind us of home and the warmth of family. It was wrong the way he died. It was not meant to be, and I still and always will think it should have been me.
A single shot from a dying man, a wounded enemy clocking off one more.
I watched, as it flew through Duo, sliced and cut, and in seconds that took hours, it tore the life from him. Could I have stopped it?
It doesn't matter now, does it? Because I didn't stop it, I stood by and watched, frozen, the seconds too close together.
And he died, falling, endlessly falling, and I fell with him.
I know now, that it doesn't matter if I sleep, or sit and stare at the water where he comes from. He will come each night, no matter my reservations, my dampened fears. Sliding gracefully from the sea, a merman a ghost, a monster, a demon, Duo, but not Duo. And whether I am asleep or awake he now comes to me, rests beside me, and reaches for my hand in the darkness of the beach.
I let him hold my fingers. I let myself look at him as he sits so still beside me. And I wonder if this is all there is for me, if this last touch of a ghost is all I will ever feel.
Last night he looked into my eyes, searching or so it seemed, for something deep inside. When I blinked he did not look away, but remained, a lighthouse scanning the horizon of my madness.
This morning when I awoke from my dreams, the nightmares that hunt me, it was to find the imprint of his body once more beside me. The curve of his outstretched hand, the vines of that hair etched in the sand. I found my fingers tracing it, digging deeper and trailing along the edges of it. Over and over my fingertips glided, painting a picture of my sadness and defeat.
After hours had passed, I realized I was chanting his name, as if by some chance it could be construed as a spell that might bring him back to life, and free me.
My friend, I will never see him again as he was in life.
I have tried to ask it questions, to talk to it as I once talked to Duo. But it will not speak to me, merely touch and look, its white hands sliding across my own, its mouth only turning and twisting into echoes of his smiles. It's like a doll, so soft and quiet, so still and silent, staring at me with its glass eyes, porcelain skin shining dully. Yet, every so often, I can see that flash, that keen look that tells me there is something behind those eyes, something else - an unanswered question.
Sometimes, I watch as he leaves, slipping beneath the waves. It is rare that I can remain wakeful until the dawn light, my senses dimming into the darkness of my dreams. But if I can, I sit and watch as he slides into the water again, the sea swallowing him until only his eyes remain visible, and then those too disappear beneath its dark and gently heaving surface. Sometime, someday, I will wish to follow him.
A week is gone and I sleep fitfully. Nightmares and ghosts haunt me day and night. It is always one or the other, and it's always about him, somehow. I sit in the dubious shade of this tree, and wonder now, what Duo was to me, what he meant.
Our friendship, it was a relationship between us, a bond that tied our souls together. I have to laugh at this, and stare. It was a tying bond…
Perhaps this is why he will not leave me, why he is changed and yet the same. The things that we were together in life still wrap around us, heaving him from his destiny to stay with me in mine. And what is my fate? Will I forever sit here, listening to the sound of the ocean, never knowing what we could have become?
Maybe that is yet another reason, something I've refused to acknowledge. Still, I can't force my memories or my mind into that again. I can't…think of these things.
Sometimes, I think he knows. The creature, when he sits beside me, his hand creeping towards my own, sometimes I can tell, if he were to talk, perhaps he would mention what I cannot.
I told him last night, I forced my hand to clasp his, brought it to my eyes, watching the incredible pulse of blood beneath that pale skin. It was indeed amazing, as I realized he was as alive as I am, in a physical sense at least. Though, there remain now, more questions, unanswered and left behind.
As I held that fragile hand, veins and arteries rhythmically thudding inside his body, I at last faced what I have not wanted to in all this time. It is not just his friendship that I miss, it is my love. Without his love, I no longer seem to have any of my own; my only emotions left seem to be anger, fear, and this incredible sadness. I never had a chance to tell him, never whispered it when we lay awake at night, and listened to each other breathe. I never thought to tell him in words or writing exactly what he meant to me, how I would not be who I am without his influence in my life.
What answer is there? If I say it now, will it matter? Will he hear it?
And so I whispered it the ghost beside me, as I held his hand in the firelight by the waves. I watched as that face reflected flames and night sky, and his mouth opened slightly, as if to respond. I held my breath, body stiff with tension; but nothing…
There was no response; he closed his lips once more, silently looking at me, and wordlessly clasping my hand in his.
When I watched him return to his ocean in the predawn air, for the first time I wanted to follow him.
I dream when I'm awake now; my mind journeys where my body refuses to go. I can see, behind my red lids, when I stare close-eyed at the sun. I can see an answer to everything. It plays out like a movie, no sound but that of the waves and the trees in the wind.
I will follow him, take his hand, and walk with him to the edge of the water. I will walk into the water with him, feel it coat my feet and ankles, slip up over my calves and knees, slide unresisting up my thighs and belly, and in minutes there will be nothing left…but my eyes, and then those too will close.
When I open them again, I will be there with him beneath the water, shadows and waves playing over his features. And I will open my mouth, to tell him…
That I love him.
And…before I die, before the air in my lungs is gone forever, I will do the one thing I never could do when he was alive. I will kiss him, just one last time, the first time. And I will wish that time could be undone.