Different Shades, Part III

“Hello,” I say again, but no one responds. Yet, I don’t feel alone. This house has life inside of it, despite the decomposition. The Underworld is full of hard to explain energies. At times it is best not to force an explanation. Energy has a funny way of eventually explaining itself.

There is something about wandering through a desert full of human remains. I have always been fascinated by humans’ willingness to accept such oddities in their lives. To exist in turmoil and then become dirt, what a dreadful reality. I suppose the hope is for the wind to take you somewhere you cannot go on your own. My wings are a blessing, as I do not need to wait. I can decide to harness the power of wind at my will and fly away.

While my feet shuffle through the decay, nothing changes, same imagery, same dread. It has been nothing more than a long walk on a mortal treadmill. Laborious movements and time remains unknown. No variations, minimal hope. Moving and moving. Same same. Step, step.

Dust clouds swirl in violent irritation as the wind howls. My chest aches, but I still cannot remember why. There is something about being here that makes me want to quiver. What happened before the night locked me inside? Why can I still feel the pain?

The repetition is aggravating, my feet are swollen, and I am tired. How do mortals do this? How can they wander through these wastelands alone and without the reassurance of knowing there is more? There must be more. I suppose that is the hope.

And that lost, kind soul, where did it go? Where will it go? Its hope fascinated me. I cannot shake its presence and pursuit that this will end gracefully. What’s the point? Do souls find anything more? I feel foolish having such worries over a lost soul. Let’s face it, many of those living here are my doing. Perhaps the concerns are for me. Where will I go?

The wind whistles and brushes my cheek, and it is as if a hand pushed my head to look west. In the distance, I spot a change in my vision, something more than dust. There is a structure, a house. There is something else, something more. My chest begins to ache a little less. I find energy in my calves, and I push off the sand. With the newfound power, there is a little pop in my stride. 

The house stands in the middle of the desolate lands, weathered and decaying. It’s not unlike its surroundings. I can see why it would go unnoticed by passersby. The shudders hang broken, and the windows shattered. I hobble to the front door where I intend to knock, but it creaks open as I approach.

“Hello,” I say, announcing my presence as I peek my head inside. “Is there anyone here?” There is only a house here to greet me and respond in a symphony of creaks and howls. It is a rickety old house, full of drafts and loose floorboards. I step inside, the floorboards suffering under my weight. However, I embrace the consolation of the enclosure. Even though there is a noticeable deterioration of both the exterior and interior, there is comfort and familiarity. 

“Hello,” I say again, but no one responds. Yet, I don’t feel alone. This house has life inside of it, despite the decomposition. The Underworld is full of hard to explain energies. At times it is best not to force an explanation. Energy has a funny way of eventually explaining itself.

I grip my stomach as it growls and vibrates. Echoes of my hunger audible throughout the house. I’m starved and need something to calm the beast. I wander through the home, going from room to room. There’s a living room with a rotting couch. A dining room with broken glass across the entirety of the floor. And a kitchen with no cabinet doors. 

A stench of rot fills the room as sulfur fills my nostrils. Blackened piles cover the countertops, but my stomach continues to cry out. I am weak and need food to replenish. From my peripheral, I spot a few tin cans resting in a low cabinet. It must be food. 

I fall to my knees, reaching in. Olives and tomatoes are written on top of the cans, two of my favorite things to grow. I scavenge the countertop and drawers, finding a can opener. As I open the can of olives, it lets out a hiss. I smell to check if there is any sign it has perished, and I detect no acrid scent. In fact, it smells like olives and olive oil. I shove my fingers inside and feast. Before I know it, the can is empty, and my stomach growls a little less. 

As I prepare to open the tomatoes, I have enough energy back in my eyes to notice the writing on top of the can a little more closely. It’s not what it says that catches me off guard but the handwriting. The soft curls in the T’s and O’s. The half cursive and half not. It’s similar to how I write. In fact, it’s exactly how I write.

I open the can and smell strong notes of sage and tomato. It’s my favorite tomato canning recipe. Every late summer, I would collect my herbs and tomatoes and can them. Old fashion, I know, but I’ve always admired having intimacy with my food. It dawns on me that these are my tomatoes and my cans. I’ve been here before. I must have. I was here long enough to store food. Why?

After my feast, I am granted with energy and calmness. I wander through the home looking for more clues, and a stronger sense of familiarity washes over me. It’s apparent that I have been here before. However, the house is in ruin, and it’s hard to see anything but. 

I approach a window facing the back of the house and left untouched from the shatter. Through the panes, I can see a metal fence wrapping around a small space, drowning in the sands. And amongst the deterioration and decay survives a patch of green. A single plant survives.

I find my way outside to inspect it. As I approach, I figure out what it is. A confused laugh from deep within my chambers escapes me. It’s a single Roma tomato plant.

Nyx (Marie Casey)
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