Different Shades, Part IV

I stand and stretch my body, feeling my joints crack and connect. I reach for the gray sky and let out a howl to let the Underworld know I am alive. I expand my wings far and wide. They sting, and I flinch. Not yet, I am not able to fly just yet, but I already knew that. I am far too weak in both body and mind.

I dig my fingertips into the ground for no other purpose than to feel soil getting lodged under my nails. The sun peeks up in the distance, washing away the coolness of the night. I feel the warmth on my skin, and I take a moment to let it bathe me. It’s always been my favorite part of the day when night and day meet. The shift balances and aligns me. 

I pick fresh Roma tomatoes off their vines, collecting them in my shirt. Freshness like this should be worshipped. With a single bite, an explosion of sweet and acidic juice takes over my senses. I’m pleased by this year’s crop. Multiple hands had tended to it. 

I run inside, teeth bare, excited to share my spoils. “Look at how many!” I shout into the house. I drop the tomatoes onto the kitchen table, and I admire the shades of red. They seem unrealistically red. “Honey, come see!” I shout again and again with no response. “Honey?” I glide through the house in search of someone. Who? I am not sure, but there is someone here. I know it. 

Just past the dining room, I confront a staircase, long and spiraling. I’m upstairs in a flash. I notice a door at the end of the hallway is open. Darkness seeps out, and dread washes over me, draining my joy of Roma tomatoes. I don’t want to see inside. No, and I do not know why, but I cannot stop moving. It’s as if I am being pushed, or maybe I am being dragged. My body welcomes cortisol, and I want to run in the other direction, but I cannot. No, I approach this door, without will and I dread what will come next. 

The door is inches away, and the darkness greets my face. However, unlike my typical calmness when greeted by the different shades of night, I instead feel an insurmountable sadness. It builds and builds. There is something behind this door, and I do not want to see what shelters there. My chest heaves, and I cannot breathe in an orderly fashion. I want to scream, but my vocal cords are severed, only gasps of air escape. 

The door opens, exposing the spirals of nighttime darkness. But there is someone here. Amongst the swirls, someone floats in stillness. Daunting stillness. Someone I can see through the absence of light. A man with his back toward me. My dread continues to increase to a status that I can hardly bear. 

“No, no,” manages to escape my mouth in a whisper. I continue to glide without will, and I thrash my body without building fatigue, but it does little to slow my speed. I move closer and closer to a man within the stillness. I know him, but I don’t. He’s familiar, but I have no name for him. He turns when I am only a few feet away, and he has no face. It’s mutilated and shattered, blown to bits of matter as if he doesn’t matter. I try to scream, not in fear of the gruesome sight, but because I know this person, but I don’t. I feel his suffering as my own. He’s a corpse rotting in space, and I am overwhelmed to embrace him, but my glide comes to a halt. As I try to reach out, he moves and lets out a screeching howl that shakes my bones. 

Soaked in sweat, I awake near the house of rubble and decay. It was nothing more than a dream, a haunting and lingering vision. I can still feel the presence of the man with no face. I ache, not in my joints but in my chest like my heart has been ripped out. I carry sadness.

I sit propped against the wall. I must have drifted to sleep after my feast of olives and tomatoes. My neck is stiff, and my hips feel tight, but I do feel a bit stronger than I did a few hours ago. I hope that with enough rest, I will find the strength to fly away from this place. I suppose I could spend this time figuring out where to go. Where will I go? 

It’s clear I have some sort of amnesia. From what? I do not know. I remember living amongst the mortals for a time. Many of my children created modern lives, and it did not seem so bad. Bits and pieces of memory float to the surface of my mind, and I remember a few parties and even a few arguments. My children are amongst the most powerful beings, and their voices are as well. However, through the flashes of bits, I cannot connect the dots to draw out a clear storyline. I know it’s there, but it does not come to me. 

I stand and stretch my body, feeling my joints crack and connect. I reach for the gray sky and let out a howl to let the Underworld know I am alive. I expand my wings far and wide. They sting, and I flinch. Not yet, I am not able to fly just yet, but I already knew that. I am far too weak in both body and mind. I can only hope there are more hidden cans of food lost within the walls of this home. 

I open the backdoor and enter with food on my mind. However, I stop when I see the spirit that lingers in the hallway. At first, its back is to me, but it slowly turns to look at me. It has no face. My jaw drops as this soul is no stranger at all. We have met before, and I think it recognizes me too. 

“Hello,” I say and step forward.

“Hello.”

This is the spirit who came to my aid at the river. When I could not balance, it took my hand. It has found me once again and stands in front of me, greeting me with a hello

Nyx (Marie Casey)
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