Different Shades, Part V

The air burns my skin and pierces my airways. Normally, I’d travel through the night or with the aid of my wings. However, I am too tired to command much of anything at all. I must walk and wander as if I am another soul seeking the unknown exit. I am seeking the comfort of a past life and normalcy. What could be more mortal than that?

“Hi,” I say to a face lost in a blurry daze. What a familiar blur, I think as I approach with a quiver in my step. Who is this spirit, and why am I so drawn to it? Why is it so drawn to me? How, through the swirls of despair and desolations of the Underworld, do we keep meeting? “I see you have wandered into the same house of shambles I have found. A peculiar home, I must say.”

The spirit looks around, pacing back and forth, glitching in and out of my vision. It hovers away without answering, and I follow with a graceful but interested ease. There is no fear, but I am fueled with curiosity. How is it that our timelines intermingle for the second time? Both lost and searching for the unknown, I feel like we know each other’s woes. I feel like I have known this spirit in a past life, perhaps their past life. It’s possible, I suppose, to have known this spirit. I have been alive for more years than seems reasonable. I’ve interacted with, loved, admired, and destroyed even more mortals than seems reasonable. So, this spirit is one in a million and has found me at my most vulnerable.

It wanders into the kitchen, finding the open empty cans I left on the counter. In its hand, it holds and reads the same words I read only hours ago. 

“Tomatoes. Olives.”

And it holds the cans to its face and takes long, deep breaths, enough to inhale much more than aroma, enough air to draw me in. I can’t help but notice how its body quivers and shakes as if the world trembles around it. 

“Nyx, is that you? My vision is blurred, but I think I can see what I’ve been searching for, and it’s you. Do you know who I am? I know these cans. They were made by a goddess addicted to the night but often questioned the dark. We lived here together and canned tomatoes. It was simple and delicious, but our lives of chaos came to a halt. We filled our days, not with fearful dread but with held hands and full wine glasses.” It pauses for a moment and takes several steps forward. “Nyx, I know who you are, but who am I?”

I have no answers and stare at it more closely. The familiarity of it and this home haunts my internal hallways, and I plea with my lips to move, but they do not. My head spins, and I feel the waves of nausea surface in my throat. The night bubbles inside my chest, and I want to release it to escape this reality, but I do not have enough strength, not yet. What is going on? 

“I don’t know,” I manage to say. Now I am the one to quiver and shake. The world does not move, but rather energy inside me jolts and vibrates. I am standing in a desolate kitchen with a familiar spirit who knows me. 

“Look, do you see how the date on the side is in a different handwriting than this?” It points at my handwriting.

I nod yes.

With a zealous hand gesture, it points at its chest. “It’s mine! Can’t you see? I don’t know how I know, but I do. For the first time since I have been lost alone, I feel like I know something, anything.”

I can see, but I do not understand. I am Nyx, but I do not know who this spirit is, and I question its tale of knowing me. Its confusion does not surprise me. Spirits often know fragments or suffer from flashbacks of their mortal lives. However, they remain unidentifiable as a unique individual. Spirits pool in collections and are the oil of the Underworld. 

Nevertheless, to make up stories feels far-fetched. It’s possible, in its disarray, it has misunderstood their memory. That they have constructed a reality to fit an unclear memory. But who else harnesses the power of the night? It’s quite an unparalleled trait to have.

“But why are you here, and why is the house here?” The spirit spins around, trying to make sense of its question. A question I ask too, as I have never seen a modern home placed in the desert of the Underworld. Not even the most horrid creature chooses to live here, there is nothing but decay. I am unsure how long I have been lost, but I somehow doubt the land development of these parts.

“Do you remember how you died?” I ask. Perhaps we can piece together our connection, and I can string together our connection and my lost thoughts.

“I am dead?”

And I forgot who I was speaking to and how mortals envision their death. Even in the afterlife, they hold on to earthly concepts such as a body and existing as a singularity. 

I encourage the spirit to look at the broken mirror that hangs on the wall. No reflection, its existence is not its own. The Underworld has claimed its existence since its arrival. “Yes, welcome to the Underworld, you are a spirit. What is the last thing you remember before you died? Can you remember what happened before you were here?”

“I remember this house, but it did not quite look like this. I remember you. I remember waiting for you in the early morning. I remember the longing and desire for more. Then, I was drowning in a river. I was here, but I remember you, I swear, do you believe me?”

I believe it, too. I am not sure why, but there is passion in its tone, and it soothes my unease. Amnesia is a tricky thing, but as it drops the cans, the spirit glitches again. It’s no longer an it, but a man with brown hair and green eyes. A man who I recognize, and I feel an overwhelming sense of sadness. I fall to my knees, and that is when it all comes rushing back. 

Nyx (Marie Casey)
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