This is unlike any other place I’ve seen or traversed. This is bejeweled squalor, this thing that keeps me.
I write you to find solace. I write to find help. I beg.
I am on an island of a familiar parallel. It’s bordered by an ocean which beaches strange objects: A necklace I thought I’d lost but am sad to find; the bones of a cat (Libby? Belle? You there?). Sand-scrubbed, fossilized coral from a land called Up North, where the water is cold and the ice cream is colder.
I am without maps, friend.
I write to beg of you, please, I beg for help in the form of carrier pigeon so that I may be acknowledged – I’ve written letters, see, to a man who means quite a lot, to a girl who shares my blood. To many people. To you all – hello, earthlings, my dear old strangers; The letters are pained. Each word arrives laced with a personal poison and a thicket of overgrown ivy, dry in its long-since death. Volumes of letters, details of a constant battle between what could be worse: cauterized hope or euthanized daydreams? I beg for help in the form of a voice cometh forward. I beg for help in the form of a rescuer, a tall and sturdy explorer of a being who knows nothing but successful escape and the cries of abandonment and why such things might be cried.
This is unlike me, to be found in this place, but if memory serves correctly, I’ve been here several times before. Perhaps on a different side. I have not had time to chart its geography. Again, I am not dull. I am just without maps. Friend.
Ah. But. This landscape is the deepest depth of a swallowed gasp cut short, the darkest of tunnels warped into a collusion with illusioned defeat. I was before held close to the sun, a summer’s rose with thorns gummed with fresh spider’s webbing. The sun beat on me with a trillion diamond-studded wonders like smiles and love and gifts meant to endear. My physicality, unaffected. My mental eye, unscathed. That was before. That was much before.
This place. This place. This.
I laugh when I am scared, and believe me, my laughter now is loud like the alien birds hidden above me, parroting what I thought were hidden thoughts. I am crying, I am laughing so much. Ha! Laughing but crying – what irony is this? Another reason I spite this existence.
Deep breaths. I promise my letter to you, in its entirety, is not brimming with these sort of insanities. Keep reading, keep going. Please.
I write to tell you of a strange species of demonic entity birthed here, things I thought only existed to the Brothers Grimm. They slink and dart, arachnid shadows. My friend, my dear reader, attempts to hide from these beings, behind the palms, render fruitless as the trees are simply too thin at their scalloped trunks. The shrubs are laughable. Boulders worked once but again, my mind’s cartographic interpretation of such madness has failed me more than it has helped (again, I am not stupid, I am of acknowledgeable intelligence, please verify this, please validate in your return letter. Thank you.) One particular demon has caused a sensory torment that drains me, day in and day out – the ruffled sigh of sea water sends me into a pitiful despair. The soft billow of fronds now sounds like the whine of gutter dogs. Another demon takes pleasure when I shake, the tremors unnoticeable to any creature but me, while I twitch and fumble with a specific spatial awareness gone awry. Yet another demon has seduced my personality into pure wretchedness, a sharp tongue and sharper bite against inanimate objects that which do not deserve such things but which makes me wish for the gallows. I found myself kicking a rotten coconut the other day. Huh. I am irritated beyond belief about everything. I am exhausted due to nothing. I feel as though I’ve been wronged in a curse, as if someone laughs at me from her tower. I am ugly in this place. I am a crooked, lump of a human who cannot crawl from this here darkness and back toward the clutch of light with which I’d been so spoiled. Now I lie here, in my rot, and I smell like the dank dew of an apple left unattended – be glad that you cannot smell me in my despair. Once sweet, now sweeter still in a nauseated recipe for disaster. I make noises like an underbed monster: Grunts and groans and muffled mumblings. The roar of a crushed thing. It is my language here, and I write in lengths of eons with it.
The last demon is the trickiest. He hides his form in a funny little bottle, the one from Alice In Wonderland. It says ‘Drink Me’ and I do, every time. Tricked, friend, every time! I kick myself for it. After my first sip, this particular demon hides all fear for me, and then when I awake from the stupor I am wracked with pains, both physical and emotional. This demon’s friendship is a learned thing. I am all at once delighted by him and horrified. He’s the tricky one, yes. Magician, wizard, what have you; he provides black magic that tastes like a flamboyant, saccharine redemption.
No one could know how I became stranded here, on this body of sand and muck and facetious creatures. The food is plentiful but I make myself sick on it, believing it will ensure survival. My body hates me for it. I am not strong. Have I descended? I beg.
On occasion I hear the low vibration of a woman’s voice through the pittering of rain – the voice cometh forward, for that I still beg – and she confirms my macabre discoveries to be true. I ask when people might find me but she does not answer. Is she you? Are you her? The pittering of rain simply turns to a dry thunder, which calms me. It is the only creature louder than I, the only creature whose roar dims my din and swallows me into something of an audiophiliac wonderland.
Deep in a family of palms beyond the sea-frothed border of the island, I find littered coconuts that feed maggots, and an abandoned projector next to an old two-seater plane. The plane crashes here every night but, mysteriously, no one ever comes forward as the pilot and it always crashes tragically. Two chairs are propped in front of the projector. Every night I sit and let the machine chime its pictures. The movies here are grim. The main character and I share much too much. I wait patiently, uncomfortably. The anxiety, it sickens me. The waiting for the other occupant of the other chair, it kills me.
Who do I look for? Is it a stranger? Is it you, the miraculous recipient of dronings-on of an island captive? Ah, but I know, deep down, who she might be: She is the explorer, the carrier pigeon, the pilot. I bet. I beg.
I don’t know how to fly. I hopped into the cockpit once or twice to learn and I became paralyzed with visions of other crashes, more tragedy. I don’t know how to fly the plane, I promise, so don’t suggest it, please don’t make me try that –
It is time to wrap this up. I mean that quite literally – I will be finding old frond and fashioning a bow for the letter to sit pertly within. My words then will seem less a burden, more a bittersweet treasure. I am a pirate, now, after all, though the only thing I steal is the time of others.
In the morning I go to sea. Every night I fall asleep on white sand but in the darkness I perceive it as clouded gray. My demons come again to tell me yes, this is true, yes, I am right. White is gray, white is not white at all.
I do not want to be right anymore because I am so terribly, obviously, foolishly wrong. The sand is white. Tomorrow the pilot will save the plane. Bedtime stories.
Shush, quiet; silence, s’il vous plait.
Tomorrow can only be tomorrow. Tonight, the coconuts are all dry of their milk, and the projector has been replaced with a foggy mirror. I cannot look into it, I am not the fairest of them all. I have to smash it to match myself – only then am I satisfied in its classification as ‘mirror.’
I write you to find solace. I write you for release. I write you because, in this pain, I am the most human I have ever been.
This is unlike any other place I’ve seen or traversed and so help me, so help me God, lest I conquer this island, lest I learn how to fly.