The jaunty piano tune, meant to signal the end of a vaudevillian show, became steadily louder, discordant, and ominous. The clouds overhead, sparking with lightning, darkened until nearly black.
The music stopped. Asmodeus and Disease were only a step away from me. Their hands sho(more)t toward my throat in unison. I ducked away by a breath, and they fell in a heap, all flailing limbs and gnashing teeth. I spun around to face them, and though they struggled frantically to untangle themselves and jump to their feet, I didn't back away.
His black-eyed face, clenched with hunger and fury, and Her bottomless eye sockets, radiating quiet madness, seemed to fill my whole vision. My breath caught somewhere within the tangled mess of stories and sins inside me. Beautiful oblivion yawned before me. I could fall in. It would be easy. I could rest, finally, the strings that had controlled my every move and thought ever since the Fall snapped, shredded - untangled, once and for all.
"Yes," they said in a velvet growl, "you need us."
I swayed on the spot, wanting so much to just give in, to never again need to scrub my own blood from my skin, to never again choke on the truth and starve on lies.
"Yes," they said again, "let us help you."
"I..." my voice failed me, just like it had at the Fall.
They nodded, slowly, and their grins stretched like tears in the fabric of the universe.
Weakly, I stretched an arm out to steady myself, but finding nothing, my nails sliced the air as I fell, for what must be the last time.
A gust of wind, not swamp-dank but summer-bright, erupted from the slashed air.
"I don't need you. I've got something better."
I pointed. My demons trembled.(less)
My foot was propped up on a rock and the water splashed the underside of my leg. I found service on the far edge of a stream, a weak signal but one that was sufficient to carry light missiles out of my palm and onto your lap. I had(more) typed a Note on my phone, and it looked funny to see pages worth of words formatted against the yellow screen with lines, mimicking a legal pad. I cut and pasted it into another app, and I deleted the note, and that made it more yours than mine.
I returned to my bag of almonds in the shade and had a conversation about the edibility of acorns. The next day my feet propped on the dash, boots off and my calves dusty. We stopped in town for ice cream sandwiches, which were eaten on a bench in front of a tavern that spit stale air, slightly cool, into the left side of my body. I checked my messages and wondered about insomnia and whether it would strike again, in a tent or a bed, whether I would betray myself from a cocoon of synthetics.
I expected more misunderstandings, but in the absence of full truth there is diminished attachment to interpretation. I can keep my eyes open longer under this water, though I only see your knees.
If you were standing right behind me now, you would see me typing with thumbs on the same side of the country, our timing matched because 2:28 means the same thing to both of us. But there is a glare on the screen, and you would not know it was me unless you came so close that you could smell the smoke in my hair, hear that the sounds are quite familiar to you. (less)