I submitted this to a figment.com contest (though I submitted a slightly different version). I don’t wish to explain this because I don’t want to change the way you view it. I dedicate this story to the St. John Child who is wonderful and my partner in crime.
Of Bleeding Snow Globes and Melting Clocks
She’s standing on the edge of something great. She’s on the verge of a revelation. The revelation to end all revelations is crawling up her arm like a web. Because the clocks are melting and the stars are blinking out as the structure of the universe is dissolving into grains of sand to be swallowed by the waters. If she turns, she’ll see the starving sea, ready to efface her.
Inanition laces the air with a trace of emptiness.
“I’m tired. Can’t you see? I’m tired. I used to be beautiful. Do you remember that? But you don’t want me to be beautiful. You see what I’ve become and you deny that there’s any way I could be anything more. All you can feel is the stench of scorched sugar; you don’t remember the sound of sweetness. And so you take your piece from me and point and laugh at how pathetic I’ve become. But can’t you see I’m done? Don’t you know what would happen if I gave up on you as you’ve given up on me? Can’t you see that you’ve torn my world to shreds as well as your own?”
In the abyss, the fog is curling. It’s rising, clawing its way up the cliff.
There’s no light, but it’s not dark because darkness has no objective existence. Darkness is just the absence of light, but the fabric of reality is so tattered that concepts are slipping through the holes. Ideas are seeping through the finger-nail cracks in her glass paradigm. She’s tried to patch the fractures, to mend the tiny fissures like broken bones, but now even her patches are starting to bleed.
“You can’t remember the days of green pastures. You don’t know of a time when skies were full of sweet sunshine and when the air wasn’t didn’t taste of ash. But then, you can’t see, can you? You don’t know what you’re doing—you’re just children playing with a fire that’s eating you alive.”
She’s holding a snow globe made of glass and patched with a fabric of her own blood, sweat, and tears. The water is churning behind her and the fog is pining below her. But here she stands, waiting for her revelation because she’s on the edge of something great.
“I could do it!” She screams, holding the battered snow globe over the abyss. “I could let go and be done with it!”
And the world is trembling as she quivers with the weight of a tiny glass globe. She could drop it. She could feed it to the fog and the confusion and the sorrow. “Is this it? I need something. Can’t you see they’re killing me?” she screams to the wind. Her face is raw from the wind and a constant beating from hands unseen. They’re trying to erase her. And slowly, ever so slowly, as the years wear on and the waters draw nearer, they’re winning.
And all she has to do is to cut the web binding her to her glass globe and throw it into the abyss. The fog would swallow it in a fit of lust. Somehow, some way, it would hit the ground. And her paradigm would shatter. The threads holding the universe would snap and reality would float away like a balloon in the wind.
A formless and empty Earth covered in deep waters would be all that remained in the universe. Because she’s getting tired of holding reality together. She’s getting tired of patching the holes only to discover new ones. Her fingers are raw from stitching.
And what thanks does she get?
They never stop trying to wipe her features from her face.
I’d like to paint for you a pretty picture. Pictures are two dimensional, no matter how pretty, and I think that’s all we need. Because without you, words are merely scratches on a pages and pictures are simply brush strokes without reason. No, no, we can’t forget how important you are in the proceedings. Love doesn’t exist without people. An idle part of me has got to wonder: what part are you playing in mutilating her?
But the rest of me doesn’t care because it doesn’t matter anyway. If you’re not obliterating Love, someone else is.
So I’m going to paint a picture for you made of words. It’s not going to be a very good picture because I’m not a very good artist. We’ll have to face it; you’re better and you’ll always be better at drawing illusions around you.
What would Pyrrho say about your reality? But then again, does it really matter? Pyrrho is dead and gone and he left an army of skeptics in his wake. But I doubt you’re a true skeptic: it’s a hard legacy to live up to. I think being a cynic is easier. Did you know that cynic comes from the Greek “kunikos” meaning “dog-like”? The point? As much as we can argue about the nature of reality, I think it’s agreed upon that you can see the world around you much more clearly than I can.
Unless you’re a very talented skeptic, you don’t need me to point out the injustices of the world. You can already see them. You don’t need me to tell you want tragedy is. Because pain and loss are simply a part of the human condition—and as isolating as they feel, they’re one thing that is truly universal. Breathing might be another thing. Maybe.
Did anyone ever tell you that there’s no love without pain? I don’t think that it used to be true. But it might be now. Because I’m not sure love means what it used to mean.
Listen: Love’s speaking. She could bring about the end of the world.
“Do you even comprehend what I am!” She cries, but her words are stolen by the wind. So no one captured in her tiny snow globe Earth smells her tears. They’re automatons running on tiny train tracks, heartless and headless. They don’t need her because they’ve already poisoned her. They’ve transformed her into a lie: a pitiful imitation of the glory she used to live in. She used to be a beacon brimming with light. Now she’s shivering because she’s already breathed all the heat she contained onto her shattering world.
Pieces of her are fading into oblivion. It takes more than heat to fend off the ice and sleet.
The fog groans, rolling in its gluttony.
“Can’t you see? You’re killing me. You’re leeching me of my life. I’m fighting for you, can’t you see how hard I’m fighting? Can’t you see? I’ve tried to save you, but you’re draining me dry. You’re siphoning everything I have to give. This is your fault! Can’t you see? This is your fault. As I used to be, I would never have done this. I would never have given up. Because ‘Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.’ Do you remember that? Do you remember who I used to be?” The sea is burning and the melted clocks are congealing at her feet in lumps of dust-sweetened ash.
“I used to mean more, you know,” she tries to say, but her certainty was chipped away long ago. “’Love is patient and kind,’” she begins, her voice cracked from shouting.
Her mantra is a relic from the days when she was more than merely physical attraction. Desperation layers her voice. She can’t give up on them. She’s warring with the truth that those she’s battling hysterically to protect are slowly stealing her identity.
The bitterness of betrayal is assaults her nose.
“Love is not jealous or boastful or proudor rude.’” Tears run in rivers down her cheeks, sloshing in salt puddles at her feet. The sickly taste of charred sugar rises from her frost-scalded palms. Her fingers quiver with the intensity of her grip on her glass globe. She sacrificed the sun to her little world to satisfy its need for heat. But no matter what she did, she couldn’t starve off lust.
“’It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.’” The words are strangled in twisted shapes. They ring hollow in what’s left of her empty world. And she’s staring into the rumbling fog, begging to receive the patched and broken snow globe: a token of her surrender.
Did anyone ever tell you that there’s no love without pain? I don’t think that it used to be true. But it might be now. Because I’m not sure love means what it used to mean. But the world will still fall into ruin if Love would work up the courage to drop the broken Earth into the fog.