Short Story: Alone

It was a desert.

That she could define – a surprising word, at this point, as she did not even know her own name. She did not know where it was or how she had come to be in one – but she knew the term ‘desert’ and believed herself to be there, nonetheless.

She knew that the script behind her thinking was slightly forced. It was as though words were not to be privy to this private place, that the very fact that words were being uttered – that words are being uttered now – was acknowledgement of the fact that her surroundings were not as empty as they seemed.

But there is always something lost in translation.

This time, what was lost through penning her thoughts was the completeness of isolation that she felt. The untouchable nature of feeling, carved into mismatching shapes by language.

She tried simply to feel.

It was all very vague. The sand was translucent, somewhere between quinoa and water, no sensation recognised upon touching it. She mused that perhaps her eyes were closed. Usually when her eyes were closed there was some sort of heaviness – the heaviness of sadness or sleep – but this time her eyes were closed without any effort on her part at all, forgotten curtains masking a dusky room. She was simply alone, and they were simply closed, and nothing felt heavy.

This place was a numbness, entrapment inside a collapsing building. No torchlight, no voices. Just the especial synergy between inhale and exhale, in out, in out, in out – and barely that. Her breath was not enough to conjure even the lightest mist.

What are the semantics of solitude?

I suppose that she felt light. Felt a little of everything – a little fear, a little release, a little freedom, a little hesitance. Feeling everything and nothing, all new things cancelled out by the old. She felt like she was floating – lying down on her feet. She felt like she was high.

Maybe the sun was rising on something, or maybe it would dip and fall, a momentary inhalation. There was no way of knowing until the moment was over. Perhaps it was her lack of pen to paper, her lack of desire to “do”, her fears reaching overwhelming heights until they superseded feeling itself. For now she was nowhere and nothing but this desert. Nothing but the sum of her closed eyes.

She lay back, felt the strange coolness of feeling nothing, this strange sand. Air filled her lungs and made her pure again. We fight and cry and squawk bleakly over our lack of innocence so much as we age that we forget the main ingredient – to breathe. To inhale deeply. To feel everything and nothing. To let cool oxygen cuddle your lungs and your blood and your bones, until you evaporate.

This is all that she felt. The purest semantics. Evaporation and dismissal. Exhale and inhale. Freedom and the borrower, the borrower of one precious moment.

She was not alone.

A figure sat a distance away in front of a fire, as weak and vapid as the sand she soaked in. They refused to move, but stared at her with their featureless, softly intruding eyes. They seemed to be calling to her. She didn’t want to go – or did she? She did and she didn’t. She enjoyed this tasteless freedom, this potential to do whatever she pleased behind the dormant placidity of her closed eyes. She did not want to look at them.

But she moved forward, nonetheless.

It was swift and cold, here, but their fire was soft and hot. They spoke to her without speaking, the meaningless perpetration of words.

Take me to a mountain. A mountain to surmount.

And suddenly, they were there. The nothingness remained, but this time a nothingness particular to the strange companionship created. The sun appeared. It had risen, now, a curious orb. Would it fall?

Their breaths were freer and purer. She shared them. She shared them with the breaths of a secret populace, the ancient heritage around her and beneath her feet.  A calling. Indefinable.

The curtains opened.


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