short story

The Day I Awoke Without Her / Ray’s Hymn

If you would smile it’d be much like The Morn,

eager to cast it’s lot of Heaven’s Dew,

on the breath of flowers Dawn cast anew,

the heady swill of lavender so borne,

has licked the wick of imagination,

so tender I must be in your hands Love,

what grace abides you like the stars above,

if I’m yours then you must be my Nation.

Would you know me as deeply as all trust?

My Promise and my Triumph lie on you,

of everything, you are everything true,

Because you are The One only I must,

immortalize thy frame in wicked verse,

and offer this psalm to the firmament,

you’re name, a wish cast in Dream’s Parliament,

burning forever in memory’s curse.

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A Message From Me To You While On The Road

“Somehow the way the sensations of the world just possesses you when you’re barreling down the open road, it seems as if Life just isn’t really your choice anymore, more like it’s a narrative unfolding and you’re following the script. I could feel the floor of the car vibrating some wild rhythm in tune with the engine, its almost like the universe was kind of focused on me. My preoccupation was upon the mounting tension I could feel upon making it back to Chicago. I was only a couple hours out, but I could already feel that icy blast of cold air as soon as I opened the door to 417 Reynolds Place. I was gonna hear it, the pure acerbic cries of Jody, and the distaste of her mother’s mother. The point wouldn’t be that I was back, but rather the time it took to get back, and the prior destination as if she didn’t already know, and how I was spending my time when I neglected to answer her daughter’s calls.   But I already know how its gonna go, Jody’s mother wont let it happen that way, not for too long. God knows I hate her mother, not Jody’s, her mother’s mother. I’m still not even sure if Jody’s mine. Kira…if anybody could make space for me it would be her, Jody’s mother, Kira. If she’d spent half as much time paying attention to her own life as she did worrying about me she might’ve had her own place by now. She surely would’ve been finished with school; I know Jody will though, when it’s her time, of that I’m sure. You know driving down this country road like this kinda reminds me of the sort of stuff you usually hear as a kid like ‘the fresh air will do you good’ or ‘stay inside for too long and you ain’t gonna turn out too right,’ I always had trouble with that sorta thing what with growing up in the inner city and all. Most kids spent their times outside, I was inside listening to my grandfather tell me stories about the old country. How the family used to be much richer back on the island, all the weird shit people got up to after learning the secrets of obeah, and all the faint distant lies of what African royalty used to be like. I used to think that sorta stuff was cool if not a little bit scary, now I think its all pretty funny. Such a shame how the old era ended, now we’re stuck in the land of the Yankees paying taxes to colonizers while our county is being called a shithole. The same people who sign off on the paid leave of the men who shot my cousin down in the street like a dog three days ago, walk around my neighborhood eager to buy our property and purchase my aunt’s ‘ethnic cooking’. This is the last thing I want to think about as I’m riding across state lines with my dead cousin in the trunk, it’s the sort of thing that makes me remember just what I really can do when I put my mind to it. Don’t worry; the cops will never see me though…not if I don’t want em to.”

Instinct

It’s funny how no matter how deeply we understand a word, phrase, person, or innately stored concept, our attempts to convey said understanding always falls short.  The way we define things is only ever an approximation. The way we use the words we do and why we choose them are mere facsimile when juxtaposed to our innate understanding of concepts.  Even the most eloquent members of our species are doomed ever to build the shoddiest bridges of communion from one seat of consciousness to another.  Despite this apparent gross mishandling of language, we are always compelled to pin our “best attempt” at communication to the surface of another’s perception.  We are like islands of being.  “Good writing gets down to the essence of things,” a good mentor once told me. There is a divinity ceded within brevity.

Exotic

(Somewhere along you linger, in warm sheets against my facsimile, haunting my dreams like a shade…)

{I know The Sun rests on your shoulders, by the way your skin glows like gilded mahogany.  I know somewhere in your cells lies a wicked light that doth sunder a man to ashes. I know you over again like the Morning Star, it’s lost titles, and the songs of The Heavenly Host.

And you were a promise I chose to keep.  Over and above hollow vows, precious stones, and sweet things which in their apathy, refuse to persist.  You rescued The Day from my night, with The Sun resting on your shoulders. Your name is a word worth keeping.

What does grace look like?

It swims in the eyes of a Black Woman.

What are riches worth?

That which she chooses.

And a Black woman is…?}

[And she took the form of elegant persuasion…

Her hair coiled around the air like cocoa butter and castor oil, starving it of lifelessness.

Lips filling the sky like sun and moon, she had her own gravity.

Something unearthly, Godlike burned in her eyes…

Her skin slid across The Elements like Energy, contouring to the imagination, ebbing and flowing to the desires of the mind.

Flowers blossomed as she sighed.

Her laughter stirred inertia in The Cosmos…

What wit? What force of Fortune would endear me to you?

How horrifying a mistake I’ve made to live so long without you…

Please excuse my tardiness.]

 

In The Backroom

Was you a Black Queen in a past life?

Did God grant you a pass like,

From ancestor to grand daughter,

“I got you right the first time,

no added mix to the formula…”

And she said,

“I beat these bruises out my face,

and rub a smile across my lips,

but you can still see the thorns draped around my neck.

So if you think you can just buy my affection,

or spend my time…”

We painted all night in my studio,

She had a candid conversation with my canvas,

As I brushed her skin in candied couture,

Each breath like laughter,

Until honey dripped between her thighs,

The way the flames of another person,

Swallow you whole before you can wade their shallow waters,

I feel comfortable the way we bury our problems in one another.

The Lost Faith (VI)

As soon as Abigail’s hands found themselves upon the handle of the door, the distant bell above the cathedral tolled as if to spurn the heavens into motion. Looking up the vision she saw unfolding above her nearly brought her to her knees. The previously unremarkable sky had completely transformed, golden light poured from every corner of the sky as if the entire sky had been repainted with the rays of the sun.

Gently falling from the golden sky like snow feathers bright as stars plummeted softly to the ground. Joyous laughter welled up from Abigail’s heart as a feather floated down into one of her outstretched hands. The profound and beautiful silence of the moment moved her to tears.

The giant doors to the cathedral were lighter than air to her touch and swung open eagerly before Abigail’s fingers. She stepped into the cathedral and was shocked at how small and comfy it was on the inside. Aside from a few rows of pews and an altar on the other end of the room the cathedral seemed to contain little else inside.

Abigail walked towards the altar trying to make out the strange glyphs inscribed upon the far wall. She stopped shortly and try as she might the more she studied the symbols the more bizarre they seemed. She turned her sweeping gaze across the other features of the room; there were no symbols in the room defining any particular religion.

The benches that made up the pews were crafted from simple cherry oak. She inspected the back of them hoping to find a Bible or Quran perhaps, nothing. The carpet stretching from the entryway to the altar was a simple red with white borders along the edges.

Some candles set inside of candelabra in the corner of the room on either end of the altar gave no insight. Upon the altar itself, white cloth and a jeweled golden chalice. “Communion maybe?” Abby thought to herself. She leaned over and looked into the chalice, nothing. Frustrated and slightly crestfallen at the lack of answers Abigail turned to leave.

“What have you come in search of?” The question most certainly ringed in her ears but was it coming from someone else in the room or her own mind Abigail wasn’t sure.   “I don’t know,” replied Abigail aloud. Her eyes darted around the room for the possible source of the voice.

“What have you lost?” This time Abby was clear, it wasn’t coming from her own head, the voice seemed to be coming from the room itself, with no distinct center. “Faith,” Abigail said addressing the chalice on the altar. “No,” the voice responded.

The voice almost reminded Abigail of Nana but somehow distant, softer but somehow stronger. “What do you mean no?” asked Abigail defiantly. “Not it,” the voice replied simply. “You’re wrong, that’s why I’m here,” Abigail replied desperately. Her voice was quivering, full of doubt and fear, if this wasn’t why she was here then why would she be? “I’m not close, but I’m not lost,” the voice whispered.

“I-I need your strength…” Abigail pleaded, the words almost failing her. The voice did not respond. “Please, don’t leave me, I don’t know why I always feel so lost,” Abigail had uttered the words with utter humility; she was moved to speak to the voice by a force she did not know. Her pride and knees failed her as she cried out to the voice from the cosmos.

In the silence of the cathedral, as Abigail cried on all fours, she felt a warmth flooding her crouched form. “I’m never far,” the voice said breaking through Abby’s cries, this time distinctly above her. She looked up and instantly felt at peace.

The figure stretching above her filled the room with golden light. With wings as pure as ivory and eyes glowing with sunlight Abigail struggled to comprehend, the entity’s form. The Angel’s garb was a purely embroidered dress.   She sported ornate golden jewelry all across her body. Her hair flowed as slowly through time as if woven with magic. The angel reminded Abby so much of her dear Nana, but also looked profoundly different. Maybe this was Nana when she was younger? But no her face was different, one Abigail couldn’t quite make out.

In the presence of the Angel Abigail could feel an immense power welling up from deep within her. As she looked down at herself, she could see golden light pouring from herself as well in the presence of the Angel. In the Angel’s hands, Abby noticed the chalice stretched towards her expectantly.

Understanding dawned in Abigail’s mind as she reached into her pocket and withdrew the feathers that she had fallen earlier. Lowering them into the empty chalice, the feathers turned into a glowing liquid. Abigail pressed the chalice to her lips and drank the contents full.

Instantly she could feel the effects, the liquid making her body feel as light as a feather.   Deep inside, Abby felt an old wound close. The Angel smiled and wrapped itself in its wings vanishing in a radiant glow of light. “Wait!” Abigail cried out. “Never far,” the voice echoed, this time inside her mind. The light from Abigail muted substantially in the empty cathedral, but a portion remained all the same.

Even now, Abigail could sense herself stirring, waking from the dream. She tested her lightness, and surely enough, as soon as she willed herself to, she found she could fly. Facing the empty chalice and altar, the glyphs on the wall illuminated as if lit by an eternal fire. The walls around her were beginning to fade as she began to wake, a single word churned into being like fire in the darkness, Gratia.

The Lost Faith (V)

Running, shadows, noise. The breath in her chest was strained and sharp, the pursuit was relentless, the dark arms tore at her desperate for any speck of flesh, any strand of hair. The howling behind her was awful, deep and dreadful like a piercing cry from the heart of hell. Abigail’s feet pummeled the Earth hard, faster, towards the light, the scenery aside an indiscernible blur. Light. Hope. Silence.

***

Abigail awoke with a start. This was the aspect of lucid dreaming she hated the most, nightmares, so vivid, so real. Even the dreams that weren’t lucid were powerful and rapturous. Often times they were the worst because she couldn’t simply will herself to wake up like she could with an actual lucid dream. “Breathe,” she said to herself. “Breathe, it’s just a dream. That’s it easy.” Abigail extracted her dream diary from her bag and recorded the experience. Several minutes later, she eased herself back to sleep.

***

The world before her eyes was not at all what she expected it to be when she opened them. She stood in the ruined center of a once great city. The concrete and asphalt cracked and frayed. Great buildings stretched along towards the sky, some unfinished in construction, others broken by a terrible unknown force.

As she walked along the streets she observed crowds of people suspended in drama as if time had stopped, along other streets people walked along unfazed as if nothing peculiar were occurring. Cars drove along the streets and into the sky and vanished. All manner of objects floated about unfettered and phased through Abigail’s hand as she tried to touch them.

No one seemed to notice Abigail, just walking along deftly avoiding her or perhaps walking through her.   She tried to call out to them but much to her horror her voice was gone. “Reality check,” she thought to herself pressing her right fist firmly into her palm, with little resistance it passed cleanly through. “So I’m dreaming,” she muttered to herself. “But I need to find my voice.”

Abigail mouthed all manner of words and strained her voice but all to no avail. Gazing about furiously for help her eyes settled upon a small child eyeing her furtively. As Abigail’s eyes settled onto the small girl she felt a slight unease. The girl perhaps sensing it too cocked her head to the side and smiled. “She knows something,” Abigail thought. But before Abigail could reach the child, the girl ran off to the end of the street and rushed around a corner.

Instinct exploded into Abby as she shirked the corner every step driving into the concrete with increased power and resolution. The girl she pursued was fast too, always a couple steps ahead. Abby drove herself forward recklessly, “faster,” she thought, “faster.” The word echoed into her mind until her will wove itself into action. She distantly knew that at the speed she was currently moving was not humanly possible, and yet she did not feel fatigue, but rather invigoration.

Ahead the girl was still blazing ahead of Abigail, no closer despite the superhuman speed that Abby was now steadily stretching beyond. And the girl did seem to be a lot like fire Abby noticed as the child laughed and pressed beyond. The previously pale brown skin was now glowing, increasingly red like hot iron. The red hair waving and billowing like smoke, and when the child looked back it was with eyes full of flame.

“You’re not faster than me little imp,” Abby thought to herself. The words no sooner filled her mind than suddenly a joyous power crackled through her body like a streak of lightning. The imp’s eyes grew wide as she tried to comprehend the bolt of Abby bearing down upon her. Somewhere from the depths of the spark a hand formed and reached out to the imp. Triumphantly Abigail grasped the fiery sprite only for the imp to vanish in a puff of red smoke.

Abigail pressed her heels deeply into the ground; “STOP!” she yelled, and much to her surprise the voice tore through her lips into the world beyond. The sudden resultant stop was nigh instantaneous and not a moment too soon. She found herself in a distant part of the city where there was no other sign of life. The very atmosphere of this part of the city was different.

Before her stood a massive cathedral stretching into the heavens as if from a world beyond. She stood in awe of the construction it’s gothic architecture profoundly out of place in the ruined city she had witnessed. And yet it stood completed and resilient, like a last bastion of hope and faith in the shattered world.

“I don’t belong here,” thought Abby aloud, she hadn’t been to church since Nana forced her to go since she was a little girl. “I’ve lost faith.” It was strange to Abby that her dream world decided to take her here. She had no intentions of setting foot into church especially not into an illusory one. Yet she still couldn’t help but to be taken in by it’s profound beauty.

The more she stared at the grayish-white stone with which the cathedral was hewn from, the more radiant it seemed to glow, a soft silvery white almost like moonlight. The cathedral sported a profound sense of symmetry in its construction sloping towards its center where a bell remained suspended at its highest point. Along the various towers figures stood atop some clutching arcane objects locked in contemplative grief, others raptured in joyous expressions of jubilation.

Abigail could feel something deep within her compelling her inside the cathedral. Even as she debated the sensation in her mind she felt a remarkable ease and lightness creep up from the pit of her stomach. Before she could protest, the compulsion became a step towards the door.