Visions in the Dark

“Look, look! Over there.”

She’s certain she sees something. I look at her eyes and follow them but the dark is mud. I don’t know how she sees anything and I can’t, she wears glasses and my eyesight is fine.

“There it is!” She looks up to me, “there it was!” She whispers, “Did you see it?”

I stare harder and shake my head, I don’t want to lose any of the focus my eyes have gained. I can feel them get heavy, resting on the tips of grass and wheat stalks in the distance, the only objects I can barely make out.

My silence leads her back to the darkness and she wraps her arm around mine.

“We can’t walk that way. What if it attacks us?”

“Will you protect me?” She asks, looking back at me.

“Of course, babe.” I can’t stop looking now, my eyes are glued to the spot. I’m not looking for anything in particular; I don’t know what she saw. I’m relaxed. My eyes feel like they’re vibrating and the longer I look the more my face relaxes; my mouth opens slightly to the weight of my jaw hammocked on its skin.

“Do you see it?”

“I don’t see anything.”

Little white bursts of light begin to pop around my eyes randomly, they come and go as they please, there’s no sense to their sudden appearances. Soon streaks of red cross my vision, I know I’m the only one who can see them, I can follow them without moving at all. Soon the bursts take over everything and I can’t see anything but this strange light display in the dark.

I can’t move. I don’t want to. The relaxation from my eyes spread to my face and now my shoulders are dropped, my arms hang and tingle at the tips. I can hear each heavy breath muffled in my ears, can feel the air enter my nostrils and graze my upper lip as it slips away. It looks like the stalks are moving to my breaths, but I can hardly see them anymore; the white lights and red streaks are everywhere, the stalks are fading away into black.

“What’s wrong? Babe?” She’s staring at me staring at the darkness, stuck. Every few seconds a thick black line erases whatever bursts and streaks are in my sight but they immediately begin again.

“I’m trying to see babe. Just give me a second.” I don’t want to speak at all. I can feel the words build up in my core, feel the oxygen mount and ride them up through my throat and out of my mouth. It feels hard to speak, takes effort; I can sense the difficulty and agitation to do it. What is this feeling? Why is it happening now?

“Babe you’re scaring me. It was just an animal or something. Please stop. Let’s go this way …”

I can feel her arm’s grip loosen. I’m still looking straight but I know she’s upset, I know what her face looks like. I know what we’ll see if we walk the other path. I want to hold it for a few more moments. I want to think nothing here and barely stand and feel my eyes vibrate while the bursts become diamonds and the streaks like flaming stars shoot across my eyes. I want to feel this confusion. I know she’s worried so I force myself to blink a few times; had I blinked at all while staring? Maybe that’s why I saw them. I don’t remember. Though I wash away the bursts with each flicker of my eyelids, they reappear as the curtains rise.

“I’m seeing all these lights, I don’t know …” Finally I pull my head away and look to her, both of us confused. Her brows are burrowed, her eyes trying to understand me, her lips straight, near frowned: the exact face I saw her making. The diamonds and shooting stars vanish.

“What? I don’t understand? Don’t scare me like that! I thought you were looking at it!”

“I can’t explain … what did you see? I only saw the wheat over there.” My eyes are still readjusting themselves to reality as I point in the general direction.

“I don’t know, I think it was a big animal! Maybe a raccoon. It looked big and ran into the grass. What if it attacks us?”

I massage my eyes for a few more seconds. “I think it’s gone, babe.”

It is. We walk the opposite way and the night is night again, the stars, stars. My shoulders are squared, jaw upright; my vision again covered by the cape of night. She’s confused about what ran away. I’m confused about what stayed with me. We don’t mention either again during the walk, just enjoy one of the last few warm nights of the season together.

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Weathering

When I was young, everything was so much more vibrant and alive. It all seemed to have such deeper colors. I can remember going to a lake 20 minutes away and looking out at the water, sun perfectly reflecting off of tips of splashed water; it looked crystalline. Jagged and smooth fragments of sapphire swaying effortlessly 10 feet in front of my fragile little body. I can remember being surrounded by it, in it, all the sapphire, looking out to the yellow and blue rope buoy ducks topping the water, thinking about swimming out to them just to touch them; afraid I might not make it, might fall into the depths of gems and freeze myself in their beauty. I never tried. When I got out of the water, I would walk to the blanket, or to the picnic tables set up in a clearing of trees and eat my sandwich. I’d walk to the stream 5 minutes away and catch some crawfish. Following the stream would take me to its mouth, to an endless lake quite unlike the man-made one I had just swam in. I remember it as though I were on a cliff’s edge, watching the diamonds fall from the wooded mine to their collective bed. I would watch them harmoniously gather below me with my bucket of crawfish. How perfect. How limitless. I could spend days and weeks at this stream watching the endless gathering of crystals. How blue. How white. How perfect.

Where has the color gone? Why does nothing seem so beautiful as that lake anymore? Everything is faded; the colors, the sounds. I can’t hear without a ringing in my ear anymore. Can’t think without a million thoughts preceding it, following it. I just miss the colors. Where did they go? How could they leave me?

The small amount of sand is almost unnecessary. I can barely stretch my legs without snapping a twig from the withering trees in the picnic tabled clearing; the few trees the clearing is shaded by, anyway. Beyond the handful of conifers is a field of asphalt the trees are meant to curtain. I understand developers trying to shield the beach goer from the way-too-close reality of cars and roads, but the reflection from metallic hoods can be seen from the tables; eaters shield their eyes from beams in the parking lot they’re not supposed to see.

The water looks weathered, it looks stagnant. When swimmers burst from inside, the water sighs in all directions. The light blue it provides is disregarded as black plastic bags float past swimmers. A slight gust of wind can send a zip lock bag formerly holding a bologna sandwich 6 feet and into the man-made lake, wrapping itself around legs jutting out of water, the rest of the body doing an underwater handstand. Sometimes the water looks greenish, not like emeralds, but like sludge. Slime. I think it is, actually. There’s a film of something coming from one of the plastic bags, I have no idea what it could be.

I take a walk towards the stream, an anemic body of water just down the road. Unlike the 5 trees near the tables, I actually kind of feel as though I’m in a forest here. I walk along the rocks on the side, looking for childhood crawfish, but I don’t see a single one. My foot slips off a rock and near the stream but doesn’t get wet; the water’s given up. I follow it the short path to its opening, it dribbles out into a larger lake 4 feet below it. I hop to a series of rocks jutting out of the water to take a better look; small boats sit around looking for fish as I had crawfish, coming up equally empty. The lake is large but mimics the same jaded light blue sighs from the smaller lake. The view isn’t bad, but not as I remember. None of this is. How could that be? Where has the color gone? What changed? Me? How did it all become so small, so fragile? So limited? How do I change it back, can I change it back?

I walk back down the road to the parking lot. I can see straight ahead through the rotting teeth trees and over the lake completely, towards the other side where a dock juts out and ropes an old looking row boat to its post. The trees don’t look greener, the dock browner, or the sun sunnier. I could swim to that side easily if I Wanted, maybe everything looks crystalline over there. Warm. Limitless. Perfect.

I look down to the asphalt, get into my car, and drive away. The lake can’t hide reality. It can’t hide what’s on the other side of the lake either, though it does look like the trees go for miles and miles on the other side. I should swim over there if I come back.

May I Have This Dance?

A classical dance;
Forget what it’s called.
Moves are deliberate and slow.
Music is powerful, strong,
But not always fulfilled.
Notes rise with triumphant brass,
Fall gently to strings,
the music finally drifts away

leaving two; standing, longing,

apart.

I danced it in a dream once.

With you.