Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter: therefore, ye soft pipes, play on. ~John Keats

24 July 2017

An empty shell of what once was –
Empty hallways, abandoned fairways,
Shells of buildings, car bodies littering the roads –
Leaving the abandoned town soulless and hollow,
Cold to the outside world,
As it is empty on the inside.
It’s a backwater ghost town
Forgotten by most
And remembered unwillingly by some,
Leaving their memories of what was
To fill the cracks and crannies here.
What happened is something nobody speaks of,
Dark and horrific,
Happening to the best of people.
The eeriness of this town,
Made more so by overgrown parking lots
And gutted buildings that look soulless,
Just a shell of a town,
Seeps into you and grabs hold.
Left to be taken over by the elements,
Left to be forgotten by those who once loved it,
This ghost town is no longer on any map,
Fallen off the radar long ago,
As though whoever once was here
Left without a second thought.
The dark energy hopes to tie you here.
Stumbling upon it by accident,
I have found in it something old,
Something with a hollowed spirit,
And shadows dancing
With the memories of yesterday,
Dark and yearning,
Chaotic and helpless.
Nothing is here,
Yet a pressing feeling suffocates me.
Between the crumbled ruins of once grand buildings
Littered along the cracked and cluttered streets     
With burnt out street lights hanging dangerously low,
Surrounded by nothing,
Ghosts of yesteryears appear and fade in the fog
Whispering about the time that was,
Reminiscing about the dark days.
As the broken spirit pulls me in,
The memories of yesteryears fill the empty spaces
With the booming past of this town,
Of its richness and color.
Just for a moment,
The dead town comes to life,
Booming and vibrant,
As though memories of tomorrow are forgotten,
Shining and living for a moment.
Before tomorrow is remembered,
And yesterday is forgotten.
This is a ghost town once again,
Rotting and left in sacrifice to nature.
In its place is the draw of darkness,
Teasing and tormenting.
Fading ghosts whisper in the fog,
Begging to be heard.
There is a story to be told,
However dark it may be…
The grey rubble of broken down buildings
Are a stark contrast to the fog.
Overgrown crossroads and a railroad
Lead dark paths through the ruins.
Hoarse whispers call to me,
Taunting and cruel,
Punishing.
Yet, I resist the pull,
The call of the darkness,
Its yearning to come and play.
I just listen,
Allowing the memories and whispers to guide me,
Filling me with their stories and past.
I close my eyes
And open myself to the memories,
An open flow of communication,
With an equal amount of temptation…
Darkness has tainted these memories,
A darkness that pulses and comes to life,
One that inhales evil and exhales despair.
A memory of a face,
Alive and dead, side by side.
The face in a mask of horror alive
Is tranquil in death.
A hand wrapped around her heart,
Ripped a hole savagely through her chest,
Left alone in the cold to rot.
I am lost within myself,
Following down this path laid out
By the darker forces,
Dragging me down.
When I finally open my eyes,
Nothing’s changed,
But I am not the same.
An energy crackles through my veins,
An energy that wasn’t there before,
And it is more powerful
Than anything I have ever felt,
Pulling me deeper into the town,
Almost as though it wants to keep me here
Drawing me in…
… I am a shell of the person I was,
Drawing energy from the town,
Hollow and soulless,
Empty of all else,
But an energy that has entered me,
And a soul that has possessed me
Filling my veins and lungs with a new life,
Anchoring me here
In a down that has died
When its prisoners escaped,
And its past is no more…
… Except in my heart
And it has replaced my spirit.

07 July 2017

An empty shell of what once was –
Soulless and hollow,
Cold to the outside world,
Empty on the inside -
This town is long abandoned,
Forgotten by most.
Those who do remember
Like to pretend it doesn’t exist.
What happened here
Is something nobody speaks of.
Dark and horrific as they were,
The events happened to the best of people.
The eeriness of this town
Seeps into you and grabs hold.
The dark energy hopes to tie you here.
The shadows dance
With the memories of yesterday,
The crumbled ruins of once grand buildings
Whisper about the time that was;
Ghosts appear and disappear in the fog,
Reminiscing about the dark days,
As the broken spirit pulls me in.
Though tempting,
The draw of darkness is teasing.
But I listen;
This town, left abandoned,
Has a story to tell,
However dark it may be.
The grey rubble of broken down buildings
Are a stark contrast to the fog.
Overgrown crossroads and a railroad
Lead dark paths through the ruins.
Hoarse whispers call to me,
Taunting and cruel,
Punishing.
Yet, I resist the pull,
The call of the darkness,
It’s yearning to come and play.
I just listen,
Allowing the memories and whispers guide me,
Filling me with their stories and past.
I close my eyes
And open myself to the memories,
An open flow of communication,
With an equal amount of temptation.
I am lost within myself,
Following down a path laid out
By the darker forces,
Dragging me down.
When I finally open my eyes,
Nothing’s changed,
But I am not the same.
An energy crackles through my veins,
An energy that wasn’t there before,
And it is more powerful
Than anything I have ever felt before,
Pulling me deeper into the town,
Almost as though it wants to keep me here,
Drawing me in…

… I am a shell of the person I was,
Drawing energy from the town,
Hollow and soulless,
Empty of all else,
But an energy that has entered me
And has filled my veins,
Anchoring me here
In a town that has died
When its soul escaped,
And its past is now more…
…Except in my heart

And it has replaced my soul.

11 August 2016

Immortality

Immortality is but a dream.
Ideas and words live on,
As does a legacy left behind.
We are never truly mortal;
But immortality can never be achieved.
            Immortality is just a dream.
            We can never be unbound by the chains of humanity,
            The cycles of the Universe.
            Mortality suites us,
            In the cyclical life of humanity.
                        We are stuck between mortality and immortality,
                        Overachieving one,
                        Never to achieve the other.
                        Reckless abandon to prolong life,
                        In hopes to savor it just a little longer.
            But humanity binds us to mortality,
            Just for a moment.
            In a moment,
            We are suspended in time, just past mortality.
            And then, it’s gone.
Nothing left for us just past that edge.
We fall before we can reach it,
Sliding away to the infinite,
Realizing that it truly is the end.
Immortality is but a dream…

12 March 2016

Dreamer

Whole new worlds,
faded memories,
brilliant colors
in quickly changing scenes.
whether asleep or awake,
i can never escape a dream.
dreams about memories half-forgotten,
the pictures yellowed in the corners,
and the edges crumpled and bent,
or dreams about my desires and passions,
bright and vivid,
leaving me yearning for something more.
flashes of things in my mind,
snippets of things unknown,
forgotten, never seen, not understood;
sometimes random things,
beautiful, amazing, breathtaking,
or ugly, sad, disgusting, scary.
i am a dreamer.
my mind flows with creativity,
with crazy thoughts and unknown wants.
it shows me things
i never knew it could.
my dreams float upwards,
expand and fill the spaces between the stars,
so big i can't contain them.
i am a dreamer,
i allow myself to escape,
to want, desire, and run freely
as i dream.
i am a dreamer....

10 March 2016

Colors of my dreams

the colors of my dreams are bold, vibrant, alive.
the colors of my dreams are dark, dull, slow.
different every night,
awash in the quicksilver rays of the moon,
running on an empty blankness of a white canvas.
the colors of my dreams inspire, drive, and awaken me;
they show me something more,
something that I long for;
they give me something to live for.
the colors of my dreams seep into the colors of my life.
the colors of my dreams are the colors of my life.

I'm Gone

silent suffering
internal disquiet
sadness, discouragement, anger, emptiness,
hopelessness, lost, questioning,
self-hate, pain, torment,
but I put on a smile,
outwardly showing everything is okay,
an untrue statement about being fine,
just to get by,
just to get through the day,
wishing I could just find peace
in the internal emotional and mental turmoil.
hoping it would just end.
instead, I'm drowning
in the darkness within my mind.
and in the relentless tidal waves,
I lose myself,
I forget who I am.
all my fight is gone.
the light at the end of the tunnel
has been put out.
and in the darkness,
I can't find myself,
cant find my way out.
and the tidal waves
pull me under.
I succumb,
I let myself go.
and I no longer feel a thing.
just a shell,
pretending everything is okay
just to get through the day.
and just like that,
my true self doesn't exist.
at least not for now.
when will this end?
I don't know.
and I let myself go,
give into the darkness.
I'm gone.

26 January 2016

A Gypsy's Story

(Editor's Note: This is a work in progress. I'm hoping that I can get some positive criticism on this story as I post more edits to it. Thanks.)


The river bubbles and skirts around the bend. The waterfall comes over a cliff, maybe a 20 foot fall. On either bank, trees fill the space, tall and full of green leaves. Foliage, plants, the previous autumn’s blanket of brown leaves cover the ground, small woodland animals darting in and out of their coverage. This is where the gypsies come to bathe and for fresh water, to fish, and occasionally for spiritual gatherings in the moonlight.
            The sun is low in the sky as I finish rinsing my hair in the waterfall, the cool water caressing my skin. Few birds chirp in the trees, an occasional squirrel runs up the trees. Other than natural woodland noises, everything is silent. I smile as the rays of sun dance and play with the droplets of water on the wall of the cliff; I watch them gleam like gems.
Suddenly, a dead branch snaps loudly, breaking the peace. It’s not a normal sound. The gypsies – myself included – know where the paths are in the woods, small, narrow, and hard to find as they are. I look around as I slide behind the waterfall to the entrance of the cave behind it, where my clothes are lying.
Someone is down the river, someone I’ve never seen before. A man, by the looks of it, a tall, dark-haired intruder of the outside world. Looking lost, he takes a few steps, slow and curious, in my direction as he looks around, almost mesmerized by the world around him.
I slip into the cave to get dressed. I slide my undergarments on quick, uncaring that my skin is still damp. My white blouse gets pulled over my head, hanging loose over my thin frame, barely showing my small chest. My skirt, long and loose, rests on my hips, its hues of deep purples and blues almost mesmerizing. My sash, black and silky, gets wound around my waist once and tied. My hair, dreaded and long, gets tied back with string, beads gently hitting each other as I pull my hair back. As a last touch, a dark bandana gets tied loosely around my head.
Barefoot – as usual, I have an aversion to shoes – I silently creep out from the cave and quickly follow the path back to the riverbank, my eyes trained on the outsider. He’s curious, eyes wide open as he takes in his surroundings. This man is no gypsy. His clothes are all wrong – bright, crisp colors, hair too kept, boots shining in the subtle light filtering down from the green canopy above, even so late in the day.
“What can I help you with, sir?” I ask, lifting my skirt to just above my ankles as I take a step closer to him. Startled, the man focuses his eyes on me, light blue and almond shaped.
He doesn’t move for a moment as he looks at me, trying to figure out what to make of me. I can see that he is trying to decide how much to tell me. Patiently, I stand on the path, waiting for him to make up his mind as whether to speak.
Another moment of silence slides by before he says, “I am looking for Mother Aisha. She’s the gypsy fo-“
“I know Mother Aisha. I am a gypsy, Dorenia. Tell me what your business is with Mother Aisha,” I respond, naturally somewhat defensive.
“I heard she could help me,” the man says, his voice now soft. “People say Mother Aisha has ways.” His tall lanky form stands maybe twenty feet from me now, his pale skin – pale, compared to the gypsies, who are darkened by the sun – almost glowing in the disappearing sunlight, translucent blue eyes shining.
I give a small smile and shake my head, my dark dreads shaking as I motion for him to follow me along the narrow path to the gypsy camp. My steps are silent; the pale face man behind me seems to find every dry, dead branch and leaf to make as much noise as possible. I roll my eyes as I pick up the pace, wanting to get this walk over with.
After several long, loud minutes, we make it back to camp. Curious eyes drift our way as I lead the oaf to Mother Aisha’s tent. Quiet hellos come my way; I smile and wave in return to each hello as I walk by.
I enter Mother Aisha’s tent, pushing the flap back. The pale face man hovers just inside the tent. Incense smoke hangs heavy, making light from the lanterns dim. This tent is rather large, warm, and inviting. But the man hasn’t moved from the door.
“Mother Aisha, someone has come looking for you,” I say as I pass her at her table, distracting her from her Tarot cards, walking through the partition to the other half of the tent.
Muted voices float to me through the partition as I change. I always leave a change of clothes at Mother Aisha’s, in case I need her to fix something for me. My skirt got torn earlier; I leave it on the pile of folded, dark blankets. I pull on my black pants, tight to my skin and good for riding. My black boots, knee high, slide on. I take the bandana from my head, leaving my dreads pulled back.
I come back through the partition, tucking the front of my shirt into my pants. I sit down on the cushion in the corner, watching the conversation through the haze of incense. The man, whose name is Charles, has troubles with his marriage. Mother Aisha is patient, quietly listening to his problems. I watch his body language. His hands aren’t very mobile, he can’t really keep eye contact with Mother Aisha, and there is no ring on his finger, although he keeps fiddling with an imaginary one. Mother Aisha and I make eye contact. She nods to me after she looks away.
“So,” I start, getting off my cushion, beads clanking together as my dreads move, “you are telling Mother Aisha that you’ve been fighting with your wife about small things. But you aren’t wearing your ring, you keep looking away. You know what I think?” I ask, my hand slapping the table, my dreads flying, leaning over to look at Charles in the eye. “You’re lying. Either she is cheating – which seems unlikely – or you are – all the more likely, because I saw your behavior.” I shake my head, my dreads shifting. “You asked for Mother Aisha’s help. Clearly, you need it. But she can’t help you if you keep lying to her like this. Either you want her help, or you don’t. Choose. Now.”
I turn my back to the table, walking back to my corner, scarves hanging from the ceiling close to my head as I move, cushions and pillows making settees on the floor. I can feel Charles’ eyes on my back until I sit down.
I don’t really pay attention to the rest of the conversation; just enough to know Charles is telling the truth now. I wait until he leaves, his pockets several coins lighter than before. I stay behind to talk to Mother Aisha for a few minutes.
“When are you going to rid yourself of these dreads?” she asks, jokingly pulling one of them. “They take away so much from your beauty,” she says in all seriousness, brushing a stray one off my face.
“Dorenia, I worry about you sometimes,” she sighs. “You spend so much time to yourself, wandering around, full of fight and pride.”
“Mother, it’s fine. Stop worrying about me, please,” I respond.
“When will you see?” Mother Aisha whispers, her thumb brushing my forehead just above my eyebrows, where my third eye is. She gives me a curious look. Another moment passes, then she smiles. “Someone is waiting for you outside. Go. Have fun.”
I smile back at Mother Aisha before I get up. I grab my spare black cloak from a pile of pillows on the floor be the front flap and throw it over my shoulders. I take down my hair as I throw open the flap, stepping into the cool evening. The last light of the sun is fading away and stars sparkle in the mostly dark sky. I sigh, watching small fires jump in front of other tents.
“What were you guys doing in there? Making babies or something?” a rich, deep voice asks me from the shadows next to Mother Aisha’s tent.
I turn towards the familiar voice, my hair flying over my shoulder, beads clanking. He materializes from the shadows, his beautiful, dark skin subtly glowing in the firelight. His eyes, dark and brown, shine under his black eyebrows, black curls spilling down to his shoulders, a stark contrast against his own white shirt. A faint shadow of stubble covers his jaw and cheeks. He wears a small smirk, making him look smug.
“Micah,” I say, a small smile dancing on my lips. “You know Mother Aisha wouldn’t appreciate your humor.”
I look down, winding the cord that ordinarily holds my hair back around my wrist. Feeling Micha’s eyes on me, I take my time tying the cord, a dread or three in my face. He is slightly unsettled, shifting from foot to foot. Which is making me unsettled as I finish knotting my cord.
“What?” I ask Micah in all seriousness, looking at him again, readjusting my sash, and my knife underneath it.
“Nothing,” he responds as his gaze floats over the campfires, shifting his weight again.
I push my hand through my hair, tugging dreads off my face, gazing over the camp, watching people cook dinner or warming themselves, getting ready for the night or drinking. Micah is uncomfortable. Something is on his mind, I can tell, but he won’t say it in public, even if it is around people we have been around essentially our whole lives.
“I want to go to the river tonight,” Micah whispers, barely audible over the gentle noise of camp. He finally really looks at me.
“Let’s go,” I say, unrolling my shirtsleeves as I turn around, heading for the path away from camp.
Micah hesitates a moment before following me. We walk in silence down the narrow path, moonlight filtering down through the trees, weakly illuminating our way. Micha’s tall frame is close behind me, dwarfing my own small one. I keep alert, despite it being rare an outsider wandering into our area at night; I can feel Micah being just as alert.
It doesn’t take us long to get to the river. Trees fall away as the path opens up to the beach, one that has enough space for a group of people and a small bonfire. But there is only two of us, and we won’t need a fire bigger than a campfire.
We quickly gather a few logs and small sticks, pilling them in the small dip in the sand. Micah pulls a book of matches from the folds of his cloak to light the fire. Within moments, flames are licking at the logs, warm and bright in the dark, cool night.
I sit down, facing the cliff and waterfall, the river to my left, and the trees to my right. Micah sits behind me, his back to mine. I feel so small sitting like this with him; but we have done this for years when we have come here together, whether to talk or just to get away. This is our place, even though everyone knows about it. But we need it tonight.
We haven’t spoken since we left camp. This is normal, though; we have come to appreciate just each other’s company. But Micah has something on his mind that he isn’t willing to share yet. I stay silent, knowing that he will speak when he is good and ready to say something.
I draw my knees to my chest, wrapping my arms around them, my head resting on my knees. I gaze over the fire to the opposite bank, staring at the trees. Micah settles down, his back against mine. We sit here silently. The fire crackles away. The waterfall drops water in the river, never changing, but never the same water.
I patiently wait for Micah to break the silence. I thought he would have by now, but he hasn’t yet. I don’t push him, though; I know him good enough to know he would clam up in seconds. But sometimes, his silence can be unsettling. Like right now. I can tell something is really bothering him, but he won’t speak.
Micah shifts behind me. Sighing gently, he settles again, but he is about to say something. He is ready to tell me what is wrong with him.
            “Nia,” he whispers.
“Mhm,” is my mumbled response.
“Do you remember when I first started wandering here to the gypsy camp? The first few days?” he asks, his voice quiet. There is a little bit of pain hidden in there.
“I do. We were six. You were a fair skinned boy with curls halfway down your back from the outside world. Not one of ours,” I say in a quiet response, “else I would have known you.”
“But you still talked to me, the scared boy who had wandered through the forest.”
I smile to myself at how Micah and I first met. He had appeared out of nowhere, with fear-filled eyes. I was adventurous, even then, going out by myself – always within sight of camp, always within my mom’s sight – and I had almost fell over his sitting frame in one of my imaginative escapades. He didn’t even cry. He just looked at me, me in my dark colored outfit of the day, my hair down to my butt. And so it was, every day for several days. I always played with him, letting our imagination take us on adventures.
“Nobody wanted me to talk or play with you,” I say, half in my memories.
“You didn’t listen then. Sixteen years later, and you haven’t listened in a day that I’ve known you,” Micah says with fair judgment.
“And maybe I should have,” I laugh, turning to face the opposite riverbank. “Nobody wants a nosy, judgmental person around.”
Micah laughs and shakes his head, his dark curls swishing against his collar. He remains silent as he travels to a different time, to one when his life was more uncertain, full of fear, hunger, and confusion.
“Mother Aisha finally found out about me and took me in,” Micah says, whispering again. “And finally, I was accepted somewhere.”
“Only because I told her. I wanted you to be our secret. But she wouldn’t stand for a six year old boy fending for himself,” I respond. “I was jealous then. Mother Aisha, my grandmother, my blood, took you in and fretted over you, fed you, cared about you. She loved you.”
“You had to know that she loved you, too, all the same, though.”
“After a time, I did. I am her granddaughter. Even then, when she was minding you, she always made time for me. After my parents died, she raised us together,” I say, thoughtful. “I still don’t understand how she always confused our names.”
            “We looked similar then,” Micah responds.
“We did not! My hair was straight, and it’s certainly lighter than yours…”
“Are you sure your hair is straight? Because, to me, it’s in knotted strands,” Micah jokes through a grin.
“I said was. Before the dread head look,” I retort. “Beside the point, though. What’s wrong with you?”
Micah shakes his head again, taking a deep sigh. He goes silent as he thinks, retreating to the past, to something painful. He shifts against my arm, tense. Again, I patiently wait for him to get his thoughts together. The only sounds we hear are the crackling of the fire, water falling off the cliff to the river below it, and the lazy swishing and bubbling of the river in the riverbed. I lean against Micah’s back, hoping to give him strength.
Micah runs a hand through his curls. He’s normally quiet, but tonight, he’s even more so. All it may mean is that he has way too much on his mind, especially tonight; we never talk about his prior life, the one before he became a gypsy. And for good reason.
We learned, as Micah grew up, that his life for the first six years was full of alcohol-induced rage from his father, careless parades of numerous men by his mom, a poor family with seven kids. It was not a good environment for a young child to grow up in.
“What makes a parent not care about their kid?” Micah asks. “What would go through their head?”
“Micah, whatever it was, it wasn’t your fault,” I whisper. “If they couldn’t care of you, they never really deserved children.”
It’s silent again as we both sit here and think. I remember, as we grew, watching Micah prosper as we learned how to ride horses and hitch the wagons, to hunt for animals, pick berries and other nature-given fruits. He loved the lifestyle of a gypsy.
Growing up, his favorite thing was learning how to use the bow and arrow, especially the longbow. We would stand side by side, aiming at makeshift targets for hours, competing to be the first to hit the bullseye, then how many arrows we could hit the bullseye. Micah learned quickly; he had an aptitude for it. He shot right handed, always drawing the bowstring back with his palm facing outward. He claims to this day that it helps with control; I tried a few times, but it never felt natural to me.
“I always thought it was my fault for the way my parents treated me,” Micah says, disrupting my onslaught of memories. “At least, until I came here. Then I saw how your parents treated you and how Mother Aisha raised me.” His voice sounds thick with emotion, almost as if he is longing to be a child again, under Mother Aisha’s care. “It was then that I realized that maybe there was something wrong with them, that they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, care about how we grew up.”
I sigh, thinking about what Micah just said. Everything he is saying is true. The people who gave him life couldn’t care less about how their children grew up, as if it was the children’s fault their lives were miserable. But it was the parents’ fault for never being there properly for their children. It makes me proud of Micah for having a glimmer of understanding at such a young age and leaving that live behind him.
“Micah, I am happy that you are here, happy and healthy,” I say gently.
“Me, too,” he whispers.
I feel him shift and move next to me so that he is sitting behind me, this time with his chest to my back, his legs on either side of me. He starts playing with my hair, twisting dreads between his fingers.
We sit in silence together. I stare blankly over the river as Micah twists the dreads on the side of my head into a braid, my thoughts drifting up to the stars and beyond. A log in the fire falls, sending sparks into the sky; the fire burns brighter for a moment, crackling and setting again. The water bubbles and slides down the riverbed, the water fall misting as water hits the river below.
“Give me your hair cord, would you?” Micah says, making me jump.
“Yeah,” I respond. I unwind it from my wrist and straighten it before giving it to Micah. He winds it around the braid and ties it off. My fingers trail over the thick braid on the left side of my head before turning around. “Thank you, Micah!” I say.
He gives me a small smile as his hand runs nervously through his curls. Looking down, he plays with my fingers as if he is trying to buy some time. It is almost as if he is fidgeting nervously because there is something on his mind he is shy to say.
“Micah, are you… shy?” I ask, a knowing smile creeping on my face.
“No,” he responds hastily. “Yes,” he quietly adds, not looking at me.
“Just tell me,” I tell him. “The sooner you get it-“
My words get cut off by his full lips, warm and tender on mine. His rough hand touches my cheek, his fingers in my hair. I am so shocked that I stop breathing as he kisses me again.
“I love you,” he says, his voice low, when he pulls away. His face is still close to mind, his eyes gazing into mine questioningly… pleadingly.
“Micah, I – I can’t…” I stutter. “I need to go back.”
Confused, Micah watches me as I stand up, looking around me to make sure I have everything that I came with. I look at him again, taking a few steps backward, before turning around to head back to camp.
All of a sudden, the bang of a gun claps, quickly succeeded by a second one. Something sears my side before I can turn around, setting it on fire with a blinding pain. I take a step to try and turn around, my hand on my side. I pull my hand away from my side, looking at it. My hand is covered in blood. I stagger another step, looking up, and making eye contact with Micah.
“Micah,” I whisper before falling into a heap on the ground.
I force my eyes to stay open. I can’t focus; so much pain is assaulting me right now, dark dots starting to cloud my vision. I tilt my head enough to see Micah’s frame, fuzzy and dark, move, but his movements don’t make sense to me at all.
After a couple of seconds, I hear a soft ffthunk. I hear another follow quickly. A heavy silence follows, save for my quick, pained breathing, almost sounding like quick gasps.
Eternity seems to pass as I am fighting to stay conscious, my hands on my side, blood oozing between my fingers. Micah falls next to me. I feel his hands tugging at mine, trying to see my side.
“Damn it, Nia, move your hands!” Micah shouts, sounding angry and afraid. Something in me falls away. Cool air brushes my injured side. “Damn,” Micah says again. “Stay with me, Nia!”
I feel as though I am spinning, the world around me falling away. Micah pulls away my shirt to see the full extent of the wound.
“Nnnn,” I mumble.
“What?!” Micah asks.
“No,” I rasp.
“I have to see your side, Nia! Just stay with me, will you?” he commands.
I try to focus on Micah’s hands working my shirt off my side, my breath coming in pants. I hear quiet thuds enter the clearing and a thrum of voices. The pressure of Micah’s gentle hands leave my side for a moment. He responds to a question before his hands are on my side again with cloth covering his hands.
Someone else appears next to Micah and gets on the ground with him. His hands are replaced by smaller ones. I focus my eyes and see a small, fuzzy frame, blotched by spots that invade my vision. My mind registers that it’s Mother Aisha. She presses firmly on my side as someone slides their arms under my shoulders and knees.
I scream, fresh pain shooting through my body, as I get picked up off the ground. More tears course over my face. The world is shaking so hard, and moving by me at the same time, I think I am going to faint. Black spots make everything hard to see as I almost succumb to sweet unconsciousness, my vision tunneling and getting darker.
After a few moments, the pain subsides, and I almost feel as though I am floating. Everything is still spinning, though, and everything fades at the edges of my vision, though the black spots aren’t so bad anymore. Every time I blink, my eyes stay closed for a second longer, until they close or a few seconds too long.
“Nia! Stay awake! I am right here. Just stay awake and keep your eyes open!” Micah shouts, his voice sounding like he is yelling down a tunnel.
I force my eyes open and to stay that way. Micah is still here. Have I died and gone to heaven? I thought he would have stayed away after I walked away from him when he told me he loved me.
“Nia, please,” he says; then I figure out why he sounds tunnelly and close. He is the one who picked me up. Oh.
I am almost sure I am in the afterlife now. Because Micah would never have dared pick me up like this. I just never realized how much everything spun and how different everything sounded in the afterlife.
Everything gets hushed. There are no voices, faintly buzzing, no other footsteps, nothing. It’s darker here for a moment, and there are no trees spinning around. I’m confused as bright light blares from somewhere.
A moment later and I am lying flat on my back on something hard. I gasp in pain as someone rips away my shirt from my side. Nothing at all is making sense at this moment.
“Here, have her drink this,” a soft, female voice echoes, hollow and tinny.
My shoulders are lifted off the table or bed or whatever it is I’m on, and I hold back a scream of pain. I open my eyes to a bottle in front of me, dark liquid swishing around inside of it.
“Drink, Nia,” Micah says, coaxing me. “You’ll feel better. Just drink some.” I shake my head, my body shaking. “Just a little bit, Nia. Come on, please. For me,” Micah pleads.
I attempt to lean forward, and the arm behind my shoulders gently pushes me up. I exhale in pain before taking the bottle and throwing it back. I drink deeply. It’s spiced rum, warming my throat. I swallow down about half of what’s in the bottle before I push it away, grimacing. I know I just drank too much too quick, but I just want the pain gone.
My shoulders drop to the table again and my shirt gets gently pulled off. A gentle hand touches the wound on my side, feeling if there is anything else wrong below the skin. Someone grabs my hand; I turn my head and focus my eyes. Micah holds my gaze and I squeeze his hand weakly.
“Hand me that bottle, Micah,” the floating voice above me commands. It’s Mother Aisha. I won’t turn my head, I don’t have the energy; but I watch as Micah leans over and grabs something to hand to Mother Aisha.
“Focus on me, Nia,” he says quietly, his hand firm in mine. “Mother Aisha is going to clean that wound.”
Micah barely finishes talking when I realize Mother Aisha uses clear alcohol to clean wounds. The thought isn’t fully formed in my fuzzy, drunken mind when I scream, cool liquid running over my skin, alcohol burning torn flesh. I can’t bear the pain anymore, can’t fight to stay conscious. My eyes close and everything goes dark.
~~
My eyes move from side to side for a moment as I wake up, my senses alighting. I take a deep breath, trying to wake up fully. My hand rubs my eyes before they open.
I gaze around at my surroundings, not understanding how I got here or why my body is so sore.
I roll my head over as everything slowly registers and comes back. I groan in frustration and pain. The only real comfort is that I am in Mother Aisha’s tent. Warm smells of calming incense waft through the tent, keeping me somewhat relaxed.
I focus on the person sitting in the corner, a mass of thick, curly, dark hair falling in his face.