A Dark Desert
The darkness closing in from all sides;
Me, lost in the desert so dry
Sand sliding down the slopes
As my feet trudge on through the grains
The struggles of an onerous day has halted
But the evening closing in callously
Brings no true relief from the heat of the afternoon
The dark sneers at me
It cackles as I try to mouth my pleas
No more breath left to scream;
My lips are parched and chapped
I have no remaining strength
My dreams and hopes are fading away
But the lingering thoughts of you keep me alive
I don’t know who you are -
I just haven’t met you yet
But, I slog on,
Still believing that I’ll find you on the other side
For, the desert will have to come to an end
And I will find you there,
Waiting with open arms, ready to comfort me
Beyond the Borders
A soft crunch could be heard above the gentle sound of the wind, tousling their hair as they stepped off the path into the wheatfield. It has been a long time since they’d found silence calming and not dreadful and tense.
They’d rushed here after seeing that post on their brother’s Instagram. The first slide was a daytime photo of a wheatfield against an unsuspecting pale blue sky, and was followed by a photo of the same wheatfield, but with delicate flakes of dark grey drifting across the sky. The third, and last slide, was the exact same as the first. But wait— upon closer inspection, each wheat leaned in a slightly different direction. Below, the caption tagged #beautifulgoodbye.
They strolled through the field, letting the soft wheats brush against their clothes. It was impossible to find the exact spot where the photo was taken, they knew that. But they couldn’t help but seek confirmation that what was gone was gone forever. Further away from the path they strayed, idly thinking about how ironic it was that wheat symbolised resurrection.
There was nothing about the reason why they came that was beautiful; rather, it was the ambience of the post, the simplicity of caption. They told themself that they didn’t come for him. No, they only wanted to experience what was beyond the borders of the photo. They wanted to see what had drawn their brother here, scattering the remains of someone they’d both rather not have history with.
Looking around the vast field of wheats, they were hit with a realisation. It was a painting. A painting that was believed by many to be the artist’s last piece. They were suddenly overwhelmed with the urge look up to the sky, though they knew that the crows in the painting wouldn’t reflect in the sky they were under, but was still filled with relief when they found the sky clear.
Perhaps this was the best place. The best place to lay years of waiting in fear and resentment to rest, and to feel gratitude for the brother who finally managed to let go.
Full image: https://unsplash.com/photos/Zy7kT8tZj-U
Edit: also guess the painting mentioned (yes it's real and quite famous), there's symbolism in there ^^
Since it’s my “real” post of 2021, I’d like to thank everyone who’s supported and helped me since I joined Prose. Seriously, thank you for being such a great community to be part of. Take care of yourself as best you can even if it’s hard sometimes.
(- -) (_ _) (- -)
Winter Light shows
Much too warm,
Flash of light,
bright white lumen.
lengthy booming ...
Search the eyes
of my lover …
Will they quiet,
soothe and buffer?
Will they calm
or rain fire?
in the shadows.
less distinct glows
as our pulse,
as one pulse, slows ...
with the light shows.
Fade … to … black.
On a cold and windy day
bundled up kids rode them up and down,
testing their limits, making the cross bar bow
and stretching their legs to the sky
To their delight, cold stung their noses and ears
but now one swing, detached from its chain, drags in the sand
and the other gently rocks in mourning
The Festival of Lanterns
I did not respond to my mother's calls.
She was expecting me to go outside. Into Lumina, the City of Lights. Probably to the Festival of Lanterns. And I can't go.
It's not just that I don't like lights. It's that I can't like lights. I can't be in light. It burns.
Any light. Sun, flashlights, lightbulbs, phones, anything. All of it will kill me.
They have a word for us. Darklings. But I have yet to meet one. Most of us don't live to our 21st birthday. Forced to go into the light, or killed. Prosecuted. Hell, I'm already older than most, and I'm only 16.
I ignore her. She knows I can't go into the light. In our city, something like that is impossible to hide. Yet my mom does a good job of keeping me hidden. As far as the rest of the City is concerned, I don't exist. My mom has one son, Dravo. My twin brother. Nobody needs to know about me.
I lean against my door. If she decides to come in, she's gonna have to fight for it. I'm not leaving my room.
My room is dark. The ceiling is empty, no lightbulb at all— don't want any accidents. The windows have been all but bricked over. Duct tape and curtains.
"Saggarina Grace Hallwell!"
"Mom, as much as you wish otherwise, I'm a darkling. I can't go outside."
"I know that! Jeez! I just want you to come do your laundry."
My face flushes. Of course she wouldn't force me to go outside. What kind of stupidity is that? I'm inconvenient, I know, but not that inconvenient. Even with my disease, Mom still doesn't want to kill me.
"Okay, Mom. Got it."
I fumble around my dark room, looking for loose articles of clothing. I might be allergic to light, but I don't have night vision.
But once I think I've got it all, I load it into a cart and roll it through the flap in my closet.
I'm not allowed out of my room. Too dangerous. I push my clothes through a specially designed flap so that I don't get burned. In order to visit me, my family set up a set of two doors. Like in an aviary. Open one, then shut it, then open the other. Don't let the birds out.
That's what I am. A bird in a dark, lonely cage.
I hear my mom's footsteps receding. In the dark, my other senses are stronger. I've learned the patterns of my family's footsteps— the only way I'll ever be able to tell them apart. The only way I'll ever know who they are.
She yells for Dravo, getting him ready for the festival, no doubt.
My mom yells a lot. It's not like she's angry or anything. She's just.. enthusiastic.
From the other side of my barricaded window, I hear fireworks. Dravo tells me fireworks are beautiful. Just another pretty thing I'll never be able to see. They certainly don't sound pretty. They sound like bombs. Guns. Explosions. Destruction.
But if Dravo says they're pretty, I believe him.
I hear the door shut. They've left. Off to party and have fun while I sit in my dark cage.
But it's okay, really. It's not their fault I'm like this. It's not anyone's fault, really.
I wince. What was that?
I stare in horror at the window.
Someone's throwing rocks at the window. My window. And if something breaks through...
In the moment, I can't summon enough thought to hide in a closet. I just stare at the weakening boards.
I throw my hands over my face, like that'll help.
I wait for the signature burning pain to crawl up my arms.
"Uh... oh shit," a strange voice says. "I didn't know someone actually lived here."
I look up. Sunlight blinds my face, but...
"Who the hell are you?" I ask, my confusion manifesting as anger. "Why'd you break into my goddamn house?"
As my eyes adjust to the light, I see it's a boy, around my age, with a mop of messy blonde hair. He's dressed like some kind of vigilante ninja, a black hoodie and black sweatpants.
"I told you, I thought it was abandoned."
"So you just smash windows? That's sick!"
"Dude, you're in a walled up dark room. Isn't that kind of sick?"
"I'm a..." I pause. I'm not a darkling. Obviously. But why would my mom lie? Why would she keep me trapped here? "It's a long story," I say after a long pause. But it's really a short story. My mom lied to me.
"Why aren't you at the festival?"
"I mean... I was going to go. Eventually. I just didn't want to go with my dad."
"So... wanna come to the festival with me? My treat. I owe you, for the broken window and all."
Really, he didn't owe me anything. I owed him for showing me the truth. But free food? I'll never argue with that.
"Sure," I say. "But only if you tell me your name."
"Kinda old fashioned, isn't it? I'm Saggarina."
"Well, come on. I'll get you a lantern to release."
I crawl out of the window and scale the fire escape. Gladius just leaps right off. Like a frog. A ninja frog.
What a weirdo.
A lantern to release? What does he mean by that?
I guess I've been missing out on a lot. But Dravo never told me about releasing lanterns.
I follow Gladius through the streets, drinking in every detail. The streets are clogged with carts selling everything from glowsticks to full on chandeliers. The Festival of Lanterns. I'm seeing it for the first time. And it's amazing. Chaotic, but awesome.
Gladius shoves a paper lantern at me. In the center, held up by wires, is a plastic candle.
I watch the fake flames.
It's all so incredible. I've been missing out on this for years. Years. And why? Why? Why would Mom do this to me? Why would she keep me hidden from this beautiful world?
The lantern gently tugs at my hands, begging to be released.
I let it go and watch it float into the sky. The sky is full of them, hundreds, maybe thousands of paper lanterns, glittering like artificial stars.
Gladius looks at me.
"You've never seen this before, have you?"
No point in lying. I shake my head.
"Yeah. After a few years, it loses some of its wonder. You have the face of a child seeing the lights for the first time. But why haven't you seen 'em before?"
"I thought I was a darkling." Gladius looks at me in shock.
"Yeah," I say, my throat seizing up. "My mom told me I was. I've been in that dark-ass room my whole life. Hiding."
"Why would she—"
"No idea. I'm going to find her."
"Can't you wait?"
"The Festival of Lanterns is supposed to be fun. So have fun. Don't let your shitty mom hold you back."
I smile at Gladius.
"Alright. But if I see her, I'm going to talk to her."
"Fair. There's a billion people out here tonight. We could be on opposite sides of the park."
And even though he's right, I still find myself looking.
We do everything. The ferris wheel (Dravo never told me about that, either), cotton candy (tastes like clouds), and we must release a dozen lanterns between the two of us.
"And, that's the last of my cash," Gladius says, sighing. "Six rounds at that game and no prizes. It's rigged."
I giggle. "Dude, that's the whole point of these fair games. They're supposed to be difficult as hell. That's how they make money."
"Yeah, yeah. But six rounds! You'd think the guy would take pity on me."
I roll my eyes.
"That's a horrible business model."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever."
"So.. I'm full up on sugar and we're broke."
"Yeah, pretty much."
"Is there anything here that doesn't cost money?"
"Oh sure. Boat rides."
"See, that seems like the kind of thing that should cost money."
"You're a regular entrepreneur, aren't you? Anyway, it's free, but you gotta bring your own boat."
"Oh... makes sense now."
"Which I happen to have. Sitting on the dock."
"Of course. Vigilante ninjas have to have their seafaring vehicles."
"You wear all black, you break windows, and you can jump from fire escapes without breaking your legs. Yes. Vigilante ninja."
"I like that. It's like a nice way to say 'juvenile delinquent.' I'm a vigilante ninja."
He has to help me into the boat, which is embarassing. But once we're in, floating around aimlessly in the deep water, all my embarrasment is forgotten.
It's a dizzying world of lanterns. Some lay keeled over in the water, artificial lights still gleaming bright. The sky is full of them and they're reflected in the water, so can barely tell where the sky ends and the water begins.
Maybe I'm floating in the sky. Maybe this is all a dream. A beautiful, perfect dream.
I lean back in the boat, letting my hands trail in the water.
If this is a dream, it's a very realistic one. The water is cold, shocking, almost. It's so surreal and yet it's the most alive I've ever felt. Being in this beautiful place... I don't even think of my mom. I don't even care. All that matters is the lights and the sky.
"So.. you enjoying yourself?"
"Uh... yeah?" I try to sound nonchalant about the best day of my entire fucking life.
"Enough that I don't have to pay for the window?" Gladius says, laughing. He can obviously see exactly how much I'm enjoying myself. The thought doesn't make me uncomfortable.
"No, I'm sure my mom will handle it. We're not exactly poor. And she deserves it."
Even the bitterness that wells in my mouth at the mention of my mom isn't enough to dampen my mood.
"For breaking the window. For getting me out of that dark room. For..." I wave my hand, at a loss for words. "All of this."
"I mean, you did blow all my money on food and rides. I'd say we're even."
I grin. Talking with him, it feels like I've known him for years. But that's stupid. After tonight is over, which it definitely will be soon, he'll go back to his vigilante ninja life and I'll go back to my dark room. Maybe I'll wake up and all this will be a distant fantasy. Maybe I'll confront my mom. But in the end, it won't matter. I'll never see him again. So none of it matters.
The only thing constant in my life is the darkness.
And when I see my mom, standing on the shore with Dravo, the already shattered fragments of my good mood are crushed into a billion tiny, glittering pieces. Just like the lanterns in the sky.
"Shit," I say. "I was hoping I could go the rest of the night."
"My mom. She's over there. On the shore." She seems so far away, far enough that it's possible I'm wrong, but I know I'm right. It's her.
What will Dravo think? Will he be happy for me? Or is he in on it with Mom?
The idea that my brother, who told me stories of the fireworks and the sky, has kept me from this all along makes my heart throb with pain.
But I won't dismiss the possibility.
"I'll row you over," Gladius says. "I'll drop you off. If things go well, meet me at your house. If things go badly... I'll bust you out of your room. Either way, you know where to find me." I smile. Even the slightest twitch of my lips feels fake, but he deserves a smile. He's made my life better, even if it was just for a night.
But it's time to go back to reality now.
He rows me right up to the edge, and I step off, my socks sinking into wet sand. I didn't bother to put on shoes. I didn't ever have a use for them before now.
"Saga? That you?" Dravo asks.
"Yeah," I say. "Mom... why? Why did you... why would... how..."
I can't finish the question, I let the tears roll down my face instead of words.
Dravo hugs me.
"I can't believe it," he says. "You're not a darkling. You can see the fireworks. You can see everything."
It takes him a minute to catch up to my train of thought.
"Wait... Mom? You knew?"
Mom is silent. All the answer we need.
"Dravo, Saggarina, it's... it's compli—"
"No, it's not. You trapped me. You hid me from all of this. All of this beauty."
"It's not... I..."
"Don't, Mom. Just don't."
"Saggarina, you have to understand. Please, just listen. I just... I just wanted to have a piece of your father."
"Dad? You mean—" Dravo starts.
"Your dad was a darkling," Mom says. "He was so careful... I thought it would be okay... but he drove me to the hospital... and.. and.."
"Mom," I say. "Do you think Dad wanted me to be a darkling? Do you think he wanted me to be shut in a dark room, unable to see the stars, or fireworks, or lanterns. Don't you think he would have wanted me to be normal? Go to school? Have a life?"
"The answer is yes. He would have wanted me to be normal. Happy. He wouldn't have wanted you to lock me up just because you miss him."
"I'm going to go enjoy myself, Mom. Bye."
I leave Dravo and Mom to stare off at me in shocked silence. That's okay. I'm going to meet Gladius. And then we're going to have a good night. The best night ever. And I won't even think about going home until I have to.
The double doors. The boarded windows. All of it was for nothing. All that effort, just to feed my mom's sick fantasy.
When I get back to my house, Gladius is sitting on the front porch.
"That was fast," he says. "But it went okay?"
"Yeah, I guess. I'm just going to not think about it."
"How's that going for you?"
I shrug and look at the ground.
"Not great, but whatever."
"Wanna go see some fireworks?" I look at Gladius and grin.
"My brother says fireworks are awesome. But I've never seen them. They certainly don't sound nice."
"Huh. Well, come on. Follow me. I know the spot with the best view." He grabs my hand and drags me towards an empty alley.
"A dark creepy alleyway? What're you going to do, mug me?"
"Just trust me. Can you climb a ladder?"
"Can I— of course I can climb a ladder!"
"Alright, alright just checking."
"Just because I'm locked in a room all day doesn't mean I'm a pile of noodles."
"No offense, but you sorta look like a pile of noodles."
"Offense taken, asshole."
"You'll forgive me when you see this."
"We'll see about that."
I follow Gladius up a ladder, stepping on a dumpster to reach the rungs. I'm becoming uncomfortably aware of how cold I am. Sweatpants and a short sleeved shirt can only do so much against the bitter ice of nightfall.
In my defense, I wasn't expecting to leave the house.
Gladius beckons me to the edge of the roof and points at the sky.
"You'll see them. Up there."
I shiver, unable to hold back chills any longer.
Gladius looks at me.
"I... yeah, a little. But it's fine."
Gladius shrugs off his hoodie. Underneath is— gasp— another hoodie.
"You wear two black hoodies?"
"You can't tell in this light, but the second one is actually navy blue. Big difference."
"Oh," I say. "Sure. So you don't only own black clothes?"
"Do you want the hoodie or not?"
I take the hoodie from him, grinning. I've never smiled so much in one day.
"Ooh, fleece lining. Fancy."
"It's warm. That's what matters. Now look, the fireworks are starting."
I wrap the fleece hoodie around my body as I hear the booms. There's a boom, a whistle, and then flowers of light bloom in the sky.
I actually gasp.
"Oh my God," I say. "Dravo was right."
"My brother. He used to tell me all about things. He was... my link to the outside world. He told me fireworks were beautiful. I never believed him."
"Well, a point for him then. They're awesome. And the view from here is the best. You don't get a view like this anywhere else."
"I bet," I say, watching the black sky split into shades of red, yellow, and blue.
"No problem. I'm just lucky I broke your window."
"Yeah. You are. Any other sane person would make you pay for it."
"Eh, your mom still might."
"I won't let her. She's got a lot of favors to cash in for me. Like, no chores for the next 16 years. To make up for the last sixteen."
I peel myself away from the fireworks for one second just to hug him. He looks surprised, but not uncomfortable.
"Tonight was as amazing as those fireworks," I say.
"Oh damn, that good?"
I pull away and go back to watching the fireworks.
Alone in my room, silence always felt so horrible. Lonely. But this silence feels good.
As I watch the fireworks, leaning into Gladius, I feel good.
I feel good.
I went on unsplash.com to download a picture but then it said she will be downloading several things in my phone, so I decline that download.
Hospital (tw// cannibalism)
One, two, Buckle my shoe
Three, four, Lock the door
Five, six, Needles and picks
Seven, eight, Teeth sewn tight
Nine, ten, Slowly choking
Eleven, twelve, Running by themselves
Thirteen, fourteen, Poor ripped spleen
Fifteen, sixteen, Bodies unclean
Seventeen, eighteen, Stitches between
My plate's empty.
(LINK TO THE IMAGE THAT PUT THIS IN MY MIND FOR SOME REASON HE LPPP)