What swells the fury of Heavens wrath? What fuels the frozen fire of my soul?
This passion that drives mad men sane, and beckons them to fly amongst the clouds of their fevered dreams. Why am I tortured with this serene anxiety and chaotic and frivolous sensation of devotion, that is inculcated so severely that my heart is unabashed and lamentful?
Here I stand, in front of a road that forks to the points of the compass and burden my soul with the options, endless options.
The path North leads me to war, and a great warrior shall I become, vanquishing all that stand before me. I will have no mortal weakness for I will be endowed with the blood of Achilles, but with this great power comes no end.
I will be forever trapped within this body without love for eternity. Shall I cast all thoughts of love and passion to the wind and live forever in the glory of battle?
Shall I head East, to the Land of the Rising Sun, where knowledge and the power of the mind prevail over brute force and thirsty weapons edge? The Land of the Rising Sun holds the power of pen and ink on high. Shall I live there, and become lost within endless libraries of the knowledge of ages past? Shall I come to wither like a rose in the Sun? Will I fade as the ink does from the parchment?
Or will my soul be pulled West, where the coastal mountains echo with the ageless whispers of love. Shall I live without pride or honor and only in an others passion? Will my soul continue on when its container does not? Will my love hold forever as the Moon rides high in the middle of the Night? Where will I find this true end to this mad existence full of pain and sorrow, of love and happiness?
For the one I love most, the one I hold so dear, feels so far away this sorrowful soul. I'm torn in all directions, without a guiding star.
There was this Church, over a hundred years old, sitting across from a senior living facility and a Circle K gas-n-go. I passed it on my walk to work every day, when I lived in Cinci's sister city, Covington. I have no idea why, but every time I strode up to the south-east corner of the Church, I felt the notion that I could (if I chose to) step through a veil and into the past. For hundreds of passes, I chickened out, and walked right by with a firm foot in the present; but the Everywhen Crossroads was weighing on me and one night, it visited me in a dream.
Backpack full of stuff on my back, I was making my usual trek down the street, seeing the Church enlarge in my view as I approached it. If there were cars passing by, I couldn't hear them. I was focused on the Everywhen Crossroads, waiting for me at the south-east corner of the Church. Perhaps it was the safety of my dream, or the daring of my subconscious, but when the notion struck me this time, I followed it.
It was the late 1800's and I was inappropriately dressed, but too distracted by the huge lack of industrial development. Unaware that I was drawing attention, I couldn't stop myself from overwhelming observations and deafening pounding of my pulmonary mechanics.
"I did it." My dream-self whispered.
"-don Ma'am, but I'll be needing you to come with me. Easy now." A masculine voice cooed and lulled in my direction.
I was startled by the sudden weightlessness of my backpack when he lifted it, but too consumed by the flare of uncertainty (and other things) at the circle of his fingers confining my arm so he could lead me.
"Is this really happening?" My dream-self was asking, as yet not dream-conscious and starting to panic.
After all, I hadn't considered the technology in my backpack, or my tattoos, piercings, or how they might be taken in historical views. I became aware of the eyes gawking, and the muttering that accompanied much pointing, making me feel like a zoo animal -glad there wasn't also petting. But that wasn't the worst of it. I finally looked at what direction the man was leading me, and I was startled to realize it was the town Jail.
I made myself look back at him, my bag in his far hand, well out of my reach without crossing him, and that shiny gold star (I hadn't noticed) now winking at me every time his vest flapped. Shit. I thought, but swore it echoed, looking about and missing the step that would lead me in so, of course, I tripped. Flip-flops make for terrible footwear when you need to catch your fall, but lucky for me, the Sheriff took action in no-time-at-all. I was suspended in his hands, hoping I hadn't then contaminated him, and thanked him without being able to look at him.
To my relief, he let me go when we got me to my feet, and I found myself following him (and my backpack) like a duckling while I busied myself with unnecessary dusting of my skirt.
"I'm going to need you to step inside, Ma'am, until I can sort this out." His voice sounded all reasonable-like, punctuated with a quiet exclamation in the extension of his hand into the opened jail-cell.
"You've got to be kidding." I heard myself saying.
He seemed puzzled by my word-choice but got my meaning, "Ma'am-"
"No 'miss' just Mandy."
"It's for your own protection. Please." He relented, emphasizing his gesture.
I'm not sure if it was the look in his grey eyes, or the vibes I felt telling me I needed some quiet to think, but I reluctantly flip-flopped into the cell and shivered when I heard the creaky hinges sounding the door's close behind me.
"Thank you. I'll be right back." He said, before leaving, my backpack still in hand.
I waited and waited but eventually rested, laying on a bench and falling to sleep. A dream within a dream, my dream-self's dream-self was trying to figure out how to get back to the present. Except, the Grandfather Paradox. Every attempt to warn present-me not to step through, led back to present-in-the-past-me never being in the past to warn, and present-me stepping through anyway. Over and over again, in different variations, attempting to use other folks to trick the paradox, but none of it worked. Worse, dreaming in a dream while playing with time and reality, those thoughts had substance.
By the time I awoke, the past was different. Shit. I thought again, and shivered at the humming echo. Only then, to realize the hum was electric and the bars of my cell were protected. Fuck. I thought in alarm, and not a moment later, the Sheriff walked in. He looked unhappy. I fingered the lace on my skirt to alleviate my nervousness, but found the material mostly alien.
"What have I done?" I asked to no one.
"I was about to ask you the same question, Mandy Ell-e-ott." He rumbled, saying my sirname like it was strange to him; like he'd found my ID.
Stepping up to the bars, I could feel the warning buzz of electric shock making the hairs stand up on my arms, "I made a mistake. I shouldn't have come here."
"Witnesses say you... just 'appeared' by the Church, you want to explain that?" He asked, leaning against his desk, where the rest of my stuff was laid out, folding his arms across his chest.
"Not really." I muttered, observing that what I remembered being in my backpack wasn't all that was now laid out with it. Some of it was even different. I had managed to change the future and the past simultaneously. I had to start rapidly thinking, and I stopped listening to the Sheriff's accusations.
Conversing with my dream-self in thought, I wondered:
"If everything is different, remnants of the (dream's) dream as I remember it, then why did I remember it also as it had been? If this was a different past, and I came from a different future-present, in this reality of events, then why do I remember any of it?"
I had to think bigger. I had to reach further, and consider how I got in the past in the first place. How, on the whim of a notion, did I cross time's ocean, and end up in a place I never existed to begin with?
"That's it." I said aloud, looked over to the Sheriff and explained, "I never existed in this version of the Sister Cincinnati. So, to be here, I must also be in a different reality. In a history that I, as present-in-the-future me, also exists within, and thus, the only way to get back is to choose it again.
"More importantly, to prevent the cycle from repeating, I have to find the moment when it was only appreciating. To be the me that didn’t believe I could cross the rift, to walk past that corner beyond the Crossroads of the Everywhen." That was all he gets. I thought to myself, trying to use my will to be that me once more.
Like a network of possible me's, in all the possible realities, connected by a singular string of consciousness I could latch on to. That, I presumed, was how I ended up in a changed past in my attempt to change my future-present. So, I focused on the one I wanted, the me I was in all the other crossings, when I chickened out and walked right past it.
Just like that, I was walking, back-pack on my back and approaching the fateful building. I stopped just short of the corner, hanging on to the dew-drops of memories, and set my pack on the ground. I had every intention of taking inventory, to confirm I was in my original reality, but I was suddenly affronted by a furry paw on my nose.
I promptly woke.
It was just a dream, and my cat was hungry.
Or is this the dream, and that the reality?