Catullus Carmen 50
He woke up in a bed of plain, white sheets, and he leaned over to look across his otherwise empty bed at the weather outside. The sun had already risen to shed glorious, cheerful white rays of light across the earth, and the beams warmed his face as they danced and fluttered before landing softly on the contours of his forlorn face. Happiness and true satisfaction manifested themselves in the chirps of birds, the delicate, feathered edges of high clouds, and the gentle swaying of the trees.
He got up out of bed and turned on the radio; "Fun for Me" by Moloko was the current tune playing. He looked at himself in his bathroom mirror, noticing how much his face hid from what he felt inside. He showered -- he felt exceptionally clean after today's one. He got dressed, combed his hair, and examined the splendid specimen before him once again in the mirror before he left for work.
It was a pleasant day, so he decided to walk the few blocks it took for him to get to his public relations firm. All the world was out today! People rollerblading, children eating their triple chocolate double scoop ice cream cones, men checking out the women and vice versa (although the women were much more subtle about it). The man locked the door to his apartment and began to walk.
The first person he passed was a young woman of about twenty-five years of age. Her figure was exceptional, her face was flawless and nubile. She had that glow about her that some women have, the pride and happiness that you'd expect from a young lady of her kind. She bounced with her step, full of joy, full of hope, full of naive, yet fun-loving notions.
But as she passed the man, her countenance transformed itself. Her closed-mouth smile drooped into a lethargic emptiness of a frown, her eyes became deep with tears saved up after years of contentment, her body turned sluggish and without incentive to continue. She lost her fanciful step and started sobbing.
The man noticed this immediately, as if expecting it, but the only response he showed was a tighter clasp of his briefcase.
Next the man passed a mother and her child. Oh, how sweet is the bond between mother and child, but the man's presence drove the child to scream in frustration and sadness, while the woman became confused and unable to think rationally. She did not even fight her sadness -- it overcame her too quickly and too powerfully.
Even the proudest of men, all dressed up in their fancy business suits fit with the finer essentials like leather briefcases and expensive gloves, grew sad and disoriented upon passing the man. Their thoughts turned from takeovers and corporate picnics to those of malaise and suffering they had never managed to be able to deal with in their past.
This went on and on until the man finally reached the building of his business. Instead of taking the elevator to his small sixth-story office, he took the stairs, figuring he would encounter fewer people that way.
He ran into no one else that morning, reaching his desk safely and without incident. This put the man slightly at ease for most of the rest of his day.
A blind date was scheduled for that evening. The man picked up his phone at work around 4:42PM and called his date. She hung on his every word, entranced and enchanted by his cool, sophisticated manner of speaking. With some apprehension, he was tickled by talking to her, too.
He picked her up at 8:30PM, and the cautious but curious gait she employed down the steps from her house to his car gave insight to the life of a woman once hurt by youthful love, but inspired and excited about the chance to redeem those long-dormant emotions.
But as she got closer to the street, and to his car, her eyes drew back, her eyebrows forked further away from each other, her habitual hops down the steps turned into timid, fearful nudges that only continued because she didn't know what else to do about it.
The man in the car gritted his teeth solemnly, imagining a beautiful girl trotting down the steps, a glow emanating from her innocent frame, flowers beside her blossoming and straightening, the whole world revolving around her...and then from far behind her, a being, a thing, an animated incarnation of centuries of fear, distress, sadness, began to chase her. It was more black than the blackness a woman sees in her life when her beloved husband is killed by an indifferent force. Swirls of depressing emotions and horrific faces tumbled about inside the blackness, stark as night and day, but made up only of different shades of black. The eye could not perceive that many shades, but the soul could, and this is how the man saw the blackness.
The void swallowed up the earth and concrete stairs behind the girl, her face becoming more and more glutted with pallor with its approach.
The man knew what would happen. The vision haunted his mind as he sped off, driving home under a night sky which seemed very grey in comparison to what he'd just witnessed.
He washed his face under the sink faucet, washing away his grief, anger, and tears. All the rooms in his apartment were barren except for his bed, one chair, and a small card table. He had no desire for anything else material. The man cried himself to sleep.
The body rewards sleep. A body in need of rest sends pleasurable signals to the brain, it seems, relieving any pain or discomfort one might be feeling. It tempts someone to stay in bed, to sleep until the body is satiated. This man had no other comfort in his life, and the bed took advantage of it. He quickly passed off into deep sleep, crossing the gates between reality and fantasy, losing focus of the hurt he had stored up inside him.
The dreams began. He opened up his eyes and looked out upon a vast valley tucked away between two colliding mountain ranges. The vividness of the colors stunned his eyes, the richness of the green grass covering the valley, the beautiful turquoise -- a color which made him think he could reach out and touch it, like the water he once saw in Mexico -- in the sky, the vainglorious sun which he could actually look at and appreciate its bright white rays. The mountains were bold, adventurous grey ships which sailed right out of the ground and up into the sky. The man looked at these mountains, and he could never quite comprehend the whole scale of any single one of them -- as he concentrated more on them, they grew larger and larger, beyond his ability to understand them.
In the valley, nestled next to a mountainside, was a city of gleaming white marble. The outskirts of the city, made up of light-green crops of vegetables and herbs, formed the iris, the lush color which contained the pupil, the actual city itself.
He could see all the staples of the Roman city alive, in the flesh, in this city: tall, marvelous columns held up the main temple in the center of the city, and all around it were senatorial and political buildings gleaming brightly in the sun with their flawless, clean marble blocks. The buildings were so huge, even from this distance, that any people he could see looked miniscule in comparison. This was a city for gods, not for mere mortals, yet the rights to the place seemed to be in the hands of the latter.
The man took a few steps in the direction of the city, and it began to pour with rain. It came down like steel nails, crushing anything under its path, stinging the man's face and wilting the trees with the momentum of thousands of individual drops striking their leaves. The sun disappeared, the clouds enveloped the horizon in every direction the man looked, and the world disappeared into blackness. He closed his eyes reflexively.
The man opened his eyes moments later and he was presented with a bleak world of craggy rocks, cracked soil, and desolate plains. The rain still came down, hard as before, punishing the earth and catalyzing the man's rage and frustration. He cried, and yelled, and screamed, and his voice quickly dissipated in the barren landscape.
Some time later, the man found himself in a small town -- it wasn't a pretty sight, by any means. Loosely nailed boards held whole huts together, and no one was outside. Puddles of rainwater and mud left a minefield of discomfort for the man to navigate. The citizens of the town were inside, escaping the rain. The man, shivering with cold, knocked on one of the doors of the huts and an old lady answered. The long, gnarled lines on her face from age were stretched out into ugly vein-like valleys by her misery over the flooding rain outside.
But upon seeing the man, her complexion changed dramatically. Her face lit up with enthusiasm and kindness, and she let the man in immediately. Her life was altogether complete with the coming of this man, who replaced all of her woes with optimism and jubilation. He was shocked. She quickly gave him clean clothes and a large towel in order to warm himself up in, and she fed him much-needed food. She lived alone, but on this day, she had a divine guest.
The rain had continued for several days -- at that point, the man had become comfortable around the old woman, and she opened up her heart with him in the utmost confidence and security. He enjoyed her attention, so innocent and whole-hearted. Eventually, he would be introduced to other citizens of the town, and their reaction mirrored the old woman's.
This stranger was the best thing to happen to a town living under the perpetual darkness of rain. He was even fancied by one Miss Ysilinia Drake, a young woman of eighteen years old who had never found a man who could truly make her happy. But this stranger, this man, removed all of her doubts, all her insecurities, and freed her from the prison she had created for herself inside her mind. This was the man she wanted, and she took no time letting him know.
The man witnessed the hope in her eyes and the ecstatic electricity stinging the air around her. To see her smile directly at him fulfilled the emptiness inside him, the knowledge of a great, widening chasm of loneliness now disappearing in her acceptance of him.
They found a quiet place to talk alone, and talk they did. All night did they converse, sharing with each other what they considered to be the beauties of the world, her keeping her woes of dating to herself, he keeping his story of how he got there secret as well. But they enjoyed each other's accepting presence well until morning. At that time, they had to split up, for she had some duties to attend to. Neither wanted to leave.
Ysilinia and the man delicately touched each other, him brushing his fingers from her elbow up to her forearm, his free hand pushing her closer to him by her back. She put her arms up over his shoulders and braced his head, and they kissed in love and relief. The man had never felt anything so Heavenly in his life.
After much delay, Ysilinia walked away to her home, and the man remembered what it was like to smile, and so he showed it off to the world...
...and then the man was whisked out of that dream, torn away from Paradise, thrown and beaten by a blackness's winds, and he found himself awake in his bed, listening to the alarm clock ordering him to fall in line and get out of bed for work. The man gasped for air, got up, and looked out the window. It was another sunny, cheerful day. Light poured in, renewing the room with warmth which had gradually disappeared during the night. Again, people outside were enjoying themselves and satiated with their rigorously fulfilling lives. The man saw this and flew into a rage, a parasympathetic convulsion of absolute angst and frustration. He punched the walls, flung his arms around like a madman, denied that this could have happened. He was back in Hell, and his human brain could not deal with the crushing weight of emotion dealt to him. The sight of her eyes, the taste of her lips, the touch of her feminine skin haunted him and her memory blanketed his eyes softly, yet translucently, so everything he saw bore her likeness.
The man could not take it. Instinctively he flew back to his bed, determined to sleep once again, to return to a place which truly gave him happiness. His limbs twitched with out-of-control passion, his breath was ragged and rapid -- his body was in no condition to shut down into sleep. He tossed and turned for twenty minutes, then obsessively gave up as soon as the twentieth minute began. He decided to take sleeping pills -- he had to reach this nirvana again, especially since he was so close. He became drowsy, but his body would not slow down. He opened up his eyes and screamed, begging for sleep. He thrashed around in his bed and held his head in agony.
And this was the way it would continue until the man finally died of exhaustion -- never there afterwards would he sleep and find comfort in the world beyond.
Yet, in the other world, Ysilinia waited impatiently for him to return, so they could continue their blessed relationship. Somewhere, she would be admired for her loyalty and determination in waiting for the return of a stranger who was permanently cut off from her.
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