Published: Sick Lit Magazine, 7/27/2016.
In the beginning was not a primordial mass. In the beginning was knowledge. In the beginning was logos. And in the end, there was nothing. All knowledge is outside time.
What if in the beginning, you were logos? What if you knew that if you told anyone you would finally die?
Would you even want to live if everyone you met could not retain the knowledge of ever meeting you?
This is your life. You are still alive. Different eyes, different skin, different scents, but you are you, and you are logos. Can you live? Do you want to live? Will you tell them the truth, knowing they will soon forget you anyways…knowing if you tell them you will die?
Life is measured either in moments, in death, or in eternity. It is your choice, your perspective, that dictates where you reside in the continuity of this cosmos.
The choice is heavier these days. It skims over your eyes like a film and nestles into your attempts at sleep. Next to your bed, you slap the button on the top of the square alarm clock in a preventative strike before it goes off. An illuminant blue 5:13 AM lets you know that you awoke two minutes early. Sitting upright, you push the pearl sheets off your legs to settle your feet on the hardwood floor. You curl your toes over the smooth warm surface, enjoying the slight vibrations. Someone’s in the elevator.
Your dreams bother you. The pounding behind your eyes even more. Yawning, you clamp your teeth shut trying not to make too much noise, matted hair falling in front of your face. You rub your temples with your palms and squint at the cut of light from between the sheer-white curtains. From your angle, outside awaits a simple sky, clean, clear, and blue. You almost don’t want to stand and see below the cityscape, surely abuzz with morning traffic, clogged with a hive of yellow cabs. You hate cabs. Who doesn’t hate cabs?
Your dreams, your headache, the reality of being awake, none of it rids your mind of the gnawing reality that you live a partial life. Nothing does. More of a lie than a truth. You are alive, you will forever be alive, and you will never be remembered. You have tried all sorts of remedies to deceive yourself into either ignoring, forgetting, or believing something else. Or in the least get rid of the headache or get some sleep. One sits at your bedside, a migraine medication. You shake the bottle, and the sole remaining pill rattles inside. Twisting the lid off, you roll the white capsule out into your palm. Your skin is soft as always, tinged with the deception of youth.
It might not quell the certainty of tomorrow, but hopefully, it will quiet the throb in your brain. In mouth, dry gulp. Stuck in throat. You toe on gray slippers in search of water. The wistful groan under your covers notifies you the night was not all that uneventful. Even so, your memory of the tumble of flesh is not lucid enough to enjoy after the fact.
Your temp-lover will be gone soon, aghast at the lack of recollection, which has nothing to do with the alcohol. You will leave a note, you always do.
You scribble a fast phrase on a green Post-It note and press it on the orange snakeskin wallet on the opposite side of where you slept. ‘Thank you for your company. Don’t come back or you will die.’ Harsh yes, but you refuse to see the same person twice. The repetitive introductions, small talk, and such annoy. But, the lack of recognition begins to hurt.
A lump in your throat begs attention. Yes, the pill. Water. You shuffle into your narrow kitchen and lift the lever to run the faucet. It opens in a smooth stream, and a mug you just snagged from the drying rack is filled. A few gulps later and the pain still there, but you have done what you can for now. The side of the cup reads ‘Life has its Moments, Claim Them.’ Not sure why you bought it. Maybe because that is all your life is…moments.
You think about going back to the bedroom, but stop, not wanting to risk waking your guest. A neglected yellow laundry bag sits beside your white, faux-leather couch. Sitting, you sift through the week-old contents, not remembering if you cleaned them yet. You extract red shorts and a loose white T-Shirt. Slipping both on, you rummage in a wooden bowl of random contents on your glass coffee table, pen, old flip phone, pocket notepad, purple hair tie. That will do. You tie your tangle of dark hair back, so it is out of your face.
You find your red-streaked running shoes near the door on the way out and pull them on, leaving your slippers behind. This causes you a bit of sadness. You would like to sleep more, but know it is impossible. You always go running before six.
Within a few minutes, you are already striding along the paved trail next to the river. A few sailboats clip the waters with full sails. On your left a low metal rail divides you from the freeway, spewing fumes and the occasional honk from a distressed car. And yes the cars are out of sorts, or at least they should be, the way their drivers treat them.
You are reminded of your temp-lover just then. In some way, you hope he or she steals something on the way out, a memento, proof you exist. Not that you have any pictures of yourself in the apartment. You do collect nicknacks though, pieces of glass in a jar, a bottle, a rough leather book you have never read and never intend to. You think you got it from a clubhouse you tried joining a couple of years back, but you’re not sure. That sort of stuff.
Funny how your lack of memory of your temp-lover in some ways makes you two equal. After your lush-filled night, in a way unexpected, alcohol proved to be the great equalizer. Too bad it comes with headaches, which has subdued some.
You pick up your pace as the trail cuts away from the highway and let the cleaner air sweeten your lungs. Not much further now. Just past that old oak on an iron bench, should be your never-lover. The name reminds you never to get too close.
Your heart picks up pace with your stride. Very rarely the bench is empty, no book, no intent eyes, no calmness, just the empty air where life should be. You can never understand your never-lover’s peace and fear disrupting it.
These morning jogs fill the rest of your perpetuity with something to look forward to. It cannot last, but the years since you discovered your never-lover you question your promise to yourself. How long can you live? Sure, the flesh changes, so do the people you see. The baker’s son becomes a man, leaves to be a broker at Lehman Brothers and the business goes under. Your hairdresser quits and joins laws school at Berkley, drops out, and then becomes a famous sashimi chef in Los Angeles. They have become more and more faceless. First, their names go, then their faces, and any semblance of recognition. They could be swapped out for each other, and you would never notice. The world never stops rotating.
You pass the large oak with ever-dangling broken branch, and there is your never-lover. This morning the bench is not empty. Two sit, huddled and bent towards one book. You stumble in your stride, try to catch your footing. You fail and fall, landing hard on the pavement with your shoulder.
The air is jarred from your lungs.
Somehow your never-lover stands over you, concern creasing otherwise pristine features, close-knit eyebrows, dark eyes, and floral lips with a hint of pink. You smell lavender, the fresh shower kind. You are unable to speak, your mouth dry, full of cotton. The sudden fit of wheezing doesn’t help either as your lungs take over the desperate attempt to regain some oxygen.
The burning in your shoulder should knock some sense into you, but you are unable to look away. Green eyes as if darkened emeralds. You never noticed before. You have never been this close.
“Are you alright?” The voice, strong and alluring, reaches down to you.
There was always this chance. You knew the risk, but you ventured here anyways. Daily, living and reliving this moment. Sometimes stopping to talk, other times running past, but you never lingered, you never strayed, you never gave in for fear of losing your tenuous grasp on life. You were never this close.
In your mind, you repeat your mantra, your salve to moments like these. You know in the beginning was logos. You know in the beginning was, you? You know in the end will be you. Knowledge is you, but do you have the right to restrain death? Does anyone have the right to bend the order of things even if they can? Knowledge has no end. Shouldn’t you? The mantra stalls. You realize single, disparate moments aren’t a life. A life is continuity, a life is moments connected, not a drop of rain, but a river. So easy to get swept away. It would be so easy to live, even if it meant death.
Then you speak, and you forget.