Why do we always fight for what we can’t have?
It’s never the things we just have to strive for that we struggle toward with such vicious tenacity. Only when our end is entirely unachievable, a phantasm at the far edge of a clouded bog, do we break our bones and strip ourselves of flesh in its pursuit. Is it the very fact that such a thing is “beyond us” that makes us so badly desire it? Is this the nature of desire?
Does it matter? When our minds are in the hot embrace of this self-imposed vice, does it matter from whence the teeth of the clamp spring? Are you fucking serious? Of course it matters!
I want her. The curve of her hips, the smooth line of her lips, the graceful elegance that cloaks her from her flowing, raven hair down to her toes’ painted tips. I want her spread out beneath me under the starlight, filtered through the window in my bedroom ceiling, as we coil our bodies around one another, entwine our limbs and taste the forbidden fruits of earthly passion. I want lazy weekend mornings under the sheets, breath coming slow, then faster and quicker until it builds into savage grunts and primal moans. Presently, though, I want her to bring me my goddamn drink.
I can see her at the edge of the kitchen, door held open by her presence, face turned in and jaw working in a way that makes it clear she’s talking to someone. I shouldn’t eavesdrop; public setting and, on top of that, it’s just rude, but my curiosity is piqued. My eyes slide shut, just for a brief second, just to focus, then flicker open and I can hear.
I mean, I can always hear, but just the general, muted tones with which most people make do their entire lives. Those people are only so satisfied, though, because they’ve never experienced the alternative. It’s like switching from the old monochrome televisions into the modern era or… No, more like going from analog to digital, seeing things in high definition for the first time. Or hearing them, as the case may be.
“… He freaks me out.”
Huh. It’s not something I want to admit to myself, but I think I know who she’s talking about. The other voice is higher, shrill even normally and pitched, now, so that it almost shatters my sensitive eardrums.
“You still have to bring him his drink, Carol.”
No one said there weren’t upsides to the standard. Not just sensitivity to pitch and volume, but… Well, when newscasters first started broadcasting in high definition, they came to realize that, with a better picture, came an accounting of all their minor blemishes, demanding new lighting and make-up techniques. When you see better, it’s harder to hide things from you. Same with when you hear better.
My wallet is thick, though not with cash. Digging through the crumpled receipts and coupons, though–the folded, unpaid bills–I come upon a few lonely dollars, toss them on the table and trap them under the plastic candle-holder, blow it out and slip away, out the door before Carol notices.
It’s a moonless night; cloudless, but still dark, with only the stars to guide a traveler on his way. Even without vapor to shield them, only the brightest stars stand out against the endless expanse of darkness, their weaker or farther distant brothers overshadowed by the amber spread of the street lamps.
The sidewalk is solid beneath my feet, under the shoes. Safe, familiar in purpose if not specific location. Wandering is nothing new, though, and I’ve got a great mind for it–the kind that jumps from one random thought to the next off any little tangent–though it’s awfully focused, tonight. I mean, there’s really only one thing I care about, one person I came here for.
Yeah, I’m thinking about Carol. Not thoughts like back in the diner, though. I mean, yeah, some of those–they always sneak in–but they’re just incidental at this point. No, they’re overtaken by… Memories. Fucking memories are nothing but trouble.
Other times, I cherish them. A shared moment of utter peace, just five minutes in each others’ presence with our hands joined in chaste union, shoulders pressed together, or her head on my lap. The problem is… Well, that’s all they are. Memories. And right now they’re just getting in the way and causing me to make terrible mistakes.
Like going to the diner. Going there was definitely a mistake, and one I won’t soon live down. I think this venture has been a complete fuck up and, in fact, set me back days, if not weeks, in the grand scheme of things. My feet come to a sudden halt, hands dangling listlessly at my sides.
I allow myself a sigh, chest deflating and shoulders slumping into it as best they can. Shrink down; disappear. It’s hard to fathom the course spread out before me, sometimes, and it doesn’t help that there’s this whole meta-game to it that I just don’t understand. The mechanics, I mean, are well beyond me.
The key slides easily from my pocket, clasped in a rough, callused hand. That hand… God, I wish it was any other. No, I don’t. I wish for one other, specifically, with long, thin fingers instead of these sausages with their grubby and chipped nails. No wonder she was uncomfortable, but… Y’know, I’d hoped. Gotta have hope.
Hope doesn’t change the facts, though. In this case, that’s all that counts.
Pressing just one button on the key proves to be a new sort of challenge, but I manage. I feel it click as it falls; a beep flashes through my brain and the air before me shimmers, wavers like there’s heat pouring off the sidewalk at my feet. A large, powerful hand–my body’s–reaches out for it and passes through, closes upon something and there’s a dulled tingling sensation in the palm, against the flesh. It intensifies as I pull, the cable slick and crackling in my fist. After another few seconds of struggle, the strand suddenly jerks taut and snaps back, dragging me along with it through the distortion. I glance back as the sidewalk disappears into the distance.
Scenery whips by around me, but there’s little rhyme or reason to it. I mean, it’s not absolute chaos, but it’s damn close, only a few discernable patterns to keep it from devolving into complete anarchy, and those few are pretty much inexplicable. Can’t describe them, just gotta feel them, y’know?
No, maybe you don’t. It’s like how you can look at even an asymmetrical shape that balances and say, “Yeah, in some way, that’s regular.” Like those wavy shampoo bottles. So, it’s like being surrounded by wavy, inside out and bisected shampoo bottles, but not at all. You see an image flash by and your brain says, “Okay, yeah, that’s a thing and it exists,” but it has no fucking idea of what that thing that exists actually is.
None of this is worth thinking about, though. The trip’s over almost as soon as it begins. The air opens up before me and ground comes up to meet me, soft peat that momentarily offends my senses. Doesn’t take long to adjust, though, and the earthy odor is almost comforting. At the edge of the bog, beyond a pond thick with sediment and layered in moss, there stands a concrete hulk of a building, twin smokestacks belching smoke into the atmosphere. There’s only a dim corona of light around its perimeter, a weak aura that has no hope of detecting me.
Thank God for small favors.