If anything the darkness around me had intensified, the air cold, then colder still. Over head the trees arched, their branches gnarled, their trunks resembling the distended knuckles of dead giants, leathery fingers reaching from the sodden earth, reaching tip-to-tip over my head.
I wait for them to close on me, a part of me wills it.
Ahead of me is a pit and behind me the tongues slither.
I feel fear walk along my spine, he cold footsteps of a tiny devil that perches on my shoulder. No angel balances him on the other; there is only me.
The voice still speaks but I can no longer place the words. It no longer speaks to me, and if I were to speak to it I know it would no longer hear my replies.
Between the giant and the spirits, I walk alone but for the demon perched at my shoulder; thankfully it does not speak, but I can feel it’s mischievous grin and my lips want to return it.
The ground slopes downward and above the branches tighten, underfoot the ground becomes firm and my footfalls repeat back to me in a weak echo.
The voice is gone now, perhaps banished by the darkness.
Darkness that was more than the absence of light, rather darkness that encompassed the lack of hope itself.
There is no more dirt underfoot and now trees are replaced with uneven rock.
I know where this leads.
I have seen the place in many dreams, I one wrote about it back in my youth, in error seeing it as a place of hope rather than hopelessness.
I thought this place my Midian, my place of exile, that place the unwanted live an I wrote of it such; but I had been wrong. This is the place where the exiled live but rather than being a place I had been exiled myself, it was where I exiled parts of me.
This was the underworld of my mind where creeping things dwelled.
I was not the romantic hero exiled for my faith, but the despot who did it to those with whom he disagreed. Here lay each argument I had lost and each time I had made myself the fool, alongside each was a smiling audience caught forever in witness to my each and every folly.
Some scenes were filled with drama while others dripped melancholy, others still would be nothing more than a tableau to those without the knowledge of its meaning. Others too were not memories but the stories told by others of things of which I had no immediate memory, I had absorbed their tales and my mind had regurgitated them as a mutant child of both; a memory of a tale that contained just enough truth to shame.
This place was filled with those tales I did not reveal to others, but they were tales that others knew regardless. Others often knew these tales better than I did myself, many could navigate the roadmap of my inner self better than I ever could.
The tales I did tell to others told more of me than I knew.
The only person a story-teller fools is themselves, as those who lie often ends up living the lies they spin; after all what is a story-teller but a liar for a willing audience wishing to be fooled?
I walk deeper through my Midian and I wonder how true my juvenile thoughts of the place might be. Perhaps when we exile enough of our sins we ultimately exile our whole selves. More of me is down here, hidden even from my own view than reside in the waking world we foolhardily call reality.
Where is the lie?
Where am I?
Am I merely the shadow of the person I bury over the years or am I the tempered iron forged by such acts?
As I walk deeper I tell myself who I am; and I hope I am fooled by the lie.
posted by Alan Preece
on November, 19