*A True Sailboat Haunting Told in Multiple Splashes*
Part III- Flights & Drops
“I remember the whole beginning as a succession of flights and drops, a little seesaw of the right throbs and the wrong.” – Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
The night shriveled and the stars sank into the sea. My blood ran slow and cold. I shivered, I shook, I rattled in a haze as the phantoms hunted me through a circular jungle where day does not rise. My body paralyzed. I could feel the venom of their violence alongside my numbness. I tried to escape. I was held down. There were vibrations all around— my body pulsated as if shot to the core by electrical currents. Then there was rapture— a flight of frenzy that culminated beneath my capture.
My spirit was thrown. Beyond skin, beyond bone. Towards a bright neon light. The light, falling. The light, rising. The light. I was flung into a void with no anchor to tether me to the flesh of this earth. No heartbeat. No breath. Floating. Drifting. Floating.
I became a ripple made of air and the walls of Juniper collapsed as I walked through them. I didn’t look back at the puppetry of my body. I knew that the dead were wearing my skin from head to tail to toe. Masquerading as the living- twiddling my limbs, devouring my light, eating my heart.
All I could do was let go.
Freedom collided with fear, collided with cloudless skies, collided with the measureless abyss. Fish pillowed beneath my body in a cosmic symphony of tropical screams and I became a dragonfly born of their flickering caresses. I traveled through the space that exists between the sun and the moon and for one brief moment I was in a world of velvet.
C-r-a-s-h. I fell down into a desert. There were grey lizards sunbathing beneath magenta beams of light. Magen-ta-ta-ta-ta. Prickly pears, fish hooks, devils’ fingers, rainbows, and beaver tails rose from the ground like smoke. And there were skulls and snakes and it smelled like the land of the forgotten. The earth was made of red sand, the sky was a sea of water, the clouds were pink jellyfish, and the air, the air had been woven from teardrops shed by fallen Gods.
Everywhere I looked grey strangers surrounded me. They held bright flowers in their grey hands and wandered towards nothing. Moving without purpose, speaking without words. Nobody looked at me, because nobody could see me. I was there, but I was not there. Where was I?
I didn’t belong in that desert. I have never really belonged anywhere. I have always been an outsider. I have spent most of my life running from the shadow of loneliness. Tortured by the unbearable darkness that comes from being human. My loneliness and I watched while a stray sand cat licked the smile from everyone’s face.
I knew I was lost. Gosh darn it!
I screamed towards the corpse of a cow that lay cold at the bottom of a canyon, “Please, please, please, somebody, body, body, help! help! help!” My voice echoed 13 times.
A man wearing a hula skirt turned to me and said, “Only you can help yourself.”
“But where am I,” I asked.
“Where you are is always a reflection of where you believe you should be,” he said.
“But who are you?” I asked.
“I am the vulture who feeds on your fallen expectations, but it’s only because you let me,” he said.
The man grew wings and flew into my unexpected future. I turned and there was an elderly woman wearing a large sun hat and a colorful Mexican dress. She reminded me of my grandmother. I touched her face, it felt wooden, she caught on fire and burned to the ground.
A pyramid grew from her ashes and I walked inside it’s golden door. There was a bottle of silver liquid with the word “enlightenment” etched on the glass. I drank it, it was bitter. The pyramid crumbled around me.
Coming towards me was a sea cowgirl who rode sideways on the skeleton of a horse, she whirled her lasso around me and whispered, “Everything you desire is already yours, but you must know who you are and what you want from this world.” She kissed my cheek and tossed me into the sky before galloping away.
I flew until I felt the base of my own backbone. I dropped back into my body, but was thrown out of it again and again and again. Dropping and flying and dropping and flying from dimension to dimension. All night this lasted. Each time I landed in a new realm filled with oddities and wisdom. The words imparted to me before my drops back into my own skin were like a nectar that ran warm through me.
At sunrise, there was a final drop. I opened my eyes. I sipped the air. I exhaled. The sounds of water lapped around the boat and sunlight dripped onto my face as I throbbed between the ecstasy of survival and the terror of now knowing the unknown.