E lay dead on the floor.
How this happened is not Their concern.
The Guardians do not solve mysteries.
Who are The Guardians? It depends who you ask.
To many, They are glorified chauffeurs-
traversing between worlds to pick up the dead
(but never venturing far from the Light Illuminant).
To others They are the Elite,
sacrificing eternity to serve the Greater Way.
It doesn’t matter as much, who they are,
whoever you want them to be.
Those are debates better left to the intellectuals;
the Philosophers who spend lifetimes ruminating on the choices of others.
Let us continue.
Death (do you wonder?) is often a very sullen experience,
but also, depending, as familiar as a birthday.
Postmortem rarely comes as a shock.
The first time, maybe- like surrendering virginity:
ought never to be planned, and never what one expects.
Only a moment to wince, but just as instantly, relief.
Subsequent deaths are effortless.
The Guardians are here to pick you up, to take you Home: a ritual.
School's out. Everyone dies.
If they're lucky, Daddy gives them a quarter to play again.
E has died before, many many times, according to her records.
The Guardians know these things.
A newborn bellows for the first time, listening to his voice jut against a brave new frontier.
Maternal membranes are gone and the muddled voices are replaced with crystal clear communiques.
The subtle becomes deafening.
This is the same shock, same sensory saturation that death will be.
The proverbial open window to life’s closed door.
But I digress, because E is still stuck in her own head.
If she'd turn around, she'd see them. She'd remember.
The Guardians, even in Their patience, know this is not typical of E.
This should have been a simple death.
E struggles to get up, but her body has disowned her.
Her head is not silent enough to hear these things.
Her mind must be rattling, that is the only explanation.
She mistakes herself and her body for one in the same,
but she has nothing to cling to.
In this moment, as she chooses to deny the reality that has chosen her,
E wrestles with the weight of the World.
Death is sometimes a revelation.
Tearing herself from recumbence, E has floundered upright.
Her movement is paradoxical and without grace.
Listless, yet deliberate.
Even in life she had been a quite determined E.
And now in death, we are seeing something of a show here.
A performance for an audience she refuses to acknowledge.
She must know by now this is an inescapable turn of events.
She is shuffling away from the Light Illuminate, denying the most natural impulse one is given.
Curiosity has struck all of us, where is her breaking point?
Is there pain?
She won't listen.
She accepts no input.
With every step into the darkness, all who watch wonder,
do we stop her?
In the distance, a memory spills against her body-
her life passes.
Hers was not a quiet death.
The image of her killer floods across her, history has seized her mind.
Who was he?
It doesn't matter. The Guardians do not solve mysteries.
She turns towards her new Keepers at a funeral pace, Themselves engulfed in the Light Illuminate.
She looks right through Them.
They are not gods to her-
and They needn’t understand.
She cannot appreciate what it is They are called to do.
But then- the inconceivable- an act reserved for only the unwritten:
she turns, with a deliberation that seemed, almost, premeditated.
Away from the Light Illuminate,
away from natural order,
away from all her Universe has asked from her
...and thrusts herself into The Darkness.
Ahead of her, only blackness, yet she sprints.
She runs, knowing not where she is, but where she is not
She has not surrendered control, though she has yet to seize it
Chaos and anarchy rise before her
A perverse sanctuary far from the rules of The Elite.
Though she may be alone, there were many before her
etching their graffiti in this dank halfway house of nonexistence.
She feels, again, the physical
The sludge staining her ankles feels like fire
a thousand lashes, in miniature, as her feet hit the floor:
This Pain is Freedom.
She keeps running,
Until, at last, she feels sentience upon her,
her paranoia is legitimate.
She is being watched.
Above her, curious and hungry eyes stare,
as if she was a paper doll.
Behind her, a woman appears.
A hostess, inviting her beyond this permanent abandon.
Preparations have been made,
there is to be a celebration.
She blinks and finds herself at once removed from isolation,
The woman motions for her to come see:
the ornate property is thick with pleasure and far more hospitable than its predecessor.
She is pulled toward her new life,
a new family waits with tangible anticipation.
She is wanted here.
Mania overcomes her.
She grins from ear to ear.
Her eyes widen in excitement.
Her hands shake.
Today is her birthday, and this, her surprise party.
She is reborn in undeath.
They pull her near and
press birthday cake to her lap.
A single candle is there, flickering with a life of its own.
She remembers him.
She closes her eyes, wishing for this day to never end.
As she snuffs the life from the flame,
in a flash, she is struck again with mission,
in her Mania she is still haunted by Mantus.
She opens her eyes.
At once, she is back to the gates of decadence.
Her hostess is there, again, in this feedback loop.
Her wish may have come true.
The woman before her is different, her figure grotesque.
Suddenly repulsive, E cringes at everything she sees.
She understands her mistake.
Want, itself, can be its own prison.
She cannot move forward, she cannot go back.
She has been marred by want.
Forced through the motions of celebration.
Her adoptive entourage lusts for her.
They are no different than the Light Illuminant.
They want to own her.
The pats on her head no longer gentle, they yank at her hair.
They want her more than ever.
The cake again before her, as if for the first time.
Nauseated, she stares at it.
A solitary drop of blood falls from the sky above
landing squarely before her.
E must deny them,
though her loneliness is guaranteed.
She rips herself from their grasp,
crawling on all fours, once more into the unknown.
E surfaces from The Darkness and finds herself again in the Natural World.
The land where Life is King.
She revels in its imagined comfort, caressing the ground as if it were dressed in gold.
She turns, calculating her chances of pursuit.
She feels safe.
The Guardians are disarmed and without protocol, still at the foot of her premature death.
What will be the implication of this deviation?
Who dares challenge the Light Illuminate?
Who dares shame The Guardians?
Surely They must appeal to her senses.
The electric sounds of The Guardians’ screams are deafening to the dead.
The Sirens are laced with a terror of the infinite unknown.
A rejection to anything other than order.
They call to her;
the atmosphere about E is razor sharp.
She wretches and writhes.
No one in recorded history has ever persisted against The Sirens.
But then again, it is The Guardians that record the history.
Her ears, her heart, her eyes burn now.
Escape is the only thing on her mind, may it be life or death.
Ahead of her; a lake. She gives herself to it.
The liquid balm soothes the slices that were lashed through her spirit.
She cuts through the water.
Safe from the piercing desperation of The Sirens.
She no longer runs from fate-
she has turned her back on it-
now, it’s the absence of fate that must be acknowledged.
Her recalcitrance against the Greater Dominion will not go unseen.
Her story will be barred from the annals.
Her legacy kept true only by the clandestine-
those of us who dare memorialize the secrets of supposed sacrilege.
E writes the script now.
No benevolent omniscience watches over her as before.
She is alone now, divorced from order.
Resistance may come from any direction.
She traces the sand and rock, fading in and out of consciousness.
The taste of a distant vision has pulled her to shore.
But she hasn't much time to relish in her primordial sins, she smells blood.
Animus and amnesia coalesce,
she stands a top the water now,
struggling to understand her present circumstance.
A man is nearly naked before her, his hands plunged into the edge of the lake.
His bloodstained skin familiar to E, burnt into her memory.
Her killer is calm, methodical as he tries to rinse her away.
He is not without regret.
In his mind, she was his; to have and to hold.
Though she denied him with consistency.
But now she is gone.
He forced upon himself the ultimate denial.
Ridding himself of want. Ridding himself of her.
E is there, he hasn't sensed yet.
Inching closer, the blood on his arms begins to ripen,
fermenting from crimson to black.
The inky stains inch up his body,
and he knows his pain is not yet finished.
Now, arms of onyx, he can taste her near.
His greater plan has failed.
It is her memory engulfing him.
It is her memory in Technicolor.
This is unnatural, he knows-
and beyond subordination.
Control has always been his weapon of choice,
but one cannot dominate what one cannot see.
He is unarmed in every sense.
E dances circles around him, she smells him, considering her next move.
He is paralyzed by his sense of her.
She has orchestrated a reversal of his favorite game.
She takes in the moment.
She has found her fortune.
She looks closer, he looks different.
This is not how she remembered him.
Once a man – dominating, predatory -- she now sees a child.
She wipes salt from her eyes.
Here, in her gossamer heart,
he is guilty of nothing.
She draws in, tracing the bridge of his nose with her breath.
Who was he?
The man forever in her peripheral vision.
E weighs her next move-
revenge has lost its taste.
He jerks, her presence has jolted him.
His body purges his spirit-
as if in offering to her.
Now, severed from his body, he understands.
She is there.
The woman whose presence asked so much of him.
He will not look to her.
With childlike impudence-
he refuses to see.
He is outside his body, and a moment closer to death.
E knows she has precipitated this.
But The Guardians must not come.
She must keep him in the physical,
this is not to be her checkmate.
It is not to be E with blood on her hands.
She pushes him toward his own body--
but he pulls himself away.
She tugs, he tows.
There is a familiar cadence to his resistance.
This is what he felt in her, the first he saw her.
E’s mind flashes to her last moments in the physical, under his weight.
This is the dance they were meant to have.
He resists, but E is ahead of him in thought and deed.
She moves to lie within his body-
their hearts sharing the same space.
Her breadth expands to fill the cave of his chest.
He cannot last without skin and bones, and he knows this.
He can no longer deny her,
he moves toward himself
Her quickening pulse is a reminder of life--
his time is not up.
He cannot yet face The Guardians.
With one last wrench, she latches to him and pulls him near.
Through them, time surges in all directions.
There she is, again, where she had been.
Moments before, alive in the flesh.
He is reunited, electrified within his own soiled animation -
he gasps for air.
His skin tingles with resuscitation.
Within him, the two have assimilated.
Within him, they have become… singular.
In an instant he is E-
In an instant E is he-
they are one in the same.
Within him, They Have Become.
Every embarrassment, every guilt, shared.
Every fear, every lover, every question.
In that instant, lifetimes were rewritten forward, backward and diagonal.
E’s tragic death became a tragic suicide,
known to the gods as the unraveling of One.
For his crime, this would be his sentence.
His whole reduced to half by his own hand,
sent on without him.
Sent on to navigate oblivion in search of something, someone she refused to see.
E pulls herself from his body.
Struggling again to move
and fighting the weight of the World.
Their eyes meet as if for the first time.
This would be the last time.
Blood rushes through him.
He is stiff- wondering if this is rigor mortis or its opposite.
He dare not move for fear she might leave him any instant.
E glides on top of him, her hands against his chest
She feels electric again.
He clenches his teeth and E swallows him between her legs.
The act that defines life in the Natural World.
She cannot stay, they both understand.
Where she must go, neither know.
Their love is defiance and they celebrate with the friction of physical.
They won’t be alone for long.
The Guardians have stolen through their barrier in pursuit of their licentious delinquent.
Blind to their new surroundings; they follow her trail across the lake.
They have no patience for games.
Seeing The Guardians in the distance, E pushes harder onto her killer.
Tighter, faster, and with a lingering desperation, they echo against each other.
This is all he ever wanted and without consequence, E will give it to him.
He takes it.
Understanding for the first time,
what it means to be Wide Open.
He explodes into her as The Guardians draw her from his body.
His ecstatic timbre rattling far into the deepest pitches of The Darkness.
In an instant, E is again in the barren womb of a body’s recent expiration.
Again to Revelation.
Again to Clarity.
The Light Illuminant has returned for her.
E lay on the floor as before.
This time, without hesitation, the eidolon turns to The Guardians.
Surrendering to Providence, she nods.
She reaches out, gently, romantically.
She dances about them, this time with A Grace Unknown
a melody slowly giving way toward the Light Illuminate-
she is ready to return, and she is not alone.
Her incandescent belly glows with child.