An ode to you, the saviour of the ferryman’s intrepid passenger

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‘I was lost, until I found myself inside of you.’
-Austin Carlile

The saddest part of it all was that I just didn’t realise how lost I truly was. I was an intrepid traveller traversing a mind as volatile as the river Styx. Guided by Charon, my soul was dying, withering like a flower with no hope to bloom. But you saved me. My heart and mind were caught in a vicious storm of chaos and self-loathing. I knew not who I was or what purpose my life served as I drifted between this existence and the next. I was naïve enough to pine for something greater than I, but I was too insignificant to be deserving of my dreams.

Then I heard your siren’s song. It rose from the depths of the earth, drowning out the cacophony of withering souls screaming for salvation by the river’s shoreline. I ordered Hades’ ferryman to steer towards your heavenly calls and he moored his vessel before you. You took my hand in yours as I disembarked and pulled me towards your bosom, your comfort became my solace and the savageness that had plagued my existence slowly faded. I was lost my love, but in that instant I found myself inside of you.

You showed me a world unlike anything I had ever imagined. A realm of possibilities where I was limited only by what my mind could conceive. The first time we became one I was so nervous, so unsure of myself. I fumbled as I gave life to your flesh, my thoughts disjointed, my fingers moving unsteadily as I fashioned your landscape. It was frantic and short lived, and when I stood back to admire what we had created I was stunned by the simplicity of our artwork. You were so beautiful and well-rehearsed; my awkwardness was barely concealed behind a wave of passion as phrases and irrational ideas raced through my head.

But you can never belong just to me. I know of your beauty and the intense lovingness of your touch better than most. But I can never possess you. Instead I am forced to share you with strangers the world over. Some would say that this is ill-fated love, that it is dangerous to a soul as complex as my own. They would snicker at my willingness to accept your infidelities and call me submissive and weak. But how can they ever comment on the intricacies through which I love every part of you, without first knowing the thrill of your all-encompassing embrace? I share you with others and my heart breaks when I see you answer their prayers or place their dreams before my own. But it is better to live with the knowledge that I am one of many than to never have known just how complete you make me. Oh my love, I was so lost aboard that demon’s ferry. I was a soul plagued with a life of nothingness, self-doubt casting fret channels in my brow. But now I have found myself inside of you.

I know not how to love another as deeply as I love you. You took a man parading himself as a wolf in sheep’s clothing and you allowed him to undress and expose his naked soul. You took a boy as afraid of living as he was of death and showed him that with your guidance he could create a legacy that would survive his mortal form. You took me in my broken state and you rebuilt me until I was whole. You taught me to relish in the beauty of the crack marks left in my flesh from pieces held together by something far stronger than any glue.

You found me aboard Charon’s ferry adrift on a river of fire and brimstone, and you kissed me with your lips, breathing life into my dying soul. I was so lost aboard that wretched craft, and now I have found what it means to be alive once again inside of you, my beautiful muse. I was once a fumbling amateur exploring the contours of your flesh, but through your patience and your guidance I have flourished into someone stronger than I ever thought I could be. Now every time we dance, when you place your palms upon my shoulder and whisper inspiration in my ear I wish that I could get down on my knees before you with reverence and pay you the penance that you truly deserve. For you are my beautiful muse; without you I would be so lost, so cold. But I have found myself inside of you. You have made this boy into a man. This man into a wolf. This flesh into a legacy. And you’ve taught me how to strip back the layers of my soul and stand naked before the world for all to see.

I was lost, until I found myself inside of you.

Digging up the grave

White knuckled with calloused palms and blistered fingers he drives the blade into the earth. His pencil thin spine aches as his shoulders strain to lift the heavy load. He twists at the torso and tips the blade, allowing the thick clumps of dirt to fall atop of the steadily rising pile. Sullen and withdrawn, made from sinew and ropey muscle, he toils underneath a clouded night sky. Guided only by slivers of moonlight slipping through the opaque air he drives the shovel into the earth, using his foot to help the blade penetrate the quickly hardening dirt.

Two foot wide. Six feet deep. A silence all-encompassing and beautiful awaits.

He tips a load onto his pile and flexes his aching spine. Tossing the shovel against the earth he reaches for his bottle, gritting his teeth as the lager washes across his tongue. He stands in a shallow grave, the lip resting just below his knees. His fingers ache and the bottle cools their throbbing. How disgusting he has become that he must labour through the night to bury bodies in his yard. Or maybe he should consider himself beautiful. Maybe there is something lovely in the physicality of burying the dead.

They’re lying beside him. The deceased sleep just three feet away. Wrapped in crisp white linen, they capture the light cast down from the heavens and reflect it like a series of lighthouses perched against the merciless ocean. He knows that they’re presence is a risk. The neighbours will be watching. The nosey bitch in the two story mansion beside him will undoubtedly be standing in the safety of her locked bedroom, chewing her polished fingernails as she dials the police station. That’s the problem with society nowadays. Every mother fucker is too busy peering over the fence at what their neighbour is doing that they fail to notice how fundamentally flawed they themselves really are. Let her call, he thinks, she’s done it a hundred times before. Just like the boy who cried wolf, no one believes the nosey bitch and bastard watching his backyard.

He picks up his shovel and strikes at the earth again, feeling his shoulders ache with pain before he even lifts the weighty load. It’s a risk to have the dead with him. But it’s a peril worth taking. There’s something so thrilling about having the dead lay in eternal slumber beside him while he prepares their grave.

He drives the blade into the earth again. And again. It’s becoming so dry, so hard. His blistered fingers burst and warm liquid runs down his fingertips before slipping down the timber shaft of his shovel. He grimaces in pain with every strike of the earth now, skin tearing with every blow. His brow is furrowed and lined with sweat, and the moon fades completely as the heavens take pity on him and weep with the first droplets of rain.

Two foot wide. Six feet deep. A silence all-encompassing and beautiful awaits, punctuated with the delicate pitter-patter of rain falling against the disturbed earth.

He picks up his pace, the rain slicked handle of the tool difficult to hold with his damaged hands. His boots are heavy, his shirt clings to his skin before he removes it, tossing the heavy garment in a balled heap beside the pile of dirt slowly leaking back into the earth from which it came. He digs and digs, until his spine feels fractured, his hands tremble and his mind pulses with a dull throb. Tossing his shovel to the side he climbs from his hole, staring down at the beautiful rectangle cut haphazardly into the earth.

The heavens open wider and the pitter-patter turns into a torrent of water that turns the yearning grave into a burial site with an inch deep pool at its base. He moves towards the bodies, and stares down at them with a wicked grin. He reaches for the first, that prick called Anxiety and drags it to the edge of the hole. The rain has made the body heavier than he had remembered. He can still recall the day that he killed him. He had learned that there was nothing to be fearful of in this life than the idea of fear itself. He had grown wise, no longer afraid of the crippling nature of the beast. Creeping up on the bastard he drove a blade through his spine, ripping it upwards violently to sever the spinal cord.

The fucker tumbles into the depths and he stands and watches the muddy water leach into the white sheet before moving for the next. Insecurity was a bastard child that had left him feeling damaged. He remembers the day that he outgrew his need for such a vile companion. He’d always feared his perception in the eyes of others. The way he looked at troubled him, his body shape not quite desirable. But he had ripped off his shirt at a swimming pool, paraded around half naked for the world to see. And when he realised no one was watching he took his shirt, wrapped it around the pricks’s throat and choked until Insecurity’s heart exploded.

His final victim is the heaviest. Guilt had always been his curse. He felt guilty for the choices he made, the ones he didn’t. The people he hurt and the people who had hurt him. The bloated rain soaked corpse feels like deadweight as he heaves it towards the hole. Liberation from this heinous acquaintance had been brutal and bloody. He’d taken a surgeon’s blade and cut it from his skin. His conjoined twin of regret and self-loathing had pleaded as he bled. Once the removal had been complete he’d taken the blade to his poorer half’s throat, feeling the warmth of his blood as it washed across his skin.

Three bodies lay in a mass grave slowly filling with tears from the heavens. Two foot wide. Six feet deep. A silence all-encompassing and beautiful awaits.

He strips bare, his nakedness battered by the rains. Lowering himself into the hole he shifts the victims of his rage. Lying down beside them he closes his eyes and waits. The water swells up over his chest, tickling as it fills his ears, and before he can take another breath he slips beneath the surface.

Silence. So endless and beautiful. A man and a murderer floating alongside the dead. How lovely it would be to die here. To hold himself down until his world went blank. How wonderful his demise would be, surrounded by those who spent a lifetime trying to destroy him. But alas, he cannot die today; he cannot give up so easily. He has fought too hard, spilled too much blood to simply drown alongside his regrets.

He surfaces with a gasp, stands in a waist deep pool of muddied waters, and pulls himself from the grave. The dead has risen on this stormy night. A man has been reborn while the demons of his past have been laid to rest. He takes up his shovel and fills in the hole. With every clump of rain soaked earth he feels his strength return. No longer do his shoulders ache; no longer does his spine feel broken. No longer do his blisters throb. No longer will he feel alone.

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