Conscience's Shadow

October 16, 2008
Dear Conscience’s Shadow (otherwise known as you)

The wind blows through the canal of my ears and the river flows through the veins of my body. I, a weightless feather, float in the world that I see in your eyes. You have the power to set me down or raise me up. I sometimes despise you for that but always you freeze me there like an icicle, each time you stare at me. Because you stole the earth and keep it hidden in the depths of your gaze, I often implore you to look away. It’s hardly surprising that you never do.

Now I am lying on my back and I finger what you called my Achilles hair. I laughed at that the first time you said it. It was a slip of the tongue, a mistake. I realize many things between the ecosystem in which only you and I reside were just that. Mistakes.

My toes rise up to touch the sky. They barely skim the surface but I could feel the burden the atmosphere carries on its pillowed shoulders. I know because I carry my own. But unlike the sky, I have no way of just opening up and letting the load slash across the globe in pallets of rain. I have to bear it in my womb, a baby that is yet to be born but is growing. I am the tree that is inflicted with the worst kind of respiration. I let out the sun in bright rivulets but keep the moon inside of me in inky, black glue. Opposite twins. Ironic, isn’t it? My downfall is the only thing holding me together. You would know that, too, but you left, the blunders like kindled flames at your feet. I still look for the water that could possibly extinguish the campfire guilt that fed on you like a vulture. I sigh, recognizing the search as futile. How can anyone hope to take out a fire that burns in the gut?

No answer from the west, east, north, or south comes but something from within me whispers. I strain to hear but it is lost before I could make it out. Whatever my body could be telling me, it has only one direction and it is to my misfortune that I did not have a map to find it. I discover another thing as well. Finally, you did not look at me but it was a time when I was at last getting used to your eyes rigid on mine like stone. It is an irony bunched together on the stems of other ironies that I rather would not dwell upon. It certainly is not as bittersweet as grapes or as well rounded in its sense.
My eyes close on that thought and it disappears, leaving only a blank kind of feeling in its place. I do not turn it away but embrace it firmly until it blankets me in its empty warmth. While you were the third wheel, this emotion becomes the fourth for Shane stands a few feet away, throwing rocks out onto the water. Remember him. He was the desert while you were the sea from which I drank greedily. It was a dry life I would have lived if I had chosen him but a safe one. I chose you instead and my thirst was abruptly quenched. It had to be because you were no longer there.

“Emily, you are always drowning in something only you can see. If I stare at you long enough, I swear I could see you vanishing. Clear. Like a ghost,” Shane says as he looks at me writing and shivers like it scares him. I could not blame him. Mama also said I was so into my dreams that I’ll one day get lost in them.

I look at him. Sandy hair, tawny eyes. He was a sight that was so familiar to me that I could identify him in the darkness, see him in my sleep. This was a fact that made my nerve endings vibrate with fear. If I share such a bond with him, then what happens of you? Are you a mere shadow that tugs at my conscience and casts your blackness on my chest? No, I decide. It could not be.

“Shane, I am as human as you. Solid. See, touch me. I am still here,” I say to him. I hold my arm out to him. He hesitates. His fingers inch cautiously toward my skin. For a second, I half expect them to penetrate through my arm but an eternity later, they settle on my flesh like small torches. The hotness that emanates from him is like a furnace. I move away from him. I do not want to erase your cold memory with Shane’s heat. It is unthinkable. It is possible.

“Didn’t I tell you?” I ask. Still, doubt lingers in his gaze like dissipated fog.
Shane grabs another rock from the ground. This time, it is a smooth pebble. I could practically feel it in my hands. His arm draws back and then the stone is gone. I feel you in that moment except that you are not the thing creating the ripples in the water. You are the water. I want to leap inside your deepness and breathe no more. But I am only human. I know you know this fact, even though Shane does not. You were never scared to place your fingers on mine, entwining around each other like two pieces of ribbon. Who or what was the scissors that cut us apart? I wonder.


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