Remnants

I am infinite - I stretch eternally outwards, a thousand me's aligned, the hollow gaze of each boring into the next. The eyes are dull, the skin around them sallow, the soul within it left numb from disuse. I am exposed in these mirrors, nothing but an evanescing remnant of a childhood when joy seemed a natural right and my dreams were as wide as the ocean.
I run my hand over the worn bars. Calloused, we both are - calloused and gradually disintegrating. Nostalgia opens around me, crashes on me, drowns me. Dervishes in rose-stained satin leap and twirl in my mind's fragile eye; the heady scent of the blood-red blooms themselves pervades phantom lungs. I round one bony arm into an arabesque, grasping as a shadow of passion darts across my line of vision. Scornful, it evades me.
I notice her there, sitting in the corner, the soldier ballerina. She does not speak to me, does not avert her gaze from her own infinity. "Sans me parler, sans me regarder.#" She drags daintily on a cigarette; the smoke hovers in our stale atmosphere and settles on the glass. Through her, I see a fatal topaz sea of flame; I hear gunpowder rattle my eardrums; I smell death - pungent, potent, and inescapable. In the glass she gazes not at herself, but at blood-stained eddies of golden desert sand.
Like me, she is broken. Yet unlike mine, her gaze remains fervently tenacious as she stares, sardonic, at the creature she had become. I am no longer the antihero of my own reverie, but the intruder of hers. These ballet years are gone, I realize, and gone I must be from this place.
I am infinite - a thousand me’s step towards the decaying door frame. I am infinite - a thousand me's permit their fingertips to linger on the rusted bars before opening the door. I am infinite - a thousand me's turn when, in the silence, I hear words pierce the stagnant air.
"C'est la vie, ma chere," my teacher's voice calls. "C'est la vie."

# Line from "Le Dejuener du Matin" by Jacques Prevert, 1946





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