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Once upon a time, a dream came to life. It was so vivid that we could taste its colours. Spicy orange melted into a cold purple and we drowned in the ice that framed it. We were made of feathers and the world was a monochrome envelope.
If you stretched your fingers out, they'd pass right through the sky because the world was you and your eyes were blinded by a montage of showroom screen savers.
That was before the war broke out and made screaming a daily special. People would smile and pass by in a blur, unaffected—deaf to the Sirens above. The trick was to invent a song of your own—a dull composition of the everyday mundane, and let it drown the wicked, lovely Sirens out.
The war died out as quietly as it had begun, or well that’s what people assumed the silence meant. No one dared to look up at the sky to see if the Sirens were still about, and soon people forgot about them altogether.
But then, one night—one night a piercing scream was heard. It rang up old church bells and young tavern chimes—curling its sharp acid tongue around the pink lipped children of daylight.
A feast of hot blood and bones was concocted and offered to the voice, but to no avail. Our people grew melting brows and their songs became a dying hum. Shadows threw light only so often and children slept by the monsters under their beds, afraid of the voices that lived above.
Hidden behind doors, shrouded by layers of neglect—lay the answer that they hunted day in and out. But the ordinary entertains no epiphanies, and so the people continued their search for the grand and ultimately trivial.
For a while life danced with the silent standstill the world seemed to have come to and we held our breaths in anticipation. But that didn’t last long either and life went on, like it tends to always.
We closed our eyes and shut our ears yet again for the Sirens couldn’t find us in the darkness of our minds. And neither could light, we learned soon enough.
It had rained that day, I think. I could be wrong, of course—the sun and the wind felt the same back then. We had only our memory of the world to colour the voids. But we remembered what rain felt like and so in the years to come when the story was retold, it was decided that the answer did indeed find us on a rainy day.
It had rained and streams of muddy water slid down our city streets. We tore our skin to knit paper boats and let them traverse the deserted cityscape. The boats with their giant sails condensed in the cold and summoned wind to blow again—after thousands of years of bated breath.
Curtains flew out of our homes and hugged the sky, littering the blue with kites again. And our windows opened their parched lips and drank in all the light that had been set free. Scared, the village opened its eyes again and tested the air for roots that might’ve been left behind.
Slowly but steadily, we opened our eyes and songs were sung again. Through holes in crumbling walls, we witnessed the fruits of our paralysis destroy and re-awaken the world we once knew. We soon learnt that there had been but one Siren and she too had lived in a lone singular moment many centuries ago.
Shame crawled up our backbones as our collective epiphany gradually dawned upon us: the hands that covered our eyes were our own.
Our monsters had been molded from human clay and had melted that rainy day when light had been let in. Our monsters were of human make and rested in the clockwork of a defunct mechanism. They drank from our lips and screamed nightmares in our ears.
You see, they lived inside us—we were our monsters.