The Beginning and End of the Universe This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

April 24, 2010
By , Hillsborough, NJ
The winds are changing. What movie is that from? Maybe Mary Poppins. Yeah that's it. When she flies away on the umbrella and leaves the now-magically-transformed-happy-go-lucky family behind playing with their stupid kite. "The winds are changing, Bert," or whatever the little chimney sweep guy is called. I like him. He makes the whole movie good.

The winds are changing here, too, only I didn't have a wise nanny to tell me about it. I had to find it for myself, feel it inside me, like a tornado had to suck up my whole internal gut to make me realize it was there. Maybe that's why I feel so empty. I'm so hungry all the time. I must have eaten like fifty bags of Doritos to try and fill up the space, but I just feel worse. I drink Sprite and choke down bile and try not to think of the storm that is coming. Or maybe the one that's already passed. I hope to God that it's passed already, because if this is just the beginning I'd rather call in sick the rest of my life rather than deal with more hurt.

Why is it that all the metaphors that come to mind are natural disasters? Now the situation, looking at it from below, was/is an earthquake. And the big one was last night, like the San Francisco one, the anger and raw, bleeding hurt. I used my own skin to patch it up again, and now I'm still bleeding a little at the edges, and those are the aftershocks. Like the other people that just insist at tugging at the stitches. Those are the aftershocks.

Looking at it from above, now, I see a bird flying, swooping diving, playing with the clouds and the wind. She's fine really, she sees the world differently, from a perspective no one else sees. She finds other fliers, visits different places, but calls on home often. Then from a distance she sees another one falling out of the nest, and the others crying. They pushed it. And she is so confused she goes back to see what is wrong, and suddenly these nets come down from every direction, catching on her feathers and ripping them away so that there are patches now in her wings, and the fibers are wrapping her so tightly she can't breathe, falling on her so thick she can't see the sky anymore.

And there are these cliffs now, this chasm where she finds herself, tattered but alive, sitting in the shadows. Her family is all around her, saying how she got so far away they couldn't tell if she was alright anymore, so they had to shove one aside because with him there was no room for her, they felt, and it kept her away. And they fight, but the flier was so weak already it isn't much of one, just a burst of anger and then meek acceptance. Because she needs this family, she knows that whatever happens in the air she can always come back to them.

But she needs the sky just as much, needs the new lands and hiding places she has discovered. So she limps back to them in secret, and the family knows that she does it and they don't like it. But they can't stop her because she knows about the nets now and she won't fall for them again. She scratches her tale in the dirt and looks at the moon through squinting eyes. Was it always that far away? Night is so much easier to face than day, when she must sit in the caves and protected places and watch life go on through the chinks. The gales whistle through and stir the dead air, and she smells it. The winds are changing. She can see it. Sense it. The winds are changing. And that electric zing in the air gives her hope, a tangible thing she can feel every time she takes a breath. The wind can penetrate everything, every darkness and deepness where the family leads her. It is with her all the time, even during those stifling daylight hours. And at night it helps her fly, helps her remember the way things were before it all changed.

She starts to heal. With every passing hour another feather grows. She realizes that she never really lost her strength, she just shrank it to fit other feelings inside her. But now she casts the feelings out, leaving shells that will do just as well, and lets the strength return. Growing and growing, filling up that hollowness little by little. She knows she can stand another quake now, another rumble from earth's deepest core might be all she needs to fling the cliffs wide, to make the ceilings of the caves fall in and let the two worlds merge, spreading wide to reveal a huge flat expanse with a sunrise on the horizon. And then her family can fly, too, and she can be with them and with the wind, soaring towards the new adventures alone. Because that's they way she likes it. Alone. Alone with just the sky and the land and maybe, someday, the sea.

Alone with the wind.

The changing wind.





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