I find you in the rain, as always. Sit next to you, hang my aching head. You find it so easy, staring up, into the storm. I still can't deny them, can't silence their voices as they sing and whisper and plead for us to hear. The forms and faces in the water, that jostle and swell in the puddles at our feet, that clamour for our love, our forgiveness.
“It doesn't matter now.” You're right, of course. Always, always right. We tried, didn't we? To save them. To make life and death bearable. A game without rules, a toy without instructions. We tried.
But it's never enough. No matter what configuration we force the work into, no matter how we piece the engine together, it always grates and shudders, grinding those within between its wheels. Sooner or later, every living thing in creation screams its contempt for us.
The lightning almost blinds, obliterating them, for the moment. This street, this way. A favourite painting, a scrap of some place where we walked, long forgotten. Soon, even it will be gone, erased by the rain. Soon, the puddles will overflow, the faces will smear and fade. There will be nothing again, as there was when we first found one another.
You smile, rain in your eyes, rain in your hair. We're no different. You told me that over and over. Sometimes, I pretended to believe you. The storm doesn't belong to us, isn't our creation. I don't pretend to understand the art of it, the inspirations that seethe at its heart. All I know is: something waits to be born up there, in the lightning, in the chaos. And our little efforts won't survive it; the painted worlds, the ephemeral places where the creatures at my feet once lived and lamented it.
The faintest shift of my feet is all it takes. They blur, they ripple and fly apart, leaving behind only fathomless depths, abyssal dimensions breaking down, collapsing in on themselves. No more worlds there, no more playgrounds. Soon, even the memories of them will fade, leaving us empty again, sundered wineskins, aching to be refilled.
“Will you come again, after?”
The question that quivers in my throat, an imperative that burns like fever: Will I know you again, after this?
She sighs, standing, phantasmal after-images trailing her, painting the air. She doesn't look at me. I understand. How can it ever be the same after. . ?
“Maybe. If we forget this. If we forget everything.”
“I don't. . .”
She doesn't linger to explain, dispersing into the rain, fading from sight as though she were never here.
Alone. The way dissolving around me, the last scrap of anywhere, unpainting itself. Maybe we won't meet again. Maybe we won't forget. Maybe, this time, I'll let oblivion take me, as I should have before, and before that and before that. Sorry cycles, celestial revolutions. Engines turning invisibly, all of us spitted on their stuttering wheels.
No more. I could go, escape dissolution. There are million places, an infinity of shades and states between every step I might take here. I could follow her, try to make her stay with me. But we both know where that path leads.
Instead, I raise my swollen head, my star-light eyes, gaze into the storm, into what pupates at its heart, and I surrender, letting the rain wash me down to the bone and beyond, until there is nothing but a dream, nothing but a promise of what could be.
Then, not even that. An end to love. An end to inspiration. An end to worlds and songs and stories. A dream of oblivion.
George Lea is an entity that seems to simultaneously exist and not exist at various points and states in time and reality, mostly where there are vast quantities of cake to be had. He has a lot of books. And a cat named Rufus. What she makes of all this is anyone's guess.