In one way, I am a rational man — I give tribute to no gods, I sully no altars, I believe in the silent evanescence of the soul back to the churning engine of entropy upon the body’s demise. No mansions await us, no Santa Claus to mind our sins & reward us for inaction. Just we, the people, our social contracts, hurtling through an endless night, huddling for warmth.
In another way, however, I believe Them — these things that no one thinks are true. That a spell can nudge Schrodinger’s Cat into or out of its grave, that dark matter gets more real the longer you observe it, and more malicious the longer it observes us back, and that Hiroshima may have killed the dinosaurs. I believe that the dark, secret things we have done for the breadth of the human reign may well have been working — the sacrifices and the tributes, the prayers and the incantations — but not for nearly as simple of reasons as we thought. How the old man learns what he knew as a child, but comes to it differently… Wisdom is doing what the ignorant do, but knowing why, and being responsible for the consequences.
I believe that at some point years ago, I loved someone who was supposed to die. Who did die, in point of fact. But, with some advanced meddling, the power of the dead, the power of the moment in the trajectory of my life and thus all whom I touch — I was able to make a deal to reverse it. All it took was a little fudging of the books, a scrubbing of the timeline so that she turned left when we thought she’d turned right: in the end, the excuse for the missing time sounded like the interference from gremlins some Naval ensign might have reported centuries ago. We had assumed them dark forces, but I now know they might be saving lives just as well — nudging the Cat out of the box, as no one says.
The price, of course, was her. This ended the event much the same, which is why it was palatable to Fate — I was meant to lose her, as a part of my journey. But it was not the same at all, in the end, after all. A dead girl cannot truly haunt you. She can linger in your thoughts, but fades with years, until the remembering itself becomes forgetting. But a live girl — now there’s a ghost. Flitting in and out of existence, far away but nearer somehow in the moments I’ve forgotten, and completely real when she recurs — the lost, distant look of what could have been, what never would have been, what was taken from us and yet what I gave away, caught in the cobwebs of her eyes.
Despite the altruism of my motivations, I feel as though I robbed us. Like a fool I thought death the worst of fates, and staved it off with backdoor dealings, but in the end I, not Death, was the thief. Like a superhero or a solar deity, her death’s tenor was torn from her, overshadowed by an ill-conceived, reckless resurrection, and now she floats about free of fate, something not so lovely as it sounds. In the meanwhile, maybe I got to dally about with my destiny for an extra decade or so, while thanks to my bargaining, my mourning never quite moved out of denial. In the past year, I have been angry, I have been depressed. Today I hope to shuffle to acceptance.
I’ve still ended up with a live love, a true love, and a healing one, the one that would make me strong after the suffering. The one that would bring me out of the shadows and into the day. I truly believe the order of events has been preserved. I truly believe I played a hand in how. The half of me that believes in things, of course.
All of this is to say — half of me has a foot in the observable universe, and the other half speaks only in metaphor. I have met the person that I was always supposed to meet. In another world, I didn’t see her because I was mourning. In another world, my friends dragged me place to place to drag me out of Shiva, and were eventually fed up that I was not over a dead girl whom I only knew a year. This world was much the same, excepting the first girl not being dead, and that every couple of years between the incident and my accepting her death, we would meet up in some public house, talk, and then hold one another for hours without talking, without moving, with neither romance nor lust–huddling for warmth, as it were–and did not know why.
I have moved on, and I love completely. But there are black moments, moments where I neither love another nor lack the love to give, but where my heart gets snagged on a moment and tears when I move it. Where I am a thief who does not deserve to stop lamenting what I’ve done. Where the people I love die, and I must sacrifice them to save them. In these moments, I fail you, and I pull away, though I know it is a falsehood, another world that never happened. These are the moments where I slip between worlds, back to the lonely one before I first saw you — long after we’d met. I promise to nudge them toward the Far Country as soon as faith allows.