It is the rise,
the fall.
The slow breath and release toward light.
It is the burn,
the ache.
The fervent heat, an itch in my eye.

A door closes.

It’s one of those times when nothing comes. When the cat licks my neck, purrs in my ear. When eyes are closed, a pulsing throb in the center of my skull. One of those dips in the valley where all I want to do is hide.
Life rituals.
The beginning of one thing, the end of another. The beauty in one verse, the pain of another. A leap toward the stars with an unforeseen drop toward hell below.
Every tightrope walker missteps eventually.
Maybe it’s one of those times.

A door opens.

We begin with “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” by Elton John.
The visual is simple. A boy, a man – their lives play round them in a slow moving cyclone. Both suspended in motion while images of their past, their future, flurry like butterflies in a glass dome.
Before you read any further, put the song on.
Let it be a soundtrack.
Put it on.
Now continue.
A flurry of butterfly memories surround this boy, this man, until it’s realized they are one in the same. The boy is man, the man is boy. Decades separate the two while blood connects them.
To see what is lost, to see what is gained.
To recognize we are the same and hold our own hand along this journey.
That nothing is for nothing. We carry the weight of our past and the breath of our present while staring in the eye of our future.
I’m going to be a dad.
It’s official.
The father of twins.
A concept I’ve yet to digest but words I enjoy saying. With most life changing events we often have no idea they’re coming. A sudden death, a break up, illness, whatever it is. Usually we’re taken by surprise, usually we have no clue the beginning of one event has triggered the great shift of everything we know.
But this one –
This shift is an oncoming train in the horizon. It’s five months out and I can see the shadow looming toward me. Can hear the choo choo, the smoke rising from that thing smoke rises from off a train.
Google search: Where does the smoke from a train come from?
Smokestack.
Thanks, Google.
Five months and I will be a father of twins.

A door closes.

I thought I put it all behind me. Thought once I got married. Once we move into the new house. Thought if I became a father. I thought it would all be something packed in a box somewhere. On a shelf. In the far corner of a basement to collect dust and cobwebs.
I guess I never expected to find it.
Never expected to want–
Never expected.
I just never expected the dark matter to rise, ooze from sewers and out between bathroom tiles. White grout stained with impurity. With an endless uprise of shit.
Like an addict I found myself wanting more. Parts of myself I lost sight of, parts I didn’t know existed began crawling to dark corners. Then grew. The uprise became a full-blown flood. And before I could grab a life vest, my head was under water.
Shadows again.
The dark of night again.
Houses swallowed in black, blinds pulled tight, the orange glow of street lamps illuminate sidewalks and roof tiles.
I thought it had gone.
Thought the thirst was quenched. Or dissipated altogether.
But it only quieted.
For years, I think, it rested in a cavern beyond conscious reach.
The darkness.
My old friend.
Even here as I sit, fingers clicking away on black keys in a coffee shop. In a sun drenched, brightly lit open space, even here I am the shadow. The brain blemish. As a throbbing, short-of-breath mind fuck pulses through me with ravenous consumption.
A tennis ball volleyed between two rackets, back and forth, wrapped in static.
Back and forth.
You can turn the song off now.
Turn off “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”.
There’s a new soundtrack.

A door opens.

Appetite.
To move with the slither of a snake. The serpents tongue.
The devil inside.
You wouldn’t understand.
Or maybe you would.
Maybe you are me.
Maybe.
Like me.
Wanting.
Thirsting for–
The rush of body, of blood, heat rising from your core, through the lungs. To the heart. Beating with the heart.
Red.
Red beats.
Sight skewed, saturated with desire.
Do you understand?
Do you understand what I’m saying?
Do you understand I’m scared of myself?
Of what I might do.
Of what I’m capable of doing.
Do you understand that as I type these words, I am short of breath?
As The Acid’s album Liminal plays in my ears through headphones, the bass beat speeds my heart beat. I feel it in my throat. I feel it on my skin, the hairs on my arms. Alive. I feel every cell in my body. Pulsing. Dancing. Signaling me to move. To act. To release. Surrender. Give in. Give up. The still wrestle with a wild beast.
This is the new soundtrack.
Do you understand?
That I can’t breathe.
Right now.
This very moment I feel everything I’ve described to you. My heart could erupt. I see things that are not really there, feel things my mind conjures. Because of this–
Thing.
Inside me.
I’m scared of myself.
Of what I might do.
Of what I’m capable of doing.
Of lingering in this tennis match for too long because there is no winner. Everyone loses.
I always lose.

Then this.
A dream.
It’s a dream I had last night. One I think fits for some reason. Don’t ask why, I don’t know. I’m sure it could be analyzed, dissected by someone who dissects dreams for a living.
But anyway–
Here’s the dream.
It’s the day of a show. Some play I’m the lead role in. We’ve been in rehearsals for months, which I remember as breadcrumbs. Fragments of dream-memories that make it all more real. It’s opening night, hours before I’m to go on stage.
I’m with my family.
Or people like my family. Or at least a blur of faces who are familiar but unintelligible.
Then panic.
Overwhelming anxiety by the sudden realization I’ve never learned my lines.
With script in hand, I begin looking through pages to find monologues, dialogue, scenes I’ve never reviewed. An entire journal entry my character has written and will read to the audience. I know none of it.
I plot how to learn these lines in the final hours. How I’ll be able to carry the script on stage with no one noticing. Excuses I can make. Ways to get out of the show.
The panic is real.
The anxiety is paralyzing.
Someone drives me to the theatre. We’re on the highway in a sort of residential neighborhood. The colors are dark and warm, deep smoke grey clouds in a blood orange sky. Scattered homes and roadways against a densely layered backdrop of black trees and beige buildings in what looks to be a post apocalyptic world. Mars meets Earth.
In the horizon we watch a tornado appear like swirling charcoal in the sky. I’m filled with hope the play will be cancelled; my fears assuaged momentarily until the tornado breaks then disperses back to the clouds.
Left to face an audience of onlookers expecting the performance of a lifetime.
Left with a script I don’t know.
Left wondering how I got here, how it all happened.
Left with myself, to face my own tornado.
Petrified.
Then bed sheets.
Then pillows and blankets.
Dog licking my face.
Me realizing it was a dream.
Trying to shake off remnants of visual shards and emotional stain.
A dream.

But now, still clicking on black keys, I wonder what the dream will be that I don’t wake from. The prolonged nightmare I can so easily manifest by dusting off an old box. With the slow turn of an eye, a twitch in the brain, the turn of a wheel, push of a button. Major impulse met with minor action always leads to the beginning of an end.
And this time the beginning of the end is so much more than I’ve ever faced.
It is the loss of self.
The loss of security.
The loss of happiness.
It is the loss of a husband.
The loss of a career.
The loss of family.
And now this–
It would be my first failure as father. It would be giving my soon-to-be-born children a foundation of pain.
Because I put lust before love.
Because I am still a child.
Because I.

I am scared of myself.
Of what I might do.
Of what I’m capable of doing.
I am more scared, however, that it ends there. No resolution, no full circle revelation to set the path straight.
It ends there.
Ends with–
I am scared of myself.
Of what I might do.
Of what I’m capable of doing.

A door closes.

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