On Enterprise road, I met a man who wasn’t there. This fellow. This lurching figure made of smoke and sticks—he came to me on the breeze sucking a cigarette produced from a crumpled packet in the back pocket of his pants. He snorted through both nostrils. He grinned, spat, then turned to the horizon. He told me, in his way, that he came from a place called the Paradise Bar. He’d driven with no lights on. I knew it wasn’t me he was looking for, but rather those who had gone before. Still, he made his way on over. In a certain light, at a particular time, when the moon first appeared from behind the clouds over the distant mountains, the faces from his past were as real to him as they’d been first time around. When was that? He couldn’t quite say. The words he spoke were delivered clearly, albeit soft and absentmindedly. His eyes were wide. His hands gripped tight. The words continued to drip onto the cold earth at our feet. He’d expected someone else. He thought I was another; then he thought I was a ghost. Perhaps I was. When he saw my features, he broke down and cried.
“Don’t bury me,” he said, “not just yet.”
From up here, you could see for miles. What needed seeing, though, was what lied beneath. He’d placed it there, but now he realised there was no way of undoing what had already been done. He wished there was, but a wish, he said, was hopeless fantasy, and he knew all about fantasy. It’s what got him into this mess in the first place. Wiping away his tears, he looked at me unashamed of his show of emotion. In my pocket, sand slipped through my fingers time and time again.
“I never meant to be like this.”
“How do you mean?” I asked, already knowing his answer.
Taking me by my free hand, he walked us into the blowing dust. In the changing shapes that came with the howling wind, neither of us would again be free.
“I tried to be a good man, but this world was never meant for me. It forced my hand in ways I can’t understand.”
“Fate is like a mountain,” I replied, “it won’t ever be moved.”
“Conquered?” he asked.
Beneath our feet, animal bones, breaking with each step.
“Without intending, I became the change in the lives of others. I changed them, whether they wanted it or not. I am not changed myself, however. How can this be?”
“Someday,” I say, “you shall change the same as them. Like the moth to the flame, you’re drawn to that which you seek and fear more than anything. The flame will get you. It always does.”
His tears came on strong. Holding him close, I put my hand upon his head and offered him comfort.
“Don’t bury me,” he said once more, “not just yet.”
S.K. Nicholas is the creator of Myredabyss.com, as well as author of three collections of prose: A Journal for Damned Lovers Volumes 1, 2, & 3 (available on Amazon.) Additionally, Nicholas is a member of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective.