It's 1:15 in the morning and I'm laying on the sofa like a throwaway rug - a useless , ragged addition to the ambiance of the house: the flicker of
candles, the smolder of incense, the haze of cigarette smoke; all a sultry medium for the harsh, condemning reverberations of punk-metal rock. I
can hear it, I can see it, I can breathe it in, but my sense of smell is gone, temporarily smothered under the blue bath-towel being pressed against
my face by Felicia's worried hands. She says my nose is broken. She says that Daniel has left, and then she asks someone to bring some ice;
someone, anyone who's not too drunk or too high or too indifferent, but the guests are already leaving, already dissipating into the night as the
electric vibe of quarter-shot games, faux-strip-teases, and whiskey-laden kisses followed by whiskey-laden gossip lingers in the house like a ghost, a
sordid overexposure of life itself. A few guests will stay, for their own reasons, whether it be for safety, or camaraderie, or merely the stubborn
anticipation of unfulfilled sexual expectations - hopeful, lurid affirmations of their personal and social worth. As for Felicia, I get the
impression that she truly cares, but I callously push her away as I rise from the sofa. I don't need, or want, her sympathy. Not now - not at this
time, this place, this terrible moment at which I know what I must do. And what I must do is horrendous; it is very nearly unthinkable.
Gently pinching my nostrils, I stagger through the haze and into the crowded wooden-floored hallway. Misfits, jokers, drunks, and sulkers pause
their socializing to make way, staring wide-eyed at the crimson pattern of blood that has decorated the front of my gray, hooded sweater. My free hand
finds the doorknob to the bedroom, and I open it to peer inside, half-expecting to find a scene of sacred communion - two, maybe three naked figures
writhing in the fractured darkness under the cover of a sweaty bed-sheet, or a bedspread, or nothing at all. But the bedroom is empty, and I shudder,
because it's as if destiny has saved it for me alone, like a last-minute reservation at death's motel, a motel that doesn't take Visa, or
MasterCard, or even cash. No, the only acceptable currency here is cruelty, and redemption will not be served in the lobby at six a.m.
Nevertheless, I lock the door behind me and fall backward onto the bed. They can knock, they can yell, they can curse, but they will not get inside,
they will not stop what is about to take place. Selfishly, I question my reasons for coming here, to this party that I hate, before I remember that
self-pity is a useless, wasteful thing, and I must get on with the business at hand. Besides, I know exactly why I came, and it's for the same
reasons that everyone else came; to fit in, to run with the crowd, to carouse - maybe to find a date, or a companion, in the process. But I know
I'll never truly fit in - this is impossible because I am special, a freak of nature with a unique talent that I've kept hidden, concealed in the
shadows and away from doctors and shrinks and teachers and parents who would never understand, never accept. So I concentrate, clearing my mind of
the vicious odors, the ravaging music, the chaos of pain - and then it begins to happen. Not all at once, but slowly, like the coming of the tide, or
the rolling of the fog, it consumes me; that eerie, tingling sensation that takes hold just before my consciousness snaps out of place and I begin to
leave my own body.
Only when it the process is complete do I look down and see myself sprawled on the bedspread - a lonely, helpless figure with dead eyes and pale
skin, nearly lifeless in this fleeting, precious morsel of time during which I can go anywhere: through doors, walls, and the ceiling above; past the
pine branches, the power-lines, and into the cold night sky, over the neighborhood and the mountain on which it sits. Briefly, I hover in the void, a
lost soul amid the blackness of the heavens, and then down, descending ever-so-slowly into a frost covered meadow that glistens in the night like a
million diamonds, silently reflecting the stars above.
Here, among the austere wildflowers, the solitary evergreens, and the icy carpet of fallen pine-needles, my consciousness drifts in silence.
Everything is clear, everything is so utterly clean, like a portrait of frozen perfection. God how I wish I could stay here forever! In the stillness
of the night, nothing stirs...until...yes, there they are: the slight and barely audible crunches, so shy, yet so insistent, approaching me as I hover
in this ethereal, and inexplicable, metaphysical state. Already, I can sense her vitality: the warmth of her golden fur, the heat of her rushing
blood, the youthful tension of her muscles, and the racing , synchronous beat of her heart. She is a young doe, and this is springtime. I wonder, is
she alone - or does she have a mate? Has she given birth to a litter of precious, vulnerable young who eagerly await her return? I don't want to
know. Yet she is already aware that I am here: her tufted ears cautiously pivot in search of sound, but her majestic, ebony eyes have fixed on my
Millions of years of evolution separate our species, yet she and I understand each other on some mysterious, primeval level. Does she truly
understand me? Undoubtedly, she's met my kind before, but does she know that I am different? I wonder if she knows that time is like a river - a
rushing stream that moves only forward, it's path branching into an infinite number of tributaries. I wonder if she knows that we can only navigate
one of these; a path that is all too often chosen by our own decisions - if you can call them that - a path that dictates our fate according to our
own desperate and destructive compromises. I wonder if she knows that I, and I alone, can foresee all of these, like a shaman, a mystical
cartographer in a world of the blind, the lost. Probably not. She knows and understands the wild: the weight of hunger, the terror of pursuit, and
the savagery of true peril: of predators, of disease, of mankind. She fully understands the importance of summer and spring, winter and fall. What
she understands is LIFE, and it is only because of this understanding, this instinctual recognition of life's beauty, life's importance, that she
will agree to do what I am about to ask of her.
So I ask, and she obeys. In an instant she is gone, bounding fierce and graceful through the forest: past the granite outcroppings and under the
pine branches and through the tangled manzanita brush, rushing through the darkness, and then onto the cold and lonely stretch of paved roadway where
she stops - stunned and immobile, before the terrifying glare of the Toyota's headlights.
My heart wrenches at the sounds that follow: the screeching of tires, the snapping of pines, the thud of twisting metal, and the shatter of breaking
glass. I know she is dying: her back is broken, her warm lifeblood draining across the cold pavement and into the ditch by the side of the road.
I know that the SUV is upside-down, and on fire, and I also know that the family in the station wagon coming from the opposite direction will see it,
will find Daniel hanging from his seatbelt in time to free him. They will see the gash on his forehead, and will smell the vodka on his breath. They
will see his confusion, his fear, his stupidity. Maybe they will see the set of keys dangling from the ignition, the very keys that I tried to take
from him before he struck me in his drunken rage. Only after all this will they notice her, twisting in agony in the middle of the road, and they will
rush to shield their daughter's eyes from the horror. Most importantly, they will live.
Once more I go to her, because time is short; both hers and mine. I must return to where I came from, and she must go on, into the hidden realm that
I cannot visit. I want to tell her that I'm sorry for this outcome: that it is not the worst, and certainly not the best, but the only one that is
acceptable. As the color of life slowly fades from her beautiful eyes, I thank her for her courage, her compassion, and her compromise.
[edit on 19-5-2006 by Flatwoods]