By A. Das Sarkar
For the room with many doors, windows served no purpose. It was an open invitation laid bare – enter and exit me as you wish. And, so, many did.
They left behind only the echoes of their footsteps, and the halting stutter of the shuttering wooden doors. A word, a plea…stay…like a wisp of smoke, a fragment of the guest’s imagination, before the doors shut behind them once again. Leaving the room alone in the dark.
Light gave up trying to enter the room, unable to find the windows. It tried tracing along the hardened walls, caressing the impenetrable surface for a hint of a crack. It found none.
It glimpsed in for a while, when a guest opened the door, curious to converse with the room. But the light could never stay long. And it was never invited in. For the room was occupied with excitedly greeting its new guests, or grieving its next goodbye.
Stay, the room almost spoke once, with its last farewell. But the shutting of the door cut off its tongue.
Mute, it went back to the familiar darkness, whose thoughts it could read, while the laughing light searched for a window in the room with only doors. And the darkness trapped inside.
I resent you, the darkness told the room one day, unable to contain its rage.
Why? asked the room. Have I not been good company? Have I not kept you for all these years?
I cannot contain all the ghosts of your parted guests, you haven’t room enough to hold what I have become, the darkness replied.
I see no ghosts, the room challenged.
I hide them well, reminded the darkness.
To which the room had no reply.
Unable to hold the silence of the room, and its infinite ghosts, the darkness succumbed to the unbearable weight. It collapsed through the many doors. It seeped from the walls as it carved cracks along the bones of the room.
The room wailed, as its bones broke, as its skin tore, as the darkness bled from its every pore, stretched, bent and spent beyond its limits. The room crumbled to its knees, begging and pleading for the darkness to go back to their familiar past. It made empty promises to the darkness – more room to hide its unseen ghosts.
But the darkness couldn’t hear the wailing of the room, so caught up it was in its first conversation with the curious light waiting on the other side. They stood across from one another, staring each other in the eye.
I am you? whispered the darkness to the light, unsure, afraid, yet brave.
I am you, smiled the light.
I cannot keep you both in me, cried the broken, hollowed, room, It’s impossible, I can’t, I can’t….
I cannot be kept, reminded the light, I am just passing by.
If I can’t keep you with me, what will I have? the room sobbed.
The darkness gently stroked the crumpled heaving heap of a room, You cannot carry me in your bones; there are too many cracks. You can’t weave me into your skin; there are too many tears. You cannot hold me in your pores; there are too many holes. With that, the darkness turned to embrace the light.
The room watched the darkness disappear out of sight as the light swallowed it whole in one gulp. The room wept for the loss of its old familiar friend, finally crying out the word it could never before speak out loud, bared naked by its pain, Stay…please, stay….
Only one of us can be real, and for today, let it be me. With that, the light found every crack, every tear, every hole, adorning the room, and as it threaded through each crevice, it lifted the room from the rubble of its own making, at every new pass.
Until the room stood once again, on its shaky, mending legs, clothed in its new attire. Its broken wooden doors lay scattered like history, buried into the ground. Leaving in their place, only wide-open windows, all around. An open invitation laid bare – see me, if you dare.
A Done Deal
By Chris Kerr
the chain stops rattling,
bags to pack,
I walk the beach,
cools my feet,
Ghosts have fled,
I am free, so is she.