Literary Yard

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Non-Fiction: A Mere Projection

By: Charles X. Madruga


mere projectionThe midnight ceiling of my unconscious celestial dome caves in, becomes invaded by slivers of silver light. A blinding alarm clock, like curtains being swung open in the middle of a vacation. My eyes follow the star; a burning locomotive followed by its trail of smoke, as it ventures off of its orbital track and across the desolate expanse of the sky. The contrast of white light on a black night. The circumstantial relevance appears and my internal longings amplify with the flashes of light. Perfect timing. Overwhelmed, my head burns from the fever
of the thoughts.

The hush black ripples of the nearby lush water lure me in with silent splashes and comforting quiet crashes against the white sand. A hypnotic thought envelops all of me, as does the water, and I begin to effortlessly sink. I open my eyes, close them, and open them again as the difference is now entirely indistinguishable. An omniscient polarity drowns me. Not a deathly urge, but a directed tug; a carnival ride on a track towards the uncertain, towards the non-existent bottom. I’m a puppet on a string being lowered into a clouded aquarium. I haven’t inhaled. I haven’t exhaled. I fear my lungs becoming flooded by the obscurity. My lips part – nothing enters or exits.

I open my eyes and the glowing ember of my thoughts explode into a firework display of memories. Each settling spark on the water, a fizzled evaporation of what once was. In an instant, the unconscious world I’m in alternates from black to white, as if a switch turns my realm translucent above me, seemingly where the surface should be. Rotating onto my back, I look towards the source of blinding light, like staring into the sun behind a magnifying glass. The gleam doesn’t hurt my eyes, but my mind.

The screams of recognizable voices infiltrate my ears. My flailing shadow feels like it’s fading to invisible; someone is blindly turning setting knobs. Chaos controlled by a stranger. A couple of blinks slow it all down. For an instant I feel safe. The lights dim back down like the previews are starting, and an imaginative projector begins to reflect all I’ve wanted to see against the sky. The images that I can never differentiate dream from memory, memory from dream, fade in and out of focus. Sinking slower than ever, my frail skin and bone arm reaches, my hand unclenches – taking swipes at nothing.

My grandmother laughs so easily as a gentle beam of the softest sunlight radiates life into her ageless face. A gust of the dream’s current imitates the photographed wind against her like I’ve seen so many times. The tranquil breeze creeps back, in complete disguise, and whispers her back to sleep.

[Stay here.]

Falling freely and looking upwards, I see our footsteps – the cousins and I. We all look young, so young. We all feel that way, too. We run through the light like silhouettes behind a white picket fence, letting out the exuberant exclamations of a careless summer. Our voices trail off, heard vaguely, like a stranger’s conversation in the next room. Our loud laughing echoes like we’re walking deeper into a cave, a shelter from the spraying of the shore break. Drowning and getting drowned out. Having forgotten that I don’t have to gasp for air, my hyperventilations request a sign of life.

[Just once more.]

Absolute silence sets in. The voices in my head – mine and yours both – have gone mute. Some of the remaining wind from my lungs walks its way from my chest, and the revelations of aligned easiness float their way into plain sight.

The deep obsidian seashore is shadowed by the black cliff’s overhang. The coastal mists linger and collect into clandestine clouds, suspending over the meandering open fields, over the casual groupings of trees, over the dirt road that circumvents the seaside town’s outskirts that carelessly slaloms the fields and the oceanfront bluff. The afternoon begins to fade and the first flicker from the lighthouse greets the silent sea. Some reassurance, daily familiarity, they’re the best of friends. A frosted-glass house sits perched atop a gradual incline, it sits and peers out over the panoramic horizon. The lighthouse in the distance shines from the south, and a singular willow tree to the north provides shade from the summers. The estate’s
perpendicular, yet simultaneously paralleled structures create a sanctuary of congruency. The offshore breeze from accelerates the tide, and the tall grasses instinctively bow down. The
leaves rattle in fear, clamor along the branches, reluctant to again become skeletons by winter.

A cream colored car slows its way through the hovering mist, the headlights turn off in front of the house. I see myself – I think that’s me – get out of the car and open the door for an ideal outline of a girl. I hear faint laughter that would’ve been so much louder had it not been absorbed by the fog, had I actually been there, had it all been real. On cue, as the door closes, a sprinkling of rain begins to fall as if someone just barely left the sink on. The two begin to run to the house, each stride with jovial steps. The lens of my dreaming eye follows from above, zooming in behind us like a camera on a hidden wire. The front door opens and then slams just before I can make my way in, just before I can see any the interior. As if I have fallen off the cliff that the house inhabits, it’s dark and I’m sinking again. It’s midnight once

[Let that be me.]

I’m plummeting slowly, I haven’t gotten wet yet. I’m convinced that I’ve seen my opportunities come and go, that I’ve felt them escape me like the last warm breeze before autumn turns cold. Differentiating minutes ago from years ago isn’t all that easy at a time like this. I’ve watched it get up and leave right in front of my face – a mere projection – grasping at it, but you can’t hug holographs. It all seems to be there until everyone starts laughing. But this isn’t a fictional showing, as I am the sole director of the movies of my mind. A strange ensemble makes up the cast of regulars. But now, it’s only me. It’s only me until she appears.

Seconds pass, measured by blinks, and she hasn’t yet become invisible. Coasting over towards her, as if for an instant I’ll fool myself into actually acting impulsively, acting in accordance with the longing beats of my heart. But who am I kidding?

My swimming hands separate the dark water, filter the peaceful light that she gives off, and become magnetized in her direction. Her sun-stained hair sways through the water like the tall grasses that cover my meadow above the sea. Her skin has the delicacies of porcelain and gives off a soft reflection, a matte finish of beauty. She has the kind of eyes that don’t
demand attention, but the kind of eyes that multiply intrigue with each time they’re looked into. They open and close, then open and close again. Her eyelashes flutter like butterfly wings. A nonchalant aura she maintains, and even in moments like this, she’s so glamorous.

Unapproachable – as if she’s been in this exact spot before, as if she’s lived this one life a thousand times. Her eyes close, her head nods in the opposite direction, and I’m terrified of her slipping away. I’m terrified of going unnoticed. ‘I don’t know when I got so boring’, I tell myself – as if I won’t let it happen again. Like she’s been eavesdropping this entire time, her eyes naturally open – like the sun rising, a new day on its way from the shadowed sides of the world – and resonate a glimmer that almost makes me laugh in complete disbelief.

There’s now no doubt that she is looking right into me. The strangest easy smile on her face asks me what I’ve been so worried about.

She slides her hands onto my shoulders, a meaningless movement, a movie script ending.

(Charles X Madruga is an eighteen year old writer/director from San Diego, CA.)



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