Fiction

Echo

By: Anthony Ward

You thought this house was haunted. Those years we lived here. Until you were too afraid to stay any longer, and you fled, leaving me alone to look back on us, with the house like an empty seashell, full of the sound of ocean tides ebbing back and forth, like memories washing upon the shore of thoughtfulness. Or was it thoughtlessness?

You would often tell me that memories were merely echoes in an abandoned vessel, that the positivity of the past made me negative of now. You reminded me of Orpheus, the dangers of looking back. I was so enamoured of my reflection I could not help looking back, while you faded from me, until you were merely an echo amongst my memories. Then you were gone. Far away. Distant like a star. Where only the light of the past was reaching me.

I missed the times we shared together. I missed your smiles, and the laughs I can still hear faintly shadowing silence. Remember the silence? You liked noise. I felt comforted by the shipping forecast, even though I’ve never been to sea. The sound of seagulls on the rocks, where the groynes held back the beach from being swept away. There’s a lot to be said of silence. Though there’s never a true silence. There’s no true words to describe it. Like darkness if you can still see the darkness. Like nothingness is never nothing. A lifetime isn’t even a grain of sand on the ocean floor, spread across the eons of expansion.

I never had the time to live out my life with you. To do everything we had planned and hadn’t thought of doing. When I remember, I travel through time, until I’m back here with you. Is it reality in an alternative universe? When I think about being there, am I actually back there? In another time. Time’s shifted so fast for me, but for you it stood still.

You watched me watch you watching me, knowing I couldn’t see past myself. You said I inhabited memories as opposed to life. You said I was trapped in myself, that I dwelled in a mausoleum where everything was an arrangement. Everything exact and significant, in pristine condition, as if consistently brand new. Yet everything that resided within was antiquated to say the most. The ornaments, not so much ornamental, as ornate. The pictures hung completely aligned, bearing portraits of an external personality, where they may have counselled for mirrors, reflecting the occupant through angles of time. An observation of a life celebrated. For a lifetime that didn’t have stories to tell but a story that needed to be told. That I’d embraced life as life had embraced me. This was a habitat rather than a home. The home of an idealist who didn’t dwell there but inhabited its very being. It was apparent nobody had lived here for some considerable time. Yet this house remained full of life. A life incarcerated by its own expression. Intact and in its entirety. Where the living held its breath while the inanimate remained breathing.

I ask you, is the unexamined life worth living? Without sentiment are we sentient? Wouldn’t we be just machines. Or are we just machines outputting our inputs? That’s what I was exploring with my words. You accused me of trying to harmonise life. Tring to harness it, while you wanted to let it run freely. You thought life best when things weren’t planned, because things rarely turn out as good as planned.

Who had the most need? I felt fulfilled, while you were like an unsatiated stomach, rumbling and tumultuous. A tempest churning with hunger. You wanted more than we had. I wanted more of what we had. You were always wanting to move on, to experience something different. I wanted to look back on what we had and relive it. You said the past is painful. You didn’t want to feel the pain. Though hurt is better than emptiness. Running from yourself, I couldn’t keep up. I wanted to take it all in. You wanted to let it all out. You called me a closed book. While you projected life across the universe. Like in that movie, you’re looking at that monster fish asphyxiating on the beach, a spectacle to be marvelled at for a minute before your attention seeks back on yourself- the monster fish beneath- staring defiantly at everyone else’s  lives, criticising with envious eyes.

The first time we watched that movie, I kept falling asleep. Yet when I watched it again, I recognised every scene. I’m the type that could watch movies over and over, whereas you were the type that had seen it. Isn’t watching a movie like musing memories? Is it an experience? Is it reality? What is real? Is this reality? These memories where you’re still with me. Is this reality? Me watching you from beyond.

When you saw me last, I was only body, my soul had departed. I remember the weather was sulking, a mere mizzle of snow, instead of the tantrum that was threatened to be thrown. One minute it was dark, snowflakes languidly falling, then it stopped and was as bright as a summers day. Now you see me more alive than ever, afloat in memories, as if I was dead before. There’s an aimlessness about me now, speaks clearer than purpose. I watched you beyond my wake sleepwalking through your daze. You said I died years ago, yet I’m living past you. My memories of you so distant, it’s like they’re from another life.

Did I know I was going to die? Although I didn’t know the way, that it would be like this, I sensed the where and when without knowing precisely it would be now. For now, is eternity.

Categories: Fiction

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