Old Flame

I wandered through the rooms, each one full of the noises of Sunday Brunch. My flute of champagne was half-empty, and when I saw her alone in the den, I sat next to her with hopes of turning it half-full.

There we were! Years had passed, other partners had come and gone, entire oceans had opened up between us, and now we were sharing the same space once more. How did it feel? It was full of our old sorrow, of course: that same depression. But neither of us had time for that anymore. We refused to acknowledge the anchor lying between us.

Before we dove into our dance, the dance of masks, the game of appearing to be free from the other, I made a mental list: Here are my achievements, here is my art. She let the silence grow, and my list shrugged uncomfortably in my head. My work, and my victories, and my poetry… they all clamored to be expressed; they grew into a noisome static behind my eyes. Before the dance of conversation began, within the brief silence of her gaze, the static grew aware of itself; it felt itself to be small, inconsequential. My victorious list shrunk to the size of a fly, and it flew to land on the wall of her bedroom, where it became engrossed with the weight of her life.

No one has seen my poetry in this room, and no one has benefited from my work. The last two years of my life away from her were now only a fly on her wall, a fly which watched silently for her next move.

Her mouth finally opened; my held breath escaped from nearly closed lips. The dance of masks had begun. The anchor continued to sit between us, ignored, and I followed her small dramas with religious intensity.

She related her troubles, her vague discomforts, and I longed deeply to turn them into victories for her. With a moment of silence, she had transformed all my unique achievements into a fly on her bedroom wall. “I must make her room beautiful,” the fly said, “or I must die.” 

During these two years apart, I was sure I was important. I was sure we were different. As I listened to her, it became clear that beneath our masks, we were both small, winged creatures, surveying a shared landscape.

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Howl was born in the wastes north of Hithlum, where only beasts and witches dare roam. He was raised by two old hags, Tabby and Wiles, who had an unhealthy fascination towards the literary arts. Howl now resides in a well-furnished cave off South Rim Trail, complete with an old iBook and Wi-Fi.