Weather is nonexistent, and the sagging arms of a question that is more like a plea to another nonexistent entity distances me from my abyss. Can I? Do what? The weather is nonexistent, and, foolishly, I think the same of gravity. Gravity is nothing more than a construct of the brain, as is every human thought and lived experience. This is what I force myself to believe.
Either I am shielded, or I teeter over the edge of a bottomless cliffside sprinkled with daisies that aren’t supposed to exist in the alpine region. The invisible magnet cutting into my palm guides me to a deserted battleground. The environment morphs whenever I materialize. We live in a fickle present of clogged throats and vying dreams.
I raise a white flag fashioned out of shriveled memories and shudder, because the flag is motionless yet remains in the air. My fingers are brittle and purpling from the persistent cold. If I could fly, the birds would not recognize me. If I could get up and move, I would not recognize myself. I bruised my knuckles with anticipation and savored the indents my body held close, jutted rocks and an eager sky waiting for me at the end of a long climb.
At some point, the sky fell from beneath my footholds, and I became a severed mountainside. A rock overlooking nothingness. I used to pace the small acreage of my hidden worlds, but the process is both monotonous and tiring when the scenery shifts as you turn and jump and wallow. For too long, I have fought against myself, against this hollow place where the wind curls into itself and slumbers. I am not experienced. I fumble with my pole until I realize I can use it as a walking stick to make quiet booms and scare nonexistent fauna.
A flower takes root in the hollow space in my chest and blooms, but the thorns spiral outwards and I cannot wrench my flower free; not one petal unfurls to the tender, merciful slivers of daylight. Nobody is here to receive me, to accept my peace offering. After sitting cross-legged on the
hard-packed dirt, I think about conditionals. Of course, there will be sacrifice. Of course, I will scream into the sky and leave it breathless so my flag will wave as the tarnished cloth vanishses over the horizon, partaking in an endless relay between sun and moon.
Already, I observe their twinkling phases and remind myself that this is a new routine I must get used to. I shiver, because I have no choice. Much like most of my body, I can no longer control whether I grab a fistful of daisies and send them over the obscured cliffside or tear them into digestible pieces in my trachea, blood dribbling down the side of my mouth. Vampires and humans; we lust for sticky sweet blood, the bruising and tenderizing of our skin as it molts into figures nobody will caress. Nobody sees the flag yet, so I keep it distended from my body, my arms raised to the clouds as they overshadow my insignificance.
It’s disconcerting, how quickly a scene transforms from blue to purple to a serene sleet gray. I didn’t understand why my mother’s favorite color was gray until I watched the sky. I draw most of my inspiration under the shapeshifting shades of clouds. I am one with their art, their present state of being while unting humankind under one roof. I used to seach for a soulless body to seek refuge, but I am content now. It’s getting better, now, and my destination is becoming a figment of the journey.
Surrender is accepting that your fingertips will never grace the sun, that your crescent eyes will never meet its gaze. I take a minute and ground myself in the tendrils of grass.
I am tall as a withering oak whose roots do not tunnel far enough below the ground; I can stretch as much as I need, but I lose nutrients and the soil lets me go, an untethered weed. I spread my veiny hands like branches, or bronchioles, my knotted hair wound like a charged web of wires, my eyes reflecting an invisible lake under a black-and-white filter. I am lucky the pole is black and the flag is white, so I may seize the stagnant fabric and tear it from its post just as weeds seize the grass and pull it taut until they surrender to human fury.
If I had the will to search, I would find a lesson entombed in the shadows of this obscure despair. If I had the courage to seek out adventure, I would lead an emboldened life brimming with passion, but the pole is too heavy and it grinds me into the ground. There were so many other decisions that could have set me on another path, yet I am the one at the helm, choosing combinations that fall flat in my throat.
I step forward and stagger backwards. The flag remains poised in its frozen state, and I wonder what would have happened if I tipped it over the cliffside. At one point on my journey, I thought it was just beginning and smiled at the crowned version of myself I swore I’d cultivate. A bird chirps a melancholy scale of descending notes, and I exhale coaxed mist.
Sometimes, the climax arrives in the beginning, and the middle is but a continuous spiral of distended thoughts, all leading to an inevitable ending scene. Let’s paint a sunset, this time, on a gray canvas. At its center: a white flag, and a newly crowned ghoul perching on her cliffside of a throne.
One day, I will tell you that I believe in myself, that I surrendered to the version of myself I could never bring to life. I think I will be proudest, then.
Anshi Purohit is a rising high school sophomore who has work published or forthcoming in eleven literary magazines such as the Eunoia Review, LEVITATE, and Mobius Lit. She has published two books, was a contributor for the Eleventh Hour anthology, and has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. She is also one of the Managing Editors for an international journal, The Teen Magazine, and an editor for Trailblazer Lit. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading while drinking (too much) coffee, listening to music, and spending time with her friends.