Where I Came From

I jumped from the edge of Angel Falls. The trees looked like a fluffy, green carpet below me, getting closer and closer with every second. But I wasn’t scared. As I fell, I smiled at the wonder that I could fall but wouldn’t get hurt: that when I shut my eyes, I would be transported anywhere else I could imagine. The freedom of falling without consequences had become my newest addiction, and I was searching for, and sometimes even creating, my own peaks, each one higher, more isolated and more alive than the last. I hadn’t been back for long, but I was quick to remember that adrenaline was possible even without a body, and that with the few memories I conserved of the physical earth, I could conjure up the sweet exhilaration in beautiful settings, without the fear of death.

I was quickly approaching the canopy so I started thinking where I would go. But before the branches came into focus, even before I had decided what my next adventure would be, I found myself trapped, in a narrow channel, struggling to breathe.

I felt a pair of slick hands grabbing me, patting me on the chest, fingers in my mouth. I instinctively started crying. Crying! I hadn’t cried since… I’d last been in a human body. The thought that I’d been brought back to earth, to live a new life, made me cry even harder. I don’t remember much after that, except the warmth of my mother’s milk and the sensation that rather than being found, I was once again lost.

For years I felt out of place, but I easily forgot about my origins and assumed my new body as my only reality. Even though occasionally, when I slept, I felt myself come alive again. The sensation that life was no more than what was physically around me was quickly becoming all I knew, and with this acknowledgement the deep sense of loss that I couldn’t understand oppressed me a little bit more each day.

By the time I was twelve, I had no memories of my world before this birth. I’d also lost my memories of my previous lives. I was starting all over again, except this time, the feeling that I wasn’t where I belonged was more overpowering than ever. My sadness became obvious and my mother worried constantly, which made her pay more attention to me than I wanted. All I knew was I was meant to be somewhere else, somewhere I could be free and jump off mountains. I said this to her once which led her to take me to see a psychologist. They both agreed I was slightly suicidal. I tried to make them understand that I wasn’t actually going to jump from a mountain, but that I had the sense that I should be able to. Of course, they didn’t understand what I meant.

Then, when I was sixteen, I dreamed of Angel Falls. I had never been there in this life but I knew exactly what this place was. I knew it better than I understood the physical world; I had strange, fading memories of it. In this dream, I was standing atop the waterfall, looking down at the narrow but endless trickle of water that fell through the cracked stone. I looked down tentatively, wondering why I so desperately wanted to jump. I didn’t that time, but the feeling that I’d jumped before lingered long after I awoke.

I started sleeping more. I would spend all my free time sleeping, which of course worried my mother and my psychologist even more. But I was tired of explaining it to them. At the time I didn’t know why they didn’t understand, I just knew they couldn’t. Later, when I went back, I learned that they were new souls and were living their first life on earth. They had never felt the feeling that someone who had already returned home could get from a dream; that memory of lives past, of where we came from.

So I slept and slept, each time delving deeper into my dreams, into my subconscious. Each time I remembered old memories, old places, old sensations, all of which felt new and timeless all at once. But despite my reveries, the oppression never left my chest and it was the first thing I felt when I woke up every day. I was convinced I had been pulled out of my rightful universe but I didn’t understand why.

Finding no solution to my depression besides sleep, and feeling overwhelmed by the sensation that when I slept, I was home, and when I woke I was lost, I forced myself to stop sleeping. I need to find a way to feel at home on earth: I needed to find a reason for my emptiness, and I couldn’t think logically in my sleep. Also, despite my dreams being sweet beyond reproach, the pain of waking up was more than I could bear. And so my self-imposed insomnia began. I would sit and concentrate on remembering my dreams: the places I most loved and what they made me feel, even the different identities I embodied, the different people I’d become. After a few years I had mapped out an intricate diagram of my dream world, of its dimensions and spaces, and the emotions it carried. I learned which places were conducive to good dreams, to adrenaline, to excitement, and which let to nightmares and anguish.

I hadn’t found my peace on earth, but I’d found a way to feel more at home, and once I understood it well enough, I was ready to dream again. It wasn’t easy to sleep after years of forcing myself to stay awake, but a few months later I was returning to my world, each night for a little bit longer, going a little bit deeper. I found that the memories that had helped me map out my dreams were accurate: what I remembered from my insomnia weren’t hallucinations but dream memories. The further I walked into my dream world, the more conscious I became in my dreams. I was distancing myself from the physical world more and more as the years passed, causing my mother sadness and confusion. But I had realised our realities didn’t coincide and I couldn’t take on her insecurities. I was diagnosed with clinical depression and given high-grade anti-depressants, but I never took them because they made it harder for me to dream.

In my thirties I was told I lost my mind. I had disconnected myself from my body and all that surrounded my waking moments. I had created a life of peace and beauty and fun in my dreams and it seemed to me earth simply could not compare. Sure, I had taken elements from this reality to create my world, but this shattering planet didn’t feel like home to me, not even temporarily.

My body suffered but I didn’t care. The longer I survived in this body, the longer it would take me to return home. So I allowed myself to perish, slowly, ignoring hunger and thirst and the need for activity. I also ignored my family’s pleas and their need for me to survive. I slept and dreamed, and started jumping off mountains again.

By the time I turned fifty, I was alone. My mother was unable to live with my indifference, as she put it, so she packed her things and left to a small town to live out the rest of her days in peace. She said she was sorry but couldn’t waste her life worrying about me. I said I was glad because she should enjoy her body while she had it. She said I should do the same, but I told her I’d had many bodies and I was tired. I said all I wanted was to be free and that’s why I chose to sleep and dream. She still didn’t understand, so she sighed, kissed my forehead and left. I never saw her in that body again.

I was dying on my 67th birthday. My body was finally giving up and my soul was starting to vibrate with the promise of freedom. When I left my body, I saw it was smiling. I rose with excitement and found myself back atop Angel Falls. But it looked different. The trees were grey and bare, the waterfall no more than a few droplets, lazily falling from the depleted stream above. I sank with confusion and sadness. Where was the beauty? I decided to jump, maybe the fall would bring it all back. But I just floated, much like the drops of water, and nothing changed. I landed softly on the hard ground. I had never seen this place look so bad, I had never fallen like gravity wasn’t a force that could act even upon my soul.

I sat on a boulder for what could have been nearly an eternity. Nothing changed or moved besides the falling droplets. No leaves grew from the trees and no happiness returned to me. So I started thinking about life on earth, much like had I sat and thought of my dreams when I was last there. I analysed my memories, my lives, my bodies. I thought of what I learned, what I forgot, and what I had to learn again. I remembered laughing and the feeling of life slipping away. I remembered not remembering that I had lived and died before; remembered when I didn’t know that my dream world was waiting for me after my body gave out.

And then one little drop fell right next to me and I saw a green leaf come up through the cracked, dusty ground. I looked around but it was the only one in sight. Then it started growing, growing fast and high, hardening, turning into a tree. And then it spoke to me and I recognised my mother, who had had her first death and after exploring and enjoying her own paradise, had come looking for me in my dead falls.

She said she understood now why I wanted to come back. She said she never could have imagined that her dreams were her home, she’d been so caught up in the physical world. Then she asked me if she would ever go back.

“Yes,” I said. “You will be sent back until you find your true self.” She laughed, excited at the thought of returning, of having another opportunity, of enjoying herself more the second time around.

“And what about you?” she asked me. “Will you go back?”

I thought about her question, about being born again, about having to wake up again, about dying. I was going to answer, “no, I’m finally back where I belong,” when I saw another little drop fall and evaporate in the dust. I thought about all the times I had been there after a death and how much more beautiful it had seemed after each life lived on earth. And I realised I had not lived my last life as I should have: I still hadn’t truly found myself. I had to go back, just one more time.

*

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Chaos

I want to tell you a story. It is a story very few people know, and even fewer believe. I have decided to tell it now, to you, because I fear my time here is coming to an end, and this is one tale that needs to be told. You might wonder why I didn’t tell it before the way I’m doing now—so openly, I mean. Well, like I said before, very few believe this story, and the ones who have heard it and disbelieved it have shunned me from their lives. You can understand, I hope, I did not want this story to come out while it could still come back to me. But now…well, things change.

So why don’t I tell it myself? Ah, I have lost any courage I had in my youth. But you, you still have the power to change history, and what a wonderful power that is. People must know what really happened, and why we were left in such a disgraceful state.
Well, there is no point in keeping you in suspense any longer. My story begins just before the chaos did. You have to understand, I have always been a believer in the power of chaos; just like bush fires, chaos is regenerating. But you see, it is usually ignited by the people, when they are oppressed. That is what made this such a terrible ordeal for us all: the people didn’t revolt, the government did.

It was 2025 and there was a world-wide sense of frustration and fear. Our planet seemed to be breaking, crumbling, as if trying to get rid of us, pests on its back. The governments of the wealthy countries had allowed their greed to overcome the good they had the power to do. Petrol—the Black Gold—was a weighty memory from the past; all the reserves were dry and its consequences on the environment, economy and even, dare I say, the sanity of the rich leaders, were beginning to show deeply, just like the sharp ridges cracked in the soil.

At the time, I was young man then, I was working for what remained of the former United Nations. It had become a small organisation, not even a shadow of its former self. Funds were scarce and support almost inexistent. The United States had coerced most participating countries into withdrawing from the UN; you might ask why. Well, the answer is simple and recurring: money. The United States had become so rich, they could do anything. And I mean very rich, they held around 50 percent of the world’s money. This isn’t surprising, of course, when you consider all the effort they put into getting that money…the countries destroyed simply to be rebuilt by the companies the US owned. The ‘help’ they offered to suffering nations, later demanding their money back plus ridiculous interests. They exported anything and everything, giving even China a bit of a sweat, and would then charge immense taxes for any goods crossing their borders.

The UN condemned their actions, their behaviour, and finally, expelled them. The few countries that still had representation agreed to their expulsion, though we all knew this would bring trouble. But, we figured the worst of it couldn’t be as bad as it was then.
The first year after their expulsion everything seemed to have calmed down. People were sceptical but beginning to have hope. Several countries rejoined the UN, no longer fearing the United States. Looking back on it, I must laugh. It was just the calm before the storm—and what a storm! Even Mother Earth wasn’t as angry at us as the United States after being shunned in such a manner.

Exactly a year after their humiliation, it was July 30th, 2025, they decided to take matters into their own hands. I’m sure you know of this date and have heard more than one version of what happened. But all the textbooks are wrong: the historians were paid to lie, and those who would not comply were either blackmailed or killed. You know how people say history is written by the victors? Well, in this case I can’t say they were the victors, but they definitely held the power. The only truth about that date is that it was indeed the Day of the Millions Dead.

The US government till this day sticks to their story: they swear and promise they had nothing to do with it. Over the years they have blamed the Russians, the Germans, the French, the Israelis and the Arabs. They wouldn’t blame the poor countries, of course, but in trying to deflect the blame, they have re-gained enemies who were hard-earned allies decades before. They can’t deny it was nuclear waste, they can’t deny the explosion. But it was so big and expanded across so much land, that no one has been able to find its origin.
That is where I come into the story. This is why most people don’t believe me when I say I saw what happened; what led to the explosion, I mean. I saw who was behind it, and I know why they haven’t been able to find the explosion site in the United States. This is what I need you to pass along, and please do after I die. People need to know the truth! I apologise, I become…agitated. You do understand, though, don’t you? Living with this burden, this secret that shouldn’t be one, for over 60 years, hasn’t been easy on me. But the truth deserves an outlet, and those millions dead deserve justice.

*

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The Happy Little Hermit Crab

One day, a sad little hermit crab realised his shell was too heavy and he just wanted to be free. So he got rid of his shell. Though his fragile body had never been exposed to the harsh sun, wind and sand for more than a few minutes when changing shells, he suddenly knew what freedom was.

The other hermits stared and taunted him, how could he think he would survive out of his shell? But the little crab walked away and never looked back.

He went inland, where the mythical, bullying land crabs lived. They made holes and were free of the burden of a shell. They lived in the moment, never worrying about their shelter being destroyed; they could always dig a new hole.

The little crab watched them and learned from them. He decided he would simply adapt to a life without a shell. He dug his first hole after spending a cold, scary first night outside, unsheltered.

The other land crabs watched sceptically, but went their own way, not really interested in the cooky little hermit.

His skin hardened as the days passed. He was getting better at digging holes and storing his food in a little storage hold at the bottom, where it would be safe even if the rest of his hole collapsed or filled with water.

As the moon changed, growing and retreating, the little crab changed, too. His back legs grew stronger and he was losing the dragging limp that made him stand out so much amongst the other land crabs. He was starting to fit in and forget about his previous life as a sheltered hermit.

Then the King Tide came.

He saw all the other land crabs running further inland, followed closely by all the hermits. If he stayed, he would surely drown. But if he left his hole, the other hermits would see him.

Waves started pouring into his hole and the little crab ran out, just missing another invasive splash.

When all the crabs were on safe higher ground, there was an unnatural silence. The little crab looked up to see all the hermits staring at him. The land crabs were also staring, amused by the odd meeting.

The hermits couldn’t believe their eyes. The little crab was hard and strong like the land crabs, but his long body would never look like the land crabs’ oval bodies.

After a few awkward moments, the land crabs lost interest, as did most of the hermits. But a few young hermits couldn’t stop watching this crab, now a myth himself, standing before them without a shell. A few grown hermits grunted their disapproval, prompting the kids to turn away, chastised.

After his initial fear and embarrassment, the little crab relaxed, a weight off his shoulders. He realised only then he had found true freedom, for although discarding his shell was the first step to liberty, the social pressures and expectations had been a heavier burden than the shell itself.

*

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Blown Away

I need to be blown away. I’ve been stuck for so long, I no longer know where I’m standing or where I’m going. It’s a hot day in early summer. I’m pacing around the house, flipping through the TV stations, walking outside, in. I can only hear it faintly, but it’s enough. Every time, it sets my imagination on fire, gives my brain a kick and my heart a squeeze.

    Run, run, river
    Carry me to my home in the ocean
    Carry me away
    I know I have a home
    Somewhere far and removed
    Like the stars that make you feel like you’ve got friends
    Stars will make you feel like you’ve got friends

I definitely need to be blown away. I look at the hundreds of little houses that freckle the gentle slopes of the hills. Their white roofs, pale sides, green lawns. The gold light hits them softly, giving the small city a sense of peacefulness that I cannot seem to find.
Inside, I drop myself back on the couch. Dr Phil is on. This is what I’ve become; someone who can actually sit through en entire episode of this man’s self-righteousness.

An imposing figure is drawing my attention away from the box. It stares at me, judging me. Well, it shouldn’t be so smug. It’s old, rusty, dusty… it’s like an old bitter man who walks around in his bathrobe all day cursing people under his breath. How can it judge me? It’s got cobwebs between its corroded bits. I look at it mockingly, as if revenge from metal and plastic is what I need.
 
I turn away, tired of my silly game. Now Oprah is on. I can’t do this. Carry me away…it plays back in my head, over and over and over… I pace around a bit more. I go into my room, see the mess, walk out. I go into the kitchen, I’d have to wash so I walk out. I walk back to the veranda. It is a beautiful view, relaxing. It’s as if all these little houses had happy people inside them. Like no one else was stressed, over-worked, tired, tired, tired! Does no one else feel tired of the same routine? Of the ugliness of suburban life, hidden away by the dishonest colours?

I hear a confident but cautious thumping behind me. I stop. It stops. I turn my eyes, then my head, then my body—slowly. I miss a breath, skip a beat. My eyes pop open in disbelief. The old, decaying fan is staring at me with a wisdom only age can bring. I then realise it wasn’t judging me; it could see something so simple and obvious that it needed to make me see it. I close my eyes trying to reach what it’s offering me. It was so close, I could sense it, but then it was suddenly gone. I open my eyes and the fan is gone, too. I scurry back inside and shock stops me, like walking into a glass door.

The fan, this old, decrepit object, is standing in its usual place. It’s just there, motionless, behind the ironing table. Its life faded, and along with it, my sanity. It wasn’t trying to tell me anything; no judgement, no wisdom, just stillness.

I’ve finally broken: gone insane. A freaking fan was trying to tell me a life-changing secret. Finding no solution to my racing heart and bouncing head, I take a shower.

After a cold shower, I manage to convince myself that I could convince myself that I had not seen what I know I had. I go back into the living room. It’s still standing there, inanimate.

I go into the kitchen, desperate for sustenance, and begin cooking a colourful meal to calm my senses and my aching brain. Then, thump! thump! again… my heart’s in over-load, anticipating what I’ll see. I stick my head out slowly. It’s there, staring at me, again, with its huge eye looking at me in that way only an old person can. I decide to give in to my own insanity and look straight into that big, copper-coloured eye.

“What do you know? What do you want to tell me?”

***

It’s just staring at me. Its big eye suddenly blinking, quickly, as if to not miss a second of my shock, clearly moulded by my dramatic facial expressions. I must look ridiculous, like a damned cartoon, with big eyes and a big mouth and my limbs forming absurd angles. Suddenly it’s like I’m diving into that eye, brown, full of lines emerging from its dilated pupil. It blinks and engulfs me.

My thoughts aren’t mine alone, but wrapped in his metallic wisdom, first screaming, then soothing.

Ah, you humans. You live long lives, and what do you do with them? Sit and watch that silly box. You know, that box is evil; it’s a fake. It gives you what you think you want and prevents you from getting what you need. I have seen many humans waste their lives on these boxes. They’re all the same… all of them.

What does TV have to do with my life? I barely watch it! I’m writhing in a mental pain I had never experienced before as I fight to rationalise and justify my sedentary life.

Hmm, yes. Deflection. You are experts at that, too. When it’s not him, it’s the box. When it’s not the box, it’s him. It’s never you.

Then everything starts spinning. I mean really spinning. My brain feels like a sock in an industrial-sized washer. The world is twirling, dissipating, disappearing. Then, darkness. Stillness. Quiet. I’m no longer me, not in the sense I’m used to being me, at least. I’m me in my core, where you’re told you exist, but I am not. Not my limbs, not my head, not my back or my neck. Then, him. He’s all I can see: that huge eye glowing, youthful, peaceful. It stares into me, having no physical elements to hold him back. He looks young again, shiny, his plastic new and emitting that new-plastic smell.

I don’t know how I can see, or smell, having no eyes or nose, but I can. My senses are fully aware, as if waiting for a disaster.

You say you want to be blown away, yes?

I’m quiet.

Girl, you say you want to blown away? You say you’re tired of it all?

Still, quiet.

Answer me!

Ye-yes, yes. Yes, I want to be blown away, to the ocean.

Observe, he says, and that is when it all happens. That is when he (it?) changes my life. That is when I see what I have been wanting to see, what I need to see, what I would eventually see—no plastic box necessary. This time, all I needed to feel happiness was an old, rusting fan.

*

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