Saturday, 21 February 2015

Pictonaut Feb 2015 Three

It can't end! It won't end. But it must end. One week left to say goodbye to the pictonaut.

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The Final Stories 3

I hear stories. Four stories. Each one is as timeless as the ocean, each one is new to my ears. They all carry a mass about them, which gives them gravity. Some are the peas under blankets, unnoticed and unwanted and some are world eating black holes, tearing their way through space. Most are neither of these, most are the same, personal and profound only to the teller. Yet they tell me and all believe theirs to be the most earth shattering, the truest, the greatest, of its own magnificent category, rather than simply one in four.

This one is weighed down greatly and I worry my tiny vessel will buckle under the strain of his story. He is slight and timid, but there is a coldness around him, something inhuman. Still, morality has not left him entirely; whether that be his version, someone else's, it is impossible and meaningless to say, yet it is morality nevertheless. He has been stoic in the past, this is clear from the way he holds himself, bent towards me at all times, eager, even desperate, to speak his piece, to have me listen, to cleanse his soul. While I cannot give him all he would wish, I do listen as he speaks.

"I am long past redemption, oarsman?"

This one is direct. Some time, not so long distant, he became acutely aware of his own self. He has no mask left to hide behind, open raw and honest as he has become. If it were in me to like, I would like him. As it is...

"I cannot say," is all I can offer.

"You will not say. It's fine. I know it is so. I have come to accept it. I have done so much. Great swathes of my life are now nonsensical to me. When I look at all the harm I have done, the evil I have perpetrated against my fellow man, woman and child, I find it hard to believe I was once a mother's son, a sister's brother. I look at the child I once was and I do not recognise myself in him. Such a normal childhood, such a happy boy. I could blame hardship, war, any number of things beyond my own control. But that is what it comes down to in the end: my own control. And whether I am good or evil, that is, ultimately, all I can control.
"I lost that control. In times where you can see good people do terrible things, evil men and women triumph, it is easy to lose sight of the right path. And when you are lost in the woods, you will take heed of anyone who offers to be your guide. All any of us want out of life is truth and purpose. Well, I took the lie to gain the latter. It's so clear to me now, who she truly was, the one that lit my way in dark times, that I find bit hard to see just how I could have been so blind in the past. She was a viper, and I was intoxicated by her venom.
"I cannot blame her for my succumbing to her charms. It was my own weakness, my own ignorance and fear that led me astray as much as it was her twisted will. And twisted it was. When I think back to the time I spent with her, it pains me, physically and actually, to recall it. The things I allowed the woman to do to me alone were unthinkable to any rational human being; those things I did her name, unpardonable."

I have met this woman. An objectionable woman, she has burned her way through here as though the flame of her fury would set her free. And perhaps, in the end, it did.

"There was another woman, I must tell you; I must tell someone. She was a sweet girl, and her child too was a precious thing. Oh, they were so very fragile, the both of them. And brave too, in the face of horrors that no man or woman should witness. My mistress asked me to dispose of them, gave free reign to my malice, the hatred I have nurtured for my enemy, and made it quite clear I was to be... creative. And I was.
"They screamed, oarsman, at first. They cried terribly, channelling sounds that I have not heard animals in an abattoir make. But that did not last long. And afterwards,  the silence that followed was long and terrible. I feel more repugnance at that silence now than I ever could at the shouts of agony that still reverberate in my ears. For my troubles, my mistress betrayed me. Seeing the end approach, she knew I was more of a liability than a boon, and if I ever thought otherwise then I was a fool as well as a coward and a villain.
"So she sent me out to war, out to die. I had no training and no chance. It was not long before I was lying in a sea of blood; my own, my allies', my enemies'. A man, a great man, and our greatest enemy, offered his hand to me in my direst need. He helped me more than he knew. He eased my suffering and he opened my mind. It is time to pay my penance."

He is correct. We have arrived at the other side, from his freedom to his persecution. He steps into the box that will confine him without argument or hesitation. His guilt defines him now, but in time it will diminish, and he will fade with it. There is a portion of the world that does not morn losing him. It is ignorant. Nevertheless, the next time I visit this place, the box will be empty.

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