Flash Fiction by Joshua Stelling
Arch & Gravity Publishing – 2013, 2021
A moment of clarity, as defined, for the streak of light that is a cloud. It hovers of its own weight, but is not of its own. Sunset is a string of such moments, frozen then but not alone. Blue of cotton, white of bone. Red is the runner out of breath, the flushed sky a blush on the high divine. It touches walls and touches stone. We are a drop of dew on a string, in the sunset. It has been a while since last I moved.
It is the eyes that see the eyes that see.
To this light has come momentum, inertia to the Earth, so that they coexist as a continuum, like gears of different speeds.
If that cloud, that weightless curve of vapor, so far from the sun that it does not burn in the intense intensity, so near to me as to physically affect my heart, so fragile as to be but water, mostly, is the flush beneath her collar, then her breath is a thing divine. Her lung, invisibly, is ours, mine. Stars are aglitter in her eye. She Sky. Her heart is a beat in the central Earth, a rhythm. All is rhythm.
Get thee behind me.
She says not to rush it. She Glacier, frozen, weightless in immensity, behind the skirt of horizon. I remember the hills in front. She, earthen, stone goddess of epochs without witness. Bad lands. Upon you, love, I ride. For you are the powerful mare and I am the gnat, scrawling crude lines on cave walls in my mind. You are the mammoth mother, the stardust lover, pregnant ever with day and night.
Earth. You’re the barren, lifelessness beyond death in time, you are the open mouth of birth, blood. You are the pixie curling leaves. You’re the burden, listless in foreverness, dead to the curious, the open mouth of birds, food. Wriggling, giggling, shedding, spreading, you are the vaginal, the virginal, the epic, phrenic, you my love are light and brine, fallow with time, unknown by your own thirty billion fingers. You’re the open lids of eyes, the sunlight on clouds in the bad lands going down.
All is rhythm.
I should call myself the Sitter, Cypher, but for understatement. It has been a while since last I moved. These hills, this bad land, are in me. This bad land, is me. Of the dirt I have risen, of the Earth I will remain. Like the Earth that rose and shaped into my house when she asked me to stay. She. Gave me all this time. All this time and I have yet to solve the riddle of my own hands.
Of the sky I imagine she came. This She Sky, is mine. All this time, this sunlight, is sunset, uncapped, this dew drop hangs on and does not fall, a blush on the high divine.
Has it been days or hours? Weeks are meaningless as a thread, because I gave them away.
You don’t have to be the Sitter to learn, as years spin, that up is down and time repeats. Inversions, perversions, distractions, recollections. The period is mine.
I’ll admit I hold it for a girl who undersold it. Grace is mine, light unkind forgotten inside, not hidden to eyes that see. The stomach ache is just all the nails I ate.
We are not born in sin. This was her revelation.
This meditation is to be planted, and this body made a tree. This, only this explains what time has done. Only this explains the light. It comes from her, She Sky, and out through my lacerations. My scars glow as the black envelopes. The epochal darkness of this deep wilderness, settles. On the backs of my hands they burn gently, motherly, my scars. I feel them long on my back, dug into my temples. I feel years, and all the seconds of them that are forever inside of me, these are stones, the stones of days and trials and time, and I feel hers, but I have wings.
It has been a while since I moved.
Not real wings, I use metaphor, to express that though the sum of my self was immense even as a child I was weightless, in flight, enthusiastic and curious, and wings of material, feathers or dust would only have slowed me down. Though time has heaped me with stones to the point of immobility I want you to understand, this cupidon aspect of me is axiom, unstoppable save all but death, this shine for today is what it always was, eternal. This axis is axle to the spheres of consciousness, like gears of different speeds finding their perfect harmony. There is no smaller lust in my motionless soul, for all the hell that I’ve gone through, though the rattle of the stones. This rattle, vibration of wind.
These are not real stones, I use metaphor.
The weight on me is just tan light fabric, otherwise my skin. Yes, I have skin. A breeze.
You blush like the sky.
If there is a sum, added, total of things that are mine, me, and what I have lost, I am immense. All the light I have swallowed. So much light I have taken inside of me. There are teeth in my eyes and I have drunk of the fount of darkness, swimming first with my tongue til I came with blood, masturbating, at the computer, tickling the sky. I am all of the connections between my atoms, my friends, those I disliked, everything I touched, thought, drank, gave. Learnt. Every emotional quark did exist, like a lizard, I feel in the darkness of this huge space, not even heard. All of the cells that came and went in me had mass, adding up to so many tons. All I consumed, weigh like a mountain, in motion though as I am water, and so much of this Earth has passed right through me. So much more than can be seen. I am its mark.
Like the hills roll massive, breathe still in black midnight. Like the light that I can almost sense, deep in the darkness. If I cannot sense it, still I know it is there.
This is sixth sense, fifth dimenion stuff. I can touch you with my mind, and it does not surprise. I am scrawling on the walls of our cave, just a little bit mad. Not now, I cry.
These cuts in me have not bled in years, and the light they give is just pale white, but you’d love it. They are my true companions, scars. These bad lands bring it out of me. This light. This sin. Is it the yang to my yin or something more, previously unsaid?
We are not born in sin. She said this and I was changed. Since that moment I have been unfit for the comfort of society, stripped bare to my soul by the eyes that see. It has been a while since last I moved.
I have come to understand that it is not the same revelation to all, that others have heard this and heeded it and the Earth still turns. For myself, however, it was a dawn to which there has been no setting. This is the dewdrop on the thread that does not fall.
For it was never words but things unshaped, conflicted inside of me from the day I became aware of them, contradictions. It was a seed in me as cycles turned that some of the pieces did not fit, like a cigarette.
Light a cigarette, I did. Eight years old. That was not when I realized that pain and pleasure are all twisted up like lovers in this forgotten world.
Light it in the rain.
I don’t know when it was exactly but there was a moment, or series of them, where as a small child I decided that bad was more fun, the Decepticons were cooler, and I would be the kind that went out after dark. It may have been the bone barren darkness of the ashpalt surrounding our church, and the obscenity of a betrayed Christ crucified.
It may have been the first time I touched my dick, if I was not in fact born with my hand on it.
I think it was the first time I saw her in the sky, though it would be decades before I gave her a name, and hers was grace like an elven witch queen, her spell completely unseen as it changed the course of the Earth.
She Glacier, calving.
Eyes that see eyes that see, eyes. I know that it was before that first cigarette, I know.
If a word is immense, is all of the connections that time makes and breaks, with it, Dictionary may be the largest of all words, larger than the universe. The word that contains Dictionary can never be spoken.
Light a cigarette, I did. Light a cigarette for me and leave it burning.
. . .
There she was like the breath of day. I can see her in my mind in time. For those who believe beauty to be a shallowness, of the eye that sees just reflection, I beckon you to witness this, truth and innocence. She transformed light. In her presence it was harmonized, a song, her heartbeat, her voice, her breath. The words she spoke. The passion that could only be a soul never separated. The day behind her was calm, blue as only Earth can be.
She appeared to me as a vision in the sky, as she has so many times. Though I was little I knew it was odd, and so said nothing, but soon I would see her again, at the shopping mall, in school, in costume, in the grass that rolled a little when it grew long.
She, with as many names as the sky. Appeared to me but we did not speak for so long.
. . .
Dawn comes with the subtlety of a mother.
It wasn’t a lizard in the night, it was Andy. There is no Darth Vader. The allegory you are sold as apothecary is misguided. The medicine is beyond your books.
For there is a larger writing. There is the Book of Earth. Are there no words quiet enough to make this bridge of light? I aspire to commune with the truth that I feel. I advise you to read canyons.
Is there no vessel capable, no mouth skilled to hold it?
There is no Skeletor. There is no evil. This is what she said.
There is darkness, but the will to destroy is a will to create. Debate, this, and you will be trying to destroy and create, words.
Like words won’t die, so forever will it last. It is positive, as it must be to allow existence from imbalance, and yet so large as to contain within it all possible negativity, all possible intransigence and mundanity.
It is the pain of birth, the open mouth bleeding. Love is to be given. Love is to be held. Love is a blush of the flesh of her lip, connected to her heart, fragile as a cloud no longer there come dawn. Love is the emptiness not felt until dawn. It is warmth before light, breath before sight. The solitude of true companionship, is love.
Sometimes to turn your back right on it, sometimes to sunbathe nude inside it.
Andy, my friend the rat, is breathing. I don’t blame him. The sun is not in motion, cresting the fallow land, giving slow shapes to gray, glacial things. It is not ice but land, in motion continental, and I the gnat still Sitting, in the lotus. The hugeness of my home swells in my heart, dangerously. The shadow of my house darkens but a small stretch of dirt and grass around me. He is there nearby me, in the shade asleep. In this eternal now the Sitter sits, gravity enthroned. Andy rats. Refracted light picks up his fur in detail, the subtlety of his living motion. It has been a while since last I moved.
You might have thought it otherwise, but my eyes are closed. The peripheral is everpresent. True that my ears can see, as all blind men know, but so too can the mind. This is deduction. Travel in the fifth dimension.
This meditation is to be planted, and my old bones made a tree. There will be no other like it, on the hills of these bad lands. Some day then you are likely to set it afire, and carry ashes with you in lockets, but only for a span of years. I ask then set me free, so the wind may hand me to a ray of light.
I am withered and this raw white morning shows it. Yet my eyes pierce decades at a glance. In thought and time I soar. We are interdimensional travellers who could step galaxies, spawn of dawn itself and mothered by time, did you know? We of short lives and missed calls, naivete, nymphets, dichotomies, are lust itself in symphony. In the concerto of biology, each of us is improbable, instrumental.
Communication is communion.
This is what she says to me. Truth will all ways shine. Open your eyes that see.
If there is a light on the wind above me, a rodent on the cracked Earth beside me, a voice on the wind inside me, and a sun rising again in these endless wasted lands, it can be no more real than the echo of her winged words. Her voice that shapes canyons.
. . .
My father was sometimes mistaken for an animal. This is why they chained him.
I knew the stories about flesh and redemption, original sin and Breaking Bad. Derelict promises cast a pall over everyone older than forty, when I was fourteen. His was a world of smoke and butter, bacon and liver. His was a journey of bullet holes in infantry helmets and friends with missing legs, playing protest guitar. The bent cross was a curtain over a century of toil. It held up poorly in the driving rain.
I’ll take no pains to relate the details impertinent, but surmise his life and joys were human, his smiles epic and laughter humble. My father was the twentieth century. He was a part of countless lives, so there’s a chance you may have met him.
The hair on his back was no less than human. This is why they chained him. For the well of pain drawn by the hand of time is endless. The water of darkness is the balm on our burning hearts. The wire raised is razor. We cage in our fragile love, afraid to be animals.
There is no way to adequately process all of the death I have seen. All of the light I have taken in. Understanding is like a gate to a river, not holding on, rather allowing the water to flow. Knowledge like this is a thing that occurs in the eye, not the mind, a thing given, by light. Then let go.
Truth will all ways shine.
My sister was sometimes mistaken for an animal. She was never touched by the neighbor’s creep, but by his son, whom she didn’t hate. She was no Lolita, in fact shy enough to trick herself prude for ages. You’ll know her as the twentyfirst century. When she came out she was a thing to behold though, insistently unobjectified, idealistic and idealized. Mankinder. Young women can turn or stop the Earth with their will, or so believe all men like I.
To see her was to know that she believed this too. There are those who know that they have destiny, who remain driven through boredom and hopelessness. She was one like these. There are so many details irrelevant. Her being was, honestly, immense. Surmise in her there were struggles of identity and her anger was of ice.
The power of her flesh and bones over men was the power of tomorrow over today. Inevitable and predictable, sexual. It was the power of her charm and wit, and a bit of her greed. For my father it was his rightly placed love for her as his princess progeny.
Also it was his mistakes passed on mixed with his heritage, sometimes his rage. He gave her little to work with emotionally. He was never very good with money, though math came to us simply.
We kissed once, when we were little, she and I. She wanted to know what it was.
It was a furtive thing, at least for me, unrepeated. It did not come between us.
It took me years to learn though. Pain and pleasure twist around each other like lovers in the rain. The rules of life take hold sometimes slowly, and other times are completely inane. Though if she were the twentyfirst century then I must have been in search of eternity. There would be no lover for me into my teens, though I tried to have an orgasm for every star in the sky.
I was the Smoker for long, this cosmic click, before I met her. I always needed something in my hands and in my mouth. Best if it was emblematic of pleasure that caused pain, the great icon of rebellion bequeathed to me by my father when he was James Dean.
His friend was Johnny Cash, with a prosthetic foot. He smoked too but not as much, a singer. I was in love with his younger, older wife for years, though I know now why my fifteen year old heart wanted a doomed romance. I wanted darkness, this woman had ink.
I know she liked me, too. She lay out one time, in my bed, for hours pretending to be sleeping, and I just watched her. Chain smoked. The curve of her hip was the dark moon.
Even then I know that memories were lucid as dreams, metaphor was a tide in me that pulled. A breeze at the open window, of cool mountain air and trees, fall. I loved and tried to love. There was a period of years though where I didn’t speak. Solemn, spartan, stolid. It is through perseverance alone that I learned to communicate. I was angry at the world.
My father’s pains were like the heartbroken Earth. His brothers and he, had covered so much of it in tar. Were we cripples without our car? There was the call of global warming, the warning. Sea levels were rising.
He had no way to process all of the death he had seen. All of the light he had taken in, he held tight to it. He was the dark, raven haired lover, Philo the drifter, the guy who sometimes had a motorcycle, loved Pink Floyd. He was the Smoker too, long before me he the innovator, tragic hearted.
He said that Religion is just a system of beliefs. If your axiom is truth follow truly. Be inexhaustible. Love with every motion. I thought I knew what he meant, but I didn’t say anything.
Did I say she was my sister? I meant only in the sense that we all are brothers.
In the twenty-first century women ruled.
I saw her in the sky.
While I was involving myself in science and pornography, to the depth of masters’ degrees, my love explored her own curriculum, from botany to theology, eventually assistant teaching high school history. There were many of her. I was jealous, with my own career of convenience attendance not inspiring.
There were sixteen hurricanes the year Sophia entered my life. I don’t know if she was mad particularly about the oil spills, the unrequited famine, or the way we indescriminately slaughter our brothers’ children in the name of ideals we fail to reach, parading our wealth as a badge of ignorance, slaughtering with billion dollar bombs. Maybe it was something more personal. The reaction of the Earth to the chemical signature of our psychology, was a signal overwhelming but ignored, literally over our heads. What this had to do with Sophia I may never know. I know that she was angy, and the world was shaken.
My father told me once that the most beautiful girl he ever saw was sixteen. This girl was Sophia. She Glacier. Ancient and huge, veined deep and blue. He said it years before I met her. It was just something once when we were talking about beautiful girls. He said he thought she was perfection, physically, sexually, but didn’t at the time mention her name, if he knew it. I would have been shocked but somehow it was no surprise, just his honesty. He was an honest man. He died before we met.
There was light unkind, forgotten inside, not hidden to eyes that see.
I was sixteen when she was the assistant to my history teacher.
She was older by then, twenty-two, mostly out of college with her bachelors’. I’ll waste no time on irrelevant detail but know that she was given to visions, that she glowed sometimes and I saw it. She was a sculpture of motion. Ages of beings have wished they were what she was. I could swear she is the justifying force of evolution, incarnate. There was rain in her fingertips, though I didn’t know that for some years. She was a quiet one, until you got her talking.
She was a humble girl, likely to wear dark colors, jeans and flannel, only had a little ink. She wasn’t a smoker, was too passionate. I would give her names like Disney’s Jasmine, or Latika, but her name was Sophia.
I didn’t know I would love her at first, though her archetype and I had been wed long before. It was a wedding of the fifth dimension, so I didn’t bother with invitations. Religion is just a system of beliefs. We had no need to be promised by the tax man.
Never forget the potential of one.
All things come from one.
Sophia was the one that saw the way out. She was a girl, at twenty-two no more a child than my father when he died. As a man he became like a child in the corner, stubbornly looking away from everyone, carrying his unique sense of humor as a pet, letting no one close. Sophia was not like this, but she was every bit as wise. More so.
Walking to school with her was when I quit smoking.
That was when I realized, violence and sex are twisted like lovers in this mirrorball world. We talked mostly about history, then. She was into it, like other kids were into drugs. But not like other kids were into history, because some were. This girl had passion and precision combined, lightning from a thundercloud. She navigated books not for tiny facts to memorize but for larger patterns to assimilate, to apply. She told me it took her years to learn about her self in that way, because nobody taught her. There was no stopping her.
She had the eyes that see, eyes.
What made her tick was this core of love, her willingness to accept the truth as written by Allah not on a few pages but on all of them. In all of the books. Truth was even in all of the lies. To Sophia people were pages in this book. Rivers and ecosystems were pages in this book. Shame was a page of her book, to be turned.
She said that to Truth every answer is yes, to every question. This makes all of the answers no, too, she said. Her insight, and I remembered it, was that we are and are not Yahweh. That Yeshua is real and not real. Sometimes complex contradictions hide simple truths. Sophia said that perspective is necessary for truth but not the cause of it. This was one of the times she was glowing, and the sky profiling her was blue.
. . .
Sophia was not lost to the abstract. She was a girl of solutions. She said we have to try. She was into solar panels and some kind of hybrid communism. She was actually anarchist but believed the rest of us weren’t ready yet, and told me that the goal of our government should be to provide good food and medicine for the masses. To every war she offered the same solution. Sophia said Feed the people. Feed them and they will not fight. It’s an instinct driven by scarcity. She foresaw an end to scarcity, though not that long before it happened, and it is my belief that her words were a seed, she let flow with the breeze. Let them argue philosophy, she said, but give them the respite our species has earned and they will be far less likely to explode. Embrace unemployment. Embrace automation. Let go of your dollars. Generosity will remove greed. Individuals. She called for solar panels, quietly every year I knew her. She said residential solar panels, unemployment and awakening were the simplest solution to global warming, which she saw as the single most serious threat to our existence.
Further she argued for an end to copyright. Her gift to this planet was just that, gifted.
She called this a paradigm shift. There was no desperation in her calling.
She called it mana’s light. It was true, and she knew.
There was a time I saw her nude, clean. She said many times, over many years, that
We are not obscene.
Smooth. Then I was thirty-seven, a professional lover. My darkness was light.
This occupation was not yet common by that time. We were the blacklist, but we had a backlist. We were the forefront of the bisexual genome, and we wore black. We were the ones that untangled violence from sex. We demystified, the cigarette. Set a torch to James Dean’s pyre. We weren’t the first or only ones, connected to them but only in the fifth dimension. Sophia was a sculpture of the Earth and her eyes had beauty that rivaled stars.
When I saw her it was in a dark room in a tall hotel, where I was summoned by her lover. She never knew I was coming.
This was not in a city you know. Surmise it was built for people, pedestrians, clean air and prosperity. It was not perfect, any more than we, but it was epic. It was clean, but there were no janitors. It was a private enterprise, driven by wisdom and compassion. If it was anything to me it was romance. It will be remembered for its architects. In the darker alleys. I always liked to fuck in the rain, feeling the pull of metaphor in, over me. Her body was a directive from our universal mother. She Rain. She Sky, cry.
She Glacier, calving. I Cypher. A gnat in a cave of my mind.
The one time I saw her, standing, slender, nude, was a revelation beyond our prophets, written in the Book of Time, in ideas that transcend wording. In that mythic hotel room. I saw everything she was, for a moment, and the reality of what she was going to be. The bed spread nearby was soft, deep and red. The room was rich but human. She was a whisper, grace in time. A breeze came from the glass sliding door, of cool mountain air and trees, fall. In her look there was the most amazing vulnerability, a robin out of nest.
. . .
In the darkness of bad lands, my scars give off faint light. They have for years.
This land is me.
It hasn’t been years yet, here, I don’t think, but the lapses are impossible to measure. Andy is gone, the sun is high and my house of mud is just behind.
I miss her, Sophia, but accept that she is gone. I don’t mind the stomach ache. I don’t blame the night. Desire is worth suffering for.
Dawn is the light of the soul of the Earth, cresting. It is not made of words.
It is in rhythm that we are driven. It is a force of nature that society echoes through history, and it is because of this that I can foresee what comes next.
Like a kid without wings, I fly.
Nothing dies, but every moment. Nothing ends but what begins. What is will always be. This is what she said. We are and we are not, but we are further defined by our evolution, our struggle. We are defined by growth. We are privileged by our perspective to see what we could not see before. All of us are one, and each one of us is legion. Megatron is the name I gave a pixie, curling leaves. We are free, because we choose to be. She is the young girl on sitcoms, the ruler of kingdoms. She is the finger penetrating, love. Desire is worth suffering for.
Every mistake ever made was made by the same soul. Every story of redemption was lived by the same soul. Every moment of clarity was experienced by the Earth’s soul. In the grace of life and time, somehow I think it was just a little more pure, in her.
We are the prism. To me she is the light, sunset falling on a bead of dew, on a thread.
When she was gone I found her in a garden, a gardener, in a breast, in a nipple as in a blade of grass. I found her in the ocean, and she listened when I came, to sing her name. To me now she comes in rain.
Black thunder creeps over the hills toward me, and I know why Andy is gone. If he can’t speak, well he can draw. We played tic tac toe in the sand, but I was using cookies.
The clouds that come are an epic in themselves, longer than all of the cave drawings ever, roiling with emotion, forward, toward me. The light that runs through them is a sword stood in the Earth. The tangles of their pillars make me believe in Dali.
I find her in the wind that’s rising. I find her in the light that I know is there.
A moment of clarity, as defined, for the streak of light that is.
Weightless words are light enough to fly, no matter the fate of my old bones, and stones.
Get thee behind me. I am not yet a tree. Come, let’s walk to the horizon.
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