Words hurled through the air, refracting against the walls to shatter that dig deeper than any blade, shredding through the fragile hope and happiness with screams of ’Monster!’; ’Spirit!’; ‘Demon!’.
sticks and stones may break your bones. . .
They are the rule, the law, and They cannot be broken. They do not break.
A storm rages below, crashing against the earth in a torrent of wind, rain, and violence. Above is order, clear air and serenity in the frigid space where they transcend the lives below them. Down there, Below, is chaos, struggling to survive.
Beyond is where those lost go, cast without hope of understanding this cold perfection and order Above.
This perfection where hearts and souls cannot be harmed by the cruelty of words cast carelessly from sharp tongues.
”What are you?”
“You can see me? You’re not supposed to see me.”
“You know the laws,” echoes softly, calm and gentle with no room for accommodation.
“I know.” It’s strange, to stand and feel the weight of water clouding his vision when it’s not for Them, though it is almost a welcome feeling. Stranger still is the tightness that winds through the center of his chest, tangling up his throat and tying him too tight, holding him back. Emotions are what they’re called, and emotions are for those Below.
The Humans who feel, who make mistakes and are inherently flawed, learning constantly and destroying themselves no matter how many times they are saved. By Them.
Humans have emotions.
They do not have emotions.
A long sigh sweeps from the tall figure. Dressed in flashes of bronze and white, it is the vision crafted by the artisans, the dreamers below, desperate to capture perfection. It is the reality that they struggle to conceive, standing high and proud in appointed status earned, claimed, deserved.
”So, you’re like an angel?”
“Not exactly. More like a mentor.”
“To help me?”
They are the Enlightened, the complete absolute control over the fickle flawed construct of the Humans.
The reasons They cannot become what they once were, developed through the cycle of evolution from one form to the other, are ingrained deep within. It is inherent in emerging from one state of being into another as They carry the lessons.. The reasons They are here and must go back, to find those left among the refuge and assist the lesser, the Humans struggling to become what They are, to let them step into this serenity where the war of emotions ends and clarity begins.
They do not feel. They know the dangers of feeling, of letting words harm them, incite them, entice and manipulate and seduce.
And yet. . .
“You cannot stay.” It is not a suggestion; it is Law. All is law. Absolute. “And you cannot go back.”
sticks and stones may break
The hands he owns shake. Once, they shook worse, when he had lived among the chaos, unaware of the world of calm, peace, and the hollow nothing that echoes until eternity within him, where his screams never fade no matter how blank his face may be. The traces of life, of being are gone, vanished and ripped from him when he was welcomed to this place, this cold serenity of nothing but calm.
Below, in that chaos he had been sent back to, to fix, to mend, to put back together the broken pieces of hearts beyond repair, to soothe and calm voices raw from keening wails, is life. The overwhelming surge of struggling to understand, to fight for existence, to put together the best and the worst and find a purpose, to learn again what it was like to smile. . .
“I know.” Tears fall not because of sorrow for leaving, but for being taken away from the life he had found once more. The life of a smile, one so faded and broken it had almost been lost forever before it had been brought back. The joy of a laugh and the breaking intensity of screaming sobs that fade into silence, leaving nothing but the emptiness to start over and fill it back up again with something better.
But They cannot go back. They know too much to ever return to that violent beauty below with Humans and their bleeding hearts and beautiful smiles, falling in love and learning their meaning for whatever world created for themselves. They are no longer a part of it, only fading in and out as miracles or monsters, phantoms in the night and visions at the end of all hope.
”I don’t know a lot about this kind of stuff, just about if angels, or whatever you are - angel, could be guardian or some sort of good fairy or you’ve come to tell me it’s time to die. It’s okay. I don't have much to live for anyway.”
“I’m not an angel. I’m-“
“What’s your name?”
“You cannot say goodbye.” It would be cruel if he thought They knew what cruelty was any longer. Yet, of course, They do not, for such things that may affect emotions and the perception of the world outside of order, structure, and peace is unknown, stripped from them. All he can do is smile, bitterness in rich brilliant vibrancy surging red through him.
“I know.” A smile that is not for the reality, being taken from what reminded him to care, what brought back hope, fear, sadness, happiness, life, spreads wide over his sorrow scoured face. He smiles for the chance to once more feel, to live before it’s all taken away.
“And you cannot see the Human ever again,” is stated clearly.
It’s their law, the law, and despite how many he’s broken, he knows this one he cannot break. Once They go Beyond, there is no return. There is only the Lost.
“I know,” he says. All of the words unspoken and all of those remembered surge in a crash of azure, gold streaking through of those uttered without pain and the agonizing accusations in ink jagged edges. They choke, wrapping in Technicolor around the strain in his throat, winding in suffocation as they whisper mockery to this place, this reality.
They cannot be harmed, by words or material or any force aside from anything They may do to themselves. They can only Fall, lost from their perfect sterilized reality, this death beyond life that has no meaning, all hope and despair removed into the hollow emptiness all around and spreading forever within.
They cannot be destroyed, be killed, for They are not alive. The words they speak, words that crumble those Below and cascade through the greatest foundations, are meaningless here.
“I’m Jeongguk, in case you needed to make sure you were killing the right person.”
“It’s okay. You can tell me your name. Who am I going to tell? Or do you ‘not angels’ not have names or something?”
“My -- It’s been a long time.”
“And I thought I was lonely.”
“Namjoon. My name. Well, I used to - My name is Namjoon.“
The brilliance tying off the life that screams to return, to come back from where it had danced just beyond his fingertips Below, when he’d saved a life forbidden by Their laws and broken who he was. The stunning borealis floods into every space of the hollow that had taken too much, and pours down his face as it hurts from moving into a smile.
They do not smile, features grown stiff from never knowing a reason to do so.
It hurts, and it’s beautiful.
“I’m crying,” he says, a rasping crack that breaks into air too thin to contain it, “because I’m happy.”
Goodbyes are never given aside from the turns of backs, the searing crack of pain along a curving spine, bending to the bow of the crescent moon. The weight lacing through bone and tissue falls, ripped alongside the hollow as it howls with misery upon being left alone, the tattered remains in glossy white delicacies, soft plumes rotting into decay as they are Lost.
”I was supposed to die, wasn't I?“
“I can’t tell you that.”
“I wasn’t supposed to see you, or know your name, or talk to you, or stay here and keep living and knowing you more than that day. I was supposed to-”
“I couldn’t let you. I-”
“I thought angels weren’t supposed to care like that about us.”
In a life that feels nothing but echoes and whispers, the words from voices loved and forgotten return, brushing through the myriad of colored memory. Amorous and terrible, the bite of frustration and the screams of pain and hate, the disposal with the sneered word of ‘monster’ before all lights were taken from him.
Once, there had only been the dream of a world where the pain within was gone, where it was silence and peace, a life without the juxtaposition between happiness and despair.
A world, a life, where his name wasn’t thrown viciously from curled tongues or whispered desperately to fall from shaking fingers and trembling lips.
A world where the power of that word was no longer held over him, controlling who he was, controlling him.
There is no goodbye, no farewell from the land of nothing that had once been the making of dreams and desperate men. There is only the bleeding decay from torn emblems dug from his back, the angelic iconography stripped away and leaving only a man, the form of life once lost.
”I had forgotten what it was like to laugh, or smile, or care more than just how to get away. I’d forgotten what it was like to cry. The problem is, I can’t tell if you helped me remember, or if I remembered because I had to teach you how to live again, how to do all of those things I had forgotten. Now, I can’t figure out if I should be mad at you or myself for knowing that I’m crying because I’m sad.”
“Maybe it’s better that way. Then you’re not mad any anyone.”
“Then I don’t know who to thank for teaching me how to be happy again, but I feel like it’s you. I feel like this is all because of you.”
“I’m thanking you. You never have to apologize to me, remember? You promised, just like I promised to never forget you.”
“You’ll forget me.”
“I won’t. Not again. Never again.”
They are the law, the rules and regulations and constricting tensions that forbid and deny and control. He is lost, cast from their systems, as the world Below rushes up, the wind wrapping around him through the Fall.
There is no memory of Them after they Fall, after they are lost, after they go Beyond.
Those Below do not know or remember, and those Above are nothing but existence, unable to understand the concept of caring. Yet, falling away, there is the last moment to remember, to take away from the echoing nothing that had once more been filled the life that had once more been.
Falling is freedom, to release and let go. Falling is the terror, the rush of nothing but the self with a definite end and waiting for it to arrive.
Yet falling is life, all parts of it flashing in vivid images, sounds, feelings as it screams through with the sound of the wind. Falling is everything condensed into the space between the drop and the impact, the endless drag of seconds waiting where everything that mattered is brought back in brilliant clarity against his mind.
Sticks and stones and broken bones may heal with time that
But words remain in minds and ears growing throughout the
Those sticks and stones are dust and bones, dried as scattered ashes
The words have blossomed into gardens,
of bleeding hearts and promises
The good, the bad, and everything in between, painted in a masterpiece of emotions and the flow of life, death. With the wind pulling to keep him up as his eyes close, it’s the twisting words that wove it all together and brought back everything that mattered.