There was a strange noise coming from your room. It had been going on for about a week and to say it scared me is a bit of an understatement. When I went to the cellar to load the washing machine, or the dryer, I could hear a strange buzzing sound coming from your hobby room.
At first it didn’t scare me though. I went into the room and looked around.
It was a bit of a shock. I hadn’t been in there since you died. A year had gone by, you know, and the mess you left was all still there, now covered with a whole years layer of dust. I don’t know why I expected all these things to have magically disappeared but the magazines still lay on the table in neat stacks, a camera and its lenses lay beside the paintbrushes, paint, paper, paperclips and liquids of some sort in plastic bottles. There were clothes on the floor and the shelves were filled with your books. There was a half finished painting on the easel too. I knew what it was supposed to be, and although there wasn’t much to see but outlines and shades, I still flinched when I saw it.
You used to call him your inner demon. You drew his face all the time, from the time you were a little boy. That grotesque, monster that haunted your dreams all your life and chased you to your death. Always the same hideous face.
They called it an episode, a bad relapse and we caught it too late.
Or, in fact, not at all.
When you were gone, and I had to face the fact that you were dead, I managed to take care of all your other belongings, but your hobby room was always out of limits. No one but you was ever allowed in there, and I just hadn’t been ready to go in there and do what needed to be done. It would be to admit defeat, that this love affair we shared was at its end, and I couldn’t face up to that. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t accept that your death was a fact and it was easy to live in the illusion since your body was never found.
They did find your scarf tangled in bushes by the cliff and underneath the ocean rages unhindered, there is no way to tell where a body that plunges into the ocean from those cliffs might end up.
I sometimes went there to look over the bay, see the waves hit the cliffs beneath me and imagine what it must have been like for you to take the plunge. It’s always windy there, except sometimes when the sun is setting, then the air is completely still and you can have a moments peace. A moment of fragile silence to contemplate the rest of your existence. It’s heartbreaking sometimes, but the sunset is always beautiful.
When I heard the sound from your room though, I thought it was some kind of an instrument that had awoken to life for some reason. It wasn’t inconceivable. You had things, I had no idea what were for, hidden in shelves and cupboards. You were always interested in technology and I figured that it was an old phone, or an alarm clock, that had malfunctioned somehow.
I didn’t find the source of the sound that time though, but the closer I got to the room the stranger the sound seemed. A loud hum, that irritated the mind more than the ears it seemed.
I tried to locate it but I couldn’t. It always seemed to drag me to the other side of the room from where I was standing. So if I was by the door, I thought it was by the desk and if I was at the desk, I thought it was from the easel and so I examined the entire room without an explanation.
I heard it the whole week, but the notion of going into the room again was unbearable. I just couldn’t face the insanity that I had so blatantly missed a year earlier, insanity mainly expressed by the unfinished painting on the easel.
But then the hum grew in strength and I couldn’t sleep. So I gathered all my mental power and I went down there to find the source of this macabre sound once and for all. I was angry, angry as hell at myself for letting the room stay the way it was for so long. It is one thing having a keepsake from someone that’s passed away, but an entire room? A room that only reminds me of the illness that apparently took your life? That’s just macabre. And I was angry at you too. I was angry at you for not seeking help when you realised that you were falling into the same cycle again.
We had a deal, and you broke it.
So I let my anger take over and I went down there in the middle of the night.
I now realise, of course, that it might have been a stupid thing to do, but I was so angry and I was so sure that we had been right about what happened a year ago. There was no doubt in my mind. And although I can say it was somewhat of a mistake to go down there, I can’t say I regret it. I can’t say I regret any of it.
The painting was finished when I got down. I can tell you I was awestruck, but that wouldn’t begin to describe it. I turned on the lights and there it was. The face of the demon, staring me in the face, glaring at me as if I was its next victim. I walked towards it. It was beautiful. I wanted to reached forward and stroke the red chin, the horns and the stub of a nose. The eyes seemed to follow me through the room and I could swear it grinned at me. It enticed me.
I stood and stared at the painting for a while, trying to recall what it had looked like a few days ago and it was easy. There had just been outlines and chalk strokes. Nothing else.
I didn’t hear the hum anymore, the sound seemed gone but when it returned full force I turned around.
I guess being embarrassed that I wet myself when I saw it is silly. The pants are dry now.
Before me was a large doorway. A portal of sort, I guess. It blocked the exit and it showed me a strange, alien landscape.
Of course it occurred to me that I was going insane. It also occurred to me that I was dreaming and for all I know it may be true. It doesn’t change the fact that I am here now.
I didn’t run through the portal wanting to be in this dark, desert place with the impossibly high mountains all around me and skulls and bones floating in the red rivers. I didn’t, but I saw something on the ground and, as strange as it might seem to the sane mind, my curiosity got the better of me. I didn’t think, just stepped through to take a look.
What I saw were your glasses. They were broken, but they were definitely yours. I recognised them by the duct tape that had held them together before. These were your working glasses and you only used them when you were mucking about down there, painting or doing whatever it was you did. Sometimes you’d come up with them on your nose, looking like a mole sticking its head out of its hideout.
When I picked them up I felt the warm sand beneath my feet, and I felt the stench of sulphur in the air. It really smells like someone smeared excrements all over this world, but there was a soft breeze in the air, and it was warm and I could still see snow in the dark mountains. The contrast between the ugly and the beautiful has always allured me, it was gorgeous.
I wandered around a bit. Completely fascinated by what I saw.
It wasn’t until later that I realised that there was no way back. Wherever the portal had been it was gone now. There was nothing in the sand to indicate in which direction you had gone either, but I soon learned that I had large rivers on two sides of me, so I had to choose between the other two directions and I decided to follow the glasses that had been lying a bit to the side of the portal I came through.
There was a clear mark in the sand where I had stepped.
I know I should have been devastated by the fact that I couldn’t get back, but I wasn’t, not even then when I wasn’t sure I’d ever see anyone ever again.
I don’t know how far I walked.
I did expect to wake up at any moment, but I haven’t so far and there is something about reality you just find solid. You rarely doubt that you’re awake when you are awake, that’s a dream thought and I no longer doubt that I am awake. And there are two other options, but it doesn’t matter how this has come to be. I am here now.
And when I saw you, with your horns, your red skin and beautiful teeth, my mind rejoiced and I fell into your arms, my fallen angel. And I knew I still loved you, just like I knew I would love you, the first time we met. You may look different now, but I recognise you. I can see the warmth in your eyes. I feel the familiarity in the way your, almost lipless, mouth kisses my lips. You can’t hide from me in this new skin.
You are with me again, my beast. I’ve missed you so painfully for the past year. I assumed you were lost forever, that you had jumped off a cliff and vanished into the cold, harsh ocean. I have found you again. Whether this is insanity or reality I don’t care anymore.
I am home.