Clouded Vision

Everything is blurred and hazy. The fabric of the world is tearing, and ribbons cut from it streak around me, engulfing my head. I cannot make out the shapes. I strain my eyes and force my swimming mind to concentrate.

I blink, and manage to focus through my stinging tears. The dim ochre light of a frosty dawn fills the sky. Across the shimmering river, the silhouette of the hills masks out the sun. Below me, I can see the sprawling city, illuminated by a random array of lights. The lights are mostly plain and white, but some stand out. My gaze is caught by a green one, far off in the distance. It beacons to me.

I run down the steep lane, descending into the waking city. The dark blue bitumen I run on is like a smooth calm sea, and the cool air is perfectly still. I wish the ocean of my thoughts could be as placid. Instead, it is in the midst of a violent storm. My mind is filled with emotional turmoil, seething with fearful undercurrents, tides of intense desire and whirlpools of torment. The storm is always there. It makes me toss and turn in my sleep. It makes me lose my concentration, constantly distracting me. The more I try to ignore it, the stronger it gets. It is easier just resign to its power, and see where it leads me.

My feet are methodically beating against the ground, propelling me towards my mark. I can feel cold sweat soaking into my clothes. My breathing is beyond panting: it is chaotic, lacking any rhythm. I am tiring rapidly, but I still plunge onward. Ahead of me, the girl is breaking away. She is advancing too quickly for me to catch her. She is so agile and coordinated. Spreading invisible wings, she glides down the hill on the fresh morning air. She feeds on the early morning, and the serenity and peacefulness. Running in silence, she is careful not to disturb the sleeping world around her. Meanwhile, I struggle to keep up. I am struggling with the aching pain which continues to protest against my deluded resolve. I must catch my beloved. I think she knows that I am not fast enough.

She wears a loose T-shirt that ripples as the air rushes past her. It falls low enough to hide her shorts, which I imagine are bright red. Her long brown hair has been tied back. It tosses itself about anarchically, in time with her footfalls, trying vainly to become free and unbridled. But the girl is not interested in whims or diversions. She has her own goals. She has her own dreams, and that is why she runs ahead, chasing them with ever increasing vigour. I am in awe of her sheer energy. I love her for it, and hope that she might share it with me.

I look down at the ground, and consciously try to stop chasing her. But I find that I can't. Although I hurt more and more with every lunge forward, I cannot bring myself to end the pursuit. Even in the knowledge that she has her own agenda, I cannot stop loving her. I think she knows that we all adore her, and she loves us all in return. Yet she loves none of us alone. I chase her in the hope that I can change that. But I doubt that I have the strength to focus her affections.

Boys swoon around her, and I am sure she is aware. Sometimes I see her enjoying it, and I feel a gnawing pain. Later, it fades away to a bitter aching. Then, somehow, I manage to forget. I continue to persue her, because I tell myself that she isn't satisfied with them. I am able to convince myself that there is hope for me.

Sometimes I think that I'll have to settle for just a little claim on her heart along with everybody else. But I find that I can't, because I am perfectly sure that I love her more than anybody, and I must prove it. I cling to the hope that if she knew that I loved her, she would love me too. My reasoning mind laughs at the irrationality of such a thought, but my heart melts at the possibility, no matter how unlikely.

I feel as if I blend into the background of her life. But then the feelings build up inside me, and push against my sensibilities. I know that I must release them, so I slowly relieve the pressure. I will myself into the foreground, and she sees me again. She smiles, and it warms my heart, and kindles my desire. But then I fade from view again, after my irksomely limited emotional energy has been released. Afterwards, I frown upon it as a pitifully meagre display of affection. After I'm spent, I find myself dragging my feet as I try to muster the courage to start the miserable cycle all over again. She begins to forget me, and I try to remind her. She remembers, but then her memory fails again. And it goes depressingly on, seemingly without end.

I wish that I were able to tell her exactly how I feel. But her strong will intimidates me. I am frightened to disturb her. I just cower behind a mask of silence, and hope not to offend her. Perhaps my shyness will arouse her curiosity. One day, when I look into her wondering eyes, I hope to be enchanted in the knowledge that, at last, she wonders about me.

She finds a house with many windows near the bottom of the hill. My pain intensifies as she vanishes from my sight, disappearing into the house. I slow, knowing that she has stopped. She has completed her test, and I have failed. The dawn turns back into an icy night, and the clouds roll backward across the sky. The world is going back to sleep. Time is unwinding, and the city is sinking into darkness. I suspect that there has been some kind of cosmic agreement to give everyone another chance at living the hour of dawn. Everyone has another chance but me, for time still moves forward in my view of the world. Ever forward.

I wearily make my way to the glass house, my limbs numb and throbbing. I reach the glazed doors that the girl had disappeared into, and frown at my reflection. I am puffing loudly, and feel like collapsing on the ground. But I stare at the surface of the glass with my clouded eyes. Around my visibly drained face, I see the pools of light from the street lamps which stand around watching me, distorted by the imperfections in the glass. Although I can see my reflection, I cannot see the details. I only dimly recognize the dull image upon the shiny surface. I will never know how I look in her eyes. If I had studied that reflection then, I might've known.

Realising that the doors are open, I find that I can see the girl that I have been chasing. She approaches me from across the dark room, emerging from the shadows. Her hair is free now, and it seems to ripple and shimmer around her head. Her face is invisible, although I can see the lights behind me reflecting in her eyes. Her glinting eyes make me uncomfortable, so I look away from them.

I notice that she has changed her clothes. Now she wears a jacket. Black leather. It strikes me that the leather doesn't suit her. It is an acute contrast against her pale skin; skin which is fully exposed under the loose jacket. The coarseness of the leather opposes the smoothness of her skin, fighting to gain the attention of my glassy gaze.

A feeling of intense guilt sweeps through me as I realise that I can see her nipples. Bold punctuation on her unblemished body. Bolder even than the leather jacket. I just stare, feeling that I shouldn't, knowing that she wouldn't want me to. But I have already failed, so I doubt that it matters. I feel lost, and I don't have the energy to fight the lustful cocktail of emotions sweeping through my head. My eyes are in their control.

I want to see her face, to see if it is really her, or just an apparition my imagination has generated. An object for my rampant desires. But my eyes are still fixed on her chest. A dull brassy zipper frames the image. She could close it in an instant if she was bothered by my invasion of her privacy. But instead, she chooses to let me stare, as if it is part of a fantasy she has.

Suddenly, I find myself with the strength to look into her face. I see that she wears a cold and devious grin, her lips glowing red like fire. Her eyes are shadowy slits, surrounded by too much make up. Her face is alien. I do not love this face. She is playing a cruel game with me. Unable to cope, I let my eyes fall upon her body again.

A dagger skews through the air and pierces my heart. The pain is more intense than ever. Amongst her harsh words is the impenetrable darkness and coldness of rejection. She has made my failure official now. She continues to approach me, and I am unable to move my eyes from her exposed body. Tears make the image fade and blend. She is teasing me. I hate her for the way she is manipulating me. She knows my shyness. She knows my sensitivity. Exploiting her knowledge, she tears out my heart, and turns it inside out, and squeezes it, and tosses it aside with an evil laugh. I am nothing.

Then her voice comes again. Her face is thoughtful now. It sparkles through the waterfall of my tears. She is close to me, and has put a caring hand on my shoulder. Golden light from the rising sun begins to fill the window behind her, and makes her hair glow. The face that I am seeing now is the one that I love, so kind and gentle, as I always picture it in my dreams. The innocent face that loves all people alike. "Did I hurt you?" Like a hot bath, her words sooth me. They dissolve my anguish in clouds of warm steam. If only she could love me more than the others. If only she could love the others a little less. I love her more than myself.

I wake up crying.

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Exit: Make-Believe; Kasoft Typesetting; Archer

This work is a part of the Kasoft Typesetting storybook Make-Believe

Kasoft is a registered trademark of Kasoft Software, owned by Kade Hansson.

Copyright 1994,1996,1997 Kade "Archer" Hansson; e-mail: kasoft@kaserver5.org