Salome

They called her hair windswept when it blew across her face. Salome’s mother always said it reminded her of a wise woman, walking along a shore. Her baby, bound for greatness. Salome’s mother always told her she could do anything, be anything, sky’s the limit. I guess Salome took her seriously. You could often find her walking along ledges, arms spread wide. Everyone thought it was to steady herself, but now it seems maybe she was doing something else. Practicing, testing her limits.

It was a neighbor who spotted Salome first, slowly making her way up the top of the cliff. He saw it from the edge of the village where they lived.

Ital was sitting on his rooftop, warm clay beneath his hands and feet as he leaned against the edge, pulling on a hand rolled cigarette. He watched Salome’s slow progress up till she reached the cliff’s zenith. He thought to call for someone, Salome’s mother perhaps… but when Ital heard the voices below, he realized that he needn’t bother. Already the villagers had begun to gather. Some shouted and pointed excitedly, while others murmured prayers and judgements.

Salome’s mother was among them. She didn’t seem as bothered as he would have expected. Though she did have a calm sort of concern about her, steady like a river. When her eyes found and fixed on her daughter, they remained there, unmoving.

Salome took a deep breath. Then she took another, and another. Closing her eyes, she began to center herself. She knew everyone in the village thought she was mad. Even across the distance she felt them waiting, judging, felt their eyes on her. Taking a deep breath, she sat.

The sun rose in the sky, it burned hot and persistent against her dark skin and she welcomed it. Salome had always found that the sun opened her up, connected her to the world around her. She thought of the Sun as one of her lovers, it provided for her a spiritual, sensual experience.

A breeze picked up on the cliff, carrying the smell of dust and dried grass and wildflowers up from the valley below. Salome inhaled deeply, savoring each breath, letting go.

The sun had set. Salome noticed only after she opened her eyes and found stars glittering over the village. Some of the villagers who gathered earlier had since set up tiny makeshift camps. A handful of blazing fires raged haphazardly in the mouth of the valley. She imagined they were cooking food on them, making love by them, drinking wine off one another, dancing and laughing. She felt the threat of jealousy tug at her chest.

Salome could hear the drums. Could feel their beat thrum through her body. She wondered distantly when the music began, it trembled the earth beneath her, Gaia’s heartbeat. Lightning bugs danced around her and crickets added their notes to the drummers’ song.

When Salome stood up again, the moon was glittering over the valley, making playful shadows among the rocks and creatures below. Things scuttled and scurried making patterns in the dirt. She could still smell it on the air, sweet and clean, like after a heavy rain. The dirt felt cool beneath her feet, it grounded her. Salome took one step, then another, until she was at the very edge of the cliff.

Then, she leapt.

Burning Bridges

I cast my torch upon the straw.  Tiny sparks flew from the fiery light as atoms merged and expanded, shooting flames upon the rotting post.  I stepped back, marveling at how quickly chaos reigned. Flames danced across the boards, weakening their resolve, until they ultimately crumbled to ash, and fell to the ground.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

I hesitated, only for an instant; then remembering what she had said, raised my head toward the highest flame and gave up my silent prayer.  This bridge would serve as a symbol, as would it’s ashes.

Bending down, I retrieved a small, glass vial from my cloak pocket, and scooped up the ashes from the post, before replacing the stopper into the vial.  Returning it to my pocket, I closed me eyes and drew a steadying breath.  Hands toward the sky,  I recited the incantation,  just as the woman had instructed.

I waited, nothing happened. I felt no different than I had the moment before.  Had I missed something? Perhaps not, the woman hadn’t said that I should feel anything, I just assumed that I would.  No matter. Resolving that I had no choice but to move on, I slipped my feet from my boots and in doing so, nearly lost my footing.

The earth shifted and my vision altered.  I felt my body spiral, carrying me full circle before throwing me upon the earth. It writhed and twisted.  Soft moans escaped my lips, partnered with words I had never before heard, let alone uttered.  I was not my own, yet I was not afraid.  It felt almost – natural. Almost.

It was with this realization that my body’s uncontrollable writhing ceased.  I lay there, suddenly naked, upon the forest floor.  Burning bridge throwing it’s heated glow upon my motionless form as Shadowy figures played upon my flesh.

Though the movement had stopped, the incantations remained.  Freckled with the occasional moan, the language came bolder, far bolder than during the madness moments before.  I felt an energy growing inside of me.  Pulsing through my veins.  Building and swimming around my body, until I was full.

Filled to the brim and certain I would burst.  Certain my skin would break open and I would explode. Sensation of madness returning to my conscious mind, the words turned to screams ripping woefully from my throat.  All sanity threatened to abandon me…threatened to leave me forever until … it didn’t.

The screaming stopped.  An ear piercing Snap! cracked through the trees, reverberating off of the forest floor, and back to where I lay.

I opened my eyes and found myself no longer surrounded by trees, but blossoms.  Thousands of red blossoms blanketed the earth, yet, the bridge was still there.  Still burning.

Looking through the flames, I could almost make out a figure on the other side; cast upon the ground, surrounded by trees.  The forest.  Was that me ?  How could I be there, when I was so plainly here ?  How did I cross the bridge, when I had not moved from where I lay naked, upon the earth ?

My fingers encircled the shaft of the torch as proof, for it remained just where I had cast it down.  And the bridge still burned. Never mind.  There was no time for that.  I had far greater things weighing upon my mind, making the how and why of my present circumstances trivial at best.

Rising to my feet, I struggled to orient myself.  Which way should I go? I appeared to be in the middle of an infinitely large clearing, unable to see anything but flowers and sky, in any direction I gazed. What I wouldn’t have done for a compass, though I was not entirely certain how that would assist my endeavor, especially considering the fact that I had no true inkling as to what it was that I was looking for. Nor where I was to go in search of it.  It would have made me feel a bit better though.

Lowering my body to the earth once more, I knelt, digging my fingers into the soil and tilted my head to better observe the blossoms.  They all appeared to have their faces lifted slightly towards the sky and listing a bit to the left.   If that was the way that the flowers were looking, that was the way I would go. The soil beneath my hands seemed to pulse in assent.  Letting it fall from my fingers, I rose to the ground and began my journey. One foot in front of the other, was to me, the best course of action. That was, unless I wanted to try to cross back over the bridge…but that seemed like a problem for another day, and worlds away.

No, whatever was in store for me, lay to the left, and it seemed, only the flowers knew how to get me there.

Burning Bridges

I cast my torch upon the straw.  Tiny sparks flew from the fiery light as atoms merged and expanded, shooting flames upon the rotting post.  I stepped back, marveling at how quickly chaos reigned. Flames danced across the boards, weakening their resolve, until they ultimately crumbled to ash, and fell to the ground.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

I hesitated, only for an instant; then remembering what she had said, raised my head toward the highest flame and gave up my silent prayer.  This bridge would serve as a symbol, as would it’s ashes.

Bending down, I retrieved a small, glass vial from my cloak pocket, and scooped up the ashes from the post, before replacing the stopper into the vial.  Returning it to my pocket, I closed me eyes and drew a steadying breath.  Hands toward the sky,  I recited the incantation,  just as the woman had instructed.

I waited, nothing happened. I felt no different than I had the moment before.  Had I missed something? Perhaps not, the woman hadn’t said that I should feel anything, I just assumed that I would.  No matter. Resolving that I had no choice but to move on, I slipped my feet from my boots and in doing so, nearly lost my footing.

The earth shifted and my vision altered.  I felt my body spiral, carrying me full circle before throwing me upon the earth. It writhed and twisted.  Soft moans escaped my lips, partnered with words I had never before heard, let alone uttered.  I was not my own, yet I was not afraid.  It felt almost – natural. Almost.

It was with this realization that my body’s uncontrollable writhing ceased.  I lay there, suddenly naked, upon the forest floor.  Burning bridge throwing it’s heated glow upon my motionless form as Shadowy figures played upon my flesh.

Though the movement had stopped, the incantations remained.  Freckled with the occasional moan, the language came bolder, far bolder than during the madness moments before.  I felt an energy growing inside of me.  Pulsing through my veins.  Building and swimming around my body, until I was full.

Filled to the brim and certain I would burst.  Certain my skin would break open and I would explode. Sensation of madness returning to my conscious mind, the words turned to screams ripping woefully from my throat.  All sanity threatened to abandon me…threatened to leave me forever until … it didn’t.

The screaming stopped.  An ear piercing Snap! cracked through the trees, reverberating off of the forest floor, and back to where I lay.

I opened my eyes and found myself no longer surrounded by trees, but blossoms.  Thousands of red blossoms blanketed the earth, yet, the bridge was still there.  Still burning.

Looking through the flames, I could almost make out a figure on the other side; cast upon the ground, surrounded by trees.  The forest.  Was that me ?  How could I be there, when I was so plainly here ?  How did I cross the bridge, when I had not moved from where I lay naked, upon the earth ?

My fingers encircled the shaft of the torch as proof, for it remained just where I had cast it down.  And the bridge still burned. Never mind.  There was no time for that.  I had far greater things weighing upon my mind, making the how and why of my present circumstances trivial at best.

Rising to my feet, I struggled to orient myself.  Which way should I go? I appeared to be in the middle of an infinitely large clearing, unable to see anything but flowers and sky, in any direction I gazed. What I wouldn’t have done for a compass, though I was not entirely certain how that would assist my endeavor, especially considering the fact that I had no true inkling as to what it was that I was looking for. Nor where I was to go in search of it.  It would have made me feel a bit better though.

Lowering my body to the earth once more, I knelt, digging my fingers into the soil and tilted my head to better observe the blossoms.  They all appeared to have their faces lifted slightly towards the sky and listing a bit to the left.   If that was the way that the flowers were looking, that was the way I would go. The soil beneath my hands seemed to pulse in assent.  Letting it fall from my fingers, I rose to the ground and began my journey. One foot in front of the other, was to me, the best course of action. That was, unless I wanted to try to cross back over the bridge…but that seemed like a problem for another day, and worlds away.

No, whatever was in store for me, lay to the left, and it seemed, only the flowers knew how to get me there.