prose

One day I left home. A home of anger and devices. I left or was driven out, I can’t remember. All I remember is the stories I told of it. I went out into the world naked and starving, not knowing any language. Mimicking the banter of street-rats like a lost parrot I learned to lie. Lying I learned to feed, accepting  all substances, trading for them anecdotes of my suffering. My suffering was currency. My suffering was rare, my thievery justified, the narrative mine. I wove skillful tales of home’s offenses. Denouncing home I moved into anyone else’s, accepting their charity, a wandering Buddha. Oh the blessing I was to all who blessed me, pilfering their vodka, gnawing on their bones as they slept. At home I had already learned to agree, to ingest and re-construct theological and political stances. To mirror desperate emotions, to sympathize with the frightening insecurity of adults. I became all things to all people. I heard their confessions. I sympathized with their pain, a familiar pain (of course, comparable to mine). Drunk on stolen wine I composed songs about my suffering. My suffering was my treasure. Unlike any suffering anyone suffered ever in all the world. My suffering was priceless, it made a martyr of me without effort, without principle. Far and wide all the suffering people of the earth opened their hearts to me. I fed on their sins, their fears, their affections, their dreams. I hoarded their secrets for my masterpiece. No one was anything, everyone was as the devices of my childhood, a means to an end, no one an end in themselves, all just raw material of my story, the story of everything, the story of me, who had become everyone, who therefore, wasn’t anyone, any longer. It was best they didn’t know how coldly I surveyed them, how easily I devoured their offerings and moved on. Surely they would abandon me, as home had driven me out. The moment I suspected they might leave I left ahead of them, or else drove them away, denouncing their hidden intentions I had carved into the walls from our first meeting. In love with love as an abstract experience, I never loved anyone. Always hovering above us as though watching a tragedy from afar, taking notes, crafting lines, in a play where I assumed she too was only acting. Sometimes she was. Sometimes she wasn’t. Sometimes I had to improvise. Sometimes I was so lost in the role I thought my character was real. Sometimes I was moved with the tragic beauty of us, from my astral balcony. Other times I was disgusted, hidden within myself, out of reach of her embraces. Nonetheless, I was never present, always absent, from within, the eternal observer. I left them all behind and figured I would go home one day and entertain them with the saga of my travels. I would become renowned as a great storyteller  and they would accept me back. They would shower me with rice. They would shoot off fireworks. They would slaughter the fattened calf. Dreaming of my triumphant return I skipped back along the desolate highway to my humble origins, singing, until I came to the crater where the house once stood, its blackened hole sending up smoke. Peering over the rim I saw, down at the charred bottom, all the corpses of everyone I ever knew. I had outlived them all, the last living person. Suddenly, for the first time, I missed anyone.  I missed everyone. I cried alone, real tears, without any audience. I spun, I wept, I vomited, reeling from the smoke of burning flesh, driven to my knees by the weight of the knowledge there was finally no one to hear my story. The greatest story never told.


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