I feel him. I sense that murky presence, lurking in the shadows beneath stars that wink against midnight black. I feel him. That icy breath, numbing, chilling my skin ’till blood runs cold. I see him. I can just make out his slender figure, his large hands, those bony fingers. They reach out toward me. I could reach out myself, taking his hand in my own to be led away. Far away from where I sit now beneath the moon to lands unknown. I am tempted. For although there is wickedness in his grip, there is also peace. There is a tranquillity that will allow me to fade away and sleep eternal.
A name, a date and the sad words lying near the bottom, half hidden by weedy grass. Is that all you can promise I will become? Food for worms that wiggle near my feet. Worms that will become food themselves for the little black birds that fly high in the sky, free. Or food for the plants; the grass, the delicate flowers, the tall trees whose thin branches creek above, whose roots entwine below. Can you guarantee that when I join them down there, I will sleep? That I will not dream of the life I did not lead; the past, the lost hopes, nor the future and its bright, white lights. Plunge me back into uneventful nothingness like it was before.
Or when the dirt hits my coffin, will my soul be carried away? Will it slip free and float toward the sky? Is there any chance of it reaching heaven? My soul is too scarred, more scarred than my wrist. There’s blood on my hands, and all of it’s mine. I must be sick. True, it is a human disease, but can I not be cleansed and healed by confession? Will no angel reach out and grasp me in a warm embrace and banish the dark shapes that are crawling closer. Do they not hear me as I pray on my knees, in the dirt, surrounded by statues of their weathered, weeping faces?
Or maybe it is not heaven that can hear me. Do demons not only writhe beneath my skin but also beneath the earth? Does the Devil mock my naivety, or is it he who plants these false hopes? I can see him now, sitting upon his stone throne, waiting patiently. Waiting for me to say goodbye and slither to his side.
Did I come to say goodbye? Am I daring to tempt the unknown? Maybe I will come back. Maybe as a lonely worm; or a bird, singing on dewy spring mornings; perhaps a dainty flower, swaying on the gentle breeze, unseen. I don’t know where I’ll end up but I’m tired, I’m cold, like a withered leaf waiting to drop. I want to say goodbye. But there’s nobody left.