The Beast And I: Seeing All Of Myself.
I’ve found some dark and terrifying places lately. In myself. Of myself. Been swallowed by them.
Almost whole… but some part of me managed to jam a fingernail in the clenched jowl of this beast, allowing for a sliver of light to peek through.
A mere ray… yet enough.
I awake in darkness, from a dream of falling forevermore. A repulsive stench creeping further and further into my nostrils as I squint at the dripping walls of innards that surround me, desperate to make sense of where I am.
It smells foul, it’s wet, there’s no space… I can’t breathe, I’m alone, I want to get out, but I don’t know where out is.
Panic swiftly bangs upon my door, and then breaks it down and storms obnoxiously into my guts, lassoing them into a tight knot in my center, then my lungs, and finally lodges that desert-dry boulder right in my throat.
No life coming in, no life going out. I try to get up, but can only slide around in the burning acid, smashing into walls, unable to find something to grip on to… my skin hisses and burns as I gasp for air.
Suddenly, something comes out of the walls of this ghastly cavern — the outline of a hand — and a flame of hope ignites in my heart.
But it lunges towards me, viciously grabbing my wrist with bone-crushing grip, then another flies from nowhere, straight for my ankle, piercing my skin with its festering, skin-slitting nails.
I kick and scream as they multiply and pelt toward me, ripping at my hair, scratching down my face like a chalkboard, cutting, punching, hitting, choking, tightening.
I scream louder and louder until my throat turns to sandpaper, I kick like an animal in the last desperate moments before its throat is mauled.
But they feed on my fear; drinking it deep into their sinewy, arachnid fingers, as they squeeze every last drop of life out of my mangled body.
And then I let go. I surrender. I give up. There is nothing left to fight for. Even the air that my splintered ribs screech for is drenched with the stench of my thick, oozing blood.
I feel like I’m drowning in the steely substance as it gushes mercilessly down my throat. One of my stinging eyeballs conceives a tear, and it tumbles gently down my cheek, leaving a salty and soothed path behind it.
My heart rages, fighting to make me go on. I beg it to stop. Just stop. I’ve had enough. I want to rest. I want to go home. Please just let me… go… home.
Muffled words awaken my ears… I can’t move, but my senses latch on to them, smelling, feeling, hearing, searching: searching for their source, searching for my savior.
I sit slumped against the wall, my wrists bound above my head, and I muster all the strength I can in my jellied limbs to press my ear to the outside and listen… to the deathly silence. But again I hear the familiar voices. I hear my name!
They’re talking to me, they’ve come to rescue me! My heart screams, pounding against my chest in an attempt to leap out and get their attention — “I’m in here! Help Me! Please!” she rasps… but they’re deaf to her beat.
They continue talking to someone out there, someone I know, and I breathlessly sob and writhe in my confusion. They said my name! They’re talking to me! But they’re not seeing me! Why can’t they see me?
My head fills with hot, toxic fluid — an overheated thermometer threatening to explode, as my eyes bulge from their sockets and my ears ooze poison.
“No more, please, no more!” I croak, and my stomach churns and turns, gaining momentum, pushing from its depths, up my throat and forcing its way out my mouth.
A vile volcanic vomit spectacle rains upon me, its lava eating away at my skin. My throat.
The voices go about their business as if every thing is okay… oblivious! Oblivious to my imprisoned soul. The disappointment, the rejection, the abandonment, the fear, the pain… they well inside me.
An almighty flood begins to fill me — from my toes to my ankles, to my shins and my knees, to my thighs and my groin, from my waist to my fingertips, from my breasts to my elbows, my armpits, my neck… my lips… my nostrils… my ears, my eyes, they sting… God, how they sting… they close, and my lungs they wait hopelessly for the waters to arrest them too.
There’s a drum-bursting ring vibrating through my head, threatening to erupt it into a million tiny pieces. Even the muffled watery depths are void of peace! All murkiness and heat and noise. Mind-maddening noise.
I feel my ship sinking — deeper and deeper she goes. Heavy and lead-like, hair snaking above my head, I reach for air. For relief. For help.
And then I see my body floating before me, empty, like a mere piece of rubbish sadly surrendering to a hidden corner of the ocean to be forever forgotten. Never again to be seen. I want to be seen, but I don’t want to be seen.
I’m beyond being seen.
I watch as this story plays before me and my sinking self, and I think, “This can’t be the ending! Surely there is more than just this?” And I glimpse a single ray of light far above, shyly peering down at me.
So I go to my body and I whisper — I say, “You are okay. This too shall pass. Don’t give up! Not now… not ever! I believe in you.”
But she doesn’t hear me… so I gently sing to her, serenading her with a lullaby of love and hope, of joy and laughter, of a dance with beauty through a life full of soul… but still she’s deaf to my harmony.
I hastily open her eyelids and dive into her pupils… but there’s nothing there either. Just an abyss. Big, black, cold nothingness, as far as the eye can see.
So I take a hold of her; wrapping her lifeless limbs around me, gently pleading her to let me carry her, let me, just let me. Please let me save you!
But her eyes, all glassed over, stare straight through me, as the darkness opens to welcome us, its newest victims.
With terrified hope, I part her lips and breathe my deepest breath into her soul, and the depth of that breath is so deep that I fall in.
Suddenly I awaken from my nightmare… the light above me beckons, and I try to move toward it, but I’m heavy, weighed by my tears and my woes. But then the light gets bigger, and then brighter.
I see the outline of the Beast’s razor-like teeth being pried open by golden glowing hands… I watch as the monster’s powers are miraculously frozen and the hand reaches in further and further towards me… but then it stops.
It can’t reach any further! A burst of energy surges through me like an electric shock in the water, and I flail my foreign limbs and kick myself free of the weedy tentacles hungrily molesting my feet.
Holding my one and only magic breath, reaching for this hand, this savior, I try to swim but I’ve forgotten how and the breath is running out.
I float in an eternity of limbo, with all my stories, all my journeys, all my loves and all my losses filling the ever increasing gaps between my heartbeats. I stare at the distance between our fingertips.
An endless second… and finally I burst from the slimy dredge! Spluttering and gasping for air, I’m held up by strong yet tender arms. My heart spills open from my chest and I dangle, exhausted, as I’m lifted toward the billowing light.
The teeth are gone, and I slide out and into a messy heap on the floor, like a newborn child of this monster. My monster. I look up at her stunned and breathless, my eyes blurry and rolling back in my head.
I try to see my perpetrator, this merciless Devil who almost tortured the very last drop of hope from my soul.
But I saw only myself. Me. Slumped and sorry before me, where the almighty Beast stood moments before.
And her sadness echoed in my heart as she stared at me with her guilt-filled, childlike eyes, pleading for understanding. For forgiveness. Pleading for me to see her. All of her.
The vengefulness melted from my heart, and its tough, impenetrable shell crumbled. And it grew… and grew… and grew… a valiant balloon. Unpoppable. Unstoppable. We stared at each other and I saw deeply into her soul.
I saw grief and sadness. I saw loss and hate. I saw guilt and shame. Trauma. Pain. Resentment. Frustration. Rage. Despair. And anger. So… much… anger.
And suddenly my monstrous heart overflowed with such love that it swept her up and enveloped her. My heart and I, we cradled and caressed her. We sang to her. We soothed her.
And as my heart told her that it loved her, that I love her, she began to sob. She sobbed the trillions of tears that had formed the great ocean within her.
And I held her in my arms as I watched them fall, one by one to the ground, and explode into a million particles that quenched the thirsty Earth beneath us. Drink Mama Earth, drink your fill!
And we cried and we cried, for all the times that I did not listen, hear, taste, smell or see her pains. For all the times I ignored her pleas.
And as our arms wrapped tightly around each other, they purred vows of unequivocal love to the sound of the other’s heartbeat.
An eternal heartbeat. Our eternal heartbeat.
Briony Dalton is a ponderer, a wanderer, a gatherer… a dot-connector, a reader, observer, and time-traveler. She’s a dancer, a romancer, an idea-conceiver. An aspiring healer, stargazer, and a bloody deep feeler. A whistler, a skip-er, a rock over-turner. A Warrioress, a Mother-Earth worshiper, and a dreamscape explorer. She’s an introverted extrovert, with an extravagant mind. She feeds on motion and stillness, and an excellent red wine. She’s a lover of art and an artist of Love, with a desire from her core to inspire the above… along with fun and laughter, and the full-filling of dreams, for these are the medicines for her life, or so it seems. And when she allows it (she’s practicing this) her heart spills from its cage onto a blank page… which is painful, potent, liberating, and terrifying… but if there’s one thing she knows, it’s that the best things in life are. There is really no denying.