Falling short of perfection

When I stumbled upon her blog, I didn’t know the path Fate had envisioned for me. There were six love letters, and somewhere in the now sordid, littered alleys of my mind, I felt the need, the urge to write the seventh. Six falls short of perfection, and I needed closure, and felt that she needed it too. She hadn’t written for five years, and I didn’t want it all to end on uneven surfaces or blotchy pastures riddled with ash and cinder. I felt this insatiable need to finish her project and envisaged her lying on her sickbed, her now gnarly arms infected by disease and catastrophe, reaching out though she was dying, anesthetized by circumstance and hard ground. So, here’s my story and my truth. I’ve written each part according to my subjective interpretation of each letter, of each paper boat floating on the thin stream of lucidity towards nirvana. But what did I gain in the end: Catharsis or dysfunctionality? Pain or pleasure? A hackneyed mind or a blissful, creative soul? I’ll let you decide.

I

The first letter brought to my mind a series of innocent images; naïve but possessing depth. It embarked on a journey towards redemption, despite the ashen sky and craggy surfaces that embodied and personified her. I was drawn instantly, partly because somewhere in this labyrinth we call life, I’d tossed away my childlikeness and charm. The piece suddenly echoed in my mind, both chastising me and gently warming my soul, questioning where I stood before the omniscient jury: Am I innocent or guilty? Does each crime, however trivial it seems, make me a partaker of the pleasures of the flesh?

II

The second letter drew me in further with its connotations: Words symbolizing a deeper semantic, a throes of pain and pleasure, making me an archetypal anti-hero. A symbol of both hate and sacrifice, of both selfishness and surrender, and I wished I’d stopped there. I wish I hadn’t gone further, but the desire to hopefully find more substance in this trite façade we call life, with actors playing their roles, and society fiercely and furiously suppressing the anarchist, made me rebel and read the next, hoping for redemption in a postmodern world where reality bends fiction, and fiction envelopes reality, thoroughly and wholly.

III

The next letter plucked out my heartstrings because I could resonate with it then completely. It forcefully yanked my heart out and placed it on a platter where people who thrive on misery could eat it bit by bit, part by part with the raw red drooling from their lips and staining their chins. It was then that transcendence reprobated himself and I was left with guttural shrieks and cries for freedom. I wish I hadn’t read further. I wish I hadn’t known what I had, and I guess that’s the psychopathic tendency of someone who pries too deep, who can’t help himself because his impulsivity reigns.

IV
Another tiring day of work, another night of finding solace in her six letters. In Nabokov’s afterword to Lolita he says that ‘reality is one of the few words which means nothing without quotes’. The letter I read tonight sings of her reality. Her quotation marks are filled with an intangible feeling that sends shivers down my spine. It is in her last line that her letters take a strange departure from her previous posts. She cries to her lover, ‘you are not vicious, or demented. Your mind is wonderful, and your treasures are priced beyond measure. Please speak to me once more, my Yellow King.’

V

The passion and mystery of her writing draws me ever deeper. I have studied these letters for years, felt every drop of her passion, felt the psychic induction of her words on me, the palpable effect of her heart, soul and spirit on my neurotransmitters. I’ve tried cocaine, heroin and meth to break away from her siren song, but her words never lose allure. The drugs have no effect on me, apart from a short bout of diarrhea. I see her in my dreams, dancing in a masquerade with the Yellow King, their faces hidden, their forms encased by the mysteries of the Regency. The Yellow King gazes at me sometimes, his eyes beaming amusement. ‘Fool,’ I think I can hear him laugh, ‘to become ensnared by my plaything.’ My dreams turn crimson and I wake up to another dreary day behind my desk.

VI

Her last letter is filled with manic joy. She says she has found a way to her Yellow King. She will soon be with her lover. I must find her, and rescue her from him before she succeeds. ‘My life is yours during the day as long as you give me the first dance of the night,’ she says in her letter. What does this mean? Why is she giving this despicable creature her life? Can’t she see how dark and twisted he is? ‘In Carcosa we dance beneath the black stars,’ she says. The more she dances with him the more she fades from reality. The Yellow King’s heart is ice, and her fire is slowly being consumed. Her quotation marks are losing their shape. I must slay this dragon, rescue her. She will write the seventh letter as a funeral dirge, after I slay that pantomime horror and rescue her from his diabolic dance. A .45 might come in handy.

VII

Carcosa lies too far away for the world of man to touch. I now know what I must do. This letter will be written in crimson ink. It must begin with my own death and end with the death of the Yellow King. My beloved, may my death buy you your life.

“We need more A positive,” he heard a voice shout frantically. “I think he’s going to make it.”

Many years later, the letters were forgotten. When he tried to remember this period of his life he drew nothing. His amnesia was a mystery that an inner voice warned him was best left unsolved. In his nightmares though, one scene constantly plagued him, a crowned jester roaring with laughter and gleaming with malice as he waltzed with the corpse of a woman through the barren desert under black stars and twin suns.

THE END

A/N: IV,V,VI and VII inspired by the King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers

© Nitin Lalit Murali and whenmarsmetsaturn (2018)

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You’ll find whenmarsmetsaturn here. Please read his work and show him support. He’s a great writer and enjoys the craft as much as I do. And this was fun.

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4 Comments

    1. Thank you so much! We tried our best though we work in two different genres. I mostly write literary fiction and he writes fantasy, but I’m very pleased with the end result, and I’m glad you liked it.

  1. I’ve been waiting for you to start composing longer pieces of prose – I hope you’ve started! And the stream-of-conscious demands (in something longer) that it gets broken up like this. Great stuff.

    1. Thank you so much Bruce! And you’re right. I’m slowly learning the knack of using stream of consciousness to write longer pieces. And dividing it into pieces is the key when it comes to poetry. And thank you for the suggestion. I’ll incorporate it. But whenmarsmetsaturn helped make this piece better. He’s terrific, and once you get him you’re hooked.

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