Title: The Essence of Being
Rating: PG, I suppose
Summary: Nicole thinks about life.
Archiving: This will be at www.realmoftheshadow.com/harper.htm
A/N: This is more of a perspective piece, written in fairly difficult to read prose. I blame it on Bret Easton Ellis, but don’t tell him that because he’s probably my favorite author and might not be flattered by the reference, even though this doesn’t much resemble his writing. It isn’t beta’d, so all mistakes below solely to me. If you’d like to send feedback, I’d love to receive it, no matter what you have to say. I’ll be at Xfjnky2@yahoo.com.
She wasn’t sure if she lived two lives or none at all. Did her real self watch her other self with calm, disinterested detachment, or was she simply holding herself aloof from the minutia of the dirty details of boring, everyday life? That sense of entitlement she felt, the one that told her she was special, that she was above everyone within a nuclear bomb blast radius of her fundamentally more essential person… was it real or was it the barrier provided by the separation or absence or elemental non-existence of her soul? She saw people, watched them drift in and out of her life. She interacted with them, cold scorn and fiery condemnation battling for dominance in eyes that surveyed a fiefdom holding little intrinsic interest. She had friends, or so-called friends. People who sat with her and ate with her and flitted close enough to the titanium steel of her otherwise aesthetically pleasing shell to bring a whiff of the tantalizing tease of some elusive something else that she couldn’t or didn’t or wouldn’t have. Maybe she was waiting, was looking for just the right reason or the right person because really, should she deign to depart from the icy comfort of her hidden hide-away for yet another rousing disappointment? Because people were always disappointments, were lies and pretty smiles and soft candy lips and empty air inside.
Or, maybe that was her. Empty, with enough glitz and glam to fool even the most discerning eye into believing that she was a walking, talking, living, breathing approximation of a human being. Only, she wasn’t quite certain she had the elements necessary to compose one of those. The useless clutter of extras, like feelings and emotions, those often unessential and generally unnecessary and messy distractions that did nothing but divert her from the mainlined helpless inanity driving her. Because that was what the world was all about, just a series of random, ultimately meaningless unconnected yet intertwined events. Just a slow, lazily flowing river of insipid conversations and superficial connections. Shallow and false and pretty, just like her. And, just like her, the undertow was there, darkly seductive with its powerful pull tickling at the senses, beckoning for that final descent.
The descent into what was truly real. Like a cosmic joke, though, there was no true reality. No her, no anyone else, just the cloying, dizzying, smothering pressure of thousands of mocking eyes watching her struggle. Laughing at her behind their hands because she might have once conceived that there might possibly be something somewhere worth the effort to try and find it.
She knew now that there was nothing. She’d reached out once, had felt the freeze of absent humanity turn her skin to cracked, weathered parchment. She’d watched it shear away, leaving her glowing hot fiery red, burning and exposed. Strangely enough, she hadn’t felt it and so she thought that maybe, just maybe, it was her other self or her already dead inside self that had to deal with the pain. Because it should hurt, she thought, though the skeptical part of her wondered what, exactly, it felt like to hurt.
Sometimes she’d feel the razor shards of interest prick at her skin. Sharp, tenacious claws that tried to rip their way into the heart of her being, but she merely laughed at them. Laughed at the futility of it all, because even if they did manage to breech the obscenely fortified walls of her otherwise well-protected non-existent self, then where would they go? Helpless and futile and futile and helpless, and she remembered a day, some day that had happened so long ago that the date had disappeared forever from her calendar, when there had been something different. Something cold and hot and searingly fierce, something that had etched a burning tear down her skin, the liquid eating acid tracks into the then still soft shell that guarded a hopeful warmth deep within.
She thought that she might like to feel that again, though feelings were still as mythically and falsely beautiful to her as the savagely selfish gods of the long-ago peoples who had looked to the stars for meaning and reason for the unexplainable misery that was their lives. So sometimes she tried. Not often though, because she hated failure.
None of which answered the question of what was inside the animated automaton that other people saw and addressed and feared as her. If she was no person, then that was best. To be two, to have two lives and two realities was infinitely more probable yet exponentially less palatable. If there were two of her, then there were four and sixteen and two hundred and fifty-six, because each shattered mirror image of herself was nothing but the crazy reflection of one of millions of broken shards. This was true, she knew instinctively, but it left her in the undefinable, amorphous and predictably empty vacuum of not existing anywhere. Nothing but any one of a random collection of never real illusions, which made it just as hard to find her elusive, fictitious real self as it would if she had no real self at all. Which should be good, she knew, because the sheer translucent beauty of nothing compared to the jarring, jolting, sharp cut of everything was what she’d hoped for. The two identical culminating climaxes were not the same though. Disparate in every way, leading her right back to the very same place that she was entirely sure she hadn’t wanted to occupy in the first place.
She had a hunch, a feeling, a prescient knowledge if you will, that it was all about her. She was the genesis, the origin, the absolute zero of it all. Because if she did not exist then no one existed. Which meant that the world was filled with empty, soulless mechanical voids just like her, because she still hadn’t really figured out if she existed at all.
If forced to be honest, she would admit she hoped she didn’t.