Big florescent signs designed to catch our attention; why resort to such flash and color? As if by being the biggest, brightest, and boldest you could some how ensure that people will see. What is the mindset behind this? What is the psychology? I haven’t written philosophy in a while. Too long. Perhaps I am out of touch. What is it about the fast lane? About loud music and bizarre but readable fonts? I will be the one to hear the inaudible hum of electric lights and cars racing by. Notice the mechanical nature of it all. Everything must be done fast. Or else we will lose time. Everything is uniform; structured or catered to the masses. Because in order to exist you must please others, and please them enough to warrant a material response. What happens if we do not? What happens to those crazed dreamers who rebel? Who live only for the quality and expression of themselves and others? De Bergerac, Van Gogh? Daring to defy and destroy everything in a fierce loyalty to what no man could give; but every man tries to take away. The world tells us to be ourselves, and if we are ourselves we will be rewarded with great autonomy and a sense of wellbeing. In our struggle to comply we sell our souls to the skylines and the drains.
The wheels go round and round…. It is by their repetition that they make progress. Hanna sat and watched the bicycle wheels spin by, letting her eyes blur the motion. Her hand absentmindedly played with the pen in her hand. The words weren’t coming. The words never came anymore. Clinking. Tea being poured into a glass cup. Chair scooting back. Someone sat down. Hanna was vaguely aware.
“Funny place; almost like by paying more people can pretend to step back into time without losing the comforts of today.” Sammy was always blunt. She snatched a blueberry scone from the tray and drank her tea cup empty. She did everything with gusto; drank in the world the same way. Hanna was never sure how much Sammy actually thought or if she just spouted what was bubbling out from all the images inside of her. They were sitting at a table outside of a tea shop in a mall in Austin that had lots of people and very few cars. It was a bit like stepping back into an old market, only you couldn’t escape from the modern blare of cell phones and crop tops. Hanna’s eyes reverted to the face in front of her. Sammy had intense brown eyes. Hanna always felt she couldn’t read Sammy’s eyes.
“Excellent tea though.” Sammy mumbled as she downed another glass. She drank tea like Navy Seals drank whisky.
“I’m going to give up writing.” The words came out of Hanna’s mouth before she had meant them to. And not quite in the same way she had hoped. But then… she had lost her way with words.
Sammy froze and stared at her, tea stopped just off the table. “hell, you are” the words were spoken in Sammy’s forceful way but had a distance to them. “Hanna… you can’t quit writing!”
“well, I can’t very well keep on.” So matter of fact
“Oh to hell with that. Everyone gets writers block.”
“Nobody gets writers block for over a year.” Hanna had long since been apathetic towards her former passion and talent. When a crutch leaves you in your darkest time, its hard to want it back.
“But Hanna” the teacup came back to the table still full. Perhaps a first in Sammy’s life. “You’ve been putting words together since you were 8 years old! You’ve been writing for 12 years!”
“Maybe I burned out.”
“You don’t burn out talent and creativity.”
“Says who?” Hanna hadn’t meant to be snappy, but somehow she felt that the person who claimed you couldn’t lose creativity had never been betrayed by life in general. Not that you could trust life. But you had always hoped you could trust love…
“I think it was Angelou.”
“It doesn’t matter. Someone who knows art.” Sammy put her elbows on the table and leaned her head against them so only her piercing brown eyes gazed at Hanna. Hanna found that gaze very disconcerting.
“What? I can’t do it any more, Sammy! And I’ve got to move on with life. I can’t keep writing for a living, because words aren’t coming.” Sammy didn’t say anything, but her gaze didn’t shift. This was something Sammy did; she had a kind of Vulcan stare that felt like she was scrutinizing your soul. Hanna felt extremely uncomfortable. Some how Sammy seemed to be showing her everything her soul had been trying to murmur for the last year. “I’m so tired Sammy.“ Everything about her felt like it was wilting now.
“We’re all tired.” Sammy’s voice almost sounded bitter. Hanna glanced up to see that the eyes had shifted from her. “The thing is that we all have a certain thing about us. Things that don’t necessarily come easy, but we would be lost without them.” She paused, her fingers absentmindedly making circles on the table cloth, keeping rhythm with the speeding bicycles. Her eyes shot back to meet Hanna’s “It’s not really a choice whether we want them or not. We have them. And if we don’t get them out of us, let them flood like we might drown…..then we will. And sometimes it might seem like we are no more than the wheels on a bike; going round and round but never seeing anything but pavement and faces whizzing by until we‘ve got somewhere completely new.” Sammy gently picked up the tea pot and poured a steady stream of tea into her cup. Hanna watched the steam flirt with the surface of the tea and then run away with the wind. “So what am I suppose to do?” she posed the question as though she were longing for the wind to swoop her up along with the steam. Sammy’s eyes snapped up to meet hers and Hanna felt her heart beat quicken; something was pulsing. For the first time in what seemed forever, words tumbled through her mind in a chaotic ecstasy.
Sammy‘s voice was a soft whisper. A bike bell ringing out and laughter carried the words to Hanna’s ears.
“I haven’t the slightest.”
I do apologize that the continuation of the story below has not yet come; and I will tell you the truth, it doesn’t actually look very likely from the branch where I’m sitting. We writers sometimes lose all creativity and flow of imagination, whether we like to admit it or not. Unfortunately the summer was not home to futuristic mystery inspiring events. But I did compose many short musings on facts of life, and today I’d like to share one of those with you.
I think the balloons that float away drift in space. I think they all travel to the stars. I think they carry inside of them the dreams and hopes of all the little children who once held them so tightly. They carry them to the stars and then burst to convey the wishes, great and small. So you see, when the balloons float away from us, our hearts are sad… But we could not have greater things if we did not let go…..
I had the idea awhile back of a futuristic detective story. Of course I love working with my favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes, but I also wanted my main character to be female. So I thought “What if I wrote a futuristic female version of Sherlock Holmes?” And so here is the beginning of my attempt! I hope you enjoy Part one of Breath, a futuristic detective story…
Was it worth anything? It must have been. The books on the shelves were all caving in, their bindings falling to the floor. The candlelight flickered and she tensed. The flames would burn steady, with no movement, unless there was a draft. If someone moved the slightest within a 500 feet radius, she would know because the shadows would make love with the words on the page of her book. She heard the creaking of the floorboards. That eased her tension slightly. At least it was a material being. She slowly lowered her hand to the small dagger on her belt. She didn’t feel threatened, generally the library was a safe place, but she was never off her guard. Years of experience had hardened her to any concept of security. She didn’t lessen her wariness even when she saw it was the old librarian, the little man who looked like his old books. Worn, battered, but content. His long gray beard fell below his waste. It was a very wispy beard that he probably never heeded. His hair was covered by a dusty turban that looked like it had seen Allah himself. The old librarian was always kind, asking Sierra if she needed anything, what books she required, and he always reserved the darkest and deepest volt for her to occupy. He knew the concept of privacy and its value. Sierra didn’t fear the old man, but she knew there were some forces that could take any form, and so she kept her hand on her dagger. He didn’t say a word, he simply picked up an old decaying document and shuffled back out of the room. Sierra followed him with her eyes. She didn’t relax until her candles were burning steadily again. Her eyes flittered back to the text on the page. The words always meant so much, it hurt to read them sometimes. But words were the point. Words were the reason she fought on, everything boiled down to the truths and ideas embodied by the characters of a thousand tongues. She read about light. She read about darkness. She read the hours away, it was never enough. When her candles flickered again it was because they had expired. She slowly rose to replace them, she knew she had at least a few minutes before the light went out. She froze suddenly, the shadows deepened behind her for the very logical reason that the candle had sputtered out, perhaps it was nothing, but she knew that candle had had at least another two minutes to burn. She still felt for her dagger. There was no sound. If one could hear the dust mites crawling along the shelves she would have heard them then. But there was no noise. She sat rigidly in her chair; the presence of silence was no calming. It only meant whatever had blown out her candle was wary. Echoed slightly against the earth walls was the slightest intake of breath. Even in the darkness the shadows moved until Sierra was the only stationary blackness in the room. A slight cough. A smile pulled at Sierra’s lips and she relaxed ever so slightly.
“Excuse me, I didn’t mean to blow out your light, miss.” Intelligent. Observant. Scared.
“I brought a light with me…” The voice hesitated. Familiar with caution. Perceptive.
“It’s alright.” Sierra’s voice cut the tiny lair’s intellectually intense air for the first time in weeks. “You can light it.”
The whole room erupted into a evanescent, flaring blue that snaked its way to the wick of the candle in the child’s hand. As soon as the heat met with the string it became a healthy yellow flame. The two did not say a word. The only thing they moved were their eyes, which were busy scanning the other individual.
“So.” The word dulled the undefined edges of tension that had riveted through the room.
“So.” Sierra started again “What can I do for you?”
The child had penetrating gray eyes. Her long black hair feel straight down to her waist. She looked impishly like the ancient pictures of fairies that Sierra occasionally ran across.
Sierra gestured to a battered stool across from herself as she spoke. The girl sat down tentatively. “I’ve lost it.” She muttered, ever so quietly.
“About two moons ago.” Upper planet. Of the aquatic race.
The gray eyes shot up at her. “I need help finding it!” The voice had an edge of desperation. It was almost a plea.
“This does happen.” Sierra watched what effect these words would have on her guest. There was a struggle of despair and hysteria on the child’s face.
“Oh but it can’t! It mustn’t! I don’t know who- why would- mother doesn’t know- can’t leave.” The sobs began to make her speech unintelligible.
“I’m sorry.” Sierra said it as empathically as she could.
The child looked up at her imploringly. “Can’t you do anything?”
“Nonsense. Nearly one eighth of Atlantians lose their ability to breath under water, am I to be concerned with procuring the means of its return?” Her voice was sharp. She must work on that.
The child only stared blankly at the floor.
“You should have one more moon cycle during which it will sporadically return. It would be best for you to inform your mother of the fact as soon as possible.” Her voice was sounding mechanical. It always did with children. Children were so raw and real. Adults are slightly artificial.
There was more silence. The child stood slowly and left. Sierra noticed she did not take the candle. She was grateful. She tenderly opened the book in front of her and continued her reading.
Atlantians were the race descended from the aquatic city of Atlantis. The people had reappeared around 3009. Sierra was possibly the only person to know this bit of trivia. They had been so long integrated back into society that no one took notice of their presence. Their city still remained under the Great Waters, but many of them chose to live on land. All of them (Except for the one eighth who had the misfortune to lose the ability) could breath freely under water. Sierra had been waiting patiently for a cure for over five hundred years. It hadn’t yet come. Her brain worked at a prestigious degree of efficiency; any new data she collected would be fit nicely into it’s proper place and relevance. She had yet to read of any remedy for the malady.
Sierra let all of these musings filter through her mind, the bit she let do the absentminded wandering, as she walked along the dirty streets of London. Making an effort to keep her feet on the ground rather than using teleportation or flight meant long roundabout means of returning to her flat on Baker Street.
“Anything interesting?” The shrill voice greeted her as she danced her thin fingers over the combination lock. The touch screen shivered green and the door slid open.
“Hardly.” Hardly a sufficient answer, she thought. But Weston never minded. Or at least…. Sierra didn’t know.
“I read in the screen” sometimes her operatic voice forced Sierra to shut down the upper half of her brain “that Q is completing his tranquilization of all apple devices.” Sierra could feel Weston’s eyes following her.
“Yes.” It was a small reply.
“I met Grooster, by the way, at the planetarium.” Sierra found it necessary to change the subject to something more tangible. “I was sending a letter to your aunt informing her that we recovered the ancient cellular device. Why does she still have that, by the way? I see no practical use-”
“Sentiment.” there was a tone of ’you-wouldn’t-understand’ and pity in her voice.
“Ah.” Weston glided over and placed a genuine cup of tea on the coffee table. “Some things” Sierra continued “are ancient because they have in irreplaceable purpose. For example; tea.” Sierra attempted to not feel irritated at the knowledge that her endeavors had been spent on ’sentiment’.
Weston was on the shorter side when it came to humans. She was barely 5’1 and her blond hair only came to her shoulders. Right now it was pulled back in it’s usual messy bun.
“So, what about Grooster?” She inquired
“He is redoubling his efforts.” There was a general silence in which the buzz from the clock was heard. “Asked if I wanted a position as head organizer for the EAI.” There was a sardonic smile thinly spread across her face.
Weston looked up sharply. “What did you say?”
Sierra made no response, she simply unfolded the newspaper that had been sitting on the tea table and disappeared behind it. Weston knew better than to pursue inquires further.
Suddenly, before she had time to think upon this interesting matter to a more detailed extend there came a loud wrapping at the door.
“The doorbell must be out.” Weston muttered under her breath
“Profound observation.” the languid reply emanated from behind the sheets of current events. Weston didn’t even acknowledge the jab, the doorbell had been out for a good three months. She went to open the door.
A very tall wiry female stood eyeing her warily.
“May I help you?” Weston inquired in a warm but civil way.
The woman did not speak for several seconds. She glanced over Weston and into the room behind her. She seemed to have deduced that this wasn’t the person she desired to see. “I am looking for a miss Sierra.” Her vacant eyes gazed absently for a second before flicking back to Weston. “Last name unknown.”
“Oh, yes, of course. Wont you come in?” Weston stood aside and gestured for the lady to enter. As she stepped over the threshold her eyes scanned everything and rested finally upon the upright newspaper. Weston smiled and gestured to the chair opposite the one containing Sierra. There were several long moments of silence. Weston had turned back to her efforts in the kitchen and was smiling to herself at the obvious growing atmosphere of dissatisfaction behind her.
The woman who had entered cleared her throat for the fourth time and Weston heard the paper finally shuffle. She could very clearly picture the sharp gray eyes peering annoyed over the top as if wishing to frighten any intruder away. Sierra had a certain hardship with women. She found them irksome.
“Did you need something?” The sharp tone cut through the silence with the suddenness of a guillotine. Weston felt the annoyance intensify on both sides and resolved to remain a safe distance from the line of fire.
More silence ensued in which both woman were clearly unwilling to break the silence. Weston knew Sierra would win in the end. Sure enough the wispy lady who had intruded on Sierra’s solitude now blinked, cleared her throat slightly and opened her mouth to speak. Before the words could come however Sierra’s stinging voice erupted.
“No, I’m afraid it’s quite impossible. You see, I am not one to assist in petty architectural conflicts and silly disagreements between landlords and designers.” The paper was shoved to the floor and Sierra slumped moodily back into her armchair.
“Miss-?” The silence made it clear Sierra was not willing to divulge her name. The woman swallowed again, clearly debating whether it was worth her time putting up with such insolence. She closed her eyes momentarily and when she opened them they seemed much clearer and more determined. “My name is Margaret Lestrange” Sierra snorted in contempt but Mrs. Lestrange chose to ignore this as she proceeded undeterred.
“I have recently employed an architectural designer by the name of Conwell. Many hours I have spent instructing it on the exact design of the home in which I would desire to be established in its new resort to be opened. Perhaps you have heard of the Conwell Project?” Sierra only opened her eyes and gazed scornfully at the lady before her.
“I take it you have then. This project is not inexpensive, as I’m sure you are aware. It has cost me a better half of my fortune to be ensured a plot in this underwater resort. As events have turned Conwell has simply refused to adhere to my desire to have an air filter not of his make. You see, the 7X300 is only being used because Conwell has a deal with the monopoly which increases the financial advantage of the landlord. I, however, desire the Tribune air purifier to be utilized in my new home, of which I am legal owner.” There was another long moment of silence in which it was clear that both parties were holding each other in high levels of contempt.
“You may then, be wondering why I have come to you.”
“Not at all.” Both woman had thin lips and both were tightened. One in extreme annoyance and the other in general exasperation.
“It is quite a simple matter, really.” Sierra seemed to have resolved that the best way to get back to her solitude was to get through this affair as quickly as possible.
“Clearly you were disturbed and put out at the clear contradiction to your request. Upon discussing the matter with Conwell your interest became more than purely material. You began to suspect something fowl. This you intended to hide, however, the intensity of your conversation with Conwell meant you let your suspicions slip. Things became dangerous, and you left. Now you are faced with the simple problem that he is denying your purchase of a lot in this resort. You wish me to look into the matter, find the legal fault in the proceedings. Purely for financial gain? You are the largest investor, meaning the project would invariably fall to you.” Mrs. Lestrange’s mouth tightened even more and there was silence.
“Oh, and to think this all started because your cats hair changed colors with the 7X3000.” Sierra folded her thin long fingers and peered over them at her would be client. “That’s one expensive whim.”
There was more cutting silence. Finally the lady rose and placed a small flash-drive upon the table. “If you should change your mind about taking the case you will find any information necessary in these files. They contain my reasons for suspicion.” The wispy form turned and exited the flat without another word.
Weston looked up from where she had been pretending to be busy with fixing the small oval object that served as a doorbell.
There was more silence. Sierra reached one long arm down, collected the papers, and returned to her hidden position behind their sheets.
“Well?” Weston ventured the question after she deemed that the air had relaxed slightly.
“What do you think about the case?”
There was a heavy sigh and the paper shuffled. “What case?”
“Why, the one you were just given!”
“My dear Weston, that can hardly be deemed a ‘case’, as you so often like to refer to them. There is really no mystery at all.” She pulled the pages closer to her face, as if wishing to signal she was done with the conversation. Weston carried on, however.
“How can you say that, we have no idea what Conwell is up to. In fact, now that my attention has been directed towards the project I begin to wonder how he can possibly sell the ability to breath and live under water like an Atlantian.”
More silence. Weston resolved to drop the topic for the moment and she went to hang up the temporarily repaired doorbell. When she came back inside the flat she heard Sierra muttering to herself.
“Lestrange.” She said audibly and looked in Weston’s direction. “That name.”
“Hmm? What about it?”
“Bellatrix Lestrange, don’t you remember from the old Harry Potter stories?”
Weston shook her head. “I’ve never read them. You know I don’t have your taste for ancient literature. Why is the name of interest?”
Sierra was silent for a moment. “I don’t trust the name.” It was barely a whisper. Sierra repositioned her newspaper to be in front of her face
Weston smiled in the direction of the shuffling paper and pulled on her black leather helmet.
“Well, let me know if you think of anything brilliant other than a general distaste for genealogy. I’m going out.” With that she left the flat and the silent, cold form of a woman lost in thought.
Sierra sat motionless for a long while. There were times when complete silence enveloped her. The sound muted walls encased her with her thoughts. She had long since grown accustomed to silence. Hours passed without a single noise. She did not move, she sat still, legs crossed arms resting on her knees, perched in her chair. Something rang. Something in her mind. Old calls coming through, thoughts connecting the line. What was it? Sierra’s eyes opened languidly. “Oh.” The simple word pierced the silence. Air filters were out of place like a statement in a line of enquiry. They slipped by, but why… why did everyone just accept them? How did an underwater house get air? And how did a desperate Atlantian child not….
Fragrant memories drift in hazy sunshine,
Broken beams of light slide over time.
Hands that had slipped, over the line.
Dazzling acts clandestinely shift and mime.
Time brought us here, it will take us there.
The highways of imagination slip nooses.
If one knows nothing, they cannot compare.
All the dragons leap up to call their truces.
And we wouldn’t dare.
What if I were to write down everything I thought and felt? Would I even be able to understand what it was I was thinking?
What is logic and reason but something to be tied and directed by emotions? And what are emotions but your soul needing to be bound and restrained by reason? We are one body; our emotions and our reason are two halves, but they are two halves that make a whole. It is so easy for us to blame the one for hurting the other, but the fact still remains that neither one is inherently responsible for the shortcomings of this life. I looked at the sun and my eyes burned so I could not see for a good ten minutes. That was not the fault of the sun, nor a failure on the part of my eyes, but rather the stupidity of the leader (being my brain). Our minds (namely our reason and our emotions) are but tools to be yielded by ourselves. If we do not acknowledge that there must be a balance, then we will never realize the full potential of either one. Reason is lifeless on its own, and passions groundless. So how does one start? How does one begin the journey of achieving the balance that is needed? The sun would be useless without the eyes, but the eyes would have no purpose if they could not see by the light of the sun. Reason is like our eyes; We see the world with it, reason should be the basis for all we do. Emotions are like the sun. We do not see with them, but by them we see everything. Emotions can change, just as the lighting. When our emotions change they will not alter our sound reason, they will not change who we are, but they do seem to change how we see the world around us.
If I were to attempt to explain my soul, words would fall short. Because reason cannot live in the realm of emotion. Likewise it is nearly impossible for your sound mind to think something it cannot explain, reason is king there. The balance comes when we give each their place. It is like a well constructed power plant: the reason is the wires that channel the emotion (namely the electricity) to its proper destination. We cannot be happy when we conquer one with the other. The sooner we hold both reins in our hands, the sooner the buggy will run straight. The sooner we open our eyes, the sooner we will see.