Absence – a story

I had the distinct honor of working with a local photographer named Brian Morrissey for an arts event called VOICES. I was to write a story based on a picture he had taken. Brian gave me several images to pick from and I had the crazy notion that I could make something using all of the pictures.
It’s not the same without the images but, here is the story.


It was absence.

It was the feeling of the world falling away and there being nothing beneath.

I looked to the sky, to the trees, to the fields and felt nothing.

It was as if a soft breeze had blown, softly, slowly, over years, over decades, and had, bit by bit, wiped away my face and my identity, until there was nothing left.

I was a shadow.

A shade.

A phantom, unconnected to anything but the emptiness.

The sky turned gray.

The trees turned black.

And I, I was the blinding light of nothingness, all features, all distinction, all personality lost in the glare of absence.

Because it was absence that I felt.

The absence of me.

I had heard all my life that I had to worship at an altar, at a mirror, at a desk, at the feet of another and I did it, I did it all but never once worshipped that which was me. I focused so much on others, or on the image of myself that the heart of me was lost. The core of me. The me of me.

I lost my reflection while looking at the image of others.

And it was absence.

It was nothingness.

It was the loneliness of the dead.

And I let it take me, the darkness, hoping to drown in it and be done with the burning pain of the cold.

And like revelation, like epiphany, like damnation itself the cold intensified until I could stand it no longer, then was gone.



Gone like self, like hope, like everything else I had lost to the mill of a person grown angry and hard and desperate to rage at that which they could not join or control.

And in that emptiness was calm, a peace I had never felt before.

In that peace I saw a man who said love and I did, I saw a goddess who said dream and I did, I saw a man who laughed and I laughed with him, and last I saw a girl who said hope, and I did.

Then a million things at once –

The cold was replaced by heat that poured out from within.

The darkness was filled with a light that grew with each of my heartbeats.

And I opened to the world like a flower, spreading wide petals that had been closed and feeding on the light of a world I had forgotten could be so beautiful.

The world flooded in on me and exploded in beauty that made me weep.

And the world was beautiful,

And those within the world were beautiful.

And I was beautiful.

I smiled into the sunshine and greeted the sky, the trees, and the fields as old friends that had not been lost but misplaced.

I smiled to those who had thought me undead, a zombie with nothing left to offer and wanting only to take.

And I smiled to myself, to my self, not lost but forgotten and revived by losing me completely. And it was only through its loss did I find its value and only through the loss of my self that I learned to love myself again.

And it was completion, and it was divine.


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