In response to a writing prompt by my friend Michael Jenkins:
I couldn’t tell what time it was. Honestly, time didn’t seem to be a thing that mattered anymore. Did it ever? Mist and tree moss became like air to me. It was all around me and in plentiful quantity. My eyes were desperately peeled for anything that differentiated itself from the earthy smell or sound of leaves crunching over topsoil. No grazing deer, no shooting star across the rustling canopy. Just nothing but the same. I never imagined it could feel so empty in a place so full. I never imagined I could feel so alone anywhere. Alone for what seems like eternity. Where was I before I was lost here?
Who was I before…?
A sudden tingle ran down my spine. I felt nauseated when it passed along my loins and hipbones. What was that? It fell like the wind carried an answer to my question. When I asked it I felt immediately both foolish and frightened. I couldn’t seem to remember myself, but shuddered to almost hear my forgotten name being called from across the distance. I knew I couldn’t survive the sudden shattering of my isolation, so I turned around slowly in case someone was actually there. Was anybody there? Dear God, please somebody be there.
A bit more than a quarter turn of my body and I was able to see a flickering orange spark. Again, a wave of reminiscence washed over me from that direction. As if I was being called by a name that had escaped me. What could one do when being called but to follow and answer? Anything to escape the solitude. To get help.
It was less walking toward the light, more like being drawn. Like falling sideways, facilitated by unwitting legs. The sound was louder now, but still indistinguishable over what seemed to be a howling wind. It pushed away as strongly as the urge to move toward the glow pulled.
Closer and closer now. I’d grown so accustomed to the chill of night air I’d forgotten what warmth feels like. It felt like life. How had I forgotten what life feels like? Life. There was something moving around the light. Shadows flitting about, eclipsing it briefly every so often. Sun and Moon. Solar and lunar occultation. It was a fire.
The shadows must be people. Even as I watched them I still couldn’t see them. Tall wisps of veiled motion. The wind was strongest here. The call was loudest here. I could almost make out syllables. Consonance. Meaning. Even faces began to draw themselves on the indecipherable figures. I could see their faces. It only then occurred to me that they had stopped dancing. That they were all looking at me. That they could see me. They were waiting for me. Calling me.
Who was I before I was here? How could I have forgotten what life feels like? Here I am. Why have you called me? The fire grows.