Dark in the Lightness: The Prologue
Dies iræ! dies illa
Solvet sæclum in favilla
Teste David cum Sibylla!
Day of wrath! O day of mourning!
See fulfilled the prophets' warning
Heaven and earth in ashes burning!
flammis acribus addictis:
voca me cum benedictis...
...While the wicked are confounded,
doomed to flames of woe unbounded
call me with thy saints surrounded...
Pie Jesu Domine,
dona eis requiem. Amen.
Lord, all pitying, Jesus blest,
grant them thine eternal rest. Amen.
Before her, borne amidst the swallowing blackness, were bombardments of voices and sounds: memories. Memories falling. Those precious visions of crystal...plunging deeper and deeper into the well of her subconscious mind, already in shards. The shards had once been a vase of refulgent crystalline. The vase a life full lived. And yet it was empty. It needed not spill over with the wine of good fortune or with the water of untainted purity. The vase itself was life in its solidity. Time was ingrained within it. The precious side of time. The side we savor as it sweetens hopes and dreams, past and present in our mouths like the very bread of the earth. This side of time's rarified face is what nourishes the child in the womb, what springs the flower from the prison of its bud, what gives love a nudge to its feet as if it were a newborn colt so that love may suckle from life itself and flourish and grow strong on its own accord. This sentimental side of time draws beauty out of itself. It muses over the majesties of the earth: music, art, philosophy, literature. They are its fruit.
But there is another divison of time's face. The side that crushes, rots, scars and distorts. The side that shatters. It swipes at life's virginal body with its claws, tearing savagely at its delicate being until only shards remain. Falling. It waits in the shadows for every living being until the day it prevails and attacks; stopping the breath, stilling the pulse. Forever. This sordid side of time took from her everything precious that its half brother had bestowed upon her: the child, above all. And it would be her murderer. It thirsted for her blood even then as she struggled lightly for breath. She did not struggle for herself, but for Faustine. And for him. She had always thought herself a dissapointment. Would he ever forgive her for letting him go again? She had promised him, never again...
She could sense hot breath down the back of her neck as that demon of time drew nearer. The feeling of the taffeta bedcover fell away in her grasp as only the final pulse of the passing moments consumed every physical nerve. What was there before her eyes seemed only a vision. The girl...in tears at her side. Tears so sweet but so full of sorrow fell unfelt to her trembling hand. How she longed to speak, to tell her how terribly she would swell her beautiful golden eyes for the mourning ceremonies. She could only think of those eyes. They seemed to her the only thing left mystifying to this world. They captivated her, even as she stood on life's edge, overlooking the void. Those eyes. True windows to the soul of the most wonderful of all creation.
She remembered what had been, still unable to speak from sheer weakness. Memories that bound together years of love poisoned with heartache. All of what was scorned and baren and lifeless-the desert- but at its heart bore fruit- the oaisis. Memories that transcended time...that stretched across miles. They came to their end at the recolection of a certain paradise. She smiled, knowing the girl was there, somewhere near before her. That paradise had given her the gift now weeping into her own numbed hands. She felt the arid wind blowing against her face. Grasses whispering love sonnets to the waters that fed them life. Stars serenading with light . She could feel, as if it were as "there" as the fabric against her wilting cheek, the warmth of the sand newly plunged from heat into the flushing cool of night. And heartbeat, close and intense with passion...the heartbeat that now moved hers through the struggle to hold on. It would guide her safely to the edge of the threshold.
With listless blue eyes glazing over, she could feel only the reverberations of sound around her. Sounds that were truly there danced with those of long ago. Voices. Someone was screaming at the top of their lungs. She knew it must be Faustine, shrieking for her to come back with every last ounce of herself she could muster.
Or was it of a poor woman, one in the foaming sea of hundreds, crying out in desparation from the insufferable pain, from the pits of grief, alongside the procession? Her first born lay dying in her arms; she called out- voice drowning in the multitudes of the spitting and the cursing- for his salvation alone as a substance white as cow's milk mingled with the tears that flowed from her shrouded eyes. The horse in front would spook, for out of the many- the terrible many- this is the one that would make even the animal spirit cry out in lament. This is the one that would haunt the woman falling limp on the brink of departure from the bitterness of the earth. Perhaps it was this voice.
Substancial in depth, blasphemous in tone, the screaming spilentered through the mental silence that so often heralds the final hour. Even so, it did not disturb her. She had lived through hells far worse. Within moments it would cease, nothing was more certain to her now. And so she waited, not even flinching at this prismatic echo of the wails. The voice, to whomever it belonged, screamed for something that went far beyond basic human need. Whatever it was... it called out for a miracle beyond miracles. It called for some unorthodox savior. It called for an unfathomable act of justice even when there is not even a flicker of hope left to quench it.
The loss of hope lacerates the human spirit. It steals away everything a being has left to build a foundation of existance upon. And so the foundation crumbles- like a city set aflame. What was once splinded and prosperous reduced to only ash. But what then? Even in smoldering dust lies the beauty of what it once was. A vestage. The broken human spirit is no different. Somewhere beneath the wretched ugliness of scorn, defilement, suffering and unfruitful sacrifice lies the one undying beauty that cannot and will not smolder under time's searing flame. Love. Man must overcome his fear of darkness, facing what disgusts him to the very pits of his soul to unearth love in its purest form. Compassion. And maybe, at the same time, he will overcome the darkness within himself...and, perhaps, discover the compassion.
Suddenly, the pleading cries echoing about in her delirious mind became words of a different time and place, ringing off like gunfire in rapid, executionist's succession. Words of tormented anguish, of battle and the crossing of swords. Hoofbeats in sands interwined with howls of pain, bellows of triumph, driving rain and soft, tender vespers of love, the strongest of all. Phantom sacraments of her disheveled past. But through this loud mirage of torrent echoed what would never be lost to her, even as she leaned back aghast, struck and awaiting the stony grip of death:
"Trust in me."
The time demon's hot breath against her neck was not its own anymore. She welcomed the moist brush of air, for it was the last feeling her physical senses would interpret. It was not the exhale of impending death. She did not fear it, for the breath belonged to the heartbeat, she knew and believed, that imbalmed her in its rhythm. That sweet breath kept her alive. She would trust it, love it, follow it to the ends of the earth. Until her final pulse...
How she would remember him after her passage into true and total light. How could she forget him? How could she forsake him...again?
And it was in this moment of freefalling memory that she would embrace, in finality, what had shaped the life that now lay behind her: Time is one. Without evil there cannot be a defined good. Without darkness there is no light.
The beautiful side of time's face cannot exist without its scorned, fatal half. They are one. They are life.
There was nothing left for her to regret.
And as the final refractions of those splintering shards were eaten up by a new kind of darkness- a kinder side of darkness, much like the lighter side of time- she fell back into the arms of her angel and was still at last.
What was shattered was made whole again.