Chapter Six

Thick chunks of ice broke off the great continent, the size of Rhode Island, and into the ocean it went, floating, melting, alone. One degree hotter and everything would melt. The oceans swelling up, crashing deep into the eastern seaboard, flooding the Americas all the way to the divide. I didn’t have a mountain yet; I would perish along with the rest of them. Walls crumbling and glass buildings shattering down, pulled by the lapping waves and scattered across the prairie. Metal twisting and binding, concrete cracked and eroded. Fire on water. Explosions in the sea. Everything reduced to nothing.

In the West the fires rage all summer. Spontaneous combustion in the desolate, dry wilderness, reeking havoc in the outskirts of the populous. They send in helicopters, cloud jumpers, the extreme elite professionals to tame the beast. The fire spreads reducing National forests to ashes. Thousands of acres scorched and burned. Habitats dispersed seeking refuge further into the depleting woods. Some say it will all burn; everything will perish. Everything will return to the Earth.

When I lived in the East the fire didn’t affect me. I never understood the severity, the ferocity. I would see it and feel a certain way, but I felt that the feeling I had was me telling myself to feel, not actually feeling. A self inflicted grief for something I couldn’t fathom. Ironically just before I set off westward the flame touched me. Chipping away my ice with fiery heat I felt sick. I couldn’t take the heat. I couldn’t take another summer sweating, red dry peeling skin suffocating my pores.

My sights were set on ice. I drove a transit into the heart of the divide. A cold summer laced with white crystals of frozen snow. I was able to remain frozen. Warmth from whiskey was the only fire I knew. It heated my core just enough to keep the icicles off my veins. A cold sweat anticipated through liquid poison. Vomiting chunks of ice cubes, bitter bile breached blasphemously. Even in my secluded, cold delirium the fire wouldn’t stop.

It spread out over the prairie, rushing, gaining momentum up the mountain. It hurled hastily toward me. In those times I was too weak. I cradled the fire for a few nights, let it work its’ way into the pit of my stomach. I recoiled when the flames attempted to suppress my form, puncturing ice, melting me down and savagely stealing oxygen. I sent the fire away. I needed ice. That sweet, timeless essence of self transition. Locked in a fixed state of catatonia. No need for cradle. No need for touch. No want of anything. Just ice.

In the sub-alpine I waited for what seemed years. A constant numb, a constant buzz. A constant retaliation of humanity. Before I ascended I craved stripping identity. In the sub-alpine, I forgot everything I knew. I forgot why I was even there in the first place. Slowly over halted time perception was cloaked and diminished.

One morning I woke in the whiteout, covered with crystals of blistering snow. I was solid, rigid with ice. My cheeks however burned with a sensation like no other. Oh how it burned. Scorched red, raw meat from my face tender to the falling snow. I howled out in anger, frustration. A violent violation of desolate security vexed with coagulated ventilation.

Artemis and I fled the mountains. Still we were lost on the journey to happiness. Clouded by anger, manipulated by deceit. We fumbled up and down mountain passes and across vast stretches of cacti wastelands. My appreciation waned. I was death. Consuming the world’s beauty and shitting out shards of ice. I can’t remember how long I carried on this way. It stretched across dozens of states, meandered through every capitol and intersecting highway. It even went abroad. The numbness carried me through twenty three countries. A vague remembrance of walking, steadfast to nowhere. Sleeping on rocks, concrete, soil. Like the flash of an ancient camera, bursting glass on the floor; singularly captured, flashes of life painstakingly brought to the frontal cortex for examination and then stored in the photo albums of short-term memory. Stored, but temporarily lost in the fading of consciousness.

After an immeasurable lapse of time I landed on the dismal, dreary shore of Shelter Cove. When I came too, I looked down at my hands. They were thick callouses of leather. Beaten and battered. But they were hands of pink. No ice, no dripping, soggy wet prunes. They were stiff and dry. I looked at my feet. The same. Thick callous, beaten and dry. My head swirled. I was dizzy with an overwhelming sensation of self-awareness.

For hours the waves crashed around me while I dug my hands in and out of the soot colored sand. Warmth radiated throughout my body. When the sun popped its’ head out of the wavering clouds I looked up in shock. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt the rays on my bare skin. There was always something cloaked around my body, shielding me from sun. It felt like the sweet crumbling of a ravenous hangover. Dizzy and dumbfounded, almost drooling at the mouth, fine motor functions reduced to balling sand in my weak fists.

Suddenly I realized that I was feeling but I was too tired and deranged to mask it. Nothing was forced or jaded; in the constant lapping waves I felt my inevitable ebb and flow. I felt the pull of the ocean, the desire to crash on land. Everything moves in waves. Everything yearns for life. Take me to the sea for I am finally free.

Chapter Seven