Absolute Zero

For so long, days and nights have just been marking time on a clock. Scratching marks on the wall, like a prisoner awaiting release despite the fact that the sentence is life.

Waking up to the sun, the moon, the stars -the half-hearted belief that I would awake when I closed my eyes and the half-empty doubt that I would not. Trying to scrape up the need to care about that -what if I die tonight? What if I don’t wake up? Does it even matter?

Shuffling along, the wraith in my own life, the gray of the dawn succumbing to the gloom of noon, then sinking into the darkness of night. An endless repeat, a ceaseless loop, where everything and everyone changed and grew and blossomed and peaked then died.

Life was ashes and grey. Trapped in doing the same things every single day, the exact same way at the -almost- exact same time.

Then life began to feel more like torture. What new pain would I face today? What brand would some careless word sear into my skin? Who would stab my ribcage today? Whose unkind word would drive me to tears? 

Bleeding so much, it couldn’t just be all in my head. Words hurt, and the heart cries; actions hurt and the soul dies.

The gray of melancholy had succumbed to the red of a bleeding sky, and there wasn’t enough tears or napkins in the world to wash it away.

I learned that friends were just a label for future enemies, people who would use the information shared to shatter and destroy. That people who swore to stay with me, would desert at the slightest indication of bad times.

Acutely, I learned what it meant to be alone. And I learned to be okay with that.

Then came fire and fury. The blazing sear of anger that consumed me and rode me like a foul incantation. The few times I seized control were breathtaking, but mostly, that tiger was riding me. I didn’t care -I just didn’t care anymore.

Burn it all, blaze it to ashes, raze the bridges and burn the cities.

Why play and pretend? We both know, we all know. So let the truth be known.

But when the flame burns brightly, the shadows are even deeper and between the flames ran the inky stain of despair. 

What use is tomorrow, when there really isn’t today?

Abruptly, the flames that had consumed and destroyed ran out of fuel. There were no more enemies to flay, no more demons to slay. And thus it was, that the flames of my hate turned back to consume me. 

It was many years before the fires died, and only ashes and scorched earth remained. The rains fell, but it was many years before the first plant could grow. The single, stubborn seed that had survived the gray and blood, the despair and pain, the fury and flood, began to grow.

Slowly. Incrementally.

One leaf, two leaves.

Years later, a scraggly sapling loomed over the barren wasteland, and the winds buffeted it from all sides. It wasn’t the straightest sapling -far from it- but it was a fighter and wouldn’t break, no matter how the winds would bow it to its knees.

The sapling didn’t grow alone. Stolen snatches of sun would shine, a stray cloud would shelter it, forgotten stakes would support it.

It didn’t grow alone.


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