These days she floats about him limply, desperate for a moment where he would turn to see, but of course he does not. There were things she would have liked to tell him but he could not hear her. The master said that he could if he has cared enough to listen for her voice, but he did not believe she was still around. So she floats around him limply waiting for that moment.
What would she say? Nothing exists as a whole on its own, sir. That was the first thing she learnt when she got to the place. Everything depended on the other, the left on the right, the top on the bottom and everything hinged on its opposition. And the master sat in that chair in the middle silently waiting — she has not found out what for. But if she floated about less and stayed in the control room more she might have learnt that. Her mind though, was still on him.
Let him go whispered the sugar plum fairies that had carried her home, or we might lose you. She tried; she had gone to the old woman with wrinkles many times to ask for help in letting go but the old woman just looked at her and shook her head. That is a task you must do on your own. She did not know how. So she lingered.
These days his mind floats from subject to subject. His days are numbered, Maya. The master said, Just wait. But he might go the wrong way and she needed to make sure he came to her. She did not trust him enough to know for sure. It seemed like he just touched things briefly — the things he saw, heard, the words he read — and then coming out feeling completely dissatisfied having trudged through the day touching nothing, feeling nothing, being nothing. She had become intolerant with his ways, the weight of his resignation heavy, as life passed him by, a little quicker each day. And the more of it he lets pass, the less he grabs hold of. It would be the end of them if he was found without, and not within it. He needed to learn with all his might to throw himself into the midst of it, but would he know how, did he ever? Do we ever, master, stop knowing old revelations?
A recent conflict came to his mind, she saw, and she remembered the exact conversation. Balance is a funny thing. That conversation was never really had and all the words she had wanted to share was still stuck in her throat unsaid. They never got out because they never fought. Balance is gotten from fully immersing in either side and that is why we have all been given a side. Male, female. Dark, light. For him balance is achieved by silence, by withdrawing. He did not see that his silence was a turning away that would lead to a failure of yet another chance to communicate. Sides collide before understanding. Collision comes before balance that is the space where they have learnt to gently touch. Maybe he just was not interested in finding balance, they always tell her. And that made her sad.
She watched him as he floated and in that moment she felt the urge to feel him come to a fullness within her. If she could shed tears, she would for the times she had never felt him. Because he never stood, he never fought and she never knew which side he was on. You don’t need to be on my side but you need to be willing to fight. Her appeals fell to the ground and like a cheap glass shattered.
He shed himself of his shirt as she watched. His hands peeled off his pants and he stepped into the shower cleaning himself with a vigour and thoroughness that was so characteristic of him. Detailed, too detailed. Yet, he was always afraid of being eroded and she felt his skin thicken, calloused in some places, to protect itself from the constant scrubbing.
She closed her eyes and at that moment the fairies stopped singing, the old woman froze and the master watched silently. She placed her fingers on the nape of his neck, feeling for the edge of the skin. When she found it her fingers began to peel it down his spine in an unzipping motion. She lifted her left feet and stepped in filling his body slowly. What she had not known was this — that his body had not learnt to be full and in that fullness it collapsed. He turned inside himself to face her as he shrieked with laughter before slipping out from under her, and there in the shower he left them, his body and her.
And now, everyday as she walked bearing his skin grieving about the burden that she had taken upon herself to be him, the sugar plum fairies cry waiting for the day she will be free, again.
Raina believes that there is more to surfaces than meets the eye, and the truth lies beneath skins and facades.
* Featured image by Abby Tai.