Welcome Home.

by Nicholas Siennicki

She might have looked back, just then, for a second. She might have, but she didn’t. A part of her told her to do it, just to tear back her eyes and feel that rush, that excitement, that spirit that still lingered heavy in the air. It would be just the way it was it seemed to tell her, it would be perfect.

But no. No it wouldn’t.

It was there, though, in that second, that all the truth of the world, all reality, spread out open before her, waiting for her to grasp at it. But would she? Could she even manage? We’ve all been there, don’t you think, standing in the threshold and waiting for the shadow to flee as you moved forwards, moved on. That creeping, clinging black mass that bore its sick little way into your mind, clouding your vision and sending you spiraling into the morass, oh, yes, that.

She dropped her head down and tried to tease a foot over the barrier.

What was she complaining over, anyway? She had made her mistakes, she had invited that sickness in, in the first place. Or had it always been a sickness? Had the black mist not once been clouds? Or was it that it just felt like clouds. What was the difference, anyway? Between those wispy fleeting strands of white promise and the suffocating sludge that coursed through her hacking lungs. Between the past that depressed her and the future that filled her with anxiety. Between this side of the door and the other?

Of course, there was a difference. Of course. Right?

She wanted someone to crawl up behind her, to shoo away all those silly inconsequential thoughts that felt ever so real, and to tell her hey, you’ve got this, I believe in you. It was vain, and she knew it. You know it too. It was a pithy plea for pity and reconciliation. For someone to trust her, for no reason. For something better than the something she felt right now. For an explanation of what happened, and what she did, and what had happened, and why she had been such a failure. Do you believe that? That she was a failure? I, of course—I know what you think. But she doesn’t. So why don’t you go ahead and tell her? It’s what she needs right now.

Oh, that’s right, you won’t.

But why not? Can’t you see that sad girl, leering dangerously over the edge, hair cast down over the jagged crags of a face drenched in wet regret and dry surrender? Can’t you feel her breath, squeezed out from her crushed ribs and shrugged frame, and her body shaking as though a petulant god was idly casting about dice, or playing with a rattle? Can’t you taste that metallic blood, slipping over the edges of reality and splashing in the middle of all decisions, in the middle of her despair. I know. I know you can. Hearing the squishing and slurping grind of teeth rending fat, fleshy lips. Smelling whatever is leftover.

That’s why you don’t help her, isn’t it?

She stands there, ruined, wrecked, and just a little vapid. Translucent under the right light, choking under her own weight. You can see through her, you can understand her. You can be here if the moment is right. But she, she is trapped on that threshold, trapped in that sequence of time, trapped in your conceptualization of her, isn’t she? Anyway, there she is. Arms pressed into the door frame, large eyes, suggesting innocence, wrinkled with years of fear, a mouth, once full, pressed tight, no doubt with some reflection of sustained misery, and sallow cheeks made gaunt by a mysterious past you just can’t wait to unravel. Sink your teeth into her, that’s why she exists, isn’t it?

Let’s imagine you reach out.

Sorry, I’ll speak honestly.

Let’s imagine I force you to reach out. You’re here now, come to the threshold yourself if you are still here anyway. And you reach out. You haven’t a choice, just like her. Try to resist: see, you’ve failed. You reach out, and let’s be fair here, you reach out in your own way. I’m not saying you’re my perfect little pet, the way she’s supposed to be. You’re just you, and I’m telling what you must do.

She almost gasps as your hands are there, opposite her, offering to pull her through the door. And in that moment, you can look over her shoulder and see what she has lived through. You’re not offering her comfort, you have no ability to do that. All you can do, and all you will do, is absorb all the information you can.

And here, here is the one moment, where she steps past that border and into your arms, where I can say to you what you can say to her:

“Welcome home.”


Image Credit: Mamadou Gaye, entre ombres et lumières

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