To sleep, perchance to dream
Back then, I was something else.
Once I was destiny, plotting out an infinity of paths in a labyrinth of time where each fork diverged into another fork and each crossroad only let to another crossroad. This was a labyrinth of choices, one taken and the others forgotten. I watched you choose one after another, lost in your own self, thinking each choice you made was yours to make alone. But there were others and they chose exactly as you did. Only you would never meet them. You would never even know they exist. And even if your paths did cross, each would go your separate ways, not knowing that the world you held was the world they held too.
Once I was dream, amorphous and everywhere. I was a child, wandering through a meadow, fascinated by the robin and the blue jay, enthralled by the red wingtips of a massive butterfly and scared of the tall, thick shadow cast by the oak. I was a woman, lying in bed and wishing desperately for it to stop, seizing a hard, metal ashtray from the bedside table and smashing it into a head, blood as thick as molasses and hot as the sun trickling onto my skin and marking me for life. I was an old man, walking through the streets of the city, bent over my gnarled wooden stick, a candy wrapper stuck to my shoe, a long forgotten tune on my lips, my eyes on the distant horizon and my long-gone wife in my heart. I was a butterfly, dreaming I was a man. Or was it the other way around?
Once I was death, answering questions I didn’t know the answers to. I stood by empty cots, mangled cars, fallen buildings and the back of buildings. I stood on towers and bridges. I hung from ceiling fans and the branches of old, old trees. I lay in wells, discarded and in ditches, forgotten. I walked on ocean floors and fell from burning airplanes. And all those times, you asked me, what happens next. As if I had the answer. I am merely a conduit, I wanted to say. I am that which separates the black from the grey and the grey from the white. I am the crack in between, the line over which you must cross. I am neither here nor there. But instead, I heard myself say, what comes next irrelevant. What came before is all that matters. No one gets anything special. You get what everyone gets. First you dream, then you die.
These days, I am no one new.