By Casey Douglass
as part of #fridayflash
He sat hunched over on the worm eaten log, the warmth of the winter sun doing nothing to heat the deceased tree trunk. He scuffed his feet through the crinkly carpet of brown leaves, some emaciated to a skeletal degree.
The low sun forced its lack lustre light through the sentinel-like trees, their scuffed and pitted trunks casting zebra patterns across the ground, across one tip of one of his shoes. He adjusted his foot a little, trying to sense any heat in his toes.
He looked at the ground with unblinking eyes, the chill breeze unnoticed where it buffeted him, but pin pricks of his attention were aware of the leaves arcing and bending as they scrabbled over each other in a queer race to nowhere.
His mind turned inward, searching for some spark or presence that he could call “him”. All he found was a void, the echoes of his thoughts snuffed out by its all encompassing presence. He spurred his mind onwards, the strange duality unheeded as if in a dream, watching himself watching himself and yet was in control of both parts.
The sun shifted slightly and began to shine onto his left cheek, the light indeed having some small measure of warmth, on naked skin at the least. A further portion of his mind split off and danced around the fringe of this spotlight, welcoming it and probing it for usefulness. This part revelled as the furnace glow expanded and blew through mental chambers and cloisters unused for many years, their darkest corners sizzling and stirring in renewed industry.
A small beep jerked him to motion, his eyes blinking rapidly as the various parts of him vied for attention. The correct parts thus corralled, he reached into his pocket and retrieved his smart-phone.
“Rubylips Wants To Meet You!” a small banner with a heart icon flashing next to it proclaimed. He snorted and cleared the notification from one of the handful of dating apps installed on his phone. He shoved it back into his pocket, the familiar tides of loneliness and unworthiness percolating to the forefront of his consciousness. He didn’t buy it any more. The only women who wanted to meet him were the ones who just looked at his photo. They never read his profile. They would never click to meet if they had.
The sunlight shone on his lap, his hands acquiring a surreal looking halo. Holding them up, he turned them around and around, marvelling at how something so glowing could feel so cold. He lined them up side by side, pushing the edges of each thumb together and splaying out his fingers in a butterfly fashion. He pivoted his wrists to make the wings flap of his butterfly, his butterfly digitalis, the light playing strangely across his finger nails. He was pretty sure that the Latin meant something else but was pleased with the aesthetic of the word.
He wondered what kind of butterfly could be born from an abyss, a place of dead feeling and unearthly air currents. It would have to be a hardy one indeed. He reflected on the idea that in fact, it had actually been born, the seed of his thought setting other mechanisms in motion to bring him to that moment, his hands fluttering in the darkening woodland, his mind lifted once more to brighter things, even if for only a short moment.
Pain lanced across his lower back breaking the spell. He struggled to stand, his joints and nerves complaining of sitting too long in such inclement weather. Stretching to work out the kinks, he slowly headed off, his feet shuffling through the loam and leaves, his thoughts on a new track. Maybe if an abyss could give birth to a butterfly, what does it matter of what is inside, if it brings interesting and amazing things into the world. Things that could inspire and build, or destroy and deceive. It was less an abyss and more the ultimate creative well, sometimes reflecting what is thrown in, other times birthing wholly new creations of awe and might. A cold shiver traced along his spine.
His phone beeped. He left it in his pocket. He walked slowly, his eyes drawn from one trunk to the next, a casual pace, light to dark...light to dark, and gradually lost himself amongst the trees.