My feet move on the snowy sidewalk, each one so heavy that
making the next step seems impossible every time. Breathing
takes effort, as the weight of thoughts and emotions sits on my
shoulders like a pair of murderous angel’s clawed feet. How can
my chest expand to take in air? How can my feet lift from the
ground in any direction, when no destination convinces my soul it
is better than the last?
I’ve walked towards the manor forever. Thoughts? There
were some at first, but after a while even they flattened under
the burden of my desolation. The manor, bearing a striking
resemblance to Jack Nicholson’s in “The Witches of Eastwick”, has
danced at the end of this endless sidewalk since I started
towards it. At times, I doubted I could ever reach it, but
eventually my feet touch the stairs leading to the door. I
knock, and for the first time it occurs to me that there might be
The butler, a man who resembles Lurch (without the quirky
clothes or made-for-film oddity), opens the door with a faint
look of surprise. My knock, a steady and defeated series of
thuds, sounded unlike my cheery raps. Startled out of his
perfect demeanor of detachment, he gestures me in. Head down, I
proceed into the entryway and begin to take off my own coat. I
have only seen my shoes for days.
His hands move to remove my coat, but for an instant he
merely rests them on my shoulders. I can feel his presence
behind me, mutely ready to offer any comfort or assistance I
could request. Instead, I merely stand there absorbing that very
sensation. The possibility of comfort can accomplish as much as
-- or more -- than comfort itself, on some days. I inhale,
drawing in the reality of support, and the pounds on my soul lift
just the smallest amount. I nod, barely, and he gently removes
my coat. The damage I feel I have taken makes me feel brittle,
and I can’t raise my eyes or turn to face him. My appearance
would crack, and the bleak light of my tainted self would show
weakly but visibly to all. Instead, when he puts a hand on my
shoulder again, I place mine over it and then slip out from under
it. Slowly, I make my way down the entryway and to the left, and
towards the fishtanks.
The second I enter the large room, I strip off my socks and
toss them through the doorway. My right hand reaches for the
dial to dim the main lights, and I shut them off entirely. In
the glow of the fishtanks, wavering lights of blue, green, red,
yellow, orange, pink, purple and an eighth tank, I slowly peel
off my clothes. They seem to attack my skin, convince it of how
small it is, how insignificant its dimensions and how
insignificant the person my poor skin covers. Once down to only
my cotton underwear, I maneuver through the aquatic glow to the
cabinet below the pinkly lit fishtank. Underneath it, I find a
soft cotton throw and toss it around me. Larger than the size of
the most generous bath towel, it encompasses me with a
magnificently comforting weight.
I stand in the middle of the room for a moment, looking at
each fishtank in turn trying to decide where to look for help.
The blue of serenity? The red of love? The green of healing?
The yellow of clarity? The orange of purpose and motivation?
The purple of magic itself? To be sure, I could use any of them
and all of them, but none seem like the right place to begin. To
begin with any of them would be to throw salt on an ocean to make
its entirety safe to walk upon. I need nothing.
I need: Nothing.
I examine the eighth tank.
In the light of all the others, it appears to merely reflect
the rest of the room. However, when I turn the dial to shut off
the lights in the other tanks, that last tank seems to glow.
Special lights, like those for reptiles, seem to toss moonlight
into the tank without casting any visible light elsewhere. The
water appears inky, and the fish move like sparkles in the ink.
It is the black tank.
From the base of my throat to the top of my sex, I am
grossly pregnant with infected emotions. Loss, frustration,
loathing, rage, disappointment, sadness and sick betrayal roil
within me like parasites beyond my control. Offering anything
healthy and positive to them would merely feed them; they would
twist and transmute it to create more of their own kind.
This is one of those rare times for expulsion, for
banishing. Not to be done lightly, such expulsion requires
absolute decisiveness and a heart completely ready to banish the
target permanently. Doubts will only serve as a doorway to let
what must be sent away return. This cannot be done out of anger,
as hasty judgements only recoil on whomever feels them. It must
be done out of love -- love for myself, and a desire to care for
myself as well as I would care for others.
It is sad duty, and dark detail, but adulthood means taking
possession of your own body -- and your own life -- as you would
a house, and being responsible for showing others to the door
when it becomes necessary; no enraged parents or hired staff
ought to do it for you.
Through the darkness, I seek out a particularly large
cushion. Not anxious to begin the work ahead, my hands nimbly
assemble other cushions of various shapes and sizes. Some go
behind my back, so I may face the black tank directly. Others
grow in a pile at my feet to be used later.
That done, my hands pull the soft throw around me and tuck
it as they would a towel. I press the cotton down onto my skin,
talking to it through my emotions as I would to a small child.
My mind forms images of warmth, comfort, love and concern. As my
breathing slows, the sensation of crawling under my skin eases.
Convinced it has been addressed, my skin warms and I sense the
impression we are on the same side, in this together, finally a
Black is not color; it is the absense of color. Through the
inky water, large fish move. A few dart around with startling
surprise considering their size, and others lazily propel
themselves through the water. Unlike the fish in the other
tanks, they don’t move in clear patterns or with an apparently
clear purpose. They are what they are: the denizens of the dark.
I move forward to the tank and gently splay my hand on the
glass. In a whisper, my voice asks permission to rely on the
creatures within to accept and dispell matters I wish to rid
myself of. Somehow, the idea of tossing my problems to these
creatures with no warning or polite request seems rude and
tactless. I open my senses and wait for any reply. Only a
feeling of calm and a sense of destination to my communication
enter me, like the difference when someone picks up the phone,
before the person has even said a word.
My eyelids want to close, to hold the burden within me. I
force them to remain open, and to project to the dark water the
series of events which brought me here. Sometimes I relate the
story aloud, sometimes I merely send vivid memories towards the
flashes of darting fish within the tank. Harsh words and painful
memories come easily. More painful are the more pleasant ones,
and more powerful. It is the pleasant memory that can bind one
to dozens of recollections of pain, after all. It is there where
phrases like “but if only” are born.
The process takes time. Images of betrayal and pain well up
in my heart, and my hands reach for the cushions by my feet.
Tears so violent they seem to fly out of my eyes and hit my
cheeks wet my face, and I throw the cushions at the walls between
tanks. It hurts to extricate these memories, to haul them out
and see them for what they are. I will not stop now; I will not
retreat to the false progress that is remaining silent. I let
even the rage have form with each thrown cushion, and slowly it
releases its hold.
The fish move, and occasionally I see a flicker as one moves
upward in the tank to eat food. I imagine that fish eating my
pain and that which I have transmitted to it. The fish practice
some mental alchemy, accepting this burden I have brought to
them, and creating something completely apart from me with it.
Energy does not simply die; it changes. It could be the air and
waste they produce, or merely the energy with which they swim.
That portion of this interaction is beyond me at this time.
For a second, I move to hug a pillow as one of the more
pleasant memories strikes me. Instead, I hurl the pillow as
others move to take its place. I hug myself, tell myself through
thoughts and emotions that my own love is worth far more than the
flawed imitation I have received. That realization erodes
everything at the heart of the pain which brought me here, and I
notice the weight on my chest has eased so much I take a deep
breath to enjoy the difference.
My limbs relax, drowsiness attempts to pull me under.
However, nature abhors a vacuum. I have banished powerful
emotions and dispelled an extraordinary amount of energy. When a
vacuum is created, the natural tendency is for whatever filled it
previously to take up residence there again -- unless the space
is already occupied.
Reluctantly, I rise and turn on the lights for the other
fishtanks. Bundled in my throw, I spend some time looking at
each of them and sealing my healing wound with the wisdom from
In the blue tank, the fish move quickly and yet do not seem
to hurry. Without the burdens of infected emotion, serenity can
invigorate the soul. Sometimes, peace of mind can actually
provide more energy, as a person’s wits are not wasting time on
that which is damaging our pointless.
In the green tank, the fish eat and swim in and out of sight
through a castle. To fully recover from this, I must see to my
body’s needs as well as my mind’s. Diving directly back into
chaos leads to shock, and constant exposure can make anyone
Large fish move through the red fishtank, their colors
intense and glorious. Love reflects that power, and one must be
able to swim surely before one can truly enjoy its intensity.
This relates to love for anyone, be they family, friends, or
lovers. The fish interact in this tank well, but without trust
and sure swimming problems would arise.
The fish in the orange tank move as though possessed, but
they move with swiftness and confidence. Motivation is necessary
to happiness. Cautious steps are wise, but stuttering ones lead
to spectacular falls, or to never reaching a destination.
The fish in the pink tank move slowly, brushing up against
each other at times. Affection and self-love save us from
ourselves, and without them we can do more damage to ourselves
than anyone else could ever do to us.
The fish in the purple tank seem to explore every ounce of
the water within. They cover the area of the tank, not missing a
space, and their patterns are visible at times and not
perceptible at others. Magic is always on the horizon, and
surprises will always exist in the world. To believe otherwise
is to surrender, to be subsumed by desolation.
I wrap the throw around myself and seek out the bathroom,
where I shower and wash the last remnants of what I’ve banished
from me. Afterwards, bundled in a fresh (and thicker) blanket
which mysteriously appeared when I came out, I return to the
I cover my healing internal wound with these thoughts,
gently, as one would a wound with a soft paintbrush of
antibiotic. I breathe, and revel in the ease of it, until I fall
asleep. At one point, I make out the butler’s dim form in the
dark. He extends his hand, and I take it with a smile. He seems
to relax, nods with approval, and leaves me to my healing sleep.
January 6th, 2003