And in the beginning, there was no form, only void. And darkness was upon the face of the deep. And from the darkness, light was created. And from the hollowness, life was created. And from the stillness, words were spoken, words were carried, words were safeguarded by the blood of many who would never come close to understand them. Words brought the light that broke the darkness and filled empty minds with knowledge. From the nothing came everything. Words spoke of a world created in five days. First the light was divided from darkness. The firmament in the midst of the earth came forth. From the earth, the waters were split from the dry land, bringing forth grass and the tree yielding the fruit. The seasons and the days and the years followed, and the tree of knowledge was lighted by the sun during the day and the moon during the night. Before the evening of the fifth day, the seed of the fruit brought life to the waters, brought life to the skies and brought life to the land. And on the sixth day, he finally came to be in his own image. He used to be full of arrogance, but in time he learned to praise the choices of others.
“Adam. Rise up.”
Adam rose naked from the bed and walked slowly towards the window. The air in the room was filled by waves of sound, a strong pulse laid base for a sweet and aggressive voice chanting about a so pure, so rare lover of a savior. A crimson tint of neon flickered arrhythmically, clashing against the melodic plea for one taste of a forbidden embrace. A mild hint of destruction decorated the room, not so much the product of aggression, but more likely the erosion that derives from neglect.
From the window, Adam oversaw the sprawling lights of a city built from the filth of the impure. Standing above it, he felt greater than all below him. Although he didn’t truly think that. That’s what he was brought up to believe and there had never been a reason to question it.
Outlined in the window glass was the shape. Brushing his finger over it, he could feel its dried markings, a life-sized silhouette of vibrant brownish red, a figure with wings spanning the width of the window. An angel drawn in blood or pigment, difficult to tell as the light flickered. It was the first one. Maybe she drew it, maybe it was there from the beginning, as she was also there from the beginning.
The contentious background melody evolved into a sharp metallic wail, and the night sky was torn by a flash of lightning, leading the way to heavy rain. An apocalyptic scene, if there ever was one.
“Is this the end of the world?” she asked as she lit up a candle. Her voice, playfully confident, as if nothing could ever hurt her. Her bare body as smooth as a statue’s, sitting on the bed, a lone beautiful piece of ornament in a room lacking any.
“It may be for us,” he said as he turned from the window to stare at her naked grace. His demeanor was dry, with the faint hint of a condescending smile.
“I guess you had your fun already. I can’t say I didn’t myself.”
She tied her dark hair behind her head. Adam’s bronze fingers craved for its silkiness, wishing to run down through it, towards her back, to feel soft curves rise from her slender figure. His mouth craved for a taste of her rich skin, as he craved to dress her bareness with a passionate embrace. His mind, however, confronted the emptiness of said pleasure against his vague yearning for something far away from the moment.
“I’m glad you have.” He hoped his few words were enough to end the conversation. He didn’t want to remain in that room for too long.
She gazed back at him, pretending her confidence was unaffected.
“You know... I’ve always wondered... what does it take to get inside that head of yours? What are you thinking right now, for example?”
“What makes you think I’m thinking of anything? I just said I’m glad you had fun. You know I had fun too.” He attempted a smile. He walked into the awkward exchange he was trying to avoid.
“How do you know I know that? Did you tell me? Do you think I can read your mind?” She remained playful with her tone. Adam felt she was words away from surrendering to frustration. He’d been there many times before. Different faces every time, but the inevitable conclusion was always the same. “Why is it so difficult for you to share what you’re feeling, Adam? Are you happy? Aren’t you happy with me?”
Adam stared profoundly at the empty page he fancied inside his head. It was the first page of a story he hoped would change him, save him. The blankness stared back at him, craving to be filled with words. Words of joy, words of sadness, words of anger, words of fear. Arrogance and insecurity. He wanted to reach inside himself and pull out his deepest confused emotions, spread them across paper and present them to the eyes around him. It scared him, it aroused him, but these emotions were a private exchange between him and his story. He did not want to waste words, not with anyone, not with her. She bored him. She was just another sad flower, laid out in the garden for him to pick, to depetal and throw away. He wasn’t happy with her, nor with anyone else, not even with himself.
Adam was born from the world itself, his mother the earth breathing life from out of the dust. A father was absent to him, although not to his brothers. To him, Adam was a stranger with whom he bared no resemblance, with whom he spoke no words in common. He did not understand his son, that strange boy who never smiled, who spent hours absorbed by his thoughts, who broke his silence with crazy ideas about fantastical worlds and imaginary beasts, who broke down to passive anger when others around him did not applaud his delusions. He was a difficult child with a complicated mind, unlike his brothers who enjoyed the simplicity of their lives and made it easy for their father to reward them with his attention. But not to his mother. Adam was her most valued treasure, her proudest creation. The light of his mother gave him knowledge, and that knowledge made him believe himself greater than everyone around him. She would spend countless hours feeding his feverish imagination with amazing stories about brave heroes, both historical and fictional, standing up to the unjust, defending their loves and beliefs. Adam consumed these tales like the most invigorating beverage and soon enough would be inspired to let his imagination loose, creating amazing stories of his own, more and more complex as he grew older. His mother encouraged him to write them down. “One day, you will write great stories and you will make me very proud”. Armed with paper and ink, he tried many times to commit his stories to the page. He would sit on his own, apart from everyone, with his face down staring at his scribbles. His brothers would mock him. “They’re not good enough”, he would angrily state as he teared half-written pages, one after the other, crying out of frustration. His tears were milk and honey to his brothers. They would savor them as they harassed him calling him childish names. He would respond back with words too big for them to understand and they would respond back with jabs of non-verbal hostility. Adam’s mother always defended him over them. Adam was led to believe that his brothers were just jealous because he was better than them. His father only got angry. Every boy needs to learn to fight back, and not come running to the safety of their mother’s lap. Adam’s father and mother fought frequently, over him and over many other things that Adam didn’t understand or cared for. There was a rift dividing their home, and it was Adam and his mother against those who were beneath them. But he did not realize he was wrong. Her love for him blinded him to the fact that a mother loves all her children. In his mind it was only him. He was her treasure. He was the brave hero of their shared stories, he would write them, and he would make her proud.
It would take him years to be able to see beyond his misbelief. As teenage hormones seized his emotions, he slowly came to see his mother’s excessive care as overwhelming. He started to resent her attention almost as much as he resented his father’s lack of. Her overprotective words now felt like a wall surrounding him, but instead of wanting to break away from them, Adam just wanted to burrow deeper within himself, sort of wanting to create his own shell to shelter him from everything around him. Everything and everyone were mistaken, but his voice was not strong enough to right the wrong. Silence. Silence and apathy. A shell blocking any attempt of care from those around him. And from within his shell, Adam witnessed a family coming together without him. His mother’s eyes were no longer set exclusively on him. The flock found their herdsman, and they ritually followed empty words, congregating in community, while Adam fought for his peace and solitude. His family found the guidance that was absent from their path, a goal was taught to them, a beacon they could walk towards, a chasm they could faithfully fall into.
And it changed them. Smiles were occasionally traded between his parents. His brothers would narrate their stupid little adventures to their mother, and she would smile with sad tired eyes. She would many times ask Adam about his own stupid little adventures, only to be countered with silence. Silence and apathy. Smiles with sad tired eyes. Sad tired eyes slowly being consumed by the sickness. Her complexion grew paler as the sickness took over her existence, painfully and for many days. She wanted to reach out. She wanted to take the love of her children with her. But Adam delved deeper inside himself. He remained expressionless as her lifeless body was put to rest. Brothers breaking out in tears. Father holding back the sadness, trying to remain strong with hints of sparks in his eyes. Dressed-up words spoken about a path beyond, about reaching the ultimate goal. Many strangers breaking a lifetime of absence by showing their respects, offering their unconditional support with the only condition that it would never be made available when truly needed. Adam could not accurately remember how he felt that day. And he could barely remember the following years, living alone with known strangers, wasting away the days until he was old enough to be alone with himself. He could not remember the day he left his father’s home, nor if there was any animosity at all. Maybe he just simply walked away, maybe no words were expressed that day. He could genuinely not remember. There were no written pages to remind him of those days.
The next few years saw a man grow through arduous and trivial work, rewarded by unrewarding delights. Who he was during this time, was not important. He was just another young man who struggled to survive well above many, and whose stolid demeanor projected an air of mystery that many women confused with attractiveness, a handful following him to his bed. He never felt he deserved them and every night he feared his mask of confidence would fall off, revealing the insecurities he hid behind it. He believed there was an emptiness they sought to fill with something they assumed he could offer them, but he was never sure what it was that they expected, or if they even knew what they expected at all. Emptiness to be filled with emptiness. None could penetrate his shell. Most of them tried. All of them moved on disappointed, not being able to get what they thought they wanted from him. But he was no one. Just another survivor who rarely smiled and sometimes confused pleasure with happiness. Just like everybody else.
Many ideas ran through his mind, making him anxious as a burst of disjointed thoughts constantly grew inside his head, with no release, demanding to be let out in an explosion of words that he didn’t know how to utter. He saw the future folded upon itself, every single thing to come happening in a single moment, a mountain of impendings too big to climb. His anxiousness grew every day, looking back to the shell he built around himself and forward to his overwhelming thoughts, unable to influence reason into those around him. But there were no people around him. Only lambs feeding each other to the wolves, following an imaginary shepherd to their demise. Nameless lambs absent of any distinguishing character, impossible to tell each other apart, flocking in a unison parade to the ultimate purpose of nothingness. Filthy lambs corrupting their path, spreading impurity and unreason, getting eaten by their ignorance. He wanted to remain above them, watching down from his balcony, free from the authority of the rod and the staff, but he was no one. He was just another nameless lamb with words of salvation cluttered inside a shell. There were no first words, just an empty page inside his head.
He stared at the imaginary blankness, trying to compose the words that would lead him outside of the eroded chamber where he had spent the past five nights. A neon garden of lust and delight, where he took pleasure from the dewy warmth of the most forbidden of fruits, the wife of another, a beauty neglected by a great world leader. In him she found the joy of feeling wanted, a generous lover who paid her attention, who savored every hidden niche of her skin, who stared at her as if staring at a work of art, who listened attentively to her words of relief as she went on about her loneliness. In her he found the joy of sin, her gift of unrestrained pleasure sweetly aged by years of constraint, and the self-praise of him being worth more than her risk of losing a life of comfort. A delicious beauty to whom he had nothing else to offer and nothing left to take from.
He stood naked, staring at her naked pale body. It was beautiful. He could never grow tired of such beauty, not even after breathing her for five nights straight. But he wondered if he was happy. After all, she had asked him if he was. She asked the question while he gazed at her soft lips, adorned with vibrant brownish red. It would have been very easy for him to lie to himself into believing he was. But what was there to make him happy? A lifetime of empty pleasure numbing a growing anxiety, a longing to open the shell and let thousands of words fall into the blank page. He wasn’t happy. He would not be until he could write those words that would give him purpose. He stared at her looking for an answer to her question. Was he happy with her? He knew the answer to that. Was this the end of the world? “It may be for us,” he had answered. “It may be.” He thought about that. There may be an end. There may be an end to his story. He wasn’t happy. Was the end a happy one? Once again, lightning cut the darkness, thunder broke the silence. Every end has a beginning and she was there from the beginning. He wasn’t happy with her. There had been a beginning to his story. Maybe not a happy one. In the beginning there was void, there was darkness. And from the darkness, light was created. He was born from the world itself. Lightning cut the darkness, highlighting the shape of the angel in the window. He saw the end. The end was light. The beginning was darkness. His mother was the earth breathing life from out of the dust, bringing light from out of the darkness. And from the darkness came the lamb. And the lamb walked from the darkness towards the light. And with the light came the end. His story began with darkness, his story ended with light. He would make her proud. He wasn’t happy with her. The lamb would be happy reaching the light. Thousands of words. He would write the lamb away from the shepherd. The shepherd kept the lamb in darkness. Darkness hidden under false light. Lightning cut the darkness. He would write thousands of words. He would make her proud. He would break the shepherd’s staff. Thunder broke the silence. He now saw the beginning as clear as he saw the end. He felt a crack. Inspiration. Small pieces of his shell fell off. Words were written. The page was no longer blank. Adam smiled.
“We should leave this place,” he finally answered. “We don’t belong here, and we don’t belong to each other. I’m sorry, but it’s not right for us to see each other again.”
“You didn’t answer my question,” she responded in a firm tone with a voice a few words away from cracking. “Aren’t you happy with me?”
“That is not a relevant question. Whether I am happy with you or not doesn’t really matter. We could enjoy the moment. You could make up excuses to be away from home, but at the end you have to go back to the life you’ve built, and I have to go back to figuring out how to build my own.”
“It is relevant to me because... because I don’t want to go back home. There are no sparks waiting there for me. It’s bright in here, with you. Together we shine, you and me. Adam... I want to run away from it all. Whatever you think I’ve built, I haven’t. Nothing. All empty.” She pulled her knees towards her breasts, her eyes catching glimpses of the lights from the city below. She avoided Adam’s eyes, probably a little ashamed of her emotional nakedness. She shivered slightly, embracing herself with her arms cuddling her legs. “Just tell me if you are happy... with me. Just tell me. It’s been years since we have been playing this game, meeting in secret, hiding for days in this damned forbidden place, and then not seeing each other for months on end. I don’t want to hide from them anymore. I don’t want to share you, and you don’t have to share me either. Say the words and I’ll never go back. We will build together.” She turned to meet his eyes with the half imploring and half demanding gaze of a woman who had been raised to lead hidden behind thick curtains.
The song in the background continued with a beaten plea for just one moment together. Adam felt sorry for her. The wolf became a lamb. His mind was already wandering off, outside of that room, to the page now hungry for words. He had to go away.
“I’m sorry, but we should be apart from each other. Believe me when I tell you I’ve enjoyed every minute we’ve spent together. You’re a beautiful person that deserves to be loved. But I cannot offer you that. I don’t think I can give you anything more than what you’ve already taken. There’s a lot I need to figure out... by myself. For us, there’s nothing more than what we just had. You deserve more. You should figure out what your own happiness means to you, and it shouldn’t depend on anyone but yourself. You’ve built a life and now are threatening to tear it down for a vague hope, with someone who has very little to offer. You should go back and rebuild. I need to build too, and I need to do it on my own. I need to be alone for a while. I need to go.”
Adam hoped his words were enough. He had faced the end many times before and it never got easier, not with time, not with words perfected over the years. A harsh message and a full stop. He now had to wait for her reaction. She took a long breath while her eyes remained settled on his. The silence between them was louder than the heavy music filling the room, louder than the storm outside the window. The candle flame fluttered, matching the flickering neon lighting the room.
“I understand,” she said as she stood up from the bed, looking straight into him with sad tired eyes. She walked towards him and pressed her body firmly against his. Her left hand reached behind his head, entangling her fingers between his unkempt hair. She pulled his head towards her lips and left her russet mark on his forehead. “I hope you find yourself one day.”
She walked away from him and picked up her clothes. He felt compelled to say more but he’d learned that words are only good if they can improve on silence. He watched as she got dressed and wondered if this was the last time that he would savor her portrait. He noticed the rose drawn in the back of her neck, normally lay hidden below her hair, a sight reserved only for those she allowed to get intimately close. He felt sad as he always did at every end. But this time, he also felt excited. His chest felt tight as he visualized himself writing his newfound words. His head felt light as he got drunk on inspiration. After weathering this storm, he would be free to spend the next days, weeks, months, years, writing the story he envisioned. He would start with the end. The end was the beacon. He would eventually come back to this moment, the beginning. This room where he laid with her. A garden flower, a hungry wolf, a lost lamb, an angel of revelation. But she wouldn’t be here anymore. This place would soon belong to another.
She left the room without adding any more words. A different story awaited to be written about her. It took him only a few minutes to forget she had been there at all. His head was filled with the voices of the characters who would represent his thoughts, the men and women he would create to carry his story. He felt so full of himself, there could be no room for anyone else. He dressed himself, left the room and headed towards creative solitude. He had thousands of words to write. Adam stared profoundly at the empty page.
“So be it that his grace be with you all,” he began to write.