On week nights I used to skate across the galaxy, happily burning myself on each and every star.
We find ourselves lying beneath them, our ashes sprinkling down from the void and collecting in thin layers across our corpses. An emotion akin to nostalgia but for things that haven't happened yet and probably never will.
Societies crumble around us. We replace billboards and buildings with inverted mirrors that reflect the versions of ourselves we don't want to see and wish we could forget. We do this in an effort to remind ourselves that we aren't perfect and to maybe stop pretending that we are or ever could be.
People stand at the opposite ends of a brightly lit, spiraling stairwell. They laugh in each other's direction, attempting to persuade the unseen others that they are having the most fun. This afternoon I saw a dead bird fall out of a thundering sky and onto an old woman's plate of spaghetti. After that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to eat or even look at a plate of noodles or big purple feathery hats the same way again. This makes me wonder what effect all of this will have on my perception of stairs and false laughter. How could I have been so naïve in the first place and be none-the-wiser now?
I try endlessly to stop the inevitable; my failed attempts of zipping the old man I am slowly and painfully becoming back into his unravelling cocoon is all I tend to occupy myself with these days. I am ashamed of how the things I wish I could change about myself remain the same and the things I wish I could hold onto fall away. How much of myself am I still and how much have I still to abandon before I am someone completely other?
I find you sitting on a park bench facing a mirror reflecting nothing. I take my perch beside you and let you take my hand in yours. In the mirror I see an old man breaking out of a shell of his past and realize it's something he should have let go a long time ago; it's something he's outgrown. I feel myself start to whither and see that we've succumbed to the same sad truth. Your hand in mine is frail like a dead leaf. The wind rustles through all of my unrealized potential, all my failed ambitions. All the things I wanted to do but was too scared of when faced with the possibility of life, of living.
Men dressed in bones march out of the desert and into the sea. I start to join them, but you stop me, tell me you want a cloud to call your own. I tell you we'll get one as soon as I can make a down payment, but we both know this can't be true. We both know this is impossible. We both know none of this is possible, and still we continue anyway.
Our ashes fall away from us, up into the unknown.
Spencer Folkins is an 18-year-old writer from New Brunswick. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Writers' Federation of New Brunswick and is the recipient of the 2014 New Brunswick Day Merit Award for Arts and Culture. He currently attends St. Thomas University.