Wednesday 5 April 2023

Fit to Burst - Short Story by Scott Thomas Outlar

 



Fit to Burst


Short Story

by Scott Thomas Outlar

 

The little white lies that we tell ourselves in life often hurt for a while, but what is worse, by far, are the wicked truths of this world. Reality is a relentless beast, offering both terrible burdens of responsibility and awesome blessings of love. Just as the sky puckers up to place a sweet kiss upon your precious lips, the sea may storm with a sucker punch to the side of your jaw. There is some beauty in sorrow. But there is infinite light along the path of peace.


There are so many different things I want to say all in this one moment. I want to compress time back to the zero-point. I want the Big Bang to split an atom back at square one. I want the primordial genetic soup to taste the dust of distant stars. I want this. But what I need most is that. I want everything that arises from emptiness. There are so many perspectives to consider, so many opinions on the table, so many variables that shutter and shift with the changing tide. I’m not sure what order to place the words so that chaos can be conquered. Maybe I should simply retrace my steps back to birth…

I kept walking until I found Jesus. He was seated on a bench beside the Buddha, sharing a bowl of rice. They taught me about mindfulness and the kingdom of God found within. They taught me to have patience with fate. They taught me how to manifest destiny. They taught me how to stand strong with resolve during all trials, tests, and tribulations. They taught me that kindness and compassion can help to heal society. They taught me that each of us has unique gifts, skills, and talents that must be put toward a meaningful purpose. They taught me to be weary of all bullshit, but that it should be used as fertilizer to grow garden flowers when the season turns. They taught me about faith and forgiveness. Then they rinsed their mouths with a perfumed potion of lilac, lavender, peppermint, and myrrh. They walked to a castle and borrowed a quarter from the crown, then passed out pennies to the next twenty-five people they met in the streets.

I made my leave from the saints and headed straight toward the shadows. In unfamiliar woods, I came upon a den of thieves and wolves. I sat in silence outside their cave, listening to the lunacy from inside where they huddled together to gnaw on bones and pilfered treasure. Their motive and modus operandi became apparent in the muddled language of decadence and depravity that spilled forth from the darkness. There are certain predators in life that will only strike when they sense their prey is scared and in a state of confusion and vulnerability. But such a feast comes at a heavy price because every pound of flesh is filled with sadness and fear. I learned the way that spells are cast. I learned the power of magic and psychic manipulation. I learned the way in which time, form, and space can create avenues of personal advantage. I learned that wickedness is a sure sign of cowardice and self-hatred.

The scales are always balanced perfectly by forces beyond my comprehension or control. I try to focus on what is decent and pure and inspired with the spirit of goodwill. If I could, I would rip off the eyelids of ignorance and apathy. But I am weak, designed of mortal flesh, and so I just keep singing in thankfulness so that peace can prosper. I will never blink again. There is too much that can be lost in the flash of an instant.

This chain, ring, cross, and sigil that I wear around my neck reminds me of all the deaths that haunt each chamber of my heart. We do our best in life. Sometimes even miracles are not enough to save the ones we love the most. Sometimes we watch the final breath of our father as it escapes from his lungs and his soul passes on. Sometimes we are not even able to offer a eulogy at his funeral because our voice is too broken. Sometimes our regret is born from our own mistakes. Sometimes we are so afraid of how the future might unfold that we fall back into the perceived safety of the past.

There is an ocean of salt and blood. There is a river of tears and wine. The gods have grown stupid and lazy, drunken in their reckless revelry. I walked to the base of a mountain that I had climbed several times throughout my life. I stared up at several plateaus and recalled how new wings had been granted at each point of higher ascension. I saw the obstacles where I had tripped and fallen. The same spots where I had stood again after licking wounds. I saw the ghosts of past, present, and future merge together and coalesce into abstract visions of color. Shiva arrived on the scene and swept me off my feet in a dance of whirling dervish insanity. I lost my wits in a fit of mad laughter and regained consciousness (and a conscience) sometime later wearing a smile and feeling the innocence of a child. I wept for the sorrows we have faced. I rejoiced for the dreams we have shared.

There is an angel in our hearts. There is a devil in our minds. There are so many choices to weigh. There are so many decisions to make. But we do our best. Yes, we do our best. We are safe. There are flowers in the fields. There is sun in our open eyes. There is unconditional love. There are birds singing from the trees. There is evolution propelling us forward. There is more than I can ever say…

 


 

Scott Thomas Outlar is originally from Atlanta, Georgia. He now lives and writes in Frederick, Maryland. His work has been nominated multiple times for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. He guest-edited the Hope Anthology of Poetry from CultureCult Press as well as the 2019-2023 Western Voices editions of Setu Mag. He is the author of seven books, including Songs of a Dissident (2015), Abstract Visions of Light (2018), Of Sand and Sugar (2019), and Evermore (2021 - written with co-author Mihaela Melnic). Selections of his poetry have been translated and published in 14 languages. He has been a weekly contributor at Dissident Voice for the past eight and a half years. More about Outlar's work can be found at 17Numa.com


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