"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

23 March 2012

Desert Wind Catharsis

“Are you safe in a place
that you don't know?
Are you still holding on?
Can't you just let go?”
-Jeff Martin


“You’ve perhaps heard of Pandora’s box?”

“She let loose all the misery in all the world,” you said. “Stupid bitch.”

Shara wrinkled her nose as she looked at you. She sat patiently with you as you recounted the story of the fire. She held you when you started to cry, and let you go when you started to pull away.

You told her how the first year after, you tried to move on. Lawrence and Martha still had you over for Sunday dinners. They gave you Wendy’s inheritance, so you could take as much time as you needed to recover. But, in the end, you found you could no longer be where you were. Everywhere you went; there were reminders of her. Of the life you had together, of the promise of what could have been, but never was to be.

It was why you came to the desert, not letting your mother and father in-law know where you went. For five years, you were able to lose yourself out in sand and scrub and rock. It had been a shock that they found you. Part of you considered them sadistic for sending you the black lacquer box.

“There was something else in the box, aside from all the evils of the world,” Shara said. “What was it?”

“How the hell should I know?” You snorted. “I’m just an ignorant Negro! It’s amazing I know how to read! You really expect me to know some old story?”

“I don’t believe that for a second, Geoffrey Ryddle,” Shara said firmly. “I neither share my company nor my bed with stupid men.”

“I suppose I should thank you then.”

“No. Just stop being ridiculous,” she corrected, her manner stern. “You blame yourself for that fire.”

“Did she tell you that?” You asked in a mocking tone.

“I do not speak for the dead, and anyone who says that they do is a pompous ass.”

“It was my fault…” you mutter. “There’s something I could have done.”

“It was an accident, Geoffrey,” Shara said softly, placing a hand on your scarred arm. “And accidents are called such because that’s what they are.”

You wanted to pull away from her. To tell her to leave and never come back. Instead, something inside you caused you grab onto her and pull her close. Her embrace was warm and giving. Her scent of cinnamon and places more far-flung than this was intoxicating. Despite your initial impulses, you wondered about the possibilities with her.

“What would you have me do?” You asked her.

She looked at you, her liquid mercury eyes shimmering with a strange intensity. A smile formed across her lips as she kissed your brow and pulled away. Slowly, but with great purpose, she walked to the mantle, her hands coming to rest upon the box.

“This thing has been slowly devouring you, leaving you little more than a ghost wrapped in a cloak of living flesh.” Shara began, not bothering to look to see if you were listening. “You need to face it beyond the context of the dreams that so haunt you.” It was then she turned, holding out the box for you to take. “You need to open this. You need to unleash what is within the box. All of it.”


You drive as deep into the desert as you can with enough gas to make it back. It is a moonless night, but the stars give the barren landscape a stark, yet subtle, glow. In the seat next to you, rides the box. Before you left, Shara Little Feather told you she might actually love you, but this was for you alone. You thanked her for that.

It’s cool out, which you welcome. Somehow, it seems fitting. You walk just a little way from the truck, where you can still hear its engine and make out its silhouette. The time has come; you open the box. Your eyes moisten, the tears already starting to well up as you look within.

“Hello, Wendy,” you whisper into the dark. “It’s been a long time, honey.”

Her ashes, and those of the seedling of the life germinating within her belly, do not answer you. You don’t expect them to. The tears start to stream down your face and your lips are quivering. You begin to shake open box, the ashes being caught on the desert winds.

Your cries of lamentation echo eternally across the wasteland. Sobs wrack your body. There is pain, like that of the burns, the shards of glass, which tore your flesh six years before, those shards that were pulled from your body in the emergency room after the fire. As the last of the ashes disappear into the night, you feel your legs buckle. You collapse onto the sand and scrub and rock.

Eons seem to pass as you lay curled in a ball sobbing. Another sensation begins to well up inside you, one you’ve not known in a very long time; release. Slowly, your eyes open, and you see the empty box laying before you.

What’s in Pandora’s box?

Pain. Pestilence. Suffering. Death.

You stand up. The tears dry upon your face. You reach down, picking up the box. The lid snaps shut with loud click.

What was left Pandora’s box?



  1. You can so deftly pluck a heartstring with your words...

    1. You give me entirely too much credit. Thank you.

  2. oh yea...May Ryddlle recover, with hope in his heart:)

    1. It'll be slow, and there will always be scars. That's the way.

  3. Perfect Ending. Just Perfect.

    1. Thank you. Although, I do have a brief epilogue left to go.

    2. Oh yeh, there's more!!!

  4. Robbie, this is beautiful... perfect. It almost made me cry.

  5. Dammit Grey....for a moment I felt the desert wind upon my cheek. And now I'm in my office again. *sigh* Hauntingly sublime.

    1. Whoops, sorry for the geographic tease there, but thank you for the compliment.

  6. Some writers really take you there. Wow, Robbie...