Have you ever wondered what is beyond the darkness, the darkness that crouches beside the windowsill, which looks at you every night when the evening stars fell?
It creeps through the window, inspects your soul, and charms you with its gentle whisper so elegant and unpredictable that the eye cannot resist its hungry call.
The monstrous beauty.
Every night I would crawl out of the window, and stare into its eyes, and wonder what is beyond the houses that stretch out far into the horizon, like sketches, and then like linear lines, as if they were only ideas of the houses in the dark, containing nothing else but pure emptiness. Every night I would imagine that I have wings strong enough for me to fly, up, up, and up into the starry night, away from everything I remember, and everything that remembers me. I would feel the wind touching my skin, dancing with my hair, and my soul would blend into the darkness as I sour into the night, into the pure danger where I sought freedom. Every night.
That is why, I jumped.
I could not recall much of the moment which I made the decision.
“What’s she doing?”
“Day-dreaming, I guess. Ignore her.”
Greetings, I am here to learn…
“Oh, the clumsy one’s here.”
“Why doesn’t she just quit?”
“I don’t want her. You take her.”
I am sorry.
It seems that everything in life takes some kind of effort to gain. It seems that every human being is pursuing some kind of satisfaction in life, whether they are dreams, or money, or love, or all of the above. The loneliness of the city creeps into my mind too often in late evenings, when I, gazing at the vast of darkness, recalling about everything from the past and the present. Sometimes, the uneven life of the city is so loud that I feel painful. Sometimes, I just feel tired.
It is funny how human beings can be so fragile.
You know, child, it is okay.
I crawled out of the window and sat on the windowsill, looking into the night. Rain falls down about the roof, as the vast of darkness shrouded the ash grey city. At the verge of my journal Darkness of the night spoke tenderly to me, with claws clinging up onto my throat.
To be, or not to be... what does it matter?
What is love, or dreams, or longingness…
There is nothing you must seek--
I am always right here--
Just you, and I, in this wild little world.
I held onto my pen. Ink splattered on the sheets of paper; it forced language through, yet only babbled wilderness.
Dear, dear, poor little girl, abandoned from the world--
No one wants you, no one needs you… he sang.
Better leave them first before they leave you…he whispered.
With eyes narrowing into the shape of a new moon, he stretched out his forelimbs, enclosing me. I held onto my pen, feeling its smoothness and coolness in my palm. With the touch of my fingers I read the inscription on the pen: Travel on, go Beyond. And I remembered the past, present, and future it had written down for me— now all of them were mocking at me, haunting, judging, and distorting everything I must hold dear in the breath which I have to call “life.”
I felt the pen’s cool steel touching my skin, as if aching to remember its last.
Time will no longer control my soul now.
And then, with a sense of peacefulness, I let go.
Who said that Darkness is an evil existence? He speaks to me almost too often in the late evenings through the bars of the windows, where I gaze into the far horizon, as the stars of men engulf the stars of heaven.
Here, in this darkness, it is just me, and the starry world. I could fly into the night, and the stars will hold me in their arms— not the stars of the sky, but the stars of the lonely earth dragons when I fall down, down, and down into their arms.
Come, let me catch you.
With a final glimpse of the eye I peered off into the far horizon, where the stars fell. And then, I closed my eyes, feeling my skin ache of the heat. Soon, I will be burnt into the same race of Darkness: evil, brutal, and monstrous. Wild wind howled around me, with all the cries of miserable creatures that were once human beings. The souls, mad and ghastly like, clung onto my flesh, and began to gnaw.
And I imagined the story going,
And the stars caught her in their arms.
In darkness I was carried by something gentle. Like the cool streams that run along the mountain hills in summer times, like the breeze of the forest in autumn days. I could sleep in it forever. A thundering horn called out when Darkness was about to absorb me. There was a sudden mumble, and then among the howls there was a cry, a cry as vicissitudinous as those of the wolves.
It soon turned into a whimper, and died down.
The heat around me dispelled, and with a long minute of silence, I had a strange feeling that I was floating in the air. I carefully opened my eyes, and looked at linear lines of the buildings conversing, dancing like water plants, with lights glimmering about the water.
I held my breath and began to kick. In front of me a door emerged.
A little dark-haired girl was standing at the deep bottom of a forum. Before her was an old banyan tree; its heavy leaves shuttered in the wind, falling about the little girl. She looked up into the sky from the bottom, all the way up through the heavy leaves. She gazed through mornings and evenings without noticing me. And then, she reached out her arms. A little paper-boat floated down from the starry night through the heavy leaves into her arms. She turned to look at me. The stars began to spin. And I met her eyes.
She was holding the paper-boat in her arms.
Follow the paths of the Birds… Voices came from every direction in the distance as the wind blew,
They spoke in union,
Follow the music and you will find
The fluttering wings of the sky
Up up up and high
into the music of the sky.
I opened my eyes once again; the deep velvet-blue starlight shone upon me. What came into my eyelids was the verge of a white cardboard with grey stripes as those of a notebook. I sat up, finding myself in a paper-boat, where around me numerous old banyan trees stood in shallow waters, and faint starry lights glistened in between their deep shades of green and blue. Water dripped down from the trees, glistening with starry lights.
Not far away from me was a girl; as if listening to the winds of the forest, she gazed into the lights. Lights glowed upon her cheeks, as her hair swung in the breeze. I recognized her immediately-- she was the girl in my dream. I stepped out of the boat and into the pool of velvet blue, glistening stars swam across my feet. I looked into the water.
“It is almost dawn.” She said.
“The Birds always set off at dawn. It will take us to where we need to be. Perhaps, you might also find your path too.”
“Where are we?” I asked.
She paused. The trees shuddered as the wind blew.
“Come up here.” She reached out her hand.
As she took my hand, the two of us began to climb on the thick roots and stems of the banyan trees. The trees were rough, and moister, and yet the touch of her lightened up my body. Shuttering winds brushed my cheeks as I began to run on the stems and branches with her; sweet dew fell down about me, as my senses become more and more abstract, feeling only the coolness and speed of the winds, water, and the trees.
"The Birds are here."
I held up my breath as I realized that we were on the very peak of the trees amidst the deep forest. The sky has turned Iris-blue as the contour of the sun shone through the distance. Shadows of pale grey figures were approaching towards us in the light. Like the rays of sunrise in summer days that creeps through the windowsills, the Birds arose into the sky, lightening up the velvet-blue night.
As they hovered above us, I sensed the warm and cool morning sunlight; in the wind it was the sound of summer days, early in the morning, when evening rain just passed, it was the sound of the countryside, the gentle breeze blows upon the green patty, fresh air awakens the plains and meadows, the rivers runs amidst the forests; it was the sound of the cities, the sunlight reflects from the tall buildings, and the city awakens, the hustle and bustle of the earth joined in, and they were the sounds of bad traffic in the city center, the ringing school bells, students running through the corridors, people chattering in and out the restaurants, phones ringing through the office buildings, lights and music dancing in the theatre-halls— the sounds of life.
The paper-boat glided with the wind and flew up into the mellow sunlight waters, sailing the paths of the Birds.
The evening stars were falling across the heavens, entering the river of stars and her little boat as I was floating in the air.
I gazed at this scenery, wondering about the reality of this surrealistic view.
“Is everything alright?” she called out to me.
I kicked on the branches and glided back into the starry heavens, as drops of lights fell into the water.
And then there was a sudden push from behind-- I looked back at her gay smile.
“How did you…”
She swung onto another branch.
“You can’t catch me.”
She sang, and then disappeared.
I caught the branch where she left, and found her head sticking out from another tree.
“Come. It’s always nice up here, feeling the winds.” She laughed.
She held up my hand, and we dived into the night with the boat trailing behind us. We were gliding through the stream of glittering lights; they danced around us, and held us up into the Iris-blue night. As if descending amidst the flow of life, the song of the Birds entered my body. The winds entered and then left me, with no intentions to stay. I reached out my hand, and touched a star. Cool as water, it danced around my fingers with a youthful laughter.
The stars were falling about us.
More lights gathered around us, their laughters softly harmonized with each other.
The breeze of the night touched my skin as we skated across the sky, jumping from this tree to another, as drops of water fell into the shallow river with splashes like singling bells. We soured up to the highest tree tops, and looked at the river of stars. I gazed upon the Birds, the forest, and the far horizon. My senses were wide open, as I could capture each moment, each detail of the color, lights, and sounds that entered my sensation.
As we swayed and danced with the stars, lights began to fall into the water.
Songs were pouring out from the heavens. The lights of the river joined the lights of the Birds, extending into a long and winding path towards infinity. Warm lights floated in the air, music harmonized with each other.
Our boat gently approached us, swinging in a rhythm as lyrical as the violin, as light as the marimba, and as gentle as the harp. I caught its edge and climbed back into the paper-boat. The music went on and on, leading us further and further away from the deep forest, towards the place unknown in the far horizon.
“Will you take this for me?” she held near a thin thread.
I took the thread, on the edge it was tied to a jar, clear as crystal.
“I think I could catch some image of the Birds.” She said.
And on the edge of the boat she let go of the jar. With the flow of the winds it floated into the air, and then gently sunk into the river of lights. I tied the thread to my wrist, and lay down with a heart of content.
Dwelling in the night of peacefulness I fell asleep.
Our little paper-boat sailed in the heavens of velvet blue, towards the infinity where nothing is certain. I wonder where the Birds may guide. And yet the rays of sunlight brought me a sense of longing, yearning to seek, to strive, and to reach out to something warm.
I thought the heavens whisper. Among darkness I heard a song soft and gentle, sad too, like the song of a lonely traveler, singing about Time. I opened my eyes. The girl was at the edge of the boat, her hair swinging in the air. The glistening lights fell about her, whispering sounds and languages that I could not understand.
“Will you take us Beyond?” she asked.
And the heavens, in a thousand winds that blew, replied,
We will take you to the furthest place we can reach for you.
But the quest should be sought by your own.
I untied the thread as she pulled out the jar from the starry forest. She held up the jar, and, carefully, captured a little star that landed in our boat. Little lights danced around the little glass bottle, clear as crystal. Shadows of the Birds swirled and turned, shuttling among the lights of the stars. I felt the breeze of the Birds sitting beside the jar.
“With the images of the Birds, he would finally be happy again.” She said.
He? I held near the jar to my ears and found music pouring out from the jar.
“It’s the Song of the Sky.” She said, her eyes darkened. “I was created by a lonely boy living in the city not far from here. In the vast of darkness I too was a little piece of heaven, roaming in the lonely world. I found out that my job is to place the little pieces of heaven before the beds of the children in their sleep when I myself, was seen.”
I am a bard, a poet of songs.
I travel through cities, singing the songs of the sky.
I sang for everyone a piece of the stars.
Man and woman, young and old.
The rich and the poor,
They passed by, but know not me.
They are too busy
Roaming in their own little world
Some of them saw me, but could not understand my language.
They left, hardly different from everyone else.
“Where is the sky?” a boy came to me,
The first one in the city.
“You saw me?” I stopped my song,
The first time in the city.
“Yes, and I heard you, too.”
With joy I asked
“Why do you want to know where the sky is?”
And with childish laugh he began to sing,
“The music of the sky is beautiful, I want to see it myself.”
“The music of the sky is beautiful, I want to see it myself.”
I repeated his song, and looked at his sky blue eyes.
“Well then,” I said, rising with excitement.
“Allow the poet to tell you where the sky is:
Once upon a time there was a land,
a land of freedom which all seeks.
Where the past does not dwell,
and the future does not exist.
All you seekers, those who try
Listen carefully for the winds:
East, west, north, and south,
summer, winter, autumn, and spring,
different voices in one tune.
Follow the music and you will find
The fluttering wings of the sky
Up up up and high
into the music of the sky.”
And with music ending he looked up
Dancing and laughing, he hummed along
“Up up up and high
into the music of the sky.”
“You must be happy to have met him, to be created by him, the little boy you met.” I said.
“Yes. He made me feel that I am known.”
The lights soon died out as we sailed across the starry sky along with the Birds. Following the paths of the Birds, we have been sailing further and further away from the watery forest of stars. Beneath us was the city where I used to live, deep and dark. We sailed on the paths of the Birds, which their glistening shadows guided our paths. Far across the horizon, where the paths of the Birds leads to infinity, and the stars fell into the heart of Darkness, the Birds began to fade.
“I have seen too many people consumed by Darkness.” She said, looking at the ash-grey city beneath us.
“Thank you for saving my life.” I said.
“I didn’t. You were drifting in the rivers, carried by the guards of the Call onto the shore.”
I recalled the call of the night.
“The guards of the Call have many names, but all I know is that he is the guardian for all creators.” She said before I could ask.
“Am I a creator then?”
“But you are not on the path.”
I fell silent. As further and further away the Birds flew, lighter and lighter they seemed.
Star began to disappear into the winds, and the sky began to fall dark again.
“Are they all leaving now?”
She gazed upon the heavens, and did not speak.
Through the breeze of the heavens they spoke in a choir.
To guide the paths for many others.
To seek the paths for ourselves.
The Birds disappeared into the far horizon. Perhaps there is a certain place called Beyond, and yet perhaps they do not even know where the place should be. Perhaps the spirit itself is Beyond. The girl sat back into the bottom of the boat. She gazed into the far horizon, where the clouds enshrouded the ash-grey city.
“What happened to the little boy?” I asked.
She held onto her breath with a long pause, trembling at the verge of the boat.
“And the poet said to him, ‘Yet if you lose the tune… not until the very end, do not break this’.”
I gave him a china flute.
“What is this?” he asked.
“This is a piece of sky. It will allow you to find the stars.”
He played the flute, and music flows,
it was the eastern wind of mellow dawn.
I left him, playing the song of the sky.
He sought, and sought, and sought.
And he fell, and he sought
I waited, at the verge of the city, thinking that he would come,
I waited, singing the song of the sky, waiting for him to arrive,
With the last rays of sunlight, I saw him on the streets.
With joy I was about to call out,
When I heard his shaking voice
“Does the sky really exist?”
And then he hung the flute on my tree,
Nor seeing me, nor hearing me,
I cried and cried, as he sat beside the tree
Watching the stars fall dark
The Birds flew away, and he never knew
He turned back, into his grey city
Away from the music of the sky…
Away from the music of the sky…
In the vast darkness our boat ported on the verge of emptiness. Stars sailed across the sky, falling about the far horizon which we are heading to, under the darkness is the grey city where I came from.
“Where does your boat lead to?” I had asked.
Without hesitation, without a doubt, she answered easily, as if nothing could harm her.
I sat up, and gently covered her with a piece of cloth.
She was holding her jar of Dreams close to her chest, as if protecting something dear as her life. To this sight I suddenly felt myself alienated from her, and jealous about her. I took the jar, and sighed.
Is there something that I have to do, something that I have to protect, and something that needs me in my life? No. With me or without me, time flows on. What I do or do not do does not make a difference to the world I live in; no matter if I exist or not, time flows on. Someday, I should disappear from the world, without a person who would come and say, “I remember you.” Like a piece of dust in the universe, if it disappeared, no one will notice.
It is sad when you fall. But it is sadder when you do not even care if you fell.
I looked into the darkened water. Beneath the water little paper doors, as if dancing a dangerous waltz, floated in the swirling waters. They are the portuses to the city where I came from. Each of them is a piece of memory from the city-- my city. This is the grey building I was raised, that is the noisy streets where the vendors gather, this is the restaurant where my classmates dine, that is the damp lamplight beside the park, this is the lonely road which I stare into, and that…
I lost my thoughts at the portus.
Was the pen which I left in the arms of Darkness.
Lonely again? A voice came into my ears.
“What do you want?”
Just to give a little warning, for the little friend of yours.
“She’s not my friend.”
I backed into the boat, shunning away from his hideous appearance.
Hurt again? He laughed softly.
I never existed. He sang, peering at the girl sleeping at the edge of the boat.
Don’t you want to know what will happen to your little friend?
She cannot pass the border-line. Hasn’t she told you that?
She never wins me. I, Darkness of the night.
“I don’t believe you.”
Ask her yourself.
“Who are you talking to?” The girl mumbled in her sleep.
“Darkness came.” I said.
“Darkness? You speak to Darkenss?” She sat up.
“Why is it that you must find the boy?”
I asked, holding the jar of Dreams tight in my arms.
The images of the Birds shone faintly in the jar.
“Does it really matter if he gives up?”
“Is this something that Darkness told you?” She whispered, falling back into the bottom of the boat. “He always lead people away from me, into the vast of desperation and lost. Do not listen to him.”
“Does it really matter if he does or does not do what you want him to do?”
“Do not be like him.” She whispered once again. “Please.”
I stared at her, and she looked back.
The winds began to howl beside us. The lights were fading away. I know we were falling away from the paths of the Birds, and away from what should have been done.
“Falling”, the action of releasing the self, is nothing to be afraid of. And I chose to fall, to embrace the ash-grey city beneath us, the city without light, without color, and music, and senses.
And then finally she said, “No. It does not— but then I would be lying— even though no one else matters, even though no one cares. If there is someone, anyone, that appreciates him. Anyone, including him himself, then, it matters.”
“Even though it might not be the best choice.”
“even though…” She paused.
“You do not exist, to him.”
“No one needs him more than he himself, and his own creation.”
The paths of light had darkened. The portus withered in the swirling darkness beneath us. Our boat began to sink down from the heavens into the grey empty water. Soon we would be endeavored by empty hunger. Darkness will not cease before he had feasted on his prey, and there is no way to stop him from performing his ritual. His words are law.
“Let go.” She commanded.
“And you would still go to him, even though he does not need you?”
“Even though he does not need me.”
I looked into the dark water. My pen continues to flow in the portus, the one which I had left my “present” from. I recalled the cry of the night, and the voices that thundered beside my ears. Weariness swarmed back to me.
“You didn’t tell me that.”
“You cannot pass the border-line.”
She fell silent.
“I am not going with you.”
I looked at her. She looked as if she was going to cry. And yet so much I would want to tell her that it is okay, that everything will be okay. I didn't. I turned my back towards her.
“Where are you going?”
“This is the forest of stars. You should be where you ought to be.”
Welcome. Darkness whispered.
Notebook pages floated around me.
Beyond. The Birds spoke in the jar.
What a joke.
I swam through the portuses and entered the grey city.
And then beside the portus, I stopped in front of a sketch of the grey little house. Its contour were wild with haste, each line pierced out into the dark shadowy night. There he was, looking into the heavens beside his windowsill, grey and old. His empty eyes gazed into the vast of emptiness. Darkness crouched on his neck, as he gazed into the vast of emptiness. Among the Darkness I sat in the dark water, carrying the jar of the images of the Birds. He could not see me. I went through the portus and sat at the verge of the heavens. It was not far away from his windowsill.
Your little gift will only cause him to fall. Give it to me.
Darkness commanded, tenderly.
I looked at the images of the Birds in my arms.
The familiar peacefulness came to me.
Through the lights I saw the starry forest, the little girl, and her little paper boat, sailing the paths of the Birds.
I recalled the colors of the sunlight, and her song.
I lifted the lid.
Good girl. There is nothing else you can do.
The winds were still. There was no sign of passing time in the portus. I looked up; my pen was floating in the winds, still as concrete. In the sky there was nothing else but pure emptiness, and Darkness' hungry yellow eyes stared right into mine. I was not afraid. “Present” is the moment which I gaze into this dark black night, where the stillness of everything is free with the lights of the stars, and above the heavens it could only be seen through the inner eye. I wonder how Darkness could have baffled me.
I threw the jar towards the windowsill.
Songs poured out as the lid fell off the jar.
There is someone there, waiting for you, sailing in her little paper-boat. She has never given up sailing for you... she never will— I breathed onto the jar of Dreams, and the warmth welled up onto his windowsill.
I saw the lights of the Birds descending into the grey city, lightening up the sky. A clear path of velvet blue cleared off the vast of darkness, and the girl, in her little boat, slowly descended the lonely city with the lights of the Birds.
There will be happiness, and sadness, and anger, and love.
When he began to fall, I saw the girl singing beside her little paper boat. Stars fell about her, adorning her with their harmony. They flooded the city, leading a path of light towards infinity.
He jumped. Even though he knew he would fall, he had to fly. Tears whelmed up his eyes, and his hopeless soul gazed into the vast of Darkness. With both hands reaching out into the heavens of desperation, he gave out his life.
Beyond. I thought I heard him say.
And the stars caught him in their arms, almost too gently.
I heard a thousand winds spoke.
You are the maker of my boat.
I caught my pen when the grey city, the portus, and the starry world began to dissolve.
The song of the sky poured out from the starry night:
With the last rays of sunlight,
I saw him, on the streets.
With tears I heard his shaking voice
“Does the sky really exist?”
He looked at his shattered flute.
A white feather fell out of the debris,
soft and light, it found the wind.
Twirled and turned, it flew up high.
He chased, and chased, up and high
Singing the song of the sky
those who teased and those who helped
They followed his tune
“Up up up and high
Into the music of the sky.”
At the verge of hopelessness
The stars would guide the lost to his path
A white dove sour into the summer winds.
The sun rises again.
It was almost dawn, and the sounds of the city were as loud and uneven as I could remember.
I gazed into the far horizon, where damp mellow sunlight weaved into thin fog.
I touched the words inscribed on my pen.
Where is Beyond? Above the heavens, the path towards Beyond never fades. The sun shall rise once again from the darkest night, to guide the paths of the lost, and to lead the path for himself. And beyond light and darkness, the stars would always sing for those who roam in our little lonely world, to console their lonesome souls, and to company their darkest paths.
Who are you?
The heavens asked as I sat up by the windowsill.