TBP: Compass
by Charles Matthias

Sitting down on the bar stool he stared absently at the steak in front of
him, his hand still clutching the rose tightly. It might as well have been
ashes. The pathetic feeling in his gut told him as much. Why was he here?
What purpose did any of this serve? What could his efforts do to stop the
inevitable? Here he was one man in the fight for all life it seemed and
none could recognize its importance, nor could any help him in what he had
to do. Why was he the only one standing against the waterfall that was
pushing him down into the bottomless chasm?
Pushing the plate aside, he stood, dropping the change on the table, unable
to fathom his motives anymore. What did money matter? It was paper made
to sort through goods and services. Goods? No, products, things of no
aetherial value, things that deteriorated, rusted, worn by the years until
they were unusable anymore. Nothing lasted forever, not this, not
humanity, not this planet. Things died, and his efforts were all in
naught. He might as well let the waterfall subsume him, it would do just
as good.
The stares he received for leaving were many, but what did he care of their
stares? They were people, they were things that lived beneath those eyes.
They were his problem. They were recalcitrant, unable to fight the fight,
unable to hold the waterfall back. Together, fate might have pushed it
back into the mountains, yet there was no hope for that. His own person
was divested of it, his own intentions were never clear enough to form the
proper opinion, his own body just a vessel for something greater, yet why
did it then feel so empty?
Leaving the bar, he let his feet guide him down any stretch of road that
suited them. His eyes on the ground before him, seeing the dirt and slime
and muck that passed beneath his shoes. It was the way of the city, no
matter how much it was cleaned or how often it was scrubbed the disease of
life filled every crack it could. Here was the remnants of their once
great civilization teetering on the edge of oblivion. Here it all was, no
longer could it be considered anything but trash.
The world was full of trash, trash that people did not feel necessary to
get rid of; trash of their own making; trash that was conveniently tossed
from their house and into the streets. Where did people live? Did they
live in pleasant apartments with nice beige rugs with a Television and
stereo system hooked up together, with a couch and comfortable bed,
refrigerator in the kitchen with lots of food stored up for almost any
culinary whim? No, that was not where people lived. That was a place
where they resided, that was what they surrounded themselves with to
convince themselves that there was some order to the universe. They lived
beneath their skin, and sometimes in that skin. Beneath his skin, there
was nothing left.
Of course, some would contest that they made do with what life gave them.
Life doesn't give anything! Life takes, it takes, and it takes. Life
cannot give anything to anybody, there is no such thing as fate, there is
only the terminus at the end of the road. Perhaps life had taken him? No,
he'd been like this before, and would be so again, and again, and again.
Was there a special occasion for it? Was there a reason why he was
carrying this rose?
There was, he knew, but it was in some part of him that he had hidden from
himself, something that did not need to be reminded of. He continued to
let his feet take him out past the large buildings, through the smaller
houses and homes, back towards the marble crusted gates, and the standing
stones. He passed through, his feet finding their way quite easily, they
alone knowing his destination. He was a husk that knew nothing of itself,
for to know that would be to have something inside of him, some spark of
life that could stand against the waterfall, some spark of purpose in him
that would conquer and triumph and preserve life as he knew it.
His feet stopped moving. He stood before a single stone about three feet
in height. There were words engraved upon it. He leaned over, and laid
the single rose to rest upon it. This was why. This was what he was
missing. This was his purpose in life, to never let this happen again.
The pain of it came back to him, and with pain, there is life. He felt his
empty shell fill as if it had never tasted anything like it before. This
was not new wine, but old that had become familiar to him.
Purposeless seemed to strike him like this. It was because a life that
isn't whole tends to drain away unless constantly renewed. He pursed his
lips thoughtfully, "Well, here I am. Here I stand for you." He could not
think of anything else to say then, his eyes tracing out each letter in the
stone. The life that was flooding back into him overwhelmed him. It was
like this every time, not a single one was different in anyway.
"Twenty-five years. I still remember," He muttered, choking back the
words, unable to say more then. His feet, knowing that his task had been
finished, turned him about to leave. Suddenly, only a few paces away, they
turned him back for another moment.
"You would be proud of them." It came from his lips, he didn't know why.
Then his feet took him out of that place, back to fight the waterfall, his
own life renewed once more.


Copyright 1998 by Charles Matthias. If you want to post this anywhere else, please ask the author for permission first. Thank you.

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