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When you stare into the Abyss, the Abyss stares back into you...

Rarely have I held a secret from the world, much less my friends, however I've little fear of them finding this here. I have always been an open book. "Ask and ye shall receive," tis merely a matter of discerning the proper question, yet I feel as though I should keep this to myself for a spell and allow time to lessen the severity.

The moment came upon me yesterday from seemingly nowhere. Elements of my life troubled me. Guilt, heartache, and even the burdens of everyday life began to swell, but no one emotion held dominance, not one emotion pervaded every crevice of my thoughts such as they had done before. Why then did that moment arise?

The wounds of my arm were healing so very well. I had been in a car accident roughly two weeks prior. Soon they would be just a light shade of pink, another scar upon the skin soon to be forgotten. I had tended to them carefully to ensure a swift recovery, yet then it struck me. I didn't feel the intensity of any emotion I had known before. I didn't feel hatred or despair. It just began with a simple glance at the scabs that quickly diminished with each new day. I turned my eyes to my fingernails, like subtle daggers. It was so very unreal, as though I was watching from the distant safety of a dream. I was in complete control, yet my actions were not my own.

I placed my longest nail beside one of the scabs, and in one deft stroke cleaved the dressing from the flesh. The ragged remains fell to the bathroom sink as I fixated my gaze upon the fresh wound, watching and waiting to see what would happen next. As predicted it began to turn an increasingly darker shade of pink until finally that first drop of life pushed from the seemingly barren surface. From that drop sprang forth a stream. I was bleeding. How very interesting. I didn't feel any pain, or perhaps I did and just didn't care or give it the attention that instinct demanded?

The droplet trickled quickly down my arm. So much from something so terribly slight. I looked up at the mirror to take in a new perception of the events taking place, to see it through another's eyes, yet what I saw was myself. I looked myself in the eyes and I stared right back at myself. His gaze was cold, his smile malignant. I returned my attention to the blood pouring from my arm and again touched my nail to it. The red soaked it and filled a miniscule pool in the underside. I looked back at the mirror and touched it to my face, drawing a brief red line downward from my right eye. The paint ran dry, and so again I dipped the brush, thickening the line, making it darker. I repeated this until the bleeding stopped.

I looked at the image in the mirror and smiled. It reminded me of those days so long ago buried deep within memory, the kind that cannot be remembered until some stark similarity forces the mind to search for something in the past to relate it to. I remembered an instance when I was so very young. It was a little carnival for the children at my school, a private Catholic institution. There was a little booth where someone would paint something on your face with a tiny brush. If memory serves I chose a blue and gold lightning bolt, but today a bloody tear seemed ever more appropriate: red was the only color available, and I had plenty of it. Yet something was wrong. The line was too awkward, too thick. I had to fix it, yet the well had run dry. I needed more.

I searched high and low for something sharp enough to draw blood from a new wound, but all I found was the knife I always carried in my bag. I doubted very much that it retained the edge it possessed so long ago, but I tried anyway. I was never a cutter. I had tried once and felt not an ounce of the relief that I had been told of. I pressed so hard, and it did indeed carve into the flesh, but not as deep as I wanted. A razor I had used once before had performed so much better, but alas I hadn't such a wonderful option, so I returned my fixation upon the other wounds beside the first. I looked at my blood-crusted fingernails and then back at the scabs. I smiled lightly and tore away the skin. Blood pooled and dripped just like before. I had my colors. I touched the blood and continued where I had left off, painting underneath my eye and drawing it downward across my cheek. It no longer resembled anything close to a tear, but war paint. I didn't care anymore, I just continued to bleed and paint.

The color grew darker as I added more and more to the pigments, and the area I covered continued to increase. Whenever the blood ceased to flow I would open another wound, like a painter turning to another tube. I drew all around my eye and over my eyebrow. Next I drew outward, and as it neared my hairline I turned the line earthbound. I had long since forgotten whether or not there was a purpose to this, the reason for it. It became a subtle obsession. I had to add more, I had to use everything until there was nothing left to use.

Finally the last well ran dry and there was no more blood with which to paint. The wounds looked ragged, torn, irritated, and enflamed, but I paid them little attention. I looked into the mirror and gazed upon the face that had acted as my canvas. It was art, in a macabre sense, or perhaps it was insanity? Whatever it was, it was so very terribly intriguing. I looked at the face I perceived before me. I had known my own face before. I had looked at it every morning and most every evening since time immemorial, but it had never looked like this. This face was new. The look in my own eyes, the strange smile spread upon my lips, the deep crimson painted upon the right half of my face. I loved it. It reminded me of the times when I went to get my piercings and my tattoo. I fixed my attention on the new color like I had done with the metal and the ink before and I was overcome with a sense of nostalgia, a reminiscence of a time in the past not through memory, but indescribable emotion, almost as though you could relive that moment, if only ever so briefly.

Suddenly nothing in my life mattered. Not the stress, not school, not the innumerable complexities and complications, not the drama with my newfound friends, my family and HER, not the worry over my rather fragile living arrangements, not my fret over turning in the paperwork for that new job. Nothing mattered at all. I just stared into that blissful alizarian color and gave way to letting go of it all. I can't honestly remember how long I just sat there on my haunches looking at the person leering at me from within the mirror. I just continued to study the image until the blood caked and crusted, tightening the skin on which it rested. The feeling upon my face reminded me of those things so briefly forgotten. I had things that needed my attention.

I closed the drain in the sink and ran warm water from the faucet, allowing it to pool as I took one last glance at myself. The familiar look in my eyes had returned, but the memory remained. There was something hiding behind those windows to the soul, something looking back. I shook the thought from my mind and cupped the warm water in my hands. I slowly dipped my painted face into the water and pulled it out again. I could feel that nothing was different. I took my hand and scrubbed my face with the palm, forcing the blood away, conveniently introducing my tattoo in which it lay to its temporal cousin. I scrubbed everything away, every last trace and let the discolored water drain. I tended to the fresh holes in my arm and wiped away almost every last trace of the event, taking only a small memento with which to remind myself of my own inner demons before returning to my life.

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submitted by: InnerDemons
on: 30 Oct. 2005
in Ritual

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