A Threshold

Credit: Peach Magazine

The room is neither bright nor dark, with its dim light lingering in the air like a rotting, transparent mist. The cobwebs pressed against the ceiling appear to be shimmering and swaying a little, perhaps from an unnoticeable draught. The gathered people sit in polite silence. They are waiting for him to start. The wooden pillars aligned along the wall lean in as if they too were eager to listen to what he had to say. Once or twice a slight creak can be heard, when a chair scrapes against the floor. Someone changes their seating position, whether from anticipation or boredom. That remains unknown.
He stands facing the audience and regards them promptly with his eyes darting from one face to the other. Clearing his throat, he exclaims nervously:

“I wrote this poem a while ago.”

He pauses for a brief moment and unwittingly catches a glimpse of someone sitting at the very back; someone he hadn’t acknowledged before.
Forcefully oblivious, he catches his breath and continues:

“I’ve titled it Implosion”.

Inhaling deeply, his gaze drifts above the heads of the audience in preparation for the beginning of his performance. She sits inconspicuously, with her back against the wall and her legs slightly outstretched. He doesn’t look at her directly, but can distinguish certain features nevertheless. For instance, her tilted darkened head or her silky, brown hair falling loosely towards the floor as if  they were braids of ivy hanging from a roof of a cottage, abandoned long ago. Suddenly the actual purpose of his presence in front of everyone yanks him out of the stupor.
The poem begins.

Connecting through pain,
Suffering in connection,
Deploring disconnection,

Out of the corner of his eye he notices her shifting almost inperceptably in her seat. He remains indifferent towards the rest of the audience, but can’t help feeling somewhat disturbed by her morbidly peculiar presence. He goes on:

Guarding secrets,
Concealing brevities,
Demanding clarity,

As if in a challenge, he quickly throws a look in her direction. Nothing happens, so his words sound once again:

With fierce iridescence,
Shuddering not glowing,
Fading for a second,

A vein in his temple unexpectedly starts throbbing. Without moving his head, he knows she is the cause of this. During the recital he constantly kept considering her connection to him and couldn’t arrive at any sensible conclusion. This made the throbbing even worse. Becoming more and more frustrated, he decides to distract himself by finishing what he had begun:

From words too lucid,
Ceaselessly feeling
Quietly glancing

It struck him like a knife. He thought for a moment his heart would shut down from the adrenaline that was unwarningly surging through him. The audience must have been thinking this was a dramatic build-up before the punchline, because no one reacted to the otherwise probable awkwardness. He peered fearfully at the person who had triggered so much dread in him that evening. But he understood. As he looked at her dark clothes, her unsettling, intertwined hands and her continuous lowered gaze, he understood. He had definitely encountered her before. She was that gruesomely invisible figure that never left his side. She embodied all of his regrets, all of the forgotten anguish, grief and euphoria that he had ever left in the past. For that was her name.
The last line of his poem came out unsteadily, his voice nearly shattered:

I implode.

Applause broke out, some of it more enthusiastic, some less. He could not hear it though, it all sounded like a dull thudding to him. He couldn’t take his eyes of her, in the grim sense of the phrase. He simultaneously hoped and feared what would happen if she looked up. The clapping began to die down and when the last of it could still be heard, she then abruptly stood up. She took the few steps she had to the door, pausing at the threshold. Her arms hung loosely along her skinny waist. He witnessed her making a slight lean forward, which meant she had decided to continue her stride. She took the final step and vanished around the corner. Yet a split second before this took place, her head turned towards him. Their eyes violently met once again.


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