“The Third Eye”
A surreal short story: “She recalled from her infancy, a previously lost memory of her guardian angel whispering soft lullabies and blessings into her ear and then placing its pure, ivory finger on her upper lip, forming the shallow groove, or philtrum, above the mouth. She remembered that her guardian angel, at the moment of her creation, had told her the secret meaning of life, but she knew that this secret was meant to be forgotten and lost ephemerally, until it would resurface once more in the final moment of her death.”
Niyah stood up, and the sky opened its mouth at her. The sky had teeth and was threatening to encapsulate her in its belly. She felt as if a thick, gauzy film had grown over her eyes; a secret, surreptitious membrane that seemed to meander and pulsate along with the rhythm of her heartbeat. She had never felt this way before, and wondered if she had ingested something of questionable origin and consequence. Looking through her window, she found a massive eye staring back at her, as big as the sun, but closer to her than light years away. Whenever it blinked at her, she felt the whole earth move beneath her feet, and vibrate thunderously like a supernatural earthquake, or some frightening act of God. The eye had beautiful bold lashes that threatened to whip her. And one large pupil, staring mindlessly at her, the way a spoiled child looks at his mother when he has done something wrong.
In the sky, large birds opened and closed their massive wings at her. She shrank into her bed, afraid even of the blanket. Niyah stared at the ceiling above and saw a giant refugee spider hanging from its web. She stared at it like a paralyzed fly, trapped in its fiberglass strands. It seemed to cast a spell on her, hypnotizing her mind and taking her over. Its gigantic body was covered with thick, black hair and its eight long legs made confident strides towards her as she struggled to stay focused. She imagined it growing smaller, crawling down and settling into her skin, burrowing away at an open pore and nesting inside of it, until thousands of baby spiders would break through the surface and trickle down her cheeks like living, breathing, scuttling teardrops. Then she noticed that the closer the spider seemed to get to her, the farther away it began to seem, and she decided that her mind was a far scarier place than this spider’s web.
And then something ageless cried out to her. It was courage. She broke her gaze from the ceiling and looked at the eye again. Now it was reverberating, in rhythm with her pulse. She held her breath and controlled it, making it beat less and less. Until her heart threatened to stop, forever. Ultimately she closed her eyes and gave up on this game, ashamed of herself and the morbidity of her suicidal tendencies. She decided that if she were to just give up and stop breathing, there would be no reason for her to try to take control of the situation and fight; to stand up for herself amidst this chaotic apocalypse, this strange war. Deep inside, she knew that she was so much stronger than anything that could possibly stand in her way. Life is so fickle, like a friend. It can be with you one instant and then leave you all alone by yourself, with only the black-eyed angels of death Munkar and Nakir as your guide.
Under her arm a cyst sputtered, growing inside of her like a third eye. When it threatened to open, she pierced it until the third eye was blinded and Buddha laughed at her, perched high up on a cloud. He laughed and laughed, until his mouth seemed to fill up the sky, and Niyah felt afraid and alone, once more. Beneath him, the great eye in the sky stared back at her, the way a mother looks at her misbehaving child. It seemed to revolve around itself now, looming like an omen in the vast, white celestial sphere. This region of the atmosphere was so stark and bright white; it seemed to move farther and farther away from the center of the universe, eclipsing the space between “Now” and “Forever.” Niyah asked the eye if this was the end of life itself: the last day on earth. It opened its mouth at her and laughed. Out of it a single enormous teardrop fell. It collided with the earth, causing a great flood.
Niyah was overwhelmed as this great deluge overtook her. She bounced up and down upon the tremulous waves, feeling the thunderous movement of this rapidly churning sea as she was violently dragged and displaced again and again. She floated on a raft for days, all alone with herself. Her nerves cried out in agony, restless at the perpetual edge of the world, until a corpse floated up and reached into her raft. It was true — the dead had been resurrected on this Qiyamat, the final day of Judgement. Niyah pushed the corpse away, preferring to be alone. It cried out in anger and then sank back into the bottomless abyss. As it floated away it laughed at her, until all that was left was a trail of bubbles in its wake, breaking the surface of the saltwater flood. There were no consequences for her actions and she lived with the memory of a laughing corpse sinking into nothingness, engrained forever in her delusional mind.
She was alone once again, and forever more. Off in the distance she saw a single light. It floated mysteriously far away until it got closer, and closer. Was it her guardian angel, returning to her as it had promised to do so when she was a child? She recalled from her infancy, a previously lost memory of her guardian angel whispering soft lullabies and blessings into her ear and then placing its pure, ivory finger on her upper lip, forming the shallow groove, or philtrum, above the mouth. She remembered that her guardian angel, at the moment of her creation, had told her the secret meaning of life, but she knew that this secret was meant to be forgotten and lost ephemerally, until it would resurface once more in the final moment of her death.
The light came closer and closer as she sat in her raft. Would it save her from this lonesome existence? Or would she have to reach into the salty sea and pull out the deranged corpse again, with her sea-salt ravaged hand. The light came closer and closer now, and everything around it seemed to sway in a quivering mood. Her mind began to wander. It felt good to forget herself. She was sinking now. And the raft was receding into the distant horizon, far, far away from her. Was this going to be the final moment of her death? Would she remember the secret that her lips had once been sealed with, as her guardian angel had stood before her and graced her with the ultimate gift of life?
It was over. She would sink to the bottom of this sea and join the deranged corpse. Was this to be her destiny? With her last breath she renounced everything. It was the least that she could do.
The light came closer and closer, and suddenly a hand floated into her field of vision. Was it the corpse, come back to seek revenge on her for abandoning it in her most desperate hour? No, it was not a hand ravaged by sea-salt, but a hand that was clean and dry, like the hand of God. The light came closer and closer until it almost blinded her, it was so close. Then she realized that her eyes were closed, so she opened them.
She could see before her, the hand of the woman who gave birth to her. And now two vestiges of her mother were looking into Niyah’s crossed eyes, which now struggled to refocus. In Niyah’s field of vision now, her mother was one, and her eyes were uncrossed. She was shining a flashlight into Niyah’s dilated pupils. Then Niyah saw her father’s face descending from the sky, accompanying her mother. She was back in her bedroom. There was no sea. And no corpse. And no eye in the sky.
Niyah thanked God that this was not her final moment on earth, and thanked the universe that the ultimate, primordial secret would not yet be revealed to her. She had many, many decades left to live before her final moment on earth would take place, and for this she was grateful. The cyst under her arm started to leak now, as she felt something spherical was moving around strangely in the center of it. Her mind was guided back to the third eye under her arm, so she placed an index finger and thumb over the mouth of the cyst, wondering if the third eye was really inside of her. She lifted up her arm and gazed curiously into the cyst, as the third eye opened up and stared back at her.
Again, she wondered if this moment was real, or just a dream.
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