It has been a long time dear internets, a very long time indeed. Everyday I see the icon for Pen Med on my homepage but for some reason I haven’t clicked it in quite some time, recently I just haven’t felt the urge to write anything…but tonight I was feeling different, I wanted to share something…a dream I had.
There was a room with nothing in it but a table, resting atop it was a long cardboard box of dull colors and no words. The table was covered in darkness but the room was relatively well lit, as if the box was in the reverse of a spotlight. I stepped towards it, reached my hand down and casually brushed the top. The colors drifted around the box and the top slid aside like the lid of a coffin. Inside was a folded board and a dozen or so metal trinkets.
The table had around it now four or five figures in heavy black cloaks, their movement stuttered like claymation, jagged and unnatural. I can’t say for sure how many they were because they moved constantly, all at once they were five separate beings and a single amalgamation. Each wore a mask, obscenely white like the comedy and tragedy masks of ancient Greek theater but these masks were as the figures, constantly changing shape and expression, with no face underneath and no eyes to see with.
No lips parted as they spoke in a voice that sounded like mine yet different, “Choose your piece.” I looked down towards the metal baubles but there was now only one, it looked like a bishop from chess. I reached to pick it up, and as I grabbed it the metal was so cold it numbed my fingers. The piece was also much much heavier than it looked, I could barely lift it in one hand. The board then opened on it’s own and my piece pulled my hand and instinctively placed itself on a gray square in the middle. The board itself was surprisingly smaller than it appeared in the box with tiles in haphazard unpredictable paths leading out from the center. The board’s outer edge was shimmering, not like gold more like snow, giving it a majestic beauty.
“Each game begins and ends the same, it’s the play that differs.” echoed my different voice. I looked down and saw each cloaked figure now had a piece on the board but theirs were unidentifiable to me, each looked exactly the same as the other but somehow I knew they were different, and that logic actually made it hurt to see them. There was no wheel to turn, no dice to roll but I knew that my turn was first so I began to move my piece. Each square activated a seemingly random memory that lit the room in vibrant colors, as if the room itself was the memory. It showed an endless blue carpet, a baseball mitt, the cabinet behind the door in the kitchen of my first home and other unremarkable things and moments of my childhood. I stopped moving my piece and the room went back to the neutral it began in.
The figures moved next, each piece across the board on its own, shuddering against the tiles as if each tile’s line was an invisible barrier. No memories played for the shadows, the room only grew darker as each got closer to my piece. The final turn they took actually led one of their pieces two squares behind mine and with each wall it broke my heart pounded harder. I didn’t know why but I knew their pieces must never catch mine. At my next turn I moved again, gliding my freezing bishop across the flat board. The memories came again and they were louder now, if that is something memories can be. I was riding a bike down a hill and into a bush, I was climbing the steps of my great aunt’s house, I was crying they didn’t have peanut butter sandwiches without jelly.
My entire arm was numb when I let go of the piece. The masks were in agony, their faces contorting violently…constantly into exasperated shapes. My piece was now far ahead of theirs but the end wasn’t in sight…in fact I hadn’t noticed until now but the board had no end. The tiles just kept impossibly going. I could see the edge shining against the darkened table but I couldn’t follow any of the trails to their logical conclusions. As the shadows moved their pieces slowly one by one across the squares I grew worried. They were going to catch me, this game has no end.
My turn came again and I decided I would go until I couldn’t go anymore. My piece moved at a much faster pace than I had the two prior turns, the memories blustered through like a steady breeze. I was in second grade praying for hurricane survivors, I was in a spelling bee trying to remember the letters for “transportation”, I was playing Sega Channel at the magical hour when the new games appeared, I was winning a prized slammer. I had to keep going, they must never catch me. Panic took me then, my arm wracked with pain as if being ripped from its socket and it was too much, my piece toppled over as I let it go.
The shadows took their turns delicately moving at a sinister pace. They didn’t seem to be gaining any ground until the final piece moved. It landed a single square behind my overturned bishop. My right arm stinging with pain I decided to go with the left on this turn, forcing my piece forward even faster than before. Memories floated by at such a pace I could no longer separate them. At the same time I ate lunch in 6th grade I was learning to drive in 10th. They became indistinguishable from each other, no longer a breeze but a wave, crashing around the room. The cloaked cratures no longer seemed in pain, their masks were oddly contemplative.
Without my realizing it my hand released the bishop and the color died again. The room seemed even darker than before and the shadows began to move their pieces. The first only made it a few squares, the next two made it six or seven…but I was easily a dozen ahead of the nearest…the last one. That piece shuddered to life on their last turn, sliding against the cracks on the board without a hitch. It closed in to five squares from my piece and began to slow, leaving each square became a trial but the indescribable trinket continued on. It finally got one square behind my piece and stopped abruptly, not from the board’s invisible barriers but obviously, even to me, from the shadow choosing to stop it. I went to speak, for the first time I realized, when my piece was ripped from the board by an ashen hand.
“No one wins at the game of life.” said a chorus of my voice in an echoing whisper. Then before me the charcoal fist crushed my bishop, shattering it into dust. My heart raced and i went to yell out and I awoke, thinking as loudly as I could “I WIN AT LIFE!” I sat up and realizing it was a dream began to laugh hysterically at what I was thinking. Yes…yes I do win at life.
Breedo wins at life.