the call of sirens…


Her favorite sound in all the world was the distant, echoing wail of sirens.

Especially on winter nights, when a heavy stillness would blanket the icy outer world; the city, only a pane of sheer, frostbit glass away, frozen and delicate in contrasting hues of bristling blacks and greys.

She would listen patiently for their rising pitch, always somewhere in the distance, and always, each night in her flat, she would hear the welcome, anxious chorus of emergent tragedies and accidents winding up through a chaotic wellspring of events, hidden within the latice of spectral night; her back, smoothly arching, as if in arousal and her thin breath, stale in her lungs, absently trailing out of her gently parting lips.

She’d listen until those ringing sirens carried themselves up and off and away, high into the ether, where threats and judgement found no foothold. Where nobody had a name. Nor, did they need one. A place of thin, strained air, where no one is from nowhere and where no one gave a shit.

A place where even she found solace, as a citizen of this nowhere, she was satisfied in this moment to be merely in transistion.

She wanted nothing more, in those fleeting moments, but to linger there, in eternal submission, alone and still and calm – a rare gift, in the shadows of her warm, empty room, and to be invisible but for the wrinkle of sheets draped about her sharp frame.

To do nothing else but submit to the quiet, she thought, was simply out of reach, too much to ask, and, to her, stuck in her own window of life, the concept of “now” was as obvious as it was intangible.

But, she knew that nothing was too much to hope for. Even for her and even though she knew she had made her bed, and that she was not here, nor anywhere else; not anymore, and certainly not in Upsalla.

Never again.

She’d been adrift in everyone else’s system, in the lost, obscene flow of cause and effect for too far long to wish for such hopeful indignation, and whenever she did try to escape the tangle of her own life, she would only, like a bottle rocket, fire defiantly towards the stars and skies only to ever drift back down into the seductive madness of her own obsessions soon after; and always, an illusory danger and trap just as everything else.

But, then again, she considered, what choice did she have?

She had made her bed. And, in that she knew, she would never sleep again.

But, she lived for those beautiful sirens alone, and in the sweep of their chorus, she would always hold out hope. The way they rode the stiff Scandinavian air, with their odd, out of time shrillness, was a penetration she both invited and intoned. Those sirens, she loved just as she loved the smell of gasoline.

Both made her moist to the touch, which, like all else that had come and gone, was now, to her, and like the blanket of time itself, an illusion.

Nothing more than the vapor, or a ghost.

She rolled her lithe, listless body on to her side, curled up against the cool wall and sighed a warm breath of relief, as particles of ephemera mingled in the obfuscation of dusty, stale air that seemed to define her flat in a sacrum of peaceful timelessness.

She felt the ebb of night waning and listened to the old grandfather clock across the flat tick away the same second of the same minute of the same hour, as it always had since she discovered it discarded a year before, outside of her loft, tipped over, cracked and lying by her doorway like a corpse on a slow road.

She had hauled it up those stairs, all alone, and later that very day she gave it a corner of her space to embellish as it wished, with that one brooding second of time it knew so well, and held to like a cold comfort in a lonely life.

In that moment, she stepped back and crossed her arms against her modest chest and felt kinship with that old, worn clock.

The two of them, alone, stuck in time and without bearing, nor desire for rescue of any kind.

Both of them, mere passengers who lived only in a perfect present.

One, never ending and one blessed by the pointless void of right then and right there.

No night, no day.

No past and certainly, no future.

In that perfect present, that one forever second that both signaled and repelled eternity, nothing good or bad ever happened; and in that golden, secret instant, nothing ever would.

She thought of her mother, and, again of old ghosts and then silently thanked god for not believing in either.

Even if, after all, she had seen her share of spectres, glancing in and out of the wastes between experience and regret, that littered the shores of her dreams, where control lapsed into corruption and where she felt the most alone and unfamiliar.

Sleep, she thought, must be for the damned.

So, why the fuck was she stuck awake?

She was getting cagey, irritable.

And worse yet, she had no one to take it out on.

Those dark hours of night, to her, were as unwelcome as she felt everywhere else, even here, in her supposed home and even now, in the spiraling confines of her curious, racing mind.

She ran her long fingers through the strands of soft, black hair neatly skirting her pale forehead.

Her hair smelled of smoke and flowers, like a funeral home or a hotel room, both places she was more than familiar with, as an alien in an unsafe world. A world, no matter what, that she viewed as adversary, regardless of its guise, or its machinations. She had given this world a fair chance, yet it only ever left her with discontent. This world, she lamented numbly, was an oppressor and she, as always with such things, desired her talons to be within the soft flesh of its throat.

Nothing more, nothing less.

She closed her eyes and felt the sting of insomnia scratching at the back of her brain.

But, like the one looping, repetitive second, forever ticked off by that old clock, in the near distance, she heard the distinct sound of a woman screaming. And, she discerened, analyzing its frequency, that it was a scream colored more of anger, than of pain or fear.

This was the voice of 3am, a voice of scorn, and of revenge.

She knew this sound very well. It was a sound she too had made many times before, and that, of course, comforted her. As long as she, too, could wail, she knew blood still flowed hot in her veins and in that, she closed her eyes tightly, watching explosions of shape, hue and geometry trace hallucinations and faces and trite imaginings across the obsequieous blackness of her inner world.

She listened intently, behind her own eyes and waited.

She knew they would be coming, the sirens and the dawn. And, like the clockwork lock step that everyone else in the world but her slaved along to, they would come soon enough.

As was the ritual, time and time again, of search and of rescue.

That scream, an icy blade sharpening itself against the waning, cold night – would be more than enough.

The sirens, as if in heat, would have no choice but to heed to its lonely call.

It was pure instinct, which was something else she knew better than most.

And, like instinct, she knew that there was always someone out there somewhere, screaming for something or for someone. That pathic, visceral expression of dread and sorrow and strife, a summoning sound, or culling song contained in the virile hearts of all else but hers.

She may still have wailed, but. Se never, ever screamed. Not once in all of her seconds, minutes and hours of perfect present she had known.

And she never would.

Not for help.

Not for anything.

Nor anyone.

She felt as the siren must feel, compelled only to answer. She felt a warm, welcome prickle of goose flesh run across her back as those sirens bled in from the far, shadowy distance, maybe north of her ear, maybe east, but coming quickly and without regard for anything else entirely but their charge.

At once, as those blearing, desolate sirens raced somewhere out there across the outside world and into the unreachable countenance of her thoughts and her mind, she felt clean and calm and true.

She rolled over restlessly and took a long, deep breath, closed her eyes and in the silence and fading darkness, held that air in her lungs, in that one eternal, never ending second, letting it expand, and contract and burn for release.

She then let it out, back into the air, as a tingling lightheadedness descended over her, cascading slowly and steadily, just as that old clock across the flat beat out its single, muted instant over and over and over again.

And, in that instant…

that one perfect present…

she drifted off…

and thought of nothing else…


for lisbeth. forever. xo.


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