In Memory
Sean Pettibone



Ghosts of winter moon (part two)


Morning sun.

The sky is bright. 


Back to the normal world.

I am warming.

The chill dissipates.

After the dream ended, the effects lingered.

It haunted me throughout the day.

The first few steps back into light were hard to take. It was difficult to keep my balance. After being in the dark for so long, the bright was disorienting. I found myself in a familiar place, though many things had changed. I walked through the grassy fields on my way towards a flowing river, itís blades felt like knives to me. I was accustomed to the moonís smooth, cold surfaces. Numerous rocks and sticks littered the path ahead. As my eyes cleared and adjusted, I was surprised by the things in summer I had missed. Each green leaf on every tree felt vibrant and alive in a way I had never noticed, or more precisely overlooked in the past. Even though it lasted many years, my long journey through the distant winter moon felt shorter than I had anticipated. Back on the ground, diving back into reality was a slow process. Sometimes, an hour felt like a decade. As I walked, I realized that I missed out on a lot of things. On winter moon, despite my loneliness, I felt in command of a world that didnít exist. It was safe, unchanging, cold but predictable. Now, I find myself lost in a world where endless possibilities and opportunities await. Feeling the sun on my head was an unfamiliar sensation. With each step, I grow a bit more confident. A sense of peace begins to swell. I realize I donít have to spend the rest of my life in tears on my knees. This helps me gain some traction, but I hesitate. A palpable sense of loss remained, thereís a binding shadow I canít seem to escape no matter how bright and sunlit the world appears. I thought about a lot of things over the past few years. I have no greater answers than anyone else. In some ways, I feel more confused than I ever have. Some things happened that I just canít seem to understand. Coping with these realities can be a difficult ordeal sometimes.

As I walked through the sunlight, under the trees, I reflect on all that has gone on in the past few years. I wonder how one can glide through life so easily while another seems to feel blocked, denied and punished at every step. God only promises perfection in the next world. This is a promise he makes to the faithful, a reward if they are patient and stay on the good path. Itís also implied that the good path and the easy path arenít always the same thing. This thought brings me some consolation, but not much at the moment. Thereís another promise that heíll wipe away all the tears one day. Itís another small thought Iíve tried to internalize, another small attempt to understand the inexplicable. At this point, the tears seemed to have dried up completely, but the pain still follows every step. itís very hard to explain. God promises that heíll carry you through the bad times, when you feel youíre alone. He says youíll one day understand, that youíll see that his second set of footsteps are only visible on reflection, looking back. I looked down at my feet and wondered if there was always someone walking beside me, even when I didnít recognize it or didnít want company. I wondered if there was someone walking this very path with me. Was there someone present, with me at this very moment. I tried to remember these simple ideas, and maintain my faith as dark as it seems to get for me sometimes.

These simple things, acts of faith, help me keep going through, not easily. The more complex ideas flow into one another, creating impossible contradictions that can never be reconciled. Iíve given up trying to explain and rationalize a lot of things. Perhaps, there are things in this world and beyond a mere human will never be able to understand about our brief, transient existence. These thoughts wash over me as I walk towards the sound of the gently flowing water in the distance, unsure of what is drawing me towards it.

Through an escape through fantasy and a return trip to reality, my reflection hasnít really changed. Iíve tried to look away, repulsed by the monster I see, but there can be no escaping this reality. There are things about me that I know would horrify you if you knew the truth. I have been running from this for so long, it has nearly been completely hidden. On the surface, nothing looks amiss. The water is calm, not a ripple over its waves, flowing slowly and surely through time. A peaceful river, if you can imagine, gradually expanding over its banks until it covers a vast surface. The current gradually expanding, covering the dirty mud, fallen tree trucks, stumps, sharp rocks and glass shards flawlessly. Anyone unlucky enough to wade in will also face an unpleasant shock of reality. Lurking underneath, carefully hidden deep underneath the darkest cavern, an old malignancy remains. Quietly, ever so patiently waiting, marking the perfect time Ė for its moment to strike.

As I walk toward the river, an unsettling reflection appeared in the waves. The ripples diffuse its ugliness, leaving a vaguely outlined echo of the person I used to recognize. I wonder why I donít feel any connection towards it. This threw me off, and a sudden jolt of recognition brought me back to similar moment on the moon when I walked over a frozen pond and saw a face. That time, it wasnít me, but that of the mysterious woman. As this came back to me, a slight breeze began to blow. At first, I thought it was just another manifestation of the dream, an echo where the monster I was running from was reminding me that my number was coming up. However, as my perception began to work again and render the world beyond myself, I found myself facing an external monster, something potentially more dangerous. This was the biggest threat to my hard-won return to reality. My eyes didnít see them at first. As the water flowed through the river, the reassuring order began to splinter under an approaching army with malicious intent in their eyes.

I could hear voices from the distance, piercing the silence. They werenít kind voices. They were angry, ugly, unhappy, greedy and selfish. At first it was a low rumble, but they began to take over the peaceful place. As they grew closer, I recognized them. Repetitive and repulsive, they repeated the same narcissistic message Ė they mattered, no one else. Nothing could get in their way or change their path. They unleashed a storm of themselves through the trees. The warmth I felt increased until it became sultry, unbearably infused with their sweat. They left as quickly as they came, but their anger left a bitter searing heat over the land. Steam still rose and I could see them going around in circles, again and again. I could see they went to the same places, with the same anger over and over. I knew this place wouldnít be safe for long. The invaders would soon return, and I needed to move on before their next attack took place.

As I left the peaceful area that I had found, and seen over-run unexpectedly, the over-bearing sunlight seemed to become more oppressive with each step. I felt alone here, there were no allies to be found.  Everyone I saw marching around thoughtlessly through the mud and dirt seemed ugly, vile, monstrous and selfish. Ever more so the closer they came to me, as I could see the way the clenched their jaws, waved their first and marched heedlessly through the bright forest and to the river I had found. They walked through it without looking where they were going, what they were doing. Many had no reason to be there, and probably had little though as to why. I was climbing, moving upwards inexorably. Finally, I came to an elevated formation far above the river. I watched the monsters circle around the again and again. After yet another futile attack, wreaking havoc over the same grounds, they barraged through the trees again.

They were screaming at the world, attempting to unsettle everything from the skies above their heads to the ditches under their stomping feet. Their rage created a disruptive force throughout and I wanted to know what they were so angry about. However, I didnít want to be in their way since I had no idea what would happen if anyone got in their way. I didnít feel like bring pushed or trampled, becoming another silent object for their abuse. I hid behind an array of trees and waited for them to come closer. I began to hear their voices once again, amplified by their footsteps, which created a gasping, gnawing growl that overwhelmed everything. The quiet flowing river was supplanted by their violent battle. They drew closer to my position, and their words became louder which each step. I struggled to hear what they were arguing about with each other, but the syllables clashed with themselves, creating a vacuum of noise where nothing intelligible could be determined.

Outwardly, these verbal battles seemed quite important to those marching seemingly in tandem, and yet simultaneously against one another. I watched them scream and argue, moving towards some unknown destination. Trying not to attract their attention, I looked at them closer. Their faces contorted in strange configurations, jaws opening wider and wider until they stopped talking and began to shout. Their screams had little effect on their victims, and instead unleashed an opposing reaction. The louder their arguments, the more firmly those receiving stood their ground, marching faster and pounding each foot into the ground deeper and more petulantly than before. Their insolent defiance against each other seemed to have been the result the self-destructive tethers which bound them together. This provoked deeper resentments, angrier words and ever faster movements. Imprisoned inside each otherís angry words, they found themselves in an ever-repeating brutal cascade, a self-absorbed echo chamber surrounding their every word. In a desperate attempt to escape, they found themselves yelling ever louder, moving always faster in an attempt to break their intractable cycle. I watched them, their skin flush with the bitterness and anger, attempting to douse a fire they couldnít control. Their specific words and phrases became less important they louder they screamed, undermining their efforts to communicate with one another. As they came closer, their voices blended and the result was a blind, screeching noise, deafening in volume.

It seemed like none of them could break free, but as I observed them, a different truth began to emerge. They squandered their lives with anger and rage. It pulsed through their bodies and made them appear withered, tired and, sick. Their eyes sank into their faces, squinting and shooting around, in a permanent state of panicked anger, destroying their spark making them soulless. Apparently, their battle involved a sick competition to see who could be the ugliest, the meanest, fastest. They transferred their anger onto others, squealing and sneering at anything that had the misfortune of emerging in their gaze. Nothing was immune from their seething contempt. This group of angry, distasteful figures acted collectively. The fed on each otherís anger, reinforced their rage, ran through the world without heed. They resembled reckless, uncontrolled animals, scratching and eating any tree they could find, leaving only small stumps behind them. Impervious to the consequences of their actions, they went along sniping and pushing one another, oblivious to the world outside themselves. They selfishly ravaged anything and everything in their path. They didnít use chainsaws, their teeth were nearly as sharp. Through their misplaced anger, empty rage, cold words and screams, they proved in their combined actions they very things they denied existed within them.

Voluntary prisoners trapped within their constrained views, they busied themselves arguing with each other to the point that they could not see any face but their enemy. Targeting, blaming, eviscerating, raging, however you say it, their purpose in life had warped to become the complete emotional destruction of others. It was a sad spectacle, to see such a beautiful day surrounding them. The attackers succumbed to their own deception and clung to each other like parasites. Feeding off each other, they had no way to escape each other. Unable to function individually, they instead moved together reinforcing their shared sickness as they plowed through the river banks. Marching together, they had their fingers permanently pointed at someone else, unable to see the poison left in their wake. I desperately tried to understand what they were saying, but the closer they came, the more unsettling it became. After a few minutes standing there overwhelmed by their conversation, I decided it would be better not to let myself be sucked in. They seemed to be permanently angry, which made their screams all the more repugnant. I watched their curled up fingers, strained necks and unnatural footsteps. As they once again left, under the blistering heat, it was relief that I only had to deal with the aftermath. Despite hiding in a safe spot from a distance, my ears were ringing I didnít want to make things worse. Slowly but surely, the chaotic wall of malicious thought and anger began to move away from the river, and they seemed to satisfied in their complete digestion of their surroundings. They seemed completely unable to recognize what they missed Ė what was staring at them in the face. They missed what really mattered, they were completely blind. So enamored of destroying themselves, they couldnít see the shadows they cast under the bright glow of the early morning sun.

I watched them and decided to get myself out of their path. These unconscious parasites continued to scream as if they were monsters, repeating each otherís vile words, adding a few more to make their anger even louder. It was a trapped that seemed to be very easy to fall into, but nearly impossible to escape. If there was anything I had learned during my years asleep on the winter moon, something she had told me again and again, was to stay true to myself. No matter how loudly the words surrounding you were. No matter how nasty the cuts from their sharp teeth were, they would never last as long as standing alone. After watching the consequences of ignoring her advice, I began to wonder if my trips to her world werenít as wasteful as I had assumed when I had awakened earlier that morning.  The worst thing was, I thought this was a lesson I had learned, and understood. Iíd forgotten, then remembered, but it was too late. I stood nervously under the trees, overlooking the damaged river and wondered why I had to return here. Everything that was good was destroyed here eventually, and the ugliness permeated so much, I longed for the cold, unchanging moon. It was a devastating moment. It was a cold realization Ė I was certain that I would never return.

The dream was over and it was time to face reality. What was the purpose of sacrificing my dreams? It didnít seem like there was one. Now I was completely alone in the world where I was born but didnít belong. Anything I learned from her was probably wrong, incidental to my survival in this world.  I thought that time had run out. My feet were firmly planted on this planet once again. Despite filing my protests with God, the facts I wanted to switch couldnít be changed. I would just survive in this world, scraping along and trying to avoid becoming entranced by its false promise, falling prey to its perils. This encounter with reality was overwhelming, filled with noise, heat and rage. All I had witnessed made me feel drained and exhausted. I decided to take a rest under one of the few large trees left standing, its shade gave me shelter. I began to relax, my ears stopped ringing and the tension inside of me slowly dissolved. I knelt, said my prayers and took a deep breath. I felt an unexpectedly cool breeze begin to blow and I sat under its large, leaves. I heard them rustling as my eyes closed. Before I knew what was happening, I had fallen asleep.

(Continue to part three)