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The peace letting go of me

by Liminality

Dear father,

I’m writing this letter to you in my head. You couldn’t have read it even if it were on paper, I don’t think. But there are reasons why I’m having to write mentally right now. The main one is that I’m travelling.

On that note, did you ever find the end of the log bridge? Was there really a rainbow underneath? I could swear that was what we were talking about, the last time you visited the shop. You were drenched in rain water. You’d caught the shower that mother and my siblings had missed by taking the eel train. The smell in there had always bothered you, though I wouldn’t know how it is with you now. Anyway, you’d opened your briefcase and shown me your maps.

You said there was a log bridge, far out in the southern part of the islands. You said it was in a place beyond the algal growths, where the green ended and a vast icy blue began.

You said you were taking Sammy, our purebred goldfish, because she was a hearty stallion the height of a small hut.

The day after, you disappeared.

We heard you were unwoven, like a piece of cloth. We heard you were unpicked, like an unwanted pattern in string on a piece of half-done embroidery. But we always thought it was strange that we couldn’t sense you. Not on sunny days, not on rainy days. You weren’t in the shop, the street, the town, the island, the air. We even checked the eel train, but we could not find you there.

As I am thinking this letter, I am taking the fish to the edge of the island. Fish-riding has never felt so odd. The water you brought back has done something to Sammy and made her less golden and more indigo. Or less fish and more memory. I don’t know how to put it. I lift off. I am flowing into rain. The islands scrape against each other in the gales. I can hear them, even though the turbulence is so loud. Sammy swims on, unbothered.

We are following your map. It takes us to caverns and tunnels in the clouds we hadn’t known existed. A fog has crept up behind us. It’s hard to see the places we have passed. My eyelids feel heavy, but I keep awake with a flask of coffee.

In a moment, I thank the oceans for the caffeine.

Because there’s something bright and red coming at me and it’s all I can do to pull on Sammy’s reins and dodge it.

I look around for the source of the projectile. Instead, what I find is a steady stream of red chunks of rock, floating on the currents of air. Could there have been a landslide? The rocks are wet to the touch. A layer of moisture glisters on each one. Still, we press forward.

We find the edge of the algae – and more. A pale light, shining from the distance. White mist that flows towards us in waves, the shapes of which I can make out in the air.

The log bridge begins on the second wave of mist we see. Whenever more waves come forward, it always seems to jump to start on the second one from Sammy’s face. There’s no rainbow, though. Still, it reminds me a bit of the bridge to our neighbouring shopping district back home, which only appeared when someone needed to cross. But why am I thinking about such things now?

If you were here, you’d want to find out how this journey ends. Not listen to me go on about a place you no longer live in.

So we follow the log bridge. Since I’m riding on Sammy, I don’t need to cross. The bridge seems stable enough regardless. The bark is dark, and I get the feeling that the tree was young when it was felled and harvested for its trunk – but that it has become old through serving as a bridge. The map says it will take us to water.

A slender grey head rears up over the mist: it is the mountain on the map. Its tip is encrusted in ice. I hear the sound of moving water. White sprays from behind the face of the rock. I trace the line of movement with my eyes, and that’s when it happens.

I see the mountain’s heartache.

It is red. Pulsating. A thick and equally red glue seems to cling to it. It was what had been falling off into the air surrounding this forgotten place. The weeping sound I thought I heard becomes louder and wetter. I squint my eyes. The heartache is drinking the water from the stream that springs over the mountain’s ledges.

I bring Sammy to heel. She’s just as troubled as I am. Or at least, I think she’s troubled. Her eyes are fixed on the same points as they’ve always been. Only her scales seem to shimmer, the orange-indigo bleeding in with a creamier shade of peach and the white of the mists.

I watch the heartache. How different it looks from the mountain it resides in. It clings to the mountainside like a parasite, but like one that grew from within, not without. Part of the mountain’s side has collapsed, and I can see the caverns within have turned completely red, almost like the insides of a flesh creature.

I try to go closer, but Sammy won’t budge. I finally persuade her to let me off on one of the ledges. I use a walking stick I have prepared for this purpose and begin the hike.

There hadn’t been any signs that you were going to disappear. All day, every day, you just acted like normal. You bustled around with your maps and your books. You made lunch, while mother made breakfast and dinner. Sometimes you came with us to the town’s many fairs, though never on the eel train. Sometimes you fell asleep on the step outside the shop.

I am close to the heartache now. At this distance, I realise it comes with a pulse. I can feel it in my bones: deep, steady, regular.

There are scuff marks on the path towards the core. I follow them. Some of them almost look like they are from a grappling hook, or some other metal implement. At times, I see flecks of brown dirt. I stop when I see an old boot that has been left by the wayside. Have others come here? The place seems profoundly desolate, but the random objects accumulate: a chipped tea cup, a table, a chair.

The heartache calls to me. It sounds like the shop. Like the bell ringing as visitors open and close the door. It sounds like the fish whinnying and blowing bubbles in the air, as everyone busies themselves with the daily tasks of measuring, cutting, sewing. It sounds like the yellow of my dress I used to wear when I stood by the door and watched through the glass, waiting, waiting for the sound of you coming home.

I find your spectacles folded neatly at the end of this mountain path. They feel cool in my hands, and the glass is still clear, not foggy at all. It’s stupid, but a smile creeps over my face. So this is where you were. We kept waiting for you, but you were here all along.

I hang on to your spectacles for a while longer. Then, I set it back where it was and turn around to make my way back down the mountain path, away from the heartache. I’ll tell Sammy we’re going home. I’ll bring her to a fish breeder if the effects of that water don’t wear off soon enough. Most importantly, I’ll tell the town council they should head up here and see what they can do about the mountain. After all, it has gone through the trouble of hanging onto you for me.  


Author's questions (feel free to answer, if you'd like):

1. What is the main mood of the story for you?

2. Is there anything that felt like it was a loose end or wasn't resolved?

3. If you know about the genre 'slipstream', does this feel like a slipstream piece? Or if you know about surrealism, does this piece feel surrealist to you?

Is this a review?



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573 Reviews

Points: 264
Reviews: 573

Thu Dec 22, 2022 5:29 pm
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vampricone6783 wrote a review...

The mood of the story for me is a dark fairytale. It gives me “Alice in Wonderland” vibes. Now, it did feel loose a bit, but that’s a good thing, because then it leaves the reader feeling mystified and enchanted. (Like how I felt when I read “Alice’s adventures in Wonderland” for the first time.) I don’t know what slipstream is, but I do know about surrealism and yes, this feels surreal. A song I feel that would fit this is “No Wind Resistance!” by Kinneret.

Great job! I wish you an amazing day/night.

Liminality says...

Thanks for the review and the song recommendation! I'm happy to hear it reminded you of 'Alice in Wonderland' - that's a favourite of mine, too :D

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Points: 154
Reviews: 4

Tue Dec 20, 2022 11:17 pm
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MidnightMuse wrote a review...

This story is a captivating and imaginative journey that takes the reader through a series of surreal and mysterious landscapes. The writing is evocative and vivid, and the characters and their relationships are well-developed and engaging. The plot is unique and thought-provoking, raising questions about memory, loss, and the power of the imagination. Overall, this is a beautifully crafted and deeply moving story that will stay with the reader long after finishing.

1. The main mood of the story for me is one of mystery and contemplation. The speaker is on a journey to find their father and discover the truth about his disappearance, and throughout the story they are confronted with strange and enigmatic occurrences that leave them pondering the nature of reality.

2. There are certainly a number of loose ends and unresolved mysteries in the story. For example, the speaker's father's disappearance is never fully explained, and the strange phenomena encountered during the journey, such as the red rocks and the moving mountain, remain unexplained. Additionally, the ultimate destination and purpose of the journey are unclear.

3. Based on my understanding of the genre 'slipstream,' which is characterized by a blending of elements of science fiction, fantasy, and mainstream literature, I would say that this piece could potentially be classified as slipstream. The story incorporates elements of fantasy and the surreal, as well as scientific and technological elements, such as the map and the fish-riding, which blur the lines between reality and imagination. However, the story could also be seen as having elements of surrealism, with its dreamlike and irrational landscapes and events. Ultimately, the story could be seen as straddling the line between the two genres, or even transcending them.

Liminality says...

Thanks for the thoughtful review! I'm glad the story captured your imagination :D Your comments on the genre are also valuable. I definitely need to be more mindful of making the character's goals clear in my stories. Thanks again!

If you don't know it's impossible it's easier to do. And because nobody's done it before, they haven't made up rules to stop anyone doing that again, yet.
— Neil Gaiman