by C. Ikpoh

The pressure behind my eyes is overwhelming. I'm blinded from the poison my depressed friend bleeds into my mind from his open veins. I see his pain, his hurt, his yearning to be happy as joy eludes him with proficiency. I count each of his loved ones as they drown into the black tar flooding his body. "Who are we?" I inquire of him to no response as his lifeless stroll leads me astray. We plunge further into the nightmare he lovingly calls his life.

Millions chant his name. Among the voices are angels seeking to restore his grace. The gift of the muse's song is in his spirit. Yet, his demons rule his ear with growling that intoxicates him. Nevertheless, amidst his drunkenness and through the masses, he spots his daughter. He fights to walk towards her but his legs will not move. So, I carry him. His head swings back and forth. While facing left he curses me. While facing right he says he loves me. Alas, his struggle is too much to bear. His thrashing fells us from the clouds deep into the abyss. All the while he screams out her name. Never has a will been stronger in any man. Never has a monster been so consuming in a man as well. I hear his voice in concert with his music. I cry uncontrollably. My shell residing far, far away in narcoleptic solitude leaks profusely from my eyes. I know I am not alright. My heart is no longer in my chest. It continues to plummet with him.

"Who are we?" I query my friend yet again. His mouth moves slowly muttering silent truths held secret since the dawn of creation. His proclamations remain inaudible though. We gently touch down on the golden roads twisting madly about his brain. "Take me to your home," I declare. We move about the path following all its madness. The ground is as bright as his hair, blinding me to our destination. Then, I hear a door open. We are home.

My friend speaks for the first time. "Close it, please." I latch on to the doorknob and shut the entrance. The door meets the frame in perfect harmony with a shotgun blast.

Everything is dripping red. I yell. I scream. I panic. Blood splashes my face as his open skull gives birth to a river of death. I vomit uncontrollably. My entire body tingles and goes limp. Desperation controls me as my abdomen rips open and dark mist begins to rape my chakras, aborting my faith. His eyes meet mine before he says, "We are lovers that can never love enough. I wish I could be with her. I don't want to do this, but my daughter cannot see us. She must not see us." He raised the shotgun to my head. I wanted to go with him and I did not want to simultaneously. I wept mixed tears of sorrow, fear and acceptance. I love my family. I love my wife. I love my little girls. He reads my thoughts and replies, "If you really love them, don't let them see us. Not as we are. It's almost too late." He places the barrel on my forehead. Together we pull the trigger. We are gone forever but never forgotten. Our misguided reasons of love crippling the ones we sought to save. They needed to see us. They still need to see us.