For Silver Élan

   Here is the story of the broken. Here is the story of the mended. And so here, we begin. Reach down, down to the space behind your sternum and pull out your beating, bleeding heart. Replace it with something more true to the world that wants you dead: a pomegranate, a rose, a battery, the corpse of a cardinal bird. Take your beating, bleeding heart from your hand and crush it between your teeth, take bites raw and rich and red until you can barely feel the beating. Finally, pull a memory from your temple. The temple of your head, mind you, not the desecration you've made of your still-breathing corpse. Take your memory and make it the right one, don't turn back, don't second-guess, don't hesitate, don't choose wrong. We both know what will happen if you do.

   So take your memory and the strained beating from your heart and whatever sacrifice you made to breathe without bleeding. Mix them together in your favourite pestle and mortar. Or use a saucepan, if you'd like, or an iron cauldron. It's versatile, if you want it to be. As versatile and unforgiving as you. Crush them up until you can't tell one from the other, and paint the mixture over your eyes, your hands, the rolling hills of your thighs. And breathe.

   And breathe. Breathe in and feel your teeth turn sharp, feel the way they'd cut if you closed your mouth. Don't look yet, don't turn back. Breathe until the ashy, dying scent of your mixture turns heather-sweet, until sorrow turns into something less painful. You'll taste the clean breeze on the air, even though you're inside, even though wind can't find you here. Don't open your eyes, but get up and walk straight west, wherever your west happens to be, and count your steps. Don't look back. Don't open your eyes. Don't second-guess.

   Seven steps forward and seven steps more. When the wind is behind you, open your eyes, and tell yourself what you expect the flowers to be. Honeysuckles or forget-me-nots, love-lies-bleeding or bleeding-heart-orchids, albafica or asphodel, or even the roses. Look around at the doorway you stepped through, notice that your heart still beats in your chest, your sacrifice buried on the road you took to find your way back. Notice that your ashy mixture is gone, and it took your image with it. There are no mirrors here.

   So run. Run and fly and maybe take three steps and begin to swim. I never asked you what you see here. Keep going, until the air in your lungs is sweet and clean and green. Whatever you are, whatever you see: it's not for my eyes to know. But here are the rules. Don't second-guess. Don't hesitate. And never, never look back. Your younger self is still running to this point. Doesn't need you to hold the door open, only the chance to find a sacrifice to replace a beating heart with.

   Let that heart beat against your sternum like wings against a cage. Let it guide you onward, like a compass on the sea. What isn't asked is never answered. What's answered is never asked. Decide for yourself what that means.

   Keep running. Run and scream and turn a cartwheel if you're so inclined. Put miles behind you, more progress than you know. Know you can be at peace here, in the green, in whatever colours you saw fit to splatter against the viridescence. Whatever you stuffed in the cavity of your heart, see it within the trees, see how it beats life into the world, breathes and steadies what you see. See how your heart made of you what you need to be, what you're meant to be. See how if you are sure, if your heart is allowed its reign, every broken fragment of you can fall into place.

   Listen to the birds of your memory, coloured by the sacrifice you made. What did you give up? Expectations? Conditional love? A chance or seven, a leap of faith not taken? Does it matter? Probably. But you made it this far.

   So collapse upon the shore of the distant pool, glass against the green, clear as day, clear as an image you dreamed up but never painted. Look into its depths. Recall, if you so please, that if you look into an abyss, it too looks back at you.

   It loves you. Know it or don't, hear the words or fail to listen. But the abyss sees you, sees the yearning in what you made of yourself, the beating of your heart and the memory you draped yourself in, the sacrifice for a doorway into the green. The abyss of the great glass pool sees you, knows you, and it loves you. If you draped yourself in sin, it sees, it forgives, it loves. If you draped yourself in sorrow, in joy, in pride – it understands. It sees no fault in any choice you have had to make.

   Stare into the pool, into what it knows, and ask it for the knowledge you hold but don't yet cradle in your hands. Reach for the first stone you see at the bank, feel it smooth and worn beneath your fingertips, skip it into the pool. Watch the ripple as the abyss accepts your offering. It isn't a sacrifice. You don't need to bleed to see what you already know.

   When it stops rippling, look again into the abyss. Breathe, and look. What do you see, in the reflection of the great glass pool?

   Yourself, of course, but not in so much mundane like a mirror. You shed the breathing corpse you inhabited when you stepped through the door. In lieu of that, what did your heart have to work with, when it conjured you up a new one? It took your memory and your sacrifice, and what you see is only what you've always been, what you are meant to be. If you have clothes on, they fit perfectly, the body you have draped around yourself allows them to shine in the exact way you thought they might, at the height of the stars when the moon is full. Look and see, at the image your heart conjured up for you.

   The abyss loves you. Remember that, and lift your feet from the mud of the bank, step an entire rotation around the pool counter-clockwise, and walk eastward, take your time to turn back and go home.

   When you awaken in your own bed, doorway closed and sacrifice vanished from the physical world, you won't remember what exactly you saw in the depths of the pool. But you will remember the green, and the memory you thought up is draped in peace.

   Rest. Peace has claimed you, and the world has remembered the knowledge it held but forgot to cradle in its arms: it loves you, too.