Nemo’s Nic-Nac Emporium: Ch 1. Purple

 

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{Chapter 1: Purple}

“Why purple?” I asked.

Because it is the shade of royalty.”

“How do you mean?”

Are you familiar with the tropical mollusk ‘murex’? It is a predatory sea snail. The mucus glands of murices can be used to create a purple dye—‘Tyrian purple’. That’s where it first came from.”

My befuddlement at this explanation must have translated to my face, because Mr. Nemo stopped tinkering with the tiny clock in his hand when he looked up at me. He smirked (as subtly as he could manage to) and continued:

“It was extraordinarily rare and difficult to produce. Tens of thousands of murices, in addition to a considerable amount of labor, were required to create this dye. It was, therefore, notably valued in its rarity. Only esteemed members of nobility could afford such a luxury. So you see, purple is the shade of royalty.”

“And that’s why it’s your favorite color, is it? Isn’t that sort of twisted, being drawn to something because of its exclusivity? Don’t you think color is the sort of universal pleasure that everyone, regardless of class or ranking, should have access to?”

The clockmaker chuckled and resumed his work. I felt my cheeks growing red, his laugh, whether or not it was meant to be, seemed patronizing to me. After a few more minutes of fiddling with his clock, he seemed to finish up with whatever it was he was doing with it. He set it aside and looked up at me once more.

Do you think me a callous man, Arthur?” he asked, quite genuinely it seemed.

“I think it’s awfully cruel and regressive to reinforce or romanticize any sort of hierarchical system in the modern day, whether or not that reinforcement take as simple a form as the preference of a color.” I felt strongly about this, and attempted to convey my words with a degree of intensity that would not be lost on Mr. Nemo. He considered my words as he took off his eyeglasses and rubbed the lenses clean with his shirt.

Perhaps. And yet, is it not equally cruel to deny a man the power of indulging in extravagance? Is it not also regressive to discount the possibility of growth? He will never aspire for greatness, who has nothing to aspire to, my boy.”

“I don’t know if I value indulgence and extravagance the way you seem to. ‘Greatness’, as you describe it, seems to be an elaborate mask of a term used to disguise vanity. In a similar vein, ‘aspiration’ can be equated with a fruitless endeavor to prove one’s superiority to others. It is not so much callousness I identify you with, Mr. Nemo, but an alarming inclination to tend towards conceit.”

“Aha! But, Arthur, my dear boy, do you derive no pleasure in differentiating yourself from me? Do you find no sense of delight, not the slightest, in distinguishing yourself as the antithesis of a sybarite such as myself? Are you not, in the satisfaction you achieve in drawing the distinction between your morals and my own, putting yourself in a position, be it one relating to a spectrum of ethical righteousness, of superiority?”

Preposterous! No. Of course I was not putting myself in a position of superiority. Yes, I was glad that I didn’t share Mr. Nemo’s demented outlook on luxury, that I didn’t agree that some are more deserving of it than others. But does that mean I am no better than he is? How could that be? Does my overwhelming discomfort at being likened to someone like Mr. Nemo support his assertion? Am I indeed, in my evident need to see myself as someone entirely separate from him, just like Mr. Nemo? Are we all?

While I sat in silence and considered his peculiar convictions, Mr. Nemo found another clock to tend to; this one was rather large with a brass mantel.

“Mine’s yellow.” I said after a while. It was all that I could manage to say, because, at the moment, it was the only thing I was absolutely sure of. It was the only contribution I could make to the furthering of this conversation that had not been tainted by the seed of doubt that Mr. Nemo had so unperturbedly planted in my mind. He put down the crown wheel in his hand and looked up. “My favorite color,” I added, “it’s yellow.”

He smiled in a way that I can only describe as quaint, and softly asked, “Why yellow?

 

 

 

Fragmented Fondness

 

Inconclusive

Fireworks

Blackness happens in explosions

In your eyes, where the magic is born from butterflies

Never healing the pain that comes hand in hand with sentience

 

We are amidst everything

Nothing

All the same

Bumblebees buzzing, carrying messages to the faint-hearted;

Telling them to stay strong during this time of uncertainty.

 

We are not destined for liberation, not in this lifetime

I don’t know how to fall out of love anymore

Not today, I can’t forget you today

 

Your many faces are blurring into each other

But, the same every time

Kaleidoscopic visions roll their eyes at me, chuckling

I never really knew you

Not really

 

Fading, messed everything up because I could

Never said hi to you either

You wouldn’t have liked me very much anyway, I think

It’s all kind of useless I guess

Sadness is necessary, he told me

“Gives life purpose, don’t you think?”

I don’t know

I don’t like the way it feels though

 

Conversations rising up into the air like cigarette smoke

Dip into the ashtray and leave my sighs to cool down there

I’ll want you whether or not it’s good for me

First impressions are hilarious aren’t they?

Sword masters weren’t appealing upon first glance

You were an acquired taste, love

 

Get close enough

Let me scrunch my fingers into your hair

Smile with your soul, boy

With that radiance

That unapologetic candor

All black everything,

No ivory to dilute the darkness was ever found

Except for the soul,

The soul was grey.

Skewed

There is a disconnect between how things were meant to turn out and the way that they did. Of course, who knew she’d make it this far? She certainly didn’t. She is black to the core, in the most uninteresting way.

She doesn’t know what to make of the life that she didn’t ask for. She doesn’t know how to treat the people who only use her for decoration in their absurd itineraries. Not now, anyway.

The universe was taunting her, and she had given up trying to fight him. “Let him bend me until I break, let him laugh as he may” she resolved.

Everyone. Everything. All of it. None of it made sense. Everything is skewed, it seems. And she is lost. She is at a loss for inspiration, for love, for satisfaction, although there is nothing left to attain (realistically).

But what is reality, anyway? What is it made of? Who does it affect? Could she count herself in?

Because time was swiftly slipping away, and she was wasting it counting stars on the canvas of her own fantasies. She only wanted what she couldn’t have, a specific star. The one that was twisted, bent out of shape, all wrong for her–the one that was furthest away.

She wanted it badly, more than she had ever wanted anything, she wanted it before it went supernova and ceased to be what she fell in love with–although, she might still adore it in the form of stardust, out of sheer respect for what it was.

 

Ma

In my darkest hour you console, 

You hold me, you mold sadness into hope 

Like magic 

You are the light, the warmth, the gaiety 

Amidst these black holes I fashion for myself.

You make me see the good when it’s hardly there,

Teach me about the intricacies of optimism 

About the depths of loyalty and unconditional love

About perseverance and determination 

About how to be strong and soft and stay afloat with unbounded grace.

And I can never be half the woman you are,

Half of that even, 

Or of that even

But I strive to, as you’ve taught me

To make the most of what I have, what I can,

Of who I am 

And I am your daughter 

Your legacy, your blood, your kin.

Ma, 

You are what I picture when I close my eyes 

And imagine joy in the purest form I’ve known it 

You are the strength I know I have when I am faced with adversity and my will is tested 

But Ma,

You are my weakness too 

You are the other half of whatever I am 

So when you ask me to imagine a world without you, 

I can’t.

Because I need you Ma 

Here with me, by my side 

Because when everything gets too scary,

Too difficult to handle,

Only your smile suffices,

Only your embrace calms me,

Only the sound of your voice.

I’d like to thank to you with all of my heart (half of which you carry with you), 

For all that you do, for what you represent, 

For who you are

Because you are absolute love Ma, if I have ever known it. 

Flames of Delirium 

So far I’ve come, since I first started, since I first lost myself

I’m still lost, but that’s not the point anymore, is it?

Because what does it matter, whether I find my way or become further entangled in the maze I fashioned once in a dazed state? 

You know me now 

And although I rest at the very bottom of the forgotten pile of fleeting thoughts at the back of your mind, 

I suppose I’m satisfied. 

And let me tell you something, something I’m not sure I understand myself yet, at least not in its entirety 

Satisfaction is not what I imagined it to be. It is, if anything, even more empty and unbecoming than the chase, for it begs that sharp, painful question–what now?

A question that brings with it, quite inconveniently, a battery of still more difficult questions: Where do I go? What do I do? Who do I become? Who am I, really?

Because the truth is, I don’t know. I didn’t know then and I don’t know now. And I don’t think I’ll know even when I’m close to the end, whenever that is, however that is. And maybe all of this was just a distraction my mind dreamt up to keep me from seeing how lost I truly was, and now I know again. 

But I can’t trivialize you like that, can I? You were, you are, important to me. You, or my truth of what you are and what you mean to me, taught me how to revere, how to admire and cherish for its own sake. You taught me how to believe, how to hope for something I knew I could never have and persevere in spite of that knowledge. You taught me, I think, how to love.

Maybe that’s why I’m having such a hard time letting go. Maybe that’s why I never really can. Because how can I release back into the universe what I found in its deepest hidden crevice when I most needed it, when I was so close to losing any hope I might ever have to find a reason to smile as wholeheartedly as you made possible, and wonder. 

Yes, you made me wonder. You made me pause, and think, and question everything I’d previously accepted as fact without taking the time to observe it objectively. You made me curious and excited, and dimmed my senses just enough so that everything else would seem brighter. 

So it doesn’t matter to me that this fire you ignited once inside me was burning for the sake of distracting me from my inability to piece myself together. It doesn’t matter that the fire serves no purpose anymore and that anyone in their right mind would know that the time has come to put these fiery flames to rest. It doesn’t matter that I’m supposed to be satisfied, because I’m not, because I’ll never be, because I’m human. 

So stay with me, now and forever. Invisible to them, here, by my side, inside me. You are my strength, and you are my weakness, and anything else I am remains in between. 

You are as real as the flames you are represented by, the ones that will burn on for eternity, if I have any say in the matter 

You are here, you are always, and you are mine

It doesn’t matter that you don’t really exist.

Viri-descent

Everything hurts.

Shattered bones further disintegrate, until they form a powdered ash of pain

boiling in the cauldron, I lean over and allow my tears to fall in,

Further add a lock of hair from the Mistress of Folly

Now I sigh in it

It bubbles over, ghastly green

I pour it into a glass, which shatters from the heat

I consume it all, the mixture, the shards of glass

I deserve this pain, I’ll make it last

I transform, finally, as I was always destined to

Into the thing I once adamantly proclaimed to hate the most

Unkind, selfish, stubborn, alone,

I regurgitate my heart and see it writhing on the floor

until it stops moving once and for all

I compose myself and gaze into the looking glass,

What once was innocent, shall never be again.

My Tribe

I think I found my tribe once, a people in whom I saw myself. Together we stood in unity, for each other we wanted goodness and prosperity. There was no selfishness in this sort of friendship, it was innocent, pure, it was beautiful. It was the sort of thing you read about in fantastic tales, and sometimes it felt like it’s own. 

But that tribe left me as quickly as it came. For when the clock struck 18, it was time for all of us to head in separate directions, to evaporate into the world, in this way and in that. I wonder, sometimes, if I will ever find my way to my tribe again, and what form it will take this time, for it can never be the same as it was. I wonder if I deserve to rediscover that sort of unadulterated bond, for perhaps it can only remain as long as one remains pure within their own person. My innocence then, it seems, was short-lived. 

It hurts now, as I float through life, a formless vapor, drifting. I make loose connections, all fruitless, all bland. No one seems authentic in the eyes, they greet you with that surface-smile and don’t submerge themselves in conversation the way sentient beings, blessed with unparalleled acuity in the art of articulation, should. They say things of little substance and when you decide to bare bits of your soul to those among them that are at least making an effort, they stare back with a lifeless, inconclusive gaze that is irreparably exhausting. I am lost among a crowd in which I do not, no matter how hard I try, see myself. 

I yearn for the day when I shall be reunited with my people at last (whether it is in this life or the next).