The pain is gone.

Reading some pages of fiction touched off old memories that I’d forgotten existed, bringing back to life words and, with them, sensations. Words were between words, ideas between ideas, color underneath hue.

Earlier, I wrote not to remember or document, I wrote because I knew of no other way to digest the world; when I wrote, I grew up. Every phrase I pushed back into the inspiration whence it had come, like a bullet pressed back into the wound, I’d bleed, but the blood would be blood, just there, undigested like a colored liquid I could see, feel it crawling, but not speak about. So I wrote relentlessly, good or bad, profound or – as often was the case – meaningless.

And then I’d read myself, I’d grow up just a little, and there’d be a little more to think about life. I’m not much of a traveller, a mover even, so over time, what I wrote about would have become mundane, featureless, like a barren tract of land that lay rasping, unable to breathe air and already alien to water because it had eaten and suckled on itself, if not for books. I grew up on the minutes of lives very different from my own – or whatever lay beneath all the pages of my ink – and soon couldn’t think for myself without even the gentlest consideration of another character’s opinion.

As the years passed, I began to frighten me, I was not comfortable with the decisions I made for myself. It wasn’t that I feared that I’d be the only one to blame; in fact, that thought had never struck. No, it was simply the lack of awareness of the self, a full man beneath the patina of literature, of scientific intellect and philosophical leanings, built upon all the uncertainties and failures that the litterateur above had thwarted. A part of me had gambled me away for knowledge of the desires of other men and women, while another waited, rather cowered, in its weakening shadow.

Finally, one day, the world arrived, and robbed me away: from books, from stories, from oh-so-important The Others. What was left of me emerged, looking upon the world as a continuous litany of disappointment, the pain and the shock of humiliation – much of it in my own eyes – still evident, and took its first few steps. It tottered. It fell. It stood up, and it fell again. When it learned to stand up and straight, it refused to fall ever again.

The child was man, the writer was gone, the learner was robbed, and the world was upon me, smothering me, it smothers me still… and then I found books once more. I long to return to my shell but the emergence seems irreversible. Now, when I look upon the words, I see words: I see that they are red, viscous, flowing only with steep gradient, still and even tending to crenellate. I know that it is blood, but the nerves are deadened. The pain is gone. It is difficult to grow up when the pain is gone.