At The Edge of Chaos Back to Blog
This is a story. Maybe it’s even true.
My brother once told me I’m insane. He wasn’t spouting off the way bothers will with their sisters. He meant it. We don’t talk much anymore. Could be he’s right. If he is, I’m not the best judge, I suppose.
The problem is that there’s always been something pressing in on me. Even when I was a girl, when I sat quietly, completely motionless— it’s not an easy thing to do, to sit without moving —I’d feel a weight on my chest and back.
The same thing happens now and I wonder if there isn’t something inside me trying to get out, and that’s why I notice the pressure at all. Once or twice I’ve asked friends if they feel that way too. But they just look at me the way my brother did that time. I’m careful about what I say anymore.
The thing is, what if they don’t notice because they’re never still enough to feel the chaos beating all around them?
My bedroom has a sliding glass door and there are nights when there’s no moon to be seen. Once when I was in bed, warm under the covers with the cat sleeping on my legs, I looked out the window and there was something looking back at me. I saw its eyes blink, and for half a heartbeat I felt like I was falling into a hurricane.
The county where I live is slowly, and sadly, becoming less rural. Every year, the city bumps up against the country with harsher insistence. Look at pictures from thirty or forty years ago, and there’s nothing but open space where now there are houses.
Old-timers notice the change, but newcomers don’t. How could they? They have a different picture fixed in their heads. They move here and the pressure is normal for them. They don’t see.
Those eyes I saw, they weren’t human eyes. The human eye doesn’t throw back light. The eyes weren’t close to the ground, and they were too high up to be a coyote. Besides, the coyotes and foxes don’t come that near the house. There aren’t any wolves around here and the eyes were too high up even for a mountain lion, which we do have.
When I saw them, the eyes, I mean, the pressure bore down on me like chaos. Trying to get out. Or maybe, I thought, as I lay there in bed, unable to move, maybe that sensation came from whatever was behind the eyes.
Later that night, I dreamed I saw a man turn into a wolf. If you think about it, that’s not so unusual. If you think you saw a monster, it makes sense you’d dream about it afterward.
At night, if there’s no clouds or fog, I can turn off all the interior and exterior lights and go outside, bundled up against the cold if it’s winter, to see a sky so filled with stars it takes my breath. I have to be careful to stand away from the nearest neighbor because they have exterior lights that dim the sky.
I look up at that sky and think about all the people who can’t see the world the way it used to be for every soul on earth. If you’d been alive a thousand years ago, you’d have seen too.
In the city, though, the sky is never really dark. But that doesn’t mean the stars aren’t there.
When you live in the country, you do see wildlife from time to time, but it’s important to remember that there are animals you shouldn’t see, and if you do see them, it means they’re sick. Rabies is endemic out here.
I was out one night watching Polaris, Casseopia and Orion, and since I’m human and see about as well in the dark as you, I didn’t see the dog until it was too late. Five hours in the ER waiting for the shot.
There’s this boundary, an invisible limit all of us bump up against, and we’re on the side that obscures what else is there. Too much light. Not enough of the dark. At the boundary the leading edge of chaos presses in.
You can’t see it, touch it or taste it or hear it, but if you stand still you can feel it. The chaos is all around us, pressing against us and trying get just a little more space. I wonder, sometimes, what’s going on beyond that light that blinds us to what’s bumping up against our lives.
On nights when the moon is full, for several hours silver light shines in my bedroom window and keeps me up, it’s so bright. Most city people don’t notice the sheer power of that cycle of light. You fall asleep with the moonlight shining in your window and when you wake up, the moon is in the western sky instead of the east.
Last night was the first night of the full moon, and I tossed and turned for a while with the light in my eyes. Eventually, I gave up and went outside. The chaos was there. Waiting for me, and I embraced that wide, dark sky of stars and moon.
Carolyn Jewel is the author of this story (which you may or may not have liked. It was a risk, I totally understand that. I had a professor once who said he preferred his students to take risks, and that if we did and crashed and burned, that was OK. So here I am, at Month of Monsters wondering if I’ve crashed and burned. If you got this far, maybe not.) She writes paranormal romance for Grand Central’s Forever line. My Forbidden Desire (June 2009) is book two of a series Ms. Jewel supposed to be naming pretty soon. (Got any good ideas?) She is working on finishing up the third book now. Or, she would be if she wasn’t doing this blog. Demons and witches! Get your demons and witches here.
Carolyn (okay, me! it’s me!) also writes historical romance. Indiscreet is an October 2009 release from Berkley Sensation. (In stores now!) I got a very pretty cover and I hope it’s not too jarring to see that kind of cover on this kind of blog. With this story, you get a Regency hunk, a unusually educated young lady and the Ottoman Empire. Plus England. All in the same book. How can you resist? (Please don’t.)Tweet It