2: The Tightrope Walker | Companion Piece

The artist who whipped up this graphic (in just a few minutes) is my fiancé, Astrid Crow. Follow her other more in-depth works here.

Across leagues and seas, beneath stars and prophecies, birthed a tightrope walker of dreams and contradictories.

Though his face revealed few pains, an ocean roared between his skull. Yet whenever excitement impressed itself upon him he sprung without reservation, light as a child in summer.

The adolescent possessed too many propensities, leaving him a jack of all but a master of mediocrity. His earliest years were punctuated by the crunching of bones and the gasps of large crowds turning away from his gruesome mishaps. Though he was avid, he never could quite sense the weight of his soles. So he would travel, a bit defeated, from street corners to festivals to odd and desperate gatherings where there was little chance of his employers knowing his reputation for disaster.

One afternoon, curiosity befriended his heart yet again, and so he took to sword juggling instead. As the practice sessions got the better of his interest, inevitably, the steel took preference to his palms. The wounds were mortal for his hands. No amount of stitches nor gypsy remedies could suture what atrocities had befallen them. Risking the horror of his audience, he was forced to bandage the furious wounds and forsake his other talents. 

Marks to forever brand the depth of his hapless ambition.

Solemnity made his childhood brief and strange. It offered little to hold onto in the arduous bridge to adulthood, where he quickly embodied a childlike foolishness with an elder's cynicism, a demeanor that never failed to ostracize him on the spot from any would-be peers. 

Often he would look out at bodies of water, musing how it would feel if he could breathe beneath their surface. The soft sway of the water's weight, the current slipping between his fingers, the sun's undulating rays …

Long he wondered such things and many akin fantasies. Soft, impossible deaths—consciousness extended in a silent world.

One evening like any other, the bandaged and scarred tightrope walker quietly ascended to a rope displayed above hundreds. This audience was one of his largest yet. 

At the platform, he prepared himself once again for the coming failure. Preceding acts from other performers had earned the audience's approval, so the tightrope walker concentrated, trying to sense the weight of his soles—where all his courage and anxiety burned until the sweat sprouted from along his body. The heat of the eyes watching him ran along his skin.

One foot forward. 

And then the next.

Then his mind slipped away from the rope, the tension, the hundreds of hushed voices.

Centered along the thin twine bending heavily beneath his weight, his thoughts mused once again of water. There, the spring sun pierced its surface and fell on his breast as he slowly sank beneath the surface. There, the current slithered between his fingers and muffled all sound.

Arms splayed, the spotlights enveloped his face in a white glow now burning, though that mattered little as he moved forward, as the line between nightmares, dreams and realities flexed beneath the weight of his soul, as the light cast his shadow upon the floor—afloat in a crowd of hearts beating …

a thunderous, drowned uproar.