A short story, written whilst listening to the entirety of the Sigur Rós album "( )".
|This short story is written whilst listening to the entirety of the Sigur Ros album Untitled, also known as the Bracket Album. I highly recommend you listen to the album in its song order while reading this story, as the emotions of the pieces are reflected in the story and the writing.
Note, that I purposely did not edit or proofread this story - I feel like the writing should remain as is, as it's tightly tied to the emotions Sigur Rós can evoke in the writer.
It was freezing. His leather jacket felt tight and cold on his skin, causing shivers to run down his spine. He could hear the winds howling, their song aching in his every bone. The harsh steppes down below looked uninviting, but at the same time they called for him with a serene voice. To sleep here, above the lush but barren grounds, was to sleep in a blue meadow of numbness and joy.
He moved around slightly, his bottom slowly becoming numb of the thorny rocks. The fire to his left crackled on, its sweet warmth embracing his cold body. There was something entrancing about the fire; how it swayed and danced in the wind, struggling to keep upright as the cold weather threw it around like a puppet with a rabid puppeteer.
He took a slight sip of his now-cold coffee. To think, that he had escaped the luxuries of the inner city, just to sit out on a mountain, overlooking a fjord, freezing and aching. He sniggered to himself – this endeavour would surely build charisma, if nothing else.
“Serene, the wind sings to its people,” he muttered, slightly smiling. To escape the hustle and bustle of the city, the constant stresses of modern day life, just for a fleeting moment in this serenity, was to find oneself in a way one could never find oneself in the 21st century.
“Honey, come back to the tent,” a weary voice called for him from behind. He turned around to greet his wife with a warm smile.
“Why don’t you just grab your sleeping bag and join me by the fire? It’s not exactly Netflix and chill, but it’s lovely nonetheless,” he answered her, a grin slowly creeping on his face.
“Out in the cold? I’d say I’d do it when Hell freezes over, but seeing as we’re in Hell, Norway, I’m not taking my chances,”
She returned back into the tent, leaving him by the fire. He returned to gaze upon both the meadows and the fire, undecided which one was more entrancing: the fire told of warmth, of love and comfort, but the fjords were serene in their harshness, singing to him a song of calm and loving nature.
The songs the fjord sung almost seemed real to him. The slow, seeping howls and glides of the soft winds entranced him and encapsulated him in a serenity he had never experienced before. Above him, the sky was clouded but shone with blue, unforgiving might; below him, the fjords roared fiercely and lulled him into an unforgiving serenity.
Suddenly, the sky broke open, the clouds seemingly running away from a single spot above him. The white and grey puffs seemed to evaporate like the mist that gathered on his glasses if he leaned too close to the fire, and gave way to a magical dance of green, black and grey.
“I…” He was out of words. To see the sky break into dance, serendipitously swaying in its colourful might, was astonishing. Before he could react, however, the dance number was over, and the clouds seeped back in to fill the dark void that the aurora had left.
He turned his gaze back to the fire, a slight disappointment in his heart. The lights had been beautiful, mighty and awesome, but had escaped him before he could escape the rest of the world. The fire, however, crackled on as usual, its embers swaying through the air, leaving for unknown worlds and adventures he would never partake in.
Staring at the fire, he heard a glockenspiel play. Looking around, there was no source to identify, but still he heard the sublime notes echo in the near darkness. Wondering, he continued to stare at the fire, taking in the visuals of brimstone and burning logs alongside the sounds of heavenly choirs and instruments, all playing in a natural unison. The sounds grew stronger, and he soon realized not to look for them – there were things on this cliff that no man would ever see, or hear, again, and it was not in his position to explain them, but merely to acknowledge and enjoy them.
The song grew even louder, its notes echoing and reverberating in his very spine. He felt his legs slowly push him up from the ground, without the acceptance of his will. He stared at the fire a while, but slowly started to turn towards the edge of the cliff. As he turned, he swore he saw a heavenly face in the fire, but all of that was forgotten once he saw the fjords below – the green meadows seemed to sway like waves, their movement slow and almost painful to watch.
He took a few steps towards the edge, slowly gazing upon the meadows below. They seemed entrancing in their dance, but at the same time he didn’t feel the same loss of control he had felt upon seeing the aurora. The greenery swayed back and forth, and he could almost hear them whispering to him, begging him to join them in their natural dance.
In fact, he could hear them whisper. At first, the voices were weak and few in numbers, but they soon grew to encompass all his emotions, all his senses. He could no longer think straight or for himself – the only thing on his mind was the endless stream of senseless whispers, both lovely and horrific, scaring him whilst reassuring him.
His eyes grew larger, his palms started sweating. He knew not what was about to happen, but he knew that he was witnessing something greater than what the city ever could offer. The meadows’ dances lulled him into sweet oblivion, their green and brown movements ever so heavenly. He could now hear the glockenspiel join in on the blissful voices, which had lost their deathliness.
For an eternity and a second, he stood still, staring at the meadows and listening but yet not hearing a thing. His eyes grew dark, his ears locked shut. His hands felt gone, as did his feet. He was nothing more than a soul, a nothing, floating in the mists of the fjords, hearing songs but having no ears, seeing dancing but having no eyes. For years and a minute, he stood there, until his feet finally gave in and he fell down on his knees.
“Are you okay, hon’?”
He realized that he was kneeling to the fjords, his knees mere inches from the edge of the cliff. He quickly stood up and turned towards the tent, where his wife met his gaze with wondering and curious eyes.
“Yeah, just… I mean, I was-“
“You were. Come to bed whenever you’re ready, love,” she interrupted him, and promptly withdrew her head from the tent opening.
He stood still, staring at the place his wife’s head had been mere seconds ago. What had come over him? The serenity of the situation had been unbelievable, but yet he felt scared of how he had lost all sense of control. Could this place be dangerous? Could there be something that wanted something bad to happen to him?
“Nothing bad, it’s just an eye-opening experience, seeing all of this might for the first time,”
He spun around, looking for the source of the voice. It had sounded beautifully feminine, yet somehow strong and courageous. He guessed one did not rule out the other.
“Silly you, you won’t find me standing on this edge, nor any edge near or far from here,” the voice answered his frightened movements.
“Who-,“ he started with a loud voice, soon realizing that his wife might mistake him for a lunatic if he stood and screamed at thin air. “-who are you?” he whispered.
“The source of the sounds, of the songs and the dances. The one who opens up the skies for open travellers like you,” the voice answered, as serene as before.
He sat down by the fire, still frantically checking every corner of his vision for a possible source. He soon sighed, and stared down into the fire.
“What happened to me?” he asked the voice, gaze still firmly locked on the dancing embers. He felt insane – first, he had hallucinated and gone into a trance of some sorts, and now he was discussing with the howling wind.
“You felt an empowerment none of your kind has felt for a long time, that’s what happened. You gazed into the darkness and the void, and surprisingly, it gave you a quick glance back.”
He understood nothing of the voice’s explanation, except that it was citing old and worn-out quotes.
“That’s not very original, y’know, the thing with ‘the darkness staring back at you’. Try again?” he mused sardonically.
“What is it to be original, then? Is it to spit out perfect similes and metaphors, never before uttered by anyone? Everything has at some point been told, every story has been written and every film has played in every cinema in every corner of everything. Originality is unachievable, you know,” the voice ranted on, catching him by surprise. Of all the spirits he would encounter, his had to have a liberal arts degree?
“Are we going to sit here and bicker, or do you have something eye-opening and life-changing to tell me? Something about how I must search for my inner self, find the cure for cancer in my soul, or perhaps you just want to give me some tax advice?”
“Nay, traveller, I seek to tell you nothing of the sorts. I am only here because you wished me here,”
He looked up at the skies, intuitively – of course, there was nothing there, but deep in his soul, he knew that the skies were speaking to him.
“What do you mean I ‘wished’ you here? I don’t even know your name.”
“Names are not important,” the voice answered him, its serenity almost infuriating him, “What is important is that you opened your soul to these plains, and they answered your invitation. You gaze upon these fjords with an open heart, looking for something unattainable, yet still within your reach. The plains hear you, the skies see you, and the singers feel your ache.”
As the voice continued on, he turned his eyes back towards the fire. The embers seemed to dance in unison, each one following the other in a swirling circle around the top of the stack. Something about them struck him as odd, as if the embers did not follow their own accord, but one of another being. The voice, perhaps?
There was something about the voice, which felt both unfamiliar and cosy. Its notes, its tones, its very word stress – they all tattled of home, but yet of foreign lands and foreign people. The words spoke of paradoxes upon paradoxes, yet the sounds spoke of simple clarity. Who was that voice? What did it want with him?
“You’re not listening, are you?”
He shook his head quickly, turning his gaze back towards the skies. He thought he could see a faint sliver of green, quickly evaporating between the grey clouds.
“I see that you are already on your way, want it or not. I will not bother you anymore – your actions will guide you on your path. Remember to let the fjords speak to you,” the voice quickly announced. Suddenly, he was filled with a feeling of emptiness, a thick smog covering a part of his mind that he hadn’t realized was clear.
“Wait, no! Don’t go! I just want- I…” he stammered, not knowing how to end that sentence. Why was he attached to the voice, which tormented him with unclear sentences and paradoxes?
He jumped up from his place, raising a hand towards the skies in a faint glimmer of hope. He hoped that the voice hadn’t left him, that it still hung somewhere above him, waiting for him to continue the dialogue.
But no answer could be heard from the skies. Or from the grounds, or from the wind or the fire. A total silence now lied over the meadows and the cliffs, smothering all hope of discussion and enlightenment he had.
He slowly let his hand fall, his face gliding down towards the embers and the fjords. The fire seemed to have died out, its embers no more dancing in unison – or dancing at all, for that matter. Even the forces of nature felt gloomy and sad, like a part of what made the world the world had disappeared, had seized to exist.
He slumped back to the ground, the sharp rocks scraping up small cuts in his hands as he almost violently hit the ground. The emptiness was real, the sorrow unforgiving – he had lost something he didn’t know he had. What was the point of going on, if the mere act of going had seized to be possible?
For an eternity and a blink of an eye, he sat there, his eyes losing focus, his ears locking out any sounds of silence the meadows made. He stared at nothingness, but nothingness did not give him as much as a glance.
Until suddenly, the meadows spoke.
“Not gone, just out of reach,”
A single sentence: six words, one after another, forming a passage shorter than his own musings in any moment. It cleared the smoke of his mind, it reignited the flames. The winds started howling, the sky exploded with colours, the very ground shook with power and emotion. He felt his cheeks turning wet – whether it was the sudden downpour of warm and loving rain, or his emotions welling up from the pit of despair they momentarily had settled in to, he embraced the feeling.
He stood back up, his eyes not focused on a single thing. His mind felt blank, but in a good way. He could not feel his soles, he could not hear anything except the roaring winds. He took a step, after which he took another. The steps were small, too small for anyone to even notice he was moving, yet they felt like miles upon miles of running.
By the time he had reached the edge of the cliff, he felt like he had ran a marathon: his shins ached, his face felt sweaty. But he also felt the joy and the sense of pride which came with running a full marathon for the first time in one’s life – he had accomplished something he had feared to accomplish, he had done the unthinkable.
A slight smile grew on his face, as he was ravished by the boiling hot rain and the ice-cold winds. He was at peace, even though a war raged on inside him. This was his chance, this was the opening he had been waiting for his entire life – he could be loved, he could be looked up to, once he had transferred into the world of the winds, the rain, the fjords and the fire. He could be seen as something he was, not something he strived to be.
He grinned widely, a few chuckles escaping his lips. So this was what empowerment felt like, what self-acceptance could result in. Never before had he felt this myriad of emotions, and never again would he feel them. The meadows danced a fierce dance of power and love, the winds struck him with all their might; the rain boiled his skin off, yet soothed his aching, wet eyes; the fire burned off his clothes, but in the process encompassed him in lovely warmth.
“I’m standing in a fire,” he mused to himself, seemingly quite amused by the fact that he was slowly cooking to a charred piece of human flesh. Yet, it did not hurt him – actually, it hurt like living Hell, but the rain killed off all sense of pain and torture the fire caused him. It was as if this duality was created by the very gods, the very forces that kept this world turning: without this holy matrimony of embers and raindrops, nothing made sense; nothing could have a purpose without this duality.
He stepped out of the fire, ignoring the fact that his leg was slowly falling apart, leaving bits of charred meat behind him as he stepped back towards the ledge. The rain melted off the last pieces of unneeded body that hung to his shinbones, as he sat down on the ledge, his feet dangling over the edge, looking down upon the unforgiving fjords.
To be loved, to be missed, to be anticipated. All of this, and more, awaited him. He knew that this moment was to be the defining moment of his entire life, that it was now or never. He had no more plans, no more expectations of tomorrow. In this very moment, he existed in the now and floated through the world as an everlasting spirit. He would see it all, he would hear it all, and he would feel it all. The pain, the love, the hope, the bitterness – all of it was his for the taking.
His feet started bouncing around the edge, making cute little clinking noises as bone struck against bone. At some point, he felt a toe fall down into the green void, which made him chuckle. It all seemed so silly, how he had cared for this mortal body, when another one was waiting for him in the clouds and beyond, in the realm of the voices. He could be one with the meadows, one with the aurora, not one with a pile of flesh and bones.
He stared down from the ledge. Greeting him was a haze, covering the greenery and dancing that went on below. He knew that it was where he should go, where he should end up.
And so, he jumped.
The air felt interesting, as if it caressed him but at the same time beat him to a bloody pulp. If you, of course, could call said pulp bloody, considering that he was mere bones and coal now. As he fell, he felt his body outrunning the very rain that sought to boil him alive, yet caress him gently. He saw the ground coming nearer with amazing speed, as he braced for impact. In just a few moments, it would be over.
It was freezing. His leather jacket felt hot to the touch.