BY D. PAUL FONSECA
Through the eyes of Jahl
An ongoing story of self-discovery and love.
BY D. PAUL FONSECA
"We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
I’ll wander through oblivion, Micah thought. I need only to keep walking. The hillside taunted him. Dense forest covered the slopes intermittently with sheer rock outspread across the more dangerous inclines. The night had crept in out of nowhere and now Micah couldn't tell how far he’d actually wandered. Time moved swiftly.
Why he’d run away no longer mattered to him. He was free, free to be the person he so desperately aspired to be in his mind’s eye; an image of madness, or maybe . . . just a ghost. He did not care that his parents would find his shirt and shoes beside the lake, believing him drowned. He did not mind the pain they might feel. The sorrow. Fear. They could live with it. I’ve lived with worse, he thought.
His dark black hair waved in the wind with its blue and indigo streaks defying adults everywhere. The hills grew cold and goose-flesh covered his arms, strong as they seemed. His 501’s dyed bright red and his blue doc Martens separated him from the shrubbery. Over his back, a Jansport, a nylon backpack. Blue. Only the essentials were within: Sony Walkman, various cassette tapes, and two eight packs of Energizer AA batteries, three Hostess Ding Dongs, a pack of Camel Lights and a six pack of Coke.
From where Micah stood, he could see the entire valley below. It frightened him to be up so high on a hill he hugged tight enough to make his knuckles go white. Got to find somewhere to sleep tonight, he thought to himself. It grew colder by the minute. Somewhere below him there would be a place to lie down. The cold crept into his bones. He stopped to put his headphones on. He hit play and Souixsie went into his head, singing gentle, comforting words, easing the edge off his worries, lulling him into comfort. “Trust in me. Just in me. Shut your eyes, and trust in me…”
His descent quickened and after a short time, he found what he was looking for. A clearing came into view. Tall brush shielded it from the elements and it seemed the ideal place to sleep for the night. It did, however, seem strange that it was perfect. At the edge of the clearing there was even a warm patch of soft grass to lie on.
Micah’s eyelids felt so heavy, the grass won him over, and not long after he made himself comfortable on the grass, he closed his eyes to the call of deep slumber.
Hours passed. The moon threw its light upon the boy’s face. Suddenly, the sound of heavy footsteps snapped sticks underfoot close by. Micah awoke to the sound of footsteps heading in his direction.
Moving fast scurried into the darkest corner of the underbrush. A tall form moved in from the distance, the moonlight lining the stranger in blue. After a moment, Micah realized it was only Jahl. Micah knew it was him. It felt like him.
“I knew I would find you here,” said Jahl in his strong, low voice, comforting Micah with every syllable. His trademark high cheekbones and hairless head confirmed it was indeed him. Standing tall in the brush wearing a Tee-shirt and overalls he looked like he’d lived forever in Ozark country. He gazed down from nearly eight feet with eyes like a cold fire blazing their way into Micah. Micah hated when he did that. Jahl knew it, too.
“How did you find me?” asked Micah, not really expecting an altruistic answer.
“Did you really think you could ever run away from me?”
“I would be offended if you ever wanted to.” Jahl paused. He looked away from Micah in a brokenhearted gaze, staring out over the landscape and up into the sky, then back to Micah with the painful longing of a rejected lover: “Did you mean to leave me as well?” As he spoke, Jahl’s soft, white face glowed with a tinge of violet. His huge powerful arms crossed in a defensive gesture, awaiting Micah's answer.
“I can’t leave you Jahl. I love you.”
Jahl strode to him slowly, his eyes softening. He knelt before Micah. He put his hand on his shoulder and pulled him close, up into his arms. He stared into Micah’s eyes and knew the sorrow he found there. Something deep within Micah’s heart ached for gentleness, a touch, compassion, tenderness. Jahl could feel it, almost see, what Micah longed for. In only a moment Jahl began to change, to shift.
The features of his face faded into softness. Gentle lips replaced a rough mouth. The strong jawline melted away and his bright violet eyes sparkled into a pool of purest blue. Gold tresses crowned the prettiest of faces and before long Jahl had lost nearly half his stature re-forming into a petite, childlike body. The sugar sweet smell of her skin filled Micah’s nostrils and electricity warmed him like a gentle fire, burning through years of tears.
The shift took nearly a breath of time as Jahl transformed into a warm, young girl of early womanhood. The overalls fell away and she, Jahl, knelt with her arms around Micah, the tee-shirt with her small breasts pressed into his chest as her lips met his. Micah’s’ hand went directly to Jahl’s bottom, cradling the wonderful smooth skin beneath the cotton boxers.
A feeling of love swept over Micah. A sense of wholeness and bliss enveloped him and cradled him in peace like no other would ever have. Over the mountain, a warm breeze appeared as a mist, fading in through the trees.
Micah could never leave Jahl. Never.
Jahl pulled off her shirt and put it on Micah. Her nipples hardened and in the full moonlight her white skin glowed a soft blue. She kissed him again. Her tongue licked gently at his mouth finding it bittersweet with the flavor of nicotine. She smiled up at him with her innocent eyes and Micah reached out and hugged her around her waist in his strong arms. He held her tightly with her cheek against his.
A light, girlish voice broke the quiet of night. “Micah?”
“Do you really love me . . .?” She hesitated. “Like this?” She stood up and simultaneously removed her boxers to stand nude. Her arms outstretched with her hands held high to expose herself fully to Micah’s inspection. She closed her eyes as though awaiting judgement.
Micah stared at her. He raised his hand and ran it over her smooth stomach, down over her thighs and over her warm soft mound. His fingers gently twirled her fine blonde hairs. Then abruptly, he pulled her by the hips to come to rest with her bottom on his lap.
“You know I will always love you. Especially like this.”
He kissed her.
“But, do you realize that I am still Jahl?”
“Yes,” He said bitterly.
“I think you still love her too much.” Jahl began to shift back.
"No!” Micah shouted, panicking. Jahl reverted into the form of the girl. “I love you, Jahl. Don’t change back just yet. Her face comforts me. The way she used to. Please, let me see her?”
She nodded, and spoke, “I understand. But, sometimes I wonder. Now that she’s gone, Micah, for how long have you actually loved me, and not just the image of her? Don’t answer that. Some hearts are better left undisturbed.” The fire in Jahl’s eyes flickered for an instant. Or maybe it was the reflection of the stars as he – she stared into the sky.
He gazed up into the heavens, longingly. “But let’s sleep now.”
Micah agreed and they lay down together. Somewhere in the mountains, an owl hooted. Micah wondered what else might be out there in the hills. What would life be like now? With Jahl at his side, things could never be boring. Certainly, he would be able to make his life over with Jahl.
Micah yawned. His body ached for sleep. His hands found the warmth of Jahl’s torso. His palms roamed slowly over her soft, delicate breasts. Then, they shifted to one side, against a tree. Micah felt her heartbeat through her sternum as he laid his head upon her chest to hear her heart beat out a rhythm like thunder. It made him remember as his mind drifted into the ether, the darkness of memories.
Entwined in a pile, like a pair of cats, they began to sleep.