Uncertainty

Took the chance to do another writing prompt from /r/writingprompts today. Here’s a link to the prompt–an image prompt this time, along with a nice quote. And here’s the image from that link, followed by my response:

 Evening With Pele by Michael Brandt [Click for source.]
Evening With Pele by Michael Brandt [Click image for source.]

Uncertainty

Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating. ― Carl von Clausewitz

He had convinced me to come all this way and now what? This?

“We’ll really learn a lot,” he said, brushing a curled strand of hair out of his face with that smile I’ll never forget, the one he used to get our first kiss. “Like, about us, the world, everything. It’s beautiful out there, romantic.” He leaned in to kiss me but I backed away, a big grin on my face.

“And what makes you think I’d like to go somewhere romantic with you, mister? How presumptuous.”

He giggled, reaching in to tickle me. “Me, presumptuous? I meant in the idealized sense. What gutter was your mind in?”

We fell to the floor in a heap of tickling and love, and I was soon convinced that this trip was exactly what we needed.

Not anymore, though. Not anymore.

His change first started to present itself even before the plane ride–on the way to the airport, packing, you name it. I saw in him then the seeds of the transformation that would overcome him, changing him into…What?

Packing was a mess. It was December, sure, but it was also Hawaii. Should he pack for cold or warm? The taxi was late picking us up and the security line long when we got to the airport, causing more of a huff. Even when we were finally in our seats, on our way to “learn so much about everything”, he couldn’t stop complaining about the baby sitting across the aisle from us even though the cute little thing never made a peep.

All signs, all I should have seen long before this trip, altogether too little too late. Now what?

I’m standing here alone, shivering, looking at a lame gray steam vent and waiting for some magical something to happen. That’s what.

And he? He is alone in the hotel room, doing God knows what, if you can even call what he’s become him. He’s changing in there, I’m sure. I wonder if I’ll even recognize his face when I see him again. Why did have to be such a– A what? What had he become? Had I changed as much as he?

The sun fell with my mood. I had been holding my head in my hands, mourning my own misfortune, for I don’t know how long when I looked up and the sun had gone down. The lame gray steam vent was all but lame at this time of night, lit with an intense orange glow as if the bowels of Hell were just under my feet.

I stood and took a few cautious steps toward the rising clouds of Hellsmoke. Could I get close enough to see into the pit, look into the very jaws of Hell and know for certainty of its existence? How close was too close?

I didn’t quite get to find out. Instead, I heard footsteps from behind me and turned to find him, not much changed from when I saw him last. “Oh, uh, I’m sorry,” he said. “I thought you were someone else, I…”

“Someone else?” I said. “But it’s me?”

“No.” He stepped closer, looking into my face as if he almost recognized it but not quite. Where did that smile I longed for go? “It is you. I–it’s–it’s weird, you know. You look completely different for some reason.”

“You’re telling me,” I said as he pulled me closer to the orange glow of the caldera.

“Let me just get some more of this light. I just, it’s–It’s so strange.”

As he pulled me closer, he tripped and fell tumbling toward the gaping mouth of the volcano, almost pulling me in with him. I was up fast enough to grab his leg, just as it was about to disappear behind the lip of the chasm. There he dangled, looking up at me, squirming and screaming for help, but all I could do was stare into the bright orange Hellfire, trying to discern just what it was I was seeing.

END

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