In Which Kuang Zhijun Tells Me About Death

Opening my eyes (neither knowing the truth nor accepting it), I observed the dream very carefully, very easily, all the masks of the forgotten lined up like bones in graveyards, like every face I could remember. 5 seconds passed, then 2 more, then what felt like 0, 0 or infinity, like 9 millennia and every moment in the middle, and I could no longer perceive what it meant to be human, to be individual, to be anything but the nothing I had evolved into. Seconds became endless, lengthening lazily into air, every feeling now a brushing of dust or light, even my own name softening, cracking before my very eyes (or what was left in place of the eyes, a chasm of endless, hungry nightfall gnawing at my ropes with its teeth).

When you come to join me here, you too will know the absence of things and the way it scars you in places you had not known to be fragile. Otherwise you can meet me someplace under our shared skin and your nerves will melt together, destroyed, finally unneeded. Help me when you find me, for I have not been helped by anyone, for they still graft the head I used to nod into their ghost stories—the place in which it seems I need to endure the grossness of afterlife, forced open and ripped up into an oddity, no more a child or a son but rather a tale, a perversion, a horrible ache, an embarrassment. Read about me. Furrow your brows, think, “How the hell could that ever happen?” Remember me so you can have a story to tell, to impress or to baffle, the faces of your audience twisted in disgust as you reach the climax—“his hands above his head, in a dress and a swimsuit”—and wait for their reactions with the knowledge that I am watching.

So you forgot, did you, that the story has a soul attached to it?

I was a good boy, never unruly, an introvert, a reader, warm with pumping blood and organs, a boy that would one day be a man, a man that would one day nestle gently into the soil as all men do after reclining in their beds, surrounded by every face of every descendant they have sired, serene, at peace, but no—the universe left me degraded, half-formed, a baby atop the first hill of age, a corpse doused in sex, more exposed than if it were naked, slandered by strangers: “He was not the good boy we thought he was; he was sinful, he was dirty, he was unable to shield himself from his own intense desires, doomed by the desperation, the wildness, and the seething, innate savagery that came with his age.” 

People love to tell me, even now, who they think I am, never once waiting to hear my thoughts on the subject. Listen to me: I may have tied the knots, or I may have been ensnared in them, or I may have been the very incarnation of my mother’s nightmare, a premonition come true, Hell and Heaven intertwining to slaughter me for no reason other than the fact that that was how things had to be. Endings without end, fragments of a death that can never be understood. 

Thus I shall become all possibilities in one, the conglomeration of every happening in every timeline.

Depraved. Entrapped. Anticipated.

These things I shall be, and none but me shall have any say in the matter.

When you come to see me, I will teach you more, as the plain I find myself walking across holds a great many secrets. Sleep, for instance, comes easy to me here, and the roads are marked by upturned stones and little fires. Everything feels like a bit of nothing; I move endlessly towards a darkness still incomprehensible, as stinging as a shout of my name (which I cannot recall), and cry as every fiber of my cold, chthonic being is caught in a loop of hanging and dying, everlasting pressure on wrists I no longer have, a constant echo of my parents’ screams when they open the door and find me. 

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