It is cold again today.
But my workshop is fine. It always is.
I feel each fleck of liquid tension patter against the knotted wooden door’s window pane as if each light drop is chipping away at my skin instead of the aged dark glass. Maybe someday the rain will stop, but I doubt it.
I linger on an airy sigh and permitted the percussive tings on the roof to take over my mind. That thin layer of protection had guarded me for so long, and without it I would have likely died much earlier, but I hate it. It is the membrane separating me from what is death, from what is real, from what is easy. I need it, and I hate myself for needing it.
Today I want to make something new—something that has not been made before. I think of my other works. They are all good thoughts—every one of them. But they lack something vital that I am unable to grasp. There is a missing ingredient that my tongue cannot taste; a harmonizing tone out of the range of my ear. If only I could find that spark. It would make sense. I would have purpose.
But nothing is ever new. It is just an idea that I have already thought and forgotten. There are only so many pieces to put together after all. Maybe the only way to make something entirely new is to take apart what is old and start again.
I walk over to the shelf where my prized creations rest. From the shelf I gather my first masterpiece. In my hands I hold a swirling brown ball of dust and wind. Lightning cracks across invisible specks and fire shoot from pores in pebbles within its vast shroud of gritted rock. I look deep into its core, at its very heart and see nothing worth saving. Holding it in my grasp for the last time, I lift it above my head, contemplating my decision. Then I make up my mind. I release it and it falls to the hard floor where it shatters. Jagged edges and smooth fluids hiss as they fuse into hot sand. I fall to my knees and paw at the broken elements that I know I could not repair. A tear drops onto the new sand and immediately disappears. What had been alive is now a desert on the workshop floor. I wipe my eye and humbly stand up.
The wind rattles the walls of the room, shaking my mind out of its sleep. My heart pounds as I find my next creation on the shelf. A series of sporadic blue lights fires in random beauty against the backdrop of a violet sea. There is a distinct dissonance between the quiet of the workshop and the brilliant radiances popping between life and death. The galaxy of light splashes against the floor and spills over the sand, gathering in metallic pools. A faint smile is born on my face.
Then there is a red cluster that has stood still as a statue on the long shelf since its creation. It is my favorite—it is different than all the others. It solemnly stands watch as the others cycle through existences; its core glares with a swallowed intensity at globes that refuse to turn. The majestic sphere dissolves into the boiling sand and turns the gleaming oceans to white steam. I try to contain my giddiness as I reach for the next ball.
I shove the next cloud off the shelf with delight as the concoction bubbles and spits. The one after that hits the mixture and produces a wondrous humming sound. I pull the next from its perch and watch the solution try every color before settling at an impossible golden blue.
I close my eyes in ecstasy and wildly slide my arm across the rest of the shelf, knocking countless existences to the floor in a single motion, carelessly shepherding each of my cherished treasures to their deconstruction. The last of my creations struck the ground. My rampage stops suddenly when my arm touches the end of the shelf. I allow my breath to become steady again before I open my eyes. The thunder beyond the roof roars at me in rage, but I ignore it.
Then I realize something: the shelves have never been empty before. I cannot even recall what I did before my first project—it had all happened so very long ago. Those pieces have become a part of me. No matter how fragmented or dusty my work was, I would always save it. I remember a time when each piece was new and meaningful, yet the worlds I thought were testaments to my successes were actually reminders of the goals I had forgotten or the constructs I deemed too impossible to perfect.
The pile of matter on the floor of the workshop is made of everything I had ever collected outside in the rain. It is everything that exists or will ever exist, but it is missing that one intangible thing. I look down at the sheer, reflective silver surface of matter. Then it hits me. It all makes sense. It is missing me. I pluck a long, grey strand of hair from my head and let it fall into the mixture.
This time things will be different.