March 31st, 2007
Ghost Boy watched as the mouth opened in the forest.
He had imagined he’d be overjoyed. At its perfect shape & stillness; its beckoning void.
Now that it was here, he worried.
He stood still for a long time, watching it.
“I once dreamt,” he thought, “about what was on the other side of the Mouth: A soft long meadow. Sunshine on my face like the lapping of sea against shore. Grass to sleep in. No weapons, no blood.”
“Now I wonder if there’s nothing behind the Mouth other than grinding jaws and gullet.”
He knelt on the forest floor. So much time wandering, wondering. Wasting his arrows on the defenseless trees. Leading the creatures of the wood astray, playing tricks, running away. And now, finally, the mouth was here. The holy mouth, the honeyed mouth, ready to suck him from this world and spit him to a place far better.
And yet he did not move.
The floating mouth suddenly spoke.
“Walk into me,” it said in a voice more felt than heard, “because your life has led up to this moment. There is no reason not to do it. Come.”
Ghost Boy felt bile curdle up in his throat.
“I’m staying,” he said, his voice not feeling like his, “because you ask me otherwise. Your need is repulsive. It makes you weak, it makes you soft. The mouth I’ve dreamed of is not these things. It doesn’t need me to enter it, and in my dreams, I enter it precisely because I am nothing to it.”
The mouth laughed. “Of course I need you,” it said. “Otherwise I wouldn’t ask for you. And I also wouldn’t have appeared here, in this glade of this forest, if you didn’t need me either, if I didn’t smell it on you like a lion smells blood. And so which is it you’re afraid of? How much I need you or how much you need me?”
Ghost Boy didn’t answer, but turned around and walked away, hearing the mouth shut behind him with a sound like a breath being taken.