Do not go.
My silent voice is chanting that over and over and over again. All I can think of is:
Do not leave.
Do not make me say farewell one last time.
Do not walk away.
Do not go.
But she does. She always does. She is already turned away from me at this point. Already looking off into the distance. Her future. Without me in it, of course. If I was in it, in anyway, even the most inconsequential of parts, I would be content. But I am not. I am nothing.
She walks away from me without even looking back once. My breath hitches. I stumble back, my clunky feet gliding against the gravely sand. Gliding is not the right word — I tumble back in a controlled manner. I do not fall but I almost wish I had. At least then it would have felt like something happened, instead of this muted parting that did happen.
We were lovers, we were mates, we were something, should there not be more to a breaking apart?
Maybe. Maybe not.
It does not matter.
She walks away and I am left standing on some beach. That never changes. It cannot — it has already happened. Happened once in reality and some number of times that I refuse to count within a simulation. The number would be staggering. I could probably guess the amount of times I have relived this moment if I wanted to. But I do not. I just want to make it rise. I must love tormenting myself because I cannot think of any other good reason to why I would do such a thing repeatedly. I can think of the sensible reason — that I am trying to figure out if it could have been avoided. But that is not a good reason because it could not have been avoided. Not now, not then.
Now. Now the simulation is crumbling away and I am back to confronting reality.
Reality, at this moment in time, is dull. It is the same as when I began the simulation . I am in a room atop a towering building. The view looks out into the tropical vista of the planet’s surface. Any Naquihxi would have felt out of place here; we are designed to live in frigid places. Fur really does not lend itself to warm climates. We are supposed to thrive in the cold. I suppose I am thriving — outside may be warm but inside this room and inside my being it is frozen solid. A Naquihxi cannot feel the numbness any other race would, or the stabbing pain of the icy cold, but I certainly can. A throbbing longing plagues my heart. My heart that once had her name ascribed to it. Once? Once and forever.
Forever for only myself. She left a long time ago. Left her lover of eons on a beach and plunged herself into a sprawling future without the Naquihxi that said she would have followed her if she could. But those words were heard by only a wisp of what was. She was already gone and I was still there.
I sigh. I almost start the simulation again. I could think and ruminate it over or I could let myself be thrust into that moment again. This time, for reasons I cannot quite fathom, I do neither. I wander closer to the window, the unerring view to the planet I thought we would call home. I look out and I see all that is there and all that is not there. The possibilities it once had and the lack that occupies it.
There is one possibility left that I can see, however. A possibility anchored in the past that floats to the present. And that is the beach where she left me. The beach is unimportant. It is that she left there that is of importance to me. That maybe, just maybe, she would come back there.
But she cannot. She will never come back. She has moved on beyond such notions. She hit Dialona. The great end. Nirvana. Complete oneness with all parts of her being. Even her Am. Her heart, her love.
I thought I was her Am, but how can an Am be separated like this? She has reached totality with all of herself, and yet I am still here. My Am was her, but she is no longer herself. She is beyond that.
I am not the only one to have experienced this, to be sure, but how often does one’s Am enter Dialona? How often does one even enter Dialona?
I could check the Spine to find out. I could query for that exact piece of information and get the exact answer, but what would it give me? Would it replace the empty spot in my being? No. No, it would not.
The only thing that would is her.
Another puff of icy air leaves my mouth. I turn away from the window. I should stop peering out of it. I should leave this room and go to the places I am gazing at. I really should.
Something within me breaks and again I defy the routine and habits of all previous moments like this.
I actually leave.
I snap my fingers and teleport myself out. Out not to the beach—I am not ready yet for that and my will conveyed that plainly to the teleporter. I am close to it, however. I am on a rocky ridge overlooking it. Behind me, without even confirming to look, is the city sprawl I had just teleported from. Still churning, still filled with people with or without greater purpose. With or without an Am.
Here, on this charcoal mound of rocks is a Naquihxi with scattered aim, mild purpose, and an Am that has reached Dialona. Interesting, to be sure. I am probably the most exciting thing of this place, but I am no static landmark. I step down it, heading towards the beach I remember all too clearly through the initial impression of that memory and all the subsequent re-livings of it. The azure fur that covers my body bristles as a gust of crisp wind blows towards me. The coolness is refreshing, but it does not sway the morose mien, for only myself, that I am stumbling for reasons I have not yet grasped.
The sand hits the bottoms of my feet a few moments later.
The impact almost pushes me back into the throes of that moment. Almost. The sand and spot where it happened is in the distance—I have yet to reach it. I am gaining on it and then I am there.
Even there I am not thrown into its clutches, recalling every detail involuntarily or even voluntarily. I am just standing where I stood centuries ago. Eyes locked on nothing where then it would have been her. Staring off into the distance where to the left lays pulsing water and to the right is vigilant earth and straight ahead is a seemingly never ending split between the two.
There is nothing bringing me back to that moment but myself. I do not have to stumble backwards—I can stride forward. Inching forward, teasing, testing, I try to do just that and maybe I do.
Now that is when I fall into something. Though it is not a memory. It is a tug to something forward before me. Rays of energy, neither light nor dark, something purer than either rush past either side of my body, enveloping me with its feelingless form.
“Shalaeyah,” a voice calls out to me.
Not just any voice. Her voice.
“Shalaeyah,” I greet back as any Empirian would do. Reflexively and without even fully comprehending anything.
And then I am going forward again, further into this embrace. The sight of the water and beach fall away from focus. Blurring into their primal colors and all that remains is the beyond-gray shimmer before me and around me. Her ethereal form is sprawled before me in an etching of what she was when she was alive and not one with all being.
“I know and I understand,” she tells me.
My breath hitches and time slows down. I can sense the air flowing away from me and dissipating. I can sense the sounds that were uttered towards me echoing into oblivion. I can feel my body lose contact with physical sensation as my mind becomes engrossed with the idea that she is right in front of me.
I do not understand it at all. So I say: “I do not understand.”
“You shall. Everyone does.”
“You say shall with such certainty. Are you going to help me to understand? Since you are the one that propelled all this into motion. You who found harmony with all parts of her being and transcended beyond such base things as coherent identity. You who has temporarily come back to be here with me after all this time.”
All phrases following my question spiraled out of my mouth without me even commanding it. It was like they were plucked from my mind and made into sound by some superior process.
Somehow, that did not matter. That involuntarily is completely welcome to me. I feel like it is apt.
It must be. Because she is still here.
“I understand all of that,” she says. “I found harmony, but one part that did was still anchored in trivialities. At the time. But with Dialona there is no time. There is all. And all encompasses every moment and every feeling. I knew all of your sorrow and happiness. From the moment I ascended and all the moments before. I was part of it and beyond it.”
I swell up with emotion and hold back tears. There is a note to her words, an underlying tone and song being sung somewhere that is ravaging me. I cannot help myself and liquid falls from my eyes that are seeing her again. Liquid like the water that sustained her and that she once had her Sawapash control over. I freeze it to ice before it even hits the ground. It shatters apart on contact and slowly begins to melt away.
“But I have returned, from all I have become one once more. One—so fateful. This is fateful, my love, my heart, my Am. Fateful and finite.”
“You will leave me again,” I say.
“Bashl. I shall not leave you. We shall leave together.”
The surety in her voice stills me.
“But I have not reached Dialona-”
Because is that not true? I do not know the names of all my parts. I do not understand myself in any fullness, surely-
“You are ready to.” And just like that she ended all of the thoughts and hesitations I had. “You came back here.”
“I did,” is my response.
“So you did. That is what matters. That is why you are ready. You broke free from your loop of suffering and ennui. And so you have broken free from the cycle of life. The endless repeat. You are ready, just as I was then. You are ready to join me and all others.”
“In Dialona,” I say because that is what she is saying without saying.
Dialona. The great end. The end of being one and the beginning of being all. Harmony with all parts of being, whatever that means. Whatever that is I am at. I am ready. I did not think I was, but who does? She does and the rest of all does. Including myself, I suppose. So I guess I am ready and it is beginning to feel like I really am.
“Come with me,” she says.
It is the last thing I hear of her. Of anything. The world crumbles away from my vision. I feel myself falling, and flying, rising and descending. I feel everything all at once. Everything becomes clear to me. Me feels less and less certain. Should I feel sorrow over the loss of individuality? We all strive for this. We all desire this. This is the dreamed of end. And did anyone think of what it means? Maybe. Maybe I just did not listen. Now I do and now I know. One is all and all is one. It makes sense to me. Not me. Us. All of us. Even you.
And so we go.