RIP CHESTER BENNINGTON

The first time I heard a Linkin Park song, I was about 13. ‘One Step Closer’ was the first, but it was ‘In The End’, the second, that quickly became a personal favorite, retaining its place in the top ten of my heart for the last 16 odd years, regardless of how distant I eventually came to be from the band that was there, with me and for me, while I was growing up.

The voices of Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington were my sources of light through some pretty dark times, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating in the slightest when I say that were it not for their music, I may not have escaped with my life, certainly not my sanity. And I know a lot of people feel that way. That is as remarkable as the untimely loss of Chester is tragic, though I suppose I must also admit that we would have never been ready to say goodbye. Apparently Chester was ready though. And I hope with all my heart that he finds the peace he was seeking. May he know no more sorrow…

I’ve spent the last four days catching up on two years of music that I seem to have somehow missed out on, and, now, his voice is in my ears, in my head, and I can’t… find the right words to articulate the profound sense of grief and loss I am experiencing. There are no right words.

Like I have just watched an Angel fall.

Requiescat in pace, Chester Bennington.

Thank you for everything, brother.

Love,

Always,

Me.

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Always

It isn’t always the memories
that undo you late at night
Sometimes it’s only a feeling,
an absence of some near-divine light
Sometimes it is a number plate,
when the numbers add up to a name
Or a person stands up to be who you were,
and you avert your eyes in shame

It’s knowing that you’re growing
and that things must be left behind
That you are only a stranger
lost somewhere in the threads of time
And it’s paying the cost of life
in memories not yet made
It’s holding on to the hope
that some things can still be saved

For in the depths of something unstoppable
always tugging at my soul
You were the first hand to grab mine
and burn through all the cold
And I know you haven’t cared
for quite a long long time
But I’ll never forget that moment
when I first learned that I was still alive

And if I could have just one thing,
I don’t know if it would be you
But I remember the shade of your eyes
better than you ever could
It’s because I’ve seen the light in them
And it’s a light I can’t unsee
So, if it comes to a choice between us,
even my darkness could never choose me.

Waking Wendy – I

The storm colored sky stretched out into eternity, as two lone figures stood beneath it, the only sound above the waves of the distant ocean being that of the wind whipping the edges of their long coats against the rustling uncut grass.

“When will things change?” asked the girl in gray.

The boy shook his head, letting multicolored drops of rain fall about them, “When you wake up.”

Her wide eyed gaze sought out the distant horizon, full of only the unknown. “Are you sure?”, she asked, biting her lip.

“Yes”, he smiled, before leaning closer, “Wake up, Wendy..”

~~~

The building wasn’t that tall, but four floors is still high enough to kill. Especially when you add in the 2 feet of the railing and the ledge, said the slurring voice in her head, and she burst into a fit of giggles, her waif like form shaking in mirth on the railing on which she was precariously perched. The moon looked on disapprovingly, but she drank to his health until even he forgave her, smiling reluctantly at her antics. After all, there is no dark side in the moon, really. And she gave him something to watch.

Alas, the watchmen have seen everything. And the moon is the oldest of them all. He soon tired of her childish games. It was time for something harder. And with magical dawns and falling stars and lighted paths, he led her astray into the wild.

“What do you want from me?”, she cried out suddenly, tired of the changing ground beneath her feet.

“I need you to wake up”, shouted back the moon. “Can’t you see what’s happening around you??”

But she only cried out louder, and shut her eyes tighter. She knew what the Moon wanted to show her, and she did not wish to see.

“Wake up, Wendy”, he whispered, almost lovingly, before withdrawing, once more, into silence.

~~~

He then spent years cleverly shaping her path, leading her slowly towards the palace of a dragon. For, even though there is no dark side in the moon, really; Matter of fact, it’s all dark.

Luckily for her, it wasn’t a particularly old dragon, for those are as weary as they are wise. Of course, this particular one was a little weary and wise himself, but he could not help it; all dragons must be.

“Why have you come here?”, asked the Dragon in his menacing voice, towering over the girl who had long shed her gray robes for black. “I’ve always wanted to meet a Dragon” she said, reverentially. “But, how did you know where to find me?”, asked the Dragon, surprised. “I heard your voice across the ocean a hundred years ago”, said the girl, “and I’ve been looking for you ever since”. The dragon studied her incredulously before swooping down and pulling her on to himself. In ecstacy, she watched the sky change colors and the clouds float on besides them, as they flew over towns and castles, showing her the World she had almost stopped believing in. The moon looked on in jealousy, but the girl had eyes only for the dragon.

But the sky had touched her with its ink, long before she had had any choice in the matter. And now, she was forever haunted by the dark. “Why won’t this stop?”, she cried into the dragon’s chest, his wing locked protectively around her.

“You know what you have to do”, he whispered soothingly, wiping the tears falling from her eyes.

“Wake up, Wendy..”

~~

But she was finally happy, and it didn’t seem fair to have to wake up just when things were getting better. She adorned the dragon’s head with flowers, and forbade him from ever speaking of it again. Of course Dragons don’t listen, but she was clever enough to remember that whether good or evil, they are creatures of their word. So she offered an exchange. That was how he got the third part of her fragmented heart. And as they flew higher and higher into the sun, she began to burn. Until the dragon noticed the edges of her hair were on fire, that is.

He immediately plummeted to the ground, crashing into a group of trees in his hurry to get her down to Earth safely. She tumbled off his back into the grass beneath, laughing. “That was amazing!” She raised her arms up, towards the Dragon. “Let’s do that again.” But the Dragon was saddened by her burning cloak, even when he saw glimpses of the red dress she had on underneath her burnt and tattered armor.

They’re only clothes, love, she wanted to say.

But night was falling, and before they knew it, winter was here. The Dragon was often gone for hours hunting, or flying, or doing whatever it is that dragons do. She did not know. All she knew was that when he was gone, she was cold. And she hated bringing it up, because she knew it made him think of the sun. And when he got like that, she didn’t know what he was after. So, she left him alone, and during one particularly frosty spell, she slowly froze into a picturesque statue.

The Dragon didn’t return for months, so he never even found out. In fact, it was quite undragonlike of him to do so in the first place, but he needed the thrill of the hunt a little more than he may ever needed her. It was a simple calculation really.

At least that’s what the village children say. But what do they knew? They’re idiots. Especially the young boys who liked to make faces at her frozen statue as she stood next to a shrine, painfully aware of every passing lifetime. He’ll come back, she whispered to herself fervently, her thoughts icy cold inside her mind.

But he didn’t.. At least not in time. And one night, a few of the boys hopped over the little fence that surrounded her in order to get a better look at her. She managed to slip away from them, only to fall to the ground and shatter into a million pieces. The boys scattered back to their homes, even as she slowly melted in the rays of the rising sun.

The Sun, she remembered fondly, and then closed her eyes, sliding down into a passing river that was making its way towards the sea. The Sea where the Dragon went hunting… She sat up at once, all the pieces of her focusing themselves into who she needed to be.

“Why don’t you look for a wizard, dear? You look like you need one.” called out an old lady from a passing boat.

The girl began to laugh again, and her tattered robes fell off her shoulders, only to reveal a beautiful red gown that now hung loosely from her fragile form. “No ordinary wizard can help me, old mother”, she cried, even as the river tried to soothe her “Can’t you see? I’ve been cursed by a Dragon.” The old woman turned and  hastened the boat away. For everyone knows how ancient the magic of a dragon is. And no one wanted to involve themselves in this tale.

The Dragon found her floundering about in the Sea, surprised to see her oddly rearranged form swimming in the cold winter sea. She raised up her trembling arms, and the dragon lifted her into the air, gently gathering her broken pieces that fell back into the reluctant river. “He’s not going to hurt me, River” she said, so tired that she had begun to slur, “Well, not much. But I’m not that weak!” The Dragon looked at her flowing gown and growled softly at the scent of the village boys about her.

“Why didn’t you come back?”, she finally asked, her voice a trembling whisper. “I never left”, he replied, quietly. She didn’t believe him, but pieces of her began to, and after years and years of icy solitude, it was simply too much to take, and she burst into tears. “What do you want from me?”, she cried.

He growled at her again and transformed into a wizard before her very eyes. She took a wary step back even as he smiled at her, wolfishly.

“You know what you have to do, little girl”, said the Wizard-who-used-to-be-a-Dragon as he moved in closer towards her, somehow so much more menacing than he had ever been as a Dragon.

“What?”, she whispered, her breath warm against his cheek.

He kissed her for a moment, before pulling away and cursing out reluctantly, “Wake up, Wendy.”

An Ancient Story

(Part – I)

In ancient tales

from long ago

Before the Dragons

and the endless cold

There was a flame

born in the midst of a storm

with rage serving as purpose

and chaos, the norm

She lived by the ocean

worshiping the sea

Always burning

in an unsatiable need

And each time she rode out

for hunt or for play

Her need made her stumble

in a cold too gray

And her sister of the winds

came to her in a dream

to tell her of a distant land

of freedom, strawberries and cream.

So she packed up her bags,

stood up and began to try

to reach that land so far away

Until she learnt to fly.

And then when she dreamt of a stone

at the center of the World

glowing oh-so endlessly

waiting for some angry girl

So she pulled on her gauntlets

and led out her steed

said her quick goodbyes

and ran off  to see

just what it was

that made this stone bleed

a fire so hot

even she could feel the heat.