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The Rhapsody of the World

An important experience I had one summer.

The subdued yellow glow of lampposts served as my makeshift milestones as I trudged down the road. Humidity choked the post-storm air. The storm had raged for hours; there had been reports of widespread flooding and destruction. Revealed in the now cloudless sky, though, were the vermiculite wisps of nebulae, a rare sight so close to the city.

It was late, and I could not sleep, as my insomnia had become an all too common occurrence. My glimmering markers ticked by – one, two, three – like the days and months of the year gone by. I had just turned seventeen and stood on the edge of adulthood. I felt older, but no wiser – only aged, in the most stagnant sense. Curious to see the ocean at night, I turned towards the entrance to the beach. Lampposts left far behind, I took a seat on the weathered bench that stands, resolute, at the entrance to the sands.

The once cerulean waters were now black, a blackness only intensified against the night sky. Waves of high tide lapped gently against the shore, echoing subtly about the deserted beach. Above, the full moon shone over the ocean, illuminating a ribbon of rippling, aqueous alabaster which stretched out to the horizon. Over this sea of dazzling darkness loomed the towering nimbus. Once implacable in its fury, it now only drifted lazily away.

Lightning, auburn in the distance, arced through the storm, illuminating the sky in an instantaneous flash. Deep baritones of thunder reverberated within my chest like the long, drawn-out sigh of some discontented giant. All around my bench, the shrill but gentle cadence of innumerable crickets whispered into the night like a thousand miniscule clarions. They chanted in natural harmony. Sights and sounds coalesced into a great orchestration, a rhapsody of the world composed in its most primal and uncorrupt. It sang.

It sang of my years gone by, of my confusions and doubts and pains, of the intrinsic light and dark. It sang of the restless warmth of a summer’s dusk and the quiet cold of a winter’s dawn. It sang of first and final kisses, of hellos and goodbyes, of the stalwart advancement of time. It sang, and I listened, relishing in its dissonance, its basses and trebles. In those measures I heard life -- my life -- with all its flaws and perfections and failures and victories.

Again I looked over the sea of dazzling darkness to the great maestro of imperfect sublimity. The storm had nearly dipped over the horizon, and would soon be gone from view. The orchestra put away its instruments as the rhapsody died down and, eventually, disappeared.

I sat for a while longer, internalizing its tune. I shivered; the air had grown cold, and the hour quite late, during the performance. I went home and slept. From then on, when my mind plays tricks, when I forget and fear and flee, when I surrender to the strangulating hold of apathetic anxiety, I recall the melody which soothed me that night. And it soon returns, for the rhapsody of the world always sings on.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © Copyright 2012, 2013 by Alex Holzman aka alexh

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