Bleeding lights reel through his reeling witness to the world. He doesn’t understand exactly where he has been but he knows exactly where he is going. With only forward and stop at his fingertips there’s really no option.

I’ll take you back.

There is a girl there, her hair brightened by the sun. He’s seen her. Not in his dreams, no, but in eyes which are not his. He can’t explain it, doesn’t try to. He has no one to convince. Even his captors are long gone. But she’s there. Each time his eyelids flicker shut on his darkened cell she’s there, blinding him in her dichotomy for an instant.


The light hurts. His retinas are not ready, they never will be. Each blink a snapshot of pain and paradise, hand in hand. His nights are spent in tormented bliss; writhing agony and aching beauty. The golden rays filter through his existence, pierce his greyscale solace and shatter it into a trillion little specks, like golden dust dancing in the air. He wants to be there so badly it begins to hurt his waking hours too, its absence, her absence. His sorrow forms at his eyes and she swims before him. He knows what he has to do


His eyes are closed for the last time now. The abandoned attempts of his predecessors line the hall he finds himself in, dressed now in a palette he’s more accustomed to. He wonders where she is. He sits between their pseudo headstones, each one a monument to their failure. Their spokes as dusty as they are deserted. Desertion, he feels it now, sacrifice or no he’s alone again, albeit in a more foreboding locale. A delicate finger hits a delicate key hits a delicate note somewhere in the delicate distance and he jumps to his feet. Invigorated is too much. Hopeful is too naive. Determined he speeds towards the origin.


The tunnel is all around him for a second, heavy and threatening and wrapping itself through every thread of his being. Doubt clouds his vision further, vying for space against the dark, until – at once – they both disappear into the brightness of the day. Blasted back to leave nothing but shadows of the eye to be blinked away.


The tunnels mouth yawns as it spits him out. He careens for a moment. It’s all too much. Blinded he hurtles towards oblivion again. An alternate outcome kisses him fleetingly, a touch so brief a hummingbird’s wing can be seen in the split-second it takes to land. It is terrifying.  


The struggle is over. The tracks are behind him. He can feel her now. Like her absence was unbearable, her presence is unmistakable. He hurries, as if the ante had been raised somehow. His heart is full. The snow crunches underfoot. The beauty of the world overwhelms him and he has to stop for a moment and catch up with it all. His face is running now, as fast as he is, dripping off his chin to the white wastes below.

Atop the hill she is there, beside an old abandoned farmhouse, as striking as the glimpses promised. He approaches without hesitation. He spots the grand piano in a window as he passes it.

She looks as though she has been expecting him.


“I found you,” he says, cracking the ice from his lips as he reaches her. He gulps lungful after lungful of the blue and finally allows himself to come to a stop.

“No,” she laughs, touching his cheek with her cold fingers, “I found you.”

* * *

Today’s story was inspired by JOE, a collaboration between Hiroshi Sugimoto and Jonathon Safran Foer, a photographer and an author respectively. You can read the whole thing at (and I highly recommend you do. It’s beautiful.)

Today’s prose-accompanying photographs were provided by my wonderful friend Patrick Heneghan-McCombe and thusly inspired the story. They also mark the first time in the year I’ve ever had images to illustrate my work – though here it really is the prose illustrating the pictures 😉 I know today’s experiment wouldn’t have been nearly as successful if it wasn’t for his breathtaking photography and this is as much dedicated to him as it is a collaboration with him.

It was a difficult process and one I probably wouldn’t undertake again in a hurry. It was a genuinely emotional experience made even more so by listing to Ludovico Einaudi’s Una Mattina for the duration of the exercise. It’s a heart-rending album and inspired a melancholy yet ultimately uplifting tale. A special thanks to all my muses today.


~ by Joseph Blame on May 18, 2011.

One Response to “Phosphorescence”

  1. ZING!

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