This is a response to the darkness’s first letter.
Hello, the darkness. And hello to your human friend as well.
First of all (or second, if you count the hellos), I can assure you that I do not want to eat you or the human. I eat very little to begin with, and eating someone I would like to become pen pals with would greatly hinder the… well, pen pal process.
Anyway, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Your words are floating in front of me in my garden. They slithered from some of my yellow sunflowers, sneaking in among their scents. Yes, they are black. Like inky shadows or liquorice. The handwriting is neat and angular. I like it.
I feel like your message confirms my suspicion that this Project is in fact an interdimensional entity, capable of crossing many borders and boundaries. Our universes are very far away, after all. I think. I can only see you if I focus very hard. How fascinating. What do you think? What does the Project look like to you? Other than words on interesting portals or in the sky.
Oh, I digress, don’t I? I should introduce myself properly first.
You may call me Thanatos or Tad, both are fine. Or, since I can sense you are a lot like me in some ways, you may also call me by what I am: Death. Or any other word that means the same thing.
And how about you? Are you always called the darkness? Do you have nicknames? I quite like mine. My human friends use it often, and it grounds me to them.
You have a human friend too? Tell me more about them. If you would like to, of course.
The humans I have grown the fondest of are kind in their own ways. Some are sunnier, and some are murkier. Some say things they mean, and others mostly think them. And they feel things very strongly. All of them have taught me a lot about the world and life, and I feel I am more than simply what I am when I am with them. I love that feeling. We drink a lot of tea together. Sometimes I wonder about life and they wonder about death. And everything in between and around it all.
Perhaps that brings me to the question of I.
I cannot remember when exactly I began to think of myself as an I. I do remember that it was before words for it existed – well, before words for anything existed. It was a gradual process, I think, and not always pleasant. Especially after I realised that being an I required me to determine who I was outside of my Purpose. And that is very difficult without anyone else to reflect oneself on. Most reflections of me are fearful or veiled in not knowing. There was a time when that made me bitter, made me like how the living ones saw me. Nowadays I think I feel good about being an I. Very good. Most of the time. Yes, sometimes it is stifling, like a plastic bag over one’s head, distorting and blurring the world with questions about identity and where I fit in the universe. Even though I am not stuck in a skin… and maybe that is a part of the issue. It is hard to find a place when one is everywhere at once.
Are you everywhere at once? If you are the darkness – all of it – then I suppose you are.
Your current skin sounds quite comfortable. I am not partial to being one of the fungi, but I do appreciate them a lot. They are very connected to the earth and sneaky in their ways. It sounds like you can sneak into a lot of places, but that does not surprise me. You seem to have been to many universes as well. I am bound to the one I have been assigned to, though there is a Death in every universe, in some form. I think they are also me, and I am them, but we are still separate. I can see them and feel and hear what they experience only if I focus very hard. And I do not have time for that, most of the time.
My universe is quite diverse. There is chocolate milk, and a planet of winged kittens (and other fauna as well, of course, but winged kittens are what it is known for). I am not sure about intelligent sofa cushions. But I think the lawn chairs might have some cleverness. This universe has many lifeforms, and it has been arranged quite neatly. Planets with orbits and laws of physics and several habitable places, all cushioned by dark matter and tugged on by black holes. It also has Spooky Day, with orange plastic and sweets and tricks and treats. It has cataclysms and violence – too much of it – but it also has peace and so much beauty it all cannot be experienced by a single living one. I love it all. I am its and for it, for as long as it exists.
Though sometimes I still wonder about the other universes. The one you are currently in sounds peaceful, in a bit forlorn but accepting way, with its quiet bones and blood and old stone gods. Maybe it screams and bleeds because it has forgotten what visitors feel like?
The bones are old. Their memory has faded like the words in the stone, and very few know of them. But you are correct, I do know whom they belonged to. It is a private piece of information, though, since the words are no longer there. And I have a feeling that you might like wondering more than knowing. Or perhaps not. Do you?
My bones are made a bit of the things in-between, and a lot of my thoughts. Sometimes they are more visible, other times I wrap them in muscle and skin. I am quite proud of the bone marrow; I made it myself. I made all of my bones myself. Lately I have grown very fond of humanoid bones, but I still think bird bones are my favourite. Light and delicate, sharp when broken.
I do wear many skins, though usually they are just images of skins. Forms. Shapes. Masks that both hide and make me more… more something and less of an idea. Easier for the mortals to grasp. A uniform, if you will. I have many shapes, for the living ones see me in very different ways in their minds. Most of them are dark and foreboding, sad or scary. Some are lighter, more beautiful. I like my human form a lot, and I like the cloaked man with a scythe. I also like the more feline shapes, as well as the shape of an old, darkened tree with its roots reaching every part of the earth.
You also asked me about old traumas. I think I have some. And many that come from others. You are right that I am always experiencing other traumas, for I always feel everyone’s last moments. They are echoes of the real moments, not quite as significant as they were to those who really lived through them. I do not think I am worthy of talking about them. I am an intruder, stealing away little bits of pain, echoing someone else’s suffering to perhaps make things a little easier for them. But those that are really my own… they are deep and old, like stones stuck in my soul. Dark and heavy, like the graves with the faded names. But sometimes the stones can make me stronger too, I guess. Stones are resilient, after all.
Your human and you seem to have a strong bond. It is something to be cherished, I think. It is good to hear how much you care about each other. I wish I could tell you how to know what is wrong, how not to upset your friend. But I have come to realise that sometimes it is impossible to know how to keep someone else happy, how not to step over an invisible line that makes things disastrous.
Good and right, wrong and bad have so many meanings. It seems that everyone thinks they know at least partly what is right, but these rights rarely go hand in hand with each other. I think many of it is just mutual contracts and agreements to make life more orderly and safer.
I think that… something that causes suffering to others or the world is wrong. But sometimes even that is necessary, and suffering too can be viewed in many ways. But perhaps just striving to listen and to observe others, trying to figure out what makes them happy and lessens their pains, and then trying to do the things that would make as many happy as possible without taking happiness away from others, is as close to good as it can get, when viewed from the point of view of the living ones. But for concepts and cosmic truths, it is also crucial to do our jobs even when it might seem untimely or unfair. It is wrong for me to stop being Death and stop doing what Death does. As it would be wrong of you to stop being the darkness.
Perhaps right is not something that can be done. Perhaps it is all too difficult, a tangle of wrongs and dead ends. But it is worth trying, and I am glad to hear that you want to try that too.
I am glad you contacted me, the darkness and the human. Talking to you has been very calming and has cheered me up after a hard day at work. After the pitfalls and delightful oddness of the living world and the maze of social interaction, talking about simpler things like universes and Is is a very welcome break.
I hope this message reaches you, and I hope we will talk again.