The Immortal by Ocean Tawiah

Picture a flower. Bright, but not too bright, in a meadow that could be anywhere. Watch it bloom from a seed, blossom and grow at the pace of all the rest and reach its peak- but then it stops. As if it had forgotten that growing old is a necessary stage of life. Eventually winter came and raged its warfare but the flower remains the same, no matter how much time passes. 

That flower is me. I was born aeons ago, by parents with faces that have faded with time and with siblings whose existence is a mere speculation. It was so long ago that nothing remains of my childhood. Not even the dewy mountains that we used to explore; sometimes I wonder if they ever truly existed. 

They say the human memory is limitless, but I can never seem to remember enough. Even know, I cannot recall the colour of the sky when it fell the first time.

What I do remember, however, is the relatively distant past. The world remained separate, man had not crossed the seas ,and each country’s cultures remained undiluted. It was as though each land mass was a planet of its own.

A notable part of this time was the Ancient Greeks; who craved knowledge as they did ambrosia. They grew their gods from fiction and gave them stories to make them seem familiar. Lust, envy, hubris were all characteristics of these deities who walked among them and it was their shortcomings that served as a way to learn, a means to evolve. The Greeks loved their art, and their tales.

One narrative managed to survive in the minds of the youth; the Myth of Icarus and Daedalus. It seemed that even with all man’s accomplishments and evolution, we are still afraid to fall from heights not destined for us. If only they knew, if I only I told them, that the limit is so impossibly high that we may as well reach for it.

Alas, as time continued, mankind heeded their mythology faithfully. The freedom of the past was lost so early that no one can say it was ever there, and men fell so far into themselves that it took a brave soul to lure them to the outside light. No one but I could recall a time when one laughed in unfamiliar company.

And this takes us to the present; the time you call ‘now’ and I will soon call ‘then’. The present person is unfulfilled and feels unloved and empty. We have fun, but not enough to make our hearts race, we love, but not hard enough. We’re forever in motion, never stopping to realise that by preparing for a future that may never come we are wasting the present. People do so many unnecessary things thinking it will help them, or their children, or their children’s children but, usually, at their time of need all planning is laid to wreck. What a waste of such short lives.

There was one such girl who reminded me of the finite nature of being alive. She was pale and sickly from a disease that means death now, but thanks to the advances of medicine, will be cured with ease in the near future. I’ve often pondered on how, if she had she rested, she might have seen the day. 

Rather than rest she crossed the seas and scoured the earth for what she thought could aid her in her illness- me. She asked for a life that didn’t end, one like mine, so she could live with those she loved without the due date that mortals were burdened with. Of course, I denied her request, but (for the first time ever) I felt the need to explain my actions; as if the sadness and confusion of a mind bound to die early would affect my immortal conscious. As if this insignificant dot on my infinite timeline would be an event that I would look back on to regret for years to come. 

“Though my life is ever-lasting, I have not truly lived in a long time,” I explained, “There was not enough passion in these brittle bones for living so I have spent my life in eternal stillness. I’ve walked this earth wanting nothing, accomplishing nothing, waiting for my ashes to be swept away by the breeze- but it was never meant to be. Death has been as elusive as finding a reason to live.”

She left after that. I could never tell if she was a gentle soul or if the illness and disappointment has stolen all persistence from her, leaving her to stumble home across the globe and die a few months later. Before she died she sent me a letter detailing a life that I can only describe as ‘full’. It was so full of achieved dreams, treasured memories and beautiful experiences that it made my heart burst. She deserved this perdurable life more than anyone.

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Before I continue, I must mention the place I’ve inhabited all this time. Well, it’s mostly a concept than a location. It’s the stream banks where you can doze on, the highest trees in the forest or the lowest point amongst the foliage. It’s the last patch of sunlight before the clouds consume the sky, the single piece of flatland amid the hills and the purple sky when thunder reigns. It’s something that can be found everywhere, and if you stay there long enough it allows you to become part of the landscape. This is where I call home, a place anyone can exist but most stay away from.

In the future I will leave this place and visit the city. I always do. It’ll be empty, even more than now. The streets and people are barren. Nobody will want anything so no one’s eyes will be illuminated with the power of dreams.

It’s then, as I wander through those desolate streets, that I’ll come to the conclusion that, perhaps, the Greeks and us in the present worked so hard and achieved so much that it left only lust for the past rather than a will to change the future. We will wish for a time where one could create something entirely new. So, rather than rush to be remembered, the people here live as though they are immortal, and eventually die with regrets. They always do.

Maybe that is why things work as they do. Once, a man came to me and asked how the world ends. I told him it doesn’t, and even know I do not consider my words to be deceptive. When all is done, when our self-imposed capacity has been reached we crumble, and return to the dust that formed us to start a new cycle of time.

We start new civilisations and customs, each time is a bit different. Sometimes the gods have different names, sometimes there are none. Occasionally, humanity abandons the earth in favour of brighter galaxies. They go so far and learn so much that they forget the humble piece of rock that they came from. They never came back (or, at least, they haven’t yet). 

But before all that, before we can start again, there is a vacant whiteness and everything, manmade or natural, has been consumed by time. At this time I walk in the abyss and wonder what would happen to my creations. Would they sustain through time as I have or be washed away to piercing blankness?

I have made nothing out of fear of this. I have no children not just because I lack the warm feeling of humanity, but also because I cannot bear the thought of forcing a being to live forever. The world loses its beauty when you do. Everything seems small, there is no unknown, nature’s colours seem to blur into one. It’s not right to push such a bleak existence onto someone else. 

If I were to die tomorrow, there would be nothing to remind the world that I was here. Sometimes, when I look up at the night sky I notice a star is missing, and it’s an impassive observation, I feel as though this would be the reality if I were to disappear. I’ve grown nothing, destroyed nothing, and influenced others in ways that they would never notice. This piece of writing is my first creation, and yet, it feels as though it has already been written. Perhaps when one thinks the same thoughts as much as I have, your ideology becomes engraved in the stars. Maybe this is the privilege I receive for observing the world for as long as I have. 

But even with all this darkness, this inability to escape, this hollow feeling in my chest, sometimes when I look up into the night sky I feel nothing but euphoria. I think of how I, over anyone else, have been given the chance to experience life as no one else has before. The possibilities are endless. I could fall in love, govern a kingdom, build a staircase to the sun, climb so high that I reach the scraping edges of this universe and clamber onto the next. There is no limit to the marvels I could experience. 

And it is times like those, when the world regains it colours ever-so-slightly, that I realise that even with all these possibilities it’s the mossy banks of a lowly stream on this planet we call Earth that entices me the most.

In