Pt. 2 of It Is All an Allegory, an experimental short story series by Ace Steblea provoking conversation about beauty and what our understanding of it reveals about ourselves.

Photo by Silvi Tela

pretty boy… 

Morning starts with the recollection of dreams. Minute and grand ventures of a gesturing mind hoarse from a restless night of sleep. Muggy eyes fresh as dawn glistens dark leather brown and are uncertain of time. Glass skin cast back the pleasant gleam of early starlight. Supple and maroon with slopes and cuts strong yet benign, a young man’s complexion. Muscles geared to consciousness and aches slightly from purposeful use maneuver to combat the second wave of exhaustion that hits just after the initial jolt of attentiveness. Arms push broad shoulders upwards, legs slide into an Indian position and the back is straightened to rustle the full-body awake. The eyes hone in on the mirror across the bed. The mirror itself is smudged less but the wood that houses the tall fragile reflection is worn from years of use. 

Last night’s unconscious contemplations let loose old faces stored in absent-minded memories. Lingering happenstances that correlate to nothing but when made into a mosaic, in the blackness of sleep, form a spitting image of a reverie. It was dreary and what light there was, was a blinding fluorescent white until the eyes adjusted, even then he squinted. Lines of open, frameless windows, unevenly shaped and spaced, littered a face of a structure. Its roof was a standoffish lime and its walls were the colors of the foreseeable universe.  In each rectangular aperture was a stuttering discontent, only in focus did they speed up to normal human action. 

At a corner, within a frame, were a pair of pale blue eyes with deep black centers, if he was to let his attention wander from them they erratically blinked in rhythms uncounted. They were familiar enough, he has met numerous before, and so they could be owned by a multitude of names. It once was a preference, until the shade became more of a nuisance, a sting of the past when love was as simple as a color draped in pheromones. He lingered in them for some time, trying to locate the origin of those eyes and in his focus, he found them brighter than before, on the verge of letting go, red and unable to maintain his solitude gaze. He had to look away, he remembered his pain and the taste of salt on his lips when those eyes were placed on his years ago. A thought he hadn’t had since youth, “Am I over it all?”. 

 Adjacent to the heartbreak was a man dressed elegantly, a clean suit, straight, pleated pants with a loose yet tailored black collared shirt. The man motioned toward himself hastily but when given the time his gesture became gentler, measured. “Kiss me,” said the man. His lips were dry and his face was freckled and old. Deep dark bags that hung from his cheeks conveyed the desperation hidden in his overbearing elegance. “Kiss me…”, the man repeated, “…just once, kiss me”. In the wild turns of ungovernable, unconscious headspace he kissed the old man like he did girls he wanted to love back. A ruinous part of him appealed to the forlorn desires of a long life boxed in by the circumstances of origin, generation, and faith. Desires at that point he set loose from within the old man’s ache. In that dream he did, for a moment, in that recollection, their lips met and it was enough. 

Years ago, in the conscious world, when the same old face begged for liberation he, in fear of what it would all mean, responded with a colder answer, “No”. A ruinous and shattered fragment of his thoughts indulged in the death of the old man’s septic hunger.  But the context was all wrong. He was lured, “Oh, you’re an artist…..let me show you my art,” the old man said. He was certain of nothing but of the following, he is a man aged old enough to know, built big enough to fight, and that this doesn’t happen to men. Sculpted statues of muscled bravado, stilled in fragile mannerisms, littered ornate tables and miniature columns and arches made into shelving. The old man was truly an artist. Wood, clay, marble, no matter the base, the alteration conjured by his hindsight, his hopelessness, his hands, engendered a being to him, intangible. In the center of a room, surrounded by unsettled beauty he stood, the old man by his side, both their lives at the inevitable moment. The question was asked the wish. The response was told the denial. He was the living inspiration the old man watched grow into the mold of his sculptures, his muse, his obsession just a house away. He left the old man’s altar in fear, pure, a boy stripped, a man separated from the word, from the assumptions it rings out. 

But there was that dream, and it was enough. It memorized for him a forgotten examination of his build, his character, his beauty, and what it contains. It’s easy to nevermind a difficult search, but the body lives outside of a singular human rule. It lives to mature the best it can, the best it can. It forced him to look again and make human unrested graves buried alive, so much still left to say. Even if its echoes are weak and its roles in dreams are uncertain, it has the next day to try again, the morning.