The Gate

Do not go through the gate, she warned, but he suspected that she really wanted him to make the journey. For some years, the spirits of their jewelry boxes, wooden chests, porcelain bowls, hanging scrolls, mortars and pestles, brushes and inkwells, whisk brooms, rakes, sandbags and melons had twisted around him, turning him into a sleepless albino. And yet, he loved these things–some reminded him of her; some reminded him of himself. With sorrow and suffering, he departed and made his way to the edge of the land where the gate towered. It was a gate of light and shadow, of wind and earth, of ash and salt. It burned its travelers with silence and lightning. Once he had crossed through it, he returned without the spirits and without himself. She was happy to see him and even happier that life could resume. And yet, he was even leaner and paler. Most days he had little to say, and what he did say were non sequiturs trailing off into whispers at the empty space. He would go into the countryside to find discarded things, which he dragged home to burn in their abandoned courtyard. After each bonfire, he collected the ashes and placed them into clean glass jars to store in the denuded closets. When she asked him what he was doing, he said he was waiting for his friends to return. In the meantime, he would gather some gifts. One by one, the glass jars multiplied. She was not happy. And there was no gate to cure these new spirits.

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