Author: Mariel Tishma

Mariel Tishma is a student at Columbia College Chicago where she is studying creative writing. She firmly believes that everyone and everything has a story to tell, and that every story can be improved with just a little bit of the fantastic.


Found in the last hidden place:

I’ve been around long enough to hear what’s been said about me, and I’ve been around long enough to have heard all of your stories. You always say Light was the first thing ever created, and if it wasn’t created it was assumed. Imagine, a booming voice filling up the empty space and commanding the Light into being, and the sun and the moon and all the rest followed afterward.

Does anyone wonder about that empty space? Does anyone ask what came before? I only ask because I have been ignored, taken for granted, for so long. No one ever remembers that I was there first, though perhaps it’s not without reason that I’m forgotten. I am everyone’s first fear. But I’m not here to speak on that if I can help it. I am here to set a different record straight.

Before that moment, before “let there be Light”, I was there—the emptiness, the Darkness. I was first and I was all that was. Then, I hardly even knew that I was. Why should I have? Everything was me and I was everything. I was not a separate thing, as there was nothing separate from me. I am older, more infinite, than you could ever understand. There is a deep and never ending place that no one but I, has ever seen.

That place disappeared in one moment. That first moment when there was Light. This stretched longer than you would believe. When you are infinite, time no longer matters. Every span, from a second to a century, feels the same. When Light appeared the two of us took up the same space. The world was not divided at that first moment. Despite what you may think, not everything needs to be divided, split and rent, into black and white.

Do you not already believe Light and Dark cannot exist without each other? What is to say we are not the same thing?

So it was then. Light and Dark hovered together, not one thing and not two things. If you say it is impossible, know it is only as impossible as this hidden place, still untouched.Think of the trenches in the oceans, the unthinkable depths of caves. It is only as impossible as that. Perhaps if you had bothered to listen for my voice, or even the voice of Light, before now, you would have known that. You will listen now.

While Light and I remained together, one thing with two sides, we came to know each other. Rather, because this was a moment that spanned forever, we knew the other when we first realized there was an other. Because we are infinite, we knew the past and the future and the present all at once, and we saw what the both of us would become, in total fullness. I saw myself as the night, as yawning cave mouths, the monster under the bed, the deepest spans between the stars, the concealer for lovers, the cover for thieves. I would be the shadows, the most sacred hidden spaces, the inner room of the temple, and the untouched places.

And I saw what Light would be. I saw the day, the glowing stain on the ocean at sunset, wildfires eating away at ancient forests, atoms torn apart and glowing so bright as to tear away the flesh, the comforting glow of dawn, the harsh gleam of truth. Light would be the revealer, the known and understood, the thing that brought the lost back home.

We saw all of this, and though we did not understand it, we accepted it, and knew there was good and bad in both of us. For that moment we were content to simply know. We would wait for the time when we did understand. Seeing the sunset, seeing the shadows, was not the same as being them, but all would come in time and that, at least, we understood. We knew, too, that a time was coming when we would be separated. We didn’t know what would set us apart, but we knew it would happen. Our knowledge was a promise. But, we told ourselves, the moment had not yet arrived. We were companions for that time, because we were all that was. I was all that Light had ever known, and it was only after Light appeared that I realized I was alive. Why wouldn’t we stay where we were together?

The longer we lingered the closer we grew. Not in physical space but in the parts of us that lived outside of our physical space. We knew every part of each other. We had seen, felt, every edge. We saw the things the other would become. Were we creatures like you, we would have been in love, but we are not like you. Love is still two things bound together. We were the same thing then. We were one thing. There was no Light and Dark, only Us, hovering in the eternal moment that we occupied. Imagine us like your own swirling galaxy, arm in arm and intertwined. Even that would be too separate. Picture instead never ending versions of your galaxy stacked on top of one another, the light and the dark alternating so that no place is without either. That is what it felt to be Us. That was what it felt to love Light. To be one thing and still be yourself. To be everywhere and nowhere at once.

You must remember that all of this lasted only a blink. This was still the moment when Light first came into the world. In one of your books only a line divides the creation of Light and the separation of Light and Dark. We had been living in the gap between that line, and it had been as infinite as we were infinite, a never-ending heartbeat moment.

But the beat must close, the eye must open again, and the moment must end. The end, our time, was coming. Light and I sought to understand all that we knew. We talked with one another, hoping to comprehend all that we would become through each other. We worried most at the things that were different between us. Why I would hide what Light would always show. Why I would allow things to be what they were not. Why Light so often came with things that hurt —fire, guns, sharp handled truth. We wondered why all the worst creatures thrived in the Dark. I wondered why Light would allow nothing a moment alone. I remember Light had told me I left nothing alone either, after I said that.

But Light was wrong. I knew what it meant to be alone, to be singular. I was first after all. The memories of those times are distant to me now, but they still happened. They are still true. I have been alone here, in this hidden place, for time on end. Light has never had to be alone. I was there the first moment it opened it’s eyes. Light always ensures it is never alone, finding the smallest crack in a thing and breaking through it. Light does not like to be alone.

I thought all of this, but I did not tell Light in the moment. I did not even realize it until later, until after. We filled up the time with our words and we spoke for a long while. The differences stacked between us, things we had known and disregarded before but that we could not ignore now. And we broke, finally, when I asked Light why it was the creatures of your earth feared me, but loved it.

Light said, “It is because I am good, and you not.”

I didn’t understand. I told Light so.

Light said, “It is how we were made.”

And this, again, was not true. We had both agreed, long ago, that all the things we were and all the things we would become were good and bad in turn. I told Light then all the things I had thought of it, all the dark and hateful things that I had realized in the differences between us. Then, I turned away and day and night were born. Finally, things were separated, rent, torn apart, into the duality you desire. I suppose you might have been right after all. Something in our knowledge had changed the Light I knew into someone else. Now what is mine is mine and what is Light’s is Light’s. We stay apart.

Know this, though. Our edges always touch. We are the first two infinite things and we fill up everything, everywhere. Remember, too, that we were the same thing once. That we had been too close to tell apart. If I willed it, I could disappear at our edges, merge us again into the singular thing we had been once, so long ago. Then our edges would not touch, and things would not be so bad.

But I won’t. We aren’t the same thing anymore. I know it in the lowest hollows of myself.

It is in those places, the places where our edges touch, where I am too slow to turn away completely. These places where I linger—that is where the Shadows are born. For I do linger. In some small way I do not want to leave Light alone. I know that always at the edges of myself is a part of myself I can no longer be. I do not feel pain, I should not ache, but this is what you would call a hurt. And it makes me angry. Furious. If I could, I would take the wildfire that is Light’s and set it at all the ends of everything and watch it all smolder around us. I am not good enough to keep my anger pointed at myself, for I am the one lingering. Somehow, always, the fault is Light’s. Perhaps Light was right so long ago when it said that this is how we were made.

Were I braver I would leave this pain, this place, and see what would become of you with only Light to guide you. I don’t know where I could go instead, but it doesn’t matter. If I wanted to leave, I could. I know this. But something keeps me tethered here. It is Light. Not because I could not exist without it, I did once and I could again, but because of something else. In spite of myself, in spite of all my best, I love Light still. It is a beautiful thing, and I would watch it as long as I can, and this is why I linger. Picture it dancing, see the way it makes children gasp with the sunrise. I know that I am the reason you lock your doors at night. I know this and I am unashamed. So Light is unashamed. Because of this we can never speak again. So I remain the Shadows, at the edges of everything, and Light takes the stars and the moon. There are no places left where one can exist without the other.