Fiction: The Loop
By J. Iner Souster
There was a small polarizing space between the two surfaces, so they would always be close to touching but never be able to share their gifts. Bodies would dance with each other in the night, whispering words in their ears and drawing hearts with their touch. The sky would open up, and beauty would emerge, both great and fierce. It would last for eternity, always less than perfect.
And yet there would be no bitterness or regret.
"Wake up, sleepyhead." A woman's voice crooned, stirring the sleeping young man. Warm rays of morning sunlight hit his face.
"Time to go," she whispered to him. "You have to get up."
As the universe collapses, it sends out ripples of consciousness. At the same time that they try to reach the outside of the universe, they come into contact with a forest that exists in multiple timelines. There is something called a loop.
"I don't understand," the man said, shrugging.
"I know." She said gently, "It's the only way to go forward."
He felt a wave of energy in his gut.
"I can't see," the man whispered.
"Not yet; let me show you." The young woman sat down on the edge of the bed.
He watched her as she reached out her hand.
"It's been so long," she whispered.
The loop must seek another form and then another until it has spread across all planes of existence, becoming everything and nothing all at once: a tree, flower, virus, computer program, human being, worm, god, idea, sound, emotion, memory, a star, a galaxy, a universe, time, space, matter, energy, death, hate, hope, despair, love, and once again, a tree.
"Your being is changing," she said.
"Change?" he said. "I am changing."
"Not exactly," she said. "Your inner self is transforming."
People who found their souls while in the loop would have a rare kind of peace, and everything would be as it should be.
The loop, the present moment, and time are not accidents. Everything is meaningful. Every thought that once brought despair or loneliness becomes an adventure in gratitude and enlightenment.
"You need to experience bliss and emptiness and recognize that all things change and shift," the woman said.
The feelings she showed him were emotions brought forth from the mind, thoughts, and even distant memories caught up in the loop, but he had access to them. He could see them for what they were.
"And then I could release the emotions and bring them back to you," she said.
It was a journey, but there was no destination. The loop was everlasting.
His eyes were open, but he had no way of seeing.
They walked together in a tunnel whose end seemed out of reach until they came to a turn.
"A loop," he whispered.
"Yes, one of many."
They stopped in the tunnel, and the woman turned to him.
"I want you to know," she said. "I love you."
The man smiled.
"I love you, too."
J. Iner Souster is a painter of landscapes and portraiture, a sculptor who creates musical instruments out of reclaimed materials, metal dresses from handspun metal, and a collection of upcycled FauxBots. He's also a photographer, musician, illustrator, and mixed-media artist. His writing has appeared in Spillwords, Wicked Shadow Press, A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Written Tales, Friday Flash Fiction, A Story in 100 Words, 100 Word Project, The Drabble, and 101 Word Stories. He is also the winner of the 2022 Friday Flash Fiction Edinburgh Festival Competition.