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The Holder of Secrets is dead.
It's no secret that he died, for at the moment of his death, no more secrets can be kept. The knowledge enters everybody's mind and floats among the debris of their life experiences. The reason for his death is no secret either, for with the knowledge of his passing comes the knowledge of its cause: the weight of carrying all the secrets in the universe has crushed the Holder's mind. Yes, even Holders can have their minds destroyed. As if the Object is paying its last respects to its Holder, the name of Father Brian O'Shea drops and ripples in the babbling din of thoughts and memories that can no longer be kept out.
I find myself in a familiar churchyard looking at the weathered edifice of a tiny cathedral. I remember the many times I entered the church, seeking solace, attending mass, witnessing a baptism or marriage, or paying my last respects to the departed. I remember often seeing Father O'Shea enter the confessional to assume his post. In hindsight, a priest receiving confessions being the Holder of Secrets is rather fitting.
In my mind, as well as in the communal mind that the death of the Holder created, I start to realize and understand things that were open secrets, things that everybody knew but never acknowledged. Things like why bread was sold at half price at closing time (Fresh Baked? Think again.) or what certain nursery rhymes really meant (Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall...).
I start walking towards the forest at the edge of town.
Other secrets start skittering in. Personal secrets, public affairs, and even the secrets of things that have no life in itself, like governments and institutions...
Mr. Smith had an affair with Ms. Johnson. My mind is suddenly flooded with the memories of their trysts and alibis.
My body aches and my soul is weighed down under the pain of the beatings and the despair Mrs. Chan carried as a battered wife.
The creature sighting at the lake was a hoax; its photographs were fabricated. My/his heart beats with elation as I/he realize the success of my/his actions.
Beep, beep, beep, beep .... said the machine. The infamous dictator of that Latin-American country has been braindead for months, yet the machine keeps the body alive. Beep, beep, beep, beep ....
In the dying bank where I keep my money, many hands are feverishly feeding the shredder, trying to wash themselves of guilt in this modern Pilate's basin. Shredded paper, shredded lives, pointing the accusing finger even in its death throes.
As I enter the forest, the babble of secrets begins unraveling the weaker minds, yet strangely leaving the minds of the insane untouched. I start to lose my own sense of identity as I lose track of which secrets are my own and which belong to someone else.
I become rooted in the middle of the forest as the final, most deeply hidden secrets start to emerge, the secrets everybody hides from their own selves:
Rosalinda, the socialite and life of the party, does not want to be left alone to face her own demons. They torment her with her fading beauty, with the futility of her wealth, with her constant loneliness.
In his dreams, a little boy is always lost, trying to find his way. In his mind, a giant is walking the earth, crushing everything in its path. In truth, George, the black sheep, wants his absent father to take notice of him as he looks for the source of his missing comfort, wanting to destroy that source of unending pain.
Then I turn and look at myself.
The awful truth.
The darkest secret I've kept from myself: I've been the Holder of Secrets' Object all along. I look deep into my "memories" and realize they were never my own but borrowed and pasted together from the secrets of those who strayed too close. I myself have nothing. I am tabula rasa.
A black cloud swirls in my vision, accompanied by the sound of a million flapping wings. Secrets, like crows, are coming home to roost. I raise my arms to ward them off, but my arms freeze as bark and leaves start growing on them.
In desperation, or perhaps defiance of my fate, I shout, "Where do secrets draw their power?"
Instead of echoing back my words, my voice responds, "From fear do secrets draw their power."
Fear sprouts with every leaf: fear of losing this short life of borrowed memories and thoughts, fear of the void, the nothingness beyond death or rebirth, in truth, back into an Object of no memories, no identity, no self.
As the bark closes over my mouth, as darkness and nothingness close over my eyes, I scream out one last time, "Where does fear draw its power?"
My own voice replies, before silence reclaims its place, "From secrets does fear draws its power."
Categories: | The Forgotten and the Unknown |