She turns around but sees no one. She is standing in the middle of a hallway. Lightning pours down from the center glass dome and paints golden color on the marble floor. The morning warmth caresses her icy skin. Surrounding her is a silence of wakening shopping mall.
She is being watched of something which she fails to draw a line on. It is hiding somewhere, maybe in the dampness darkness or up above in the dome and staring at her – a helpless ant under a magnifying glass.
She urges to run but doubts there would be a place to hide. Darkness is intimidating as she always believes that there is a monster lurking in the dark with claws and acid breath and ready to jump and suck her soul. Don’t be silly, her mom’s voice echoes in her head. 26 years old, but never stop to be a little girl who wet the bed every night because she was so afraid to go to the toilet.
But there is no monster. Her heart tells her. Her hands are not sweating; her muddle jumble paranoid brain seem falling asleep. There is no nagging about a shadow figure standing behind her or behind the door.
There is nothing. A shopping mall in an early morning is eerily the most normal thing in the world.
Except for it.
A voice. It springs in the dark. Clear and warm.
And her heart skips a beat.
The voice of a man who has stepped out of his teenage phase long time ago, yet not mature. A man whom she has known for a long time. A person who is so close to her heart.
Something cracks. Like a gas filled up inside a beer bottle, being shook and ready to bust the moment the cap is removed. The voice, it opens the cap inside her. Everything pours all over the place.
“Honey”, she whispers softly.
“Where are you? Honey” She calls.
“Honey”, the voice answers, fades and disappears in the thin air.
She calls again, louder.
It seems that if there is something there, it’s already gone.
“No, wait”, not wasting any second, she dashes to the adjacent hall, into the shadow she is always afraid of. Seeking tentatively across the room, there only stands dozens of chairs and tables. They huddle under white cloth like, heads lump together like prayers in a church. She looks under the cloth while hoping that this is a joke and someone is just playing hide and seek with her. She creeps into the cafe only to see baked cookies and breads. The door of the building is close and locked with a heavy chain which makes sure no soul can enter or exit.
Not giving up, she runs to the other side, crossing the sun filled hall where she was standing. There she finds nothing with a soul in it.
Mannequins behind the window stores stare at her with their glassy eyes. They tell her nothing as they see nothing. They wear fancy clothes with leather bags hanging idly in their hands. What on Earth could catch their attention and worth their time.
“Where are you?”
A solitary tear trickles down her cheek.
“No, no, stop” she tells to herself, chants it like a spell.
She is strong and crying is not strong. She strains her eyes but tears keep coming out more and more. It soaks her clothes, streams down her legs and drips on the floor.
A stream of warm water thing runs down her legs which is not normal because it goes down fast and strong. And tears are not that warm.
And there she opens her eyes. She looks into darkness, feels lost of where she is. She is lying down, obviously on the soft bed with smell of washing powder mixed with fragrance of roses. It is warm despite ticking sound of wind and rain hitting the glass of window outside.
“Damn, I peed myself”
The realization hits her hard and fast. It is not a false alarm. A grown up who wets her bed will be a shameful story that lasts for a decade.
And nothing worse to add to her shame situation more than the knowing that she is lying next to someone else. She silently curses to herself and prays to the God that whoever it is, that person will not wake up and see how damp the mattress is now. Not to mention the smell.
A hand reaches out in the dark which makes her jump. Then soon a finger slides on the side of her palm and curls her finger around its own.
No luck for her. Her body stiffs in the dark as the body next to her moves and the person is clearly awake now. She is waiting for a laugh, a surprise cry or ridicule. She can say that she accidentally poured water on the bed or that she opened the window and rain came in.
A soft lip presses on her left ear and speaks out a velvet voice that can melt anything in the world.
“Honey, what’s wrong?”
The voice. The one in her dream. It is here, right next to her.
She turns around to catch the glimpse of the person whom she was desperately searching for in every corner of that shopping mall in her dream. It is you, she wants to say but decides to keep the thought to herself. The room is so dark that she cannot make the outline of the face. She reaches out her hand and touches the face, feel the softness on her hand.
It is real.
The tightness of the hand around her own, the warm of the breath on her face and the curve of the cheek in her hand. She speaks to the darkness and it returns the intimacy and snuggles her further into its embrace.
“I peed myself”, her response muffles under all the cover.
“I know”, the voice cracks a small laugh.
She breaths in the smell of soap and scent of wood fragrance, fills up her nostrils and her lungs. A hand runs up and down her back to calm her down while purposely not go further to her bottom.
She falls asleep quickly while clutching tightly to her love.
The rain outside keeps getting heavier, ceaseless waves of wind hit the window ominously. The house is shaking under the strong force which demands it to surrender. Water splashes into the window strong like a stone hitting the glass as the glass starts to crack. From above, the water starts leaking down the drain and drops into the bed and the floor.
She flicks her eyes open to the scene of the wooden roof being tore apart by the storm and tossed into the high sky. Before she has time to scream, she is swept away by the wind and thrown to the open water outside. She hits the water hard. Shocked and muddle, she moves her hands and legs frantically, trying to rise above the water. And she sees a boat which might be the place she was sleeping in. But it is moving forward, away from her place.
“Help”, she cries, “I can’t swim. Somebody helps me”
“Honey, swim. Do it. Move your arms, move your legs. Do it” The voice cries out from above the boat.
“No, I can’t do it. Help me”
“Goddammit. Swim, please. Swim”
“Help me. I’m drowning”
She screams more and more but the boat already disappears in the dark. Water comes in her nose, her throat and suffocates her. The water blinds her eyes and pulls her down with its tentacles; it locks her arms and her legs in a deathly hold and continues to drag her toward its heart.
Her cry dies out in the sea as the water is eating her alive.
She is sinking deep into the blue water. Someone is calling her name but she doesn’t know who. She let it slide as her world turns white and blurry.
Her body hits the bottom in a soft thud.
Her body goes numb and feel cold. Her sensor receptors refuse to work, except her ears. There are voices – she can hear laughs, giggles, chatting sound. Someone is calling her name, telling her to look at them. She can see someone is shaking her.
Yet all those voices soon are pushed to the background into a buzz.
She is lying there on a hard ground, skin being pierced by sharp edges of rocks beneath. Why is she lying here? Why is she alone? What are they trying to tell her?
She remembers a Fool in Tarot decks – a young man with the brightest smile on his face. He has his cloth bag hanging on a stick. He is ready to go on an adventure, his eyes are hopeful and looking up at the blue clear sky with sunshine. She guess the light might have blinded his eyesight as he is walking toward a cliff. The painting takes place just a minute before the fall, she’s believed. He would break his neck and crack his bone. Dying all alone at the bottom of a cliff, staring upon the sky forever with his smug grin.
‘A fool’ – that what others might like to call her. She doesn’t need to turn around to see their pity looks. They think she is childish. “She knows nothing” “Just childish”. She thinks they know nothing. ‘A fool’ – they are.
She doesn’t want to listen to them. She knows better herself. She tells them to get lost. There the buzz stops and vanishes into the thin air, leaving behind a silent which soon to prove it’s as scary and protruding as the noise.
As her sense come back, she finds herself on the feet. Walking. On the ground. She sees nothing as everything is pitch dark. Strangely enough, she is not scared as the time when she was in a Dance class and the instructor asked everyone to troll around the room with closed eyes. She was hesitant and constantly checked if she would soon bump into something. What was she scared of? Uncertainty? Probably. So what makes this darkness and silent so certain for her? The answer is pending.
Suddenly, she hears something. A sound, indeed. So soft that it’s leaking from a crack in the eternal darkness. Like a smoke, it emerges softly and slowly but visible for her ears – now replace her eyes as a object sensor – catches on it immediately.
Listen, listen to it. I know this sound.
Faint like a sigh, but it is there. She has the feeling that there is something more. Her heart and her memories fill in the gap her ear sense fail to connect – a voice. It is with the rhythm, it is singing.
I know this song.
“…Too much love will kill you
If you can’t make up your mind
Torn between the lover and the love you leave behind
You’re headed for disaster ‘cos you never read the signs”
The voice she knows so well, the voice in the hall, the voice in the dark. The voice she loves. The voice is singing a song only for her.
She opens her eye, wipes her tears to the sight of a young man with a guitar in his hand. He is looking down at the string, his hair is swept to the other side revealing the undercut. He looks up to her with his large and dark eyes. His long eyelash flutter as he smiles to her. His thumb wipes the tears off her cheeks. “Don’t cry honey”, he says and continues to sing the song.
She smiles back while holding her knees close to the chest. She didn’t recognize that she is sitting in his bed. The world is shutting off for a moment. She is dry and warm in the bed, the heater is on. Next to her is the man she loves playing his favorite song.
“I love you, honey”
She forgets everything, the sea, the cold, the water. She is here, with him, warm and safe.
Everything is going to be alright.
She leans on him with her head on his shoulder. And once again, she let her tears flow, with relieved and happiness.
Everything is going to be fine. Everything
When she hit the snooze button and goes out of the bed, it is already 7AM. She staggers to the bathroom, turns on the light and look at her sluggish reflection in the mirror. She looks so horrible. Her eyes are all red and traces of tears are visible on her cheeks. It fits well with her red sleeping gown though. Now her friend would say her appearance finally matches her mentality.
She washes her face in a speed movement, brushes her hair and rolls it into an up-do painstakingly.
Her friend swings the bathroom door open in an aggressive manner.
“Hurry up. The place is far away. I still have to go work after this”
“I am ready in a minute”
Her friend walks away while constantly talking loud about how cruel the guy is, throwing people out on the street while they have nowhere to go. Life can be messy sometimes.
She put on a white shirt and a blue dress that barely cover her knees. She put on the brightest smile she can manage, light blush on the cheek and rosy lipstick. She is ready to go.
“Wow, you look so nice. ” her friend says cheerfully. “You always need to look beautiful when meeting the ex. Right?”
They go to the train station, twenty minutes away from home. One hour by train and then barely 40 minutes by bus to the place. Her friend holds her hand in a strong hold and keeps reminding her to smile and be confident.
Today she will go to her ex-boyfriend’s place to take her clothes, bags, books, shoes and more clothes.
Only two of them, can they bring everything without a truck? They cannot afford a truck. Last night, she and her friend only ate two eggs and a cup of yogurt. No way they can afford a truck to move.
“You have to hurry up”, he said, “no, you cannot let it here to pick up later”. A new girl will come tomorrow, the girl he met a week before they broke up and he has been falling in love.
Can they bring all the stuffs to the bus? Then to the train?
I hope that the landlady will not say anything and let me stay for a while, she thinks to herself.
This morning, she received two rejection letters from companies she has hoped to join. She has to find something else soon.
Breath, breath, she inhales and exhales slowly following the rhythm in her memory.
“…Too much love will kill you
If you can’t make up your mind…”
Everything is going to be fine. Yes, everything.