Imaginary

Her friend was imaginary, seemingly. He used to be real, but now he wasn’t, he was gone.

It was a long story.

All she knew was that she missed him, but he would never be able to come back from where he was now. She hoped he was happy, but he would never know now.

She wondered if he ever thought about her; if she was happy, if she was successful, if he even cared anymore. If he remembered her. She wondered what he did now. She wondered if she would be able to see him again.

She saw him sometimes, though he was now imaginary; she saw him where he would be at home, where he would just fit. Or where she thought he would. She didn’t trust her memories of him anymore; they seemed almost too magical. Too untouched, to perfect, in a way. Like they almost weren’t real anymore.

She only remembered him in a certain number of ways; she had been his friend, but not allowed too much time. What time they had, they had made last, before he had to leave. It had been fun. But it had been so long.

So she didn’t know if her few retained memories were fair to him; if it was fair where she imagined his smiles, his jokes. Those whispered memories weren’t enough sometimes; she just wanted to see him again, though she knew she would have to wait.

All she knew was that she missed him.

via Daily Prompt: Imaginary

Surface

She looked in the pool of water, down at her reflection.

Well, there were certainly many things to reflect about, that was for sure.

She wasn’t sure why she had come here, to this park. She probably looked strange staring at her self in the mucky pond.

She dragged her fingers across the surface of the water, blurring her reflection, waves going out through the still water.

Like the aftershocks of that earthquake from the epicenter.

She woke a few mornings ago to a slight shaking. She went outside to see if it was the air conditioner was acting up again, and somehow she ended up in a ambulance hours later, pulled out from under the rubble.

Her roommates had died under that house. She had gone to bed late and was still in so light a sleep that she was awoken by the first, weaker vibrations, and she was the only one who had survived in that house.

If she hadn’t decided to stay up late studying, she would be dead, crushed under the weight of the second floor falling on top of her.

So she watched the surface of the water calm, as the earthquake had ended. Completed with all of her friends dead.

And yet she was as calm as the surface of the water after those waves. She was not in ruins, like her home had been reduced to. She seemed calm; her mind was murky and uncertain like the pond water beneath the surface.

Panic

Sometimes she felt like the whole weight of the world was pressing down upon her, but she couldn’t do anything against its mighty force. It squeezed every last bit of air out of her lungs, and did not stop until she was left in a daze which she couldn’t escape or understand.

This was her panic attack. Like a sheer wave of panic, nay a wall, that would slam into her, seemingly random. She could be doing absolutely nothing, be completely fine, and then wham. It hit her like a ton of bricks and she would go completely still except for the racing of her heartbeat and her gasping for breath, the air passing through to her lungs but doing nothing to help the waves of feeling like there was no air in the room, no air in the world fer her to take in.

She knew some of her triggers, however; if she thought about her mother’s nonexistent pulse beneath her 5 year old hand, she would stop breathing. If she thought about the blood on the receiver of the home phone as she held it, if she thought about anything about that fateful day, or the times after it, her panic would hit her.

She learned to be weary of these times, or episodes as they were called. It had never happened to her in public before, but, even still, she never wanted to risk it. For her, she knew the ways to keep them away, or at least ward them off, but she knew that during the storm itself she had no control at all. That she was in her body, but her mind had taken her hostage and was torturing her soul for anyone who wanted to see. So she never wanted that to happen in public, of course. There would be too many variables; at least when she was alone, she could wait it out and and she knew that it would end soon. But in public, where she was very much not alone, who knew what would happen. She felt like she would not be able to come back as quickly, and the rush of people coming to try and help her, surrounding her and caging her in, cutting off her air, would only make it worse, and inevitably lead to someone calling 911, for an ambulance to whisk her away yet again to another unknown place which was only more panic inducing… She saw that train of thought disappear deep down the rabbit hole, and didn’t want to investigate it any further than she absolutely had to. And so she resolved that she would never let it happen in public.

By that logic, it was safest to stay home alone all day so that nobody would ever be able to witness her terror, her crazy, irrational, inexplicable, terror. So she stayed home; she didn’t go outside. If she let nobody into her heart, nobody could break it in half again by leaving her behind. She wouldn’t give them the power to break her like her mother did, when she chose that she would rather be dead than stay with her own child.

Void

It was odd to be in a room of people who seemed to look up to her dad like he was some kind of hero.  A part of her wanted to see him through their eyes just for a moment. She  tried to picture him as this gallant man in uniform who saved the lives of many in his sacrifice.

But she did not care how many people he had saved. She just wanted him back. She knew that it was an exceedingly selfish thought, but she felt as though now there was an void in her chest which only her father could occupy.

She did not know any of the people in this room. She was sure that many of them had been in that room, and seen the exact moment when the light vanished out from behind his eyes like a star. A dead star, except this time there was no supernova, and he was simply gone.

That was what they saw him as, the hero. They said that they felt ‘sorry’ for her, for the loss of her parent, but of course they didn’t understand. They didn’t understand her agony that cut like a blade or the dull ache of true grief, they were just thankful to be alive. They didn’t understand what was going on in her head, what images crept into her head when she cried at night.

She wished that she could understand them, but she just didn’t. They had made a martyr of him, just like everyone who heard the story. All of the news anchors who had interviewed her, pretending sympathy but only caring about what she could add to their story, to build up the image of him as a man who left a family behind to save strangers lives.

But it didn’t matter. She had been told so many times by stranger and relative alike that he would have been so proud of her, how gracefully she had handled this. But they couldn’t possibly know, because the time she was supposed to have with him had been stolen in a moment with the flash of a gun. She would never get to see him again, get to know him as an adult, have him walk her down the aisle and hand her away.

She was left only with the memories she still had of him, and a piece of granite with his name on it.

Dense

Sometimes, the air around her ears felt like jelly. It was like all of a sudden, just around her, the air was dense and unable to transmit sound, leaving her out of the conversation. She could feel the vibrations, but not the words themselves. She could not comprehend them. She had been locked out of their world, time and time again. They would let her hear what they were saying, wouldn’t let her hear what was important.

There was too much pressing down on her anyways, to worry about what they thought, she told herself. Perhaps that was why she didn’t always understand what they were saying. It just didn’t matter to her enough to care.

All she needed to hear was her own breathing and heart beat, and she would be fine. Walking through the forest, that’s all she could hear.

She had forgotten about her voice, and that others could hear it too, if she tried.

via Photo Challenge: Dense

Feather

She had been gifted a calligraphy set, and an interesting one at that. The pen was made out of a lightweight plastic, and shaped like a feather. It worked the same way that a feather pen would, by dipping it into the ink, then proceeding to write.

She really liked the gift. It looked awesome, first of all. But there were far more important causes to enjoy the instrument than such superficial reasons like how it looked; it had a meaning.

It was an interesting mix of old and new. The people who used such a pen couldn’t have dreamed of a day when we were surrounded with this material… plastic, as well as all of the other trappings of modern day life which most people take for granted. They could not have dreamed that one day, a man would walk on the moon, that there would come a day when such a wonderful thing as the internet would exist (they probably couldn’t fathom how it would work, but they would have to agree that the concept was really cool).

The words that were associated it were important, too; feather pens like this one (minus the plastic) had been used to write all of the important documents; the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights… all of them were in that beautiful, though hard to read, fancy, elegant, cursive.

That’s why she wanted to write with this pen- in mostly vain the hope that one day, she would be able to write something that was a fraction as important and far reaching as any one of those scripts.

Birds

It’s been a while since I’ve had enough time to write a thoughtful mini story; I hope you enjoy! 🙂

The wind whispered through the dark, empty trees like a warning in a foreign language. Winter was coming, and with winter the chittering of the of the birds vanished, and in their absence silence would reign over the wood.

Only my footsteps sounded through the space, nothing but the bark of the trees and the white, powdery snow looked back at me. I hadn’t any idea why I was wandering like this. I had no reason to.

It was cold. It was so cold. But to me it was welcome. I deserved no better. My broken and weary heart absorbed the cold, greeting it like an old friend. It was already chilled to begin with. What I had seen in these woods has chilled it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was terrible.

It had been the spring. I had been walking through the forest again. Except this time, the singing birds were all around me, in addition to sickly sweet scents of the blooming flowers. It was a jubilant time for the forest. What I had seen had not been so joyous.

On the ground, just below a branch, upon which was a bird’s nest. A baby bird. One of the many which had hatched recently. It was a tradition of many to find out if the a baby bird could fly simply by pushing them out of the nest. Oh how cruel mother nature is.

The baby bird was alive, but only just barely. I crouched down to look at the small creature, and its struggling chest puffing in and out. It was so broken. Her own mother had caused her this fate. To die on the ground, surrounded by nature’s beauty, only to be killed by another one of its tendencies. To die on the ground, surrounded by the new weeds, grasses and flowers also among the roots of the newly rejuvenated trees.

The baby bird was straddling the line between life and death, such as I was, in a limbo. But as of now I haven’t any idea upon which side of that line I will reside. I had always lived in my small home in the woods. For what reason I liked to venture out of it so often, I didn’t know. I didn’t know anything, save that I was lonely. It felt to me, that I would not even have anybody to watch my final breath, as I did for the little bird. I thought that in that moment, I would be completely alone, no matter what came next.

Sitting on a rock

She was sitting on a rock, looking out at the sea. It was sunset, with a slight breeze, and the sound of the waves crashing. She didn’t hear her little sister until she was right behind her.

“Hey.”

She turned around to look. Shiloh hopped onto the rock next to her, and sat. She turned to face the skyline again.

She sighed “What’s up Shi?”

“I was going to ask you the same thing.”

She could tell Shiloh was looking at her. “I’m good. You?”

“You know you’re not fine. Something is bothering you.”

Something certainly was.

“Just school stresses.” She was lying, yet again. It had gotten too easy to do that.

“It’s something else.” It was easy to lie, but not to Shiloh.

“It’s nothing.”

“Don’t even try to pretend. You can throw a school summary at our parents and they think everything is fine, but I don’t think so.”

“It’s just a lot of work. Is it a crime that I want a few minutes of time to myself, looking at the sunset, before I go back inside and do homework for hours?”

“Why do you spend so much time on that stuff?”

“Schoolwork?”

“Yeah? Like, how’s any of it going to apply to our futures. I don’t think that there’s ever going to be a life threatening situation in which I’ll need to find x.”

“It’s all important. Homework and studying get the grades that you need to get into college, which then requires more good grades and studying to get your degree and get a good job and have a good life.”

“That’s just the standard spiel, repeated endlessly with no meaning at all. I still don’t get it. If the purpose of it all is to teach us for future, why not give us things which are actually important?”

“The point of it all is to give you a broad base of knowledge off of which you can the specialize according to what you want to do in life.”

“I still don’t get it…” Shiloh trailed off, expecting her sister to say something to suddenly make her understand it, as she had with so many other topics.

She sighed. “I suppose you wouldn’t.”

“Why don’t you explain?”

“I can’t explain past what I’ve already told you; all I know is that it’s true and that you have to learn, no matter what.”

“Well, in that case it seems kind of pointless. Why do it if there is no solid reason? Why stay up until late at night and deprive yourself of sleep for knowledge which you will never use past the final exam? For knowledge which you will likely promptly forget? What’s the point in that?”

She couldn’t say anything. She wished that there was a way that she could make Shiloh understand, but there wasn’t anything she could say right now that she knew would make Shiloh see what she saw.

She supposed that Shiloh would have to come to this same realization the way she did, when she was older. Only age could give her the point of view to see the importance. Why it was so necessary; she just couldn’t see it yet.

She was glad that Shiloh could not see it. That her sister could do well in school, at least for now, without much effort or strain. That her sister could be that way, unknowing of what truly laid ahead of her. The ignorance of youth.

For now, Shiloh could sit on her rock, and when it was time, she would join her sister on her rock, and finally see the world the way that she did.

Risk

As a young girl, she learned how to juggle fruit: apples, oranges, sometimes pears. There was little risk, little drama, and people smiled politely and then moved on. But they started paying attention she could manage to juggle over 5 objects, and when she started juggling wooden sticks, so that she could train herself one day to juggle knives.

She was the circus laundress, but wanted to be so much more. So, she tried teach herself a skill, so she could be part of  the show. She wanted an entire act just to herself, just for her talent. She wanted to make people dizzy with the amount of colored balls she could juggle, so fast until they turned into a single rainbow streak. She was working with the sticks, trying progress to heavier and heavier scraps of wood, so that she could possibly move on to blades, and then in some far future, full size flaming swords, dazzling with both her skills and the moving lights. A dangerous act but a masterful performance. That’s what she wanted.

She dreamed of being showered with flowers when she was done, like nobody else was at the nightly show under the big tent. She wanted people to flock there just see her; she wanted her act to be world famous.

She wished for such splendor, but it wasn’t time for any of it yet.

She tried to learn and work on her act even while she had to attend to her regular duties, those being washing the whole camp’s dirty clothes. An endless line of leotards and tutus awaited her. A big bucket and a washboard and the smallest piece of soap you had ever seen, that was all she had to work with; the rest of the force was provided by her scrubbing the daylights out of everything in order to even hope that they were clean.

But she always left time for juggling. It was her only hobby. She couldn’t do much else other than juggle and wash clothing, and so she thought her only possible road to success was through the former. She had no other skills; she couldn’t read or write. She had’t very much money to her name, since her pay came as food and a place to sleep at night.

She knew it was a long shot, in the back of her mind. But she continued with her regimen, for the hope of a bright future, which was in truth hopeless. She knew that there was no way for her to accomplish so much, or at least the chances were so minuscule it wasn’t worth the effort.

But… but. It was always this way with this sort of thing. Hoping, and knowing that it was unlikely, but only hoping more because of it.

Maybe such a transformation, such a rocketing into stardom didn’t exist. But she was certain she had seen it happen before, and she wanted it to happen for herself.

She wished for such splendor, but it wasn’t time for any of it yet. Perhaps it would never be her time to shine. But that couldn’t stop her from looking at the stars and yearning for something more.

On the bench

She wasn’t sure why she liked doing this.

Every Saturday, she went to the city square, sat down on a park bench next to the fountain, and simply looked at the people who milled about.

The city square was a mixture of restaurants and shops, and it was always busy on Saturdays. She would lunch, and continue to people watch.

That was what she had heard it be called before. People watching. Like bird watching, but with people. But not really.

She did not know any of the people milling about; it wasn’t like she was looking for a particular breed of  bird. She just looked out on the crowd, wondering where they were going and why and what they would be doing.

In short, whenever she saw someone particularly interesting looking, or maybe even completely ordinary,  she imagined a story in her mind for them. She would create a story for them, one that was completely separate from their real lives, one which she had concocted solely based on how they looked and how they walked.

If someone was moving fast, it was obvious that they wanted to get somewhere quickly. They wanted to get to the store which was just about to sell out of what they wanted, they were late for a date, they had just stolen from a shop and was running to their getaway car.

There were others who went slowly and took their time, enjoying the open air and the sun on their faces, with faraway looks in their eyes as if they were not in the center of town.

People who were alone always gave way to a puzzle; were they waiting for someone, or nobody at all? Had they been blown off, and how did they feel about that? Why were they so alone? It was interesting to think about.

People who weren’t alone were always interesting, too. Families with rambunctious children, running circles around their parents while they strolled and took their time enjoying the good weather. Anyone holding hands made for an interesting thought experiment: siblings, boyfriend and girlfriend, or spouses?

In her mind, it was for her to decide what their story was; with the story she invented was simply be how she invented them.

She did this regularly enough that she knew there was a pattern to how thought about these people. In the back of her mind, she knew that the way that she saw them was dictated by how she was feeling; sometimes the old man with a cap was strolling along slowly for his own enjoyment, to enjoy the sun and thinking back to when he was younger, and had met his wife in this square. Other times, it was because he had nothing to do, because he had just come from the hospital with his own death sentence and didn’t know what to do or where to go. Or maybe he didn’t have a home anymore. Maybe his family hadn’t wanted to come with him, or had decided that he would be shut up in a nursing home, or an assisted living home, or whatever they called it these days.

The possibility of such contrasting scenes in this same proximity interested her, situations that seemed like they should only take place miles away from each other, but somehow fit in this place. It was a mixture of restaurants and shops, a mixture of stories.