Dominoes

The yellow lines on the highway sped by in a blur, and we flew through the night, and we felt free.

But we weren’t, and we knew it. We were running away from something, and running away was never the path to freedom.

I thought about telling him to turn back. I thought about suggesting that we pull over and take a minute to consider before we went too far, before we got lost.

I did not want to stop, but I knew that we had to. We could not leave the dominoes which had been set up for us, thought which we were to knock over as we moved on into our adult lives.

We both knew which colleges we would be attending already. Nowhere spectacular, but enough to start. We would go our separate ways in life.

Instead of stopping, we just continued to drive. I didn’t know what speed. The trees whizzing past seemed inconsequential to what we were both thinking about.

I knew I should get what I wanted to say off of my chest, but though it was false, I loved the feeling that we were so free we could speed on forever. We would leave everything behind and nobody would be able to tell where we had gone.

He and I were from two different worlds, with two paths that were destined to drift apart.

I opened my mouth to speak.

Miniature

She was going through her late grandfather’s things, helping her family in the effort to arrange what would be kept and what would be gotten rid of.

She was sorting through the contents of the antique desk in his study, the lacquer on the wood chipped at the edges, and the handles to the drawers oxidized black from their original shine. After wrestling with its second drawer, she was finally able to see what was inside.

There was a pile of papers in a faded yellow folder, which she moved aside to review later in case it might contain something important. If they revealed any previously unknown assets, they would be added to the list of things which her relatives would argue about.

Her grandfather was not an emotional man, but she thought that she had known him well enough as a child, though not as an adult. She hadn’t the chance to know him as a person before his memory started to fail him.

In truth, nothing in this study had probably been touched since he had been moved to a care facility by her family after her grandmother’s death. Nothing in this house had been touched in years, but at least her family had waited until he was dead to start rifling through his belongings.

Beneath the folder was a small box, seeming to contain knick-knacks of all sorts. An empty old tin from mints that they don’t make anymore, a fountain pen, a fossilized eraser, and one more item, which seemed to be a small metal disk, engraved with something that she couldn’t read.

She picked up the strange object, wondering what it could possibly be. After dusting it off, she saw that it was a bronze-ish color, spotted with the same oxidation as the handles of the drawers. She traced the edge of the disk until the center popped out, revealing a magnifying glass.

She dusted off the glass, and looked though it onto her hand. To her surprise, she had it turned the wrong way, and her hand looked smaller instead of larger.

As she held it up to the light, it was like a world in miniature through that glass. The edges were sharper, yet, more compressed. The dust on the green glass lampshade was less apparent. It was like the view of the world when you are in an airplane, when cars look like ants, and neighborhoods a series of lines and squares. Eventually your home fades away through the clouds until its just like the speck on the map that it is.

This was a magnifying glass of that world. Of her grandfather’s world. She could imagine him carrying it in his pocket, using it to read the newspaper or a book. It was but an object, but it was something which he had used to see what was out there.

“Are you done over there?” called her aunt, who she could hear coming down the hall.

She stuffed the magnifying glass into her pocket.

Her aunt rounded the corner and stood in the doorway.

She responded, “Yeah”.

“Is there anything important?”

“No, just a few papers and some knick-knacks”.

In case you were confused as to what it looked like, it’s like this (where the magnifying glass rotates back into the center):

Angel

“How did you know?” I asked, not sure I wanted to know the answer. I thought I had been careful. I thought that she couldn’t possibly know anything about me at all.

I knew her, technically, but we had never talked about anything personal before. How could she know?

“You play with your necklace a lot”

My hand shot up to my neck, where the chain with a music note charm hung.

“And … you never seem to talk about your family”

My brain was scrambled. I was searching for words, standing there with my mouth hung wide open like some kind of idiot.

“Someone died in your family. Someone close to you. Didn’t they? And they’re the one who gave you the necklace?”

I finally closed my mouth, then opened it again, to mumble, “… yes”.

“I’ll assume that you don’t care to talk about it”

I didn’t.

“How did you know? Are you some kind of mind reader?”

She smiled. “Something like that, I guess”

“Well, its just creepy”

She looked sad for a moment before replying, “I’m sorry you feel that way”

She continued to look at me in a peculiar way, seeming to forget that I was even there.

“Is there anything else about me that you want to expose today or are you done?”

She snapped out of it, looking at me instead of through me.

“Yes. I know you may not care for it, but I wanted to give you some advice; it may not be obvious to you, but people find your broodiness intimidating.

“You should get out more, try to be more available for your friends, not just when you so happen to be in the same place. If you hate feeling alone, stop doing it”

I stared at her, confused yet again as to how she seemed to know exactly what was going with me.

“How –“

“I’m sorry, I need to get to class, but I just wanted to give you my thoughts”

I watched her hair sway as she walked away.

I never saw her again. According to everyone else, such a girl never existed as our classmate.

Space

The landlord showed me the place: a basement apartment with no view, no windows, out of sight, invisible to the world.

It was perfect.

There wasn’t much room either, but that was okay. All I needed was a quiet place to recharge. I didn’t need an architectural work of art. So what if the ceiling tiles looked like they were from a century ago? I could make it my own special sanctuary; natural light was overrated anyway.

If I told or showed my friends this place, they would probably question my judgement. The idea in their minds would be how someone so vibrant could live in a place so dark. But the trick to my lifestyle was that I balance spending time with people, being active and social, with returning to my hidey-hole to recover.

In the past, that place had been my dorm room, but more recently some of my roommate’s friends seemed to think that our room (and mini fridge) were open 24/7. I figured I had aged out of living at the dorm anyways, so I ventured out on the journey to find my new sanctuary.

And honestly, despite its apparent invisibility and undesirability, this place was calling to me.

It helped that the rent was excessively cheap, exactly because of its unique character.

So, this could do.

Blind

She was aware that the teacher was speaking, but didn’t really pay any attention. What would be the point since it was being taped anyways. Every single lecture that she went to was recorded. She hadn’t even ever seen any of these teachers.

Because she was blind of course.

She had been born that way and didn’t think she was missing out on anything. The way that everybody romanticized beauty, she didn’t really understand it. She wouldn’t ever, she supposed.

There was so much poetry to listen to on the subject; imagery that was completely lost on her obviously.

‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’; to her it didn’t really matter what the rose was called anyways because it smelled the same.

She hadn’t even seen her own face before. She had no knowledge of these ‘colors’; she navigated the world in the dark, in three dimensions built for a world that could see what they were in front of. She had a world of textures and sounds, not space and light.

So maybe she was a little jealous. But she knew that there wasn’t anything to be done. She would always exist in a separate world, a separate plane than the rest of her classmates.

She’d never even met another blind person before. She had nobody to relate to in that way, nobody at all. She had some superficial friends, but she felt like some people only spent time with her because they pitied her for something she that she never had in the first place.

They were always so helpful, so quick to try and assist.

Most of the time they would stop being interested and start to drift away. They somehow assumed that since her eyes didn’t work, her brain didn’t work either and she was dumb or something.

Of course they thought that.

Jangle

The the soft jangle of her keys was the only sound as she took them off of the hook next to the front door.

Which was to be expected since it was the middle of the night.

There was nobody in the house other than her, nobody to wake up, but it didn’t feel right to be loud leaving the silent.

She had nobody to leave, and nobody to go to. She’d long since made sure of that.

Not that it was her own fault. She couldn’t help it. There was just no longer anybody to sneak out with her in the middle of the night.

Why was she doing this again?

Oh, right.

Just to take a nice drive. A simple drive, in the middle of the night. When the city was silent and nobody else was around. When the street lights were on but there was nobody beneath them. When the cars were but ants left sitting still in their driveways and on curbs. When the birds stopped their incessant chattering. When it was as though all of them had all vanished, and she was the only person left in the world,

and she wouldn’t have been bothered by it.

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.