_____________________The world before her___________________
I’ve believed as many
as six impossible things
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
4:58 AM, June 28th, 2017
It’s been a long flight. My legs hurt from sitting in one position too long and my eyes can hardly stay open. I blink a couple of times to regain some focus and look at the little screen on my phone. Missed calls: 20, unanswered e-mails… too many to even mention. I groan quietly, not enjoying the situation. This was supposed to be a good trip. I quickly turn off my phone, ready to get caught by the “plane police” at any moment. I look up suspiciously, lifting myself slightly and shifting my
head to the right. The coast was clear. Good. Now just relax.
I put my head against the seat and close my eyes. A different continent, a different view… on everything. My work was the reason why got to be on this plane. Sitting comfortably in first class and enjoying the spectacular views from the window. Staring at the changing scenery and sipping on something deliciously bubbly. Well, that was the plan. I sigh again, because work was also the reason behind my constant tiredness and growing agitation. I mean I should be over the moon.
Expensive trip, experiencing new stuff and doing the thing that I enjoyed the most.
Meeting new technologies.
I was an engineer for an American company “Tech-view Industries” and spend most of my time looking for improvements for the modern world. Always seeking new innovations, that would change the world and alter our future. Making our lives easier. But most of all I was a real, down to earth, science loving geek. But not just the normal kind. Oh no, I was the “worst” kind imaginable. In that aspect, I really loved my work. Yes, in that aspect… but when it came to everything else, the long hours, the constant need to rush. The never ending calls and reports. Yeah, that was the part which I could easily go without. Not a problem.
I take a deeper breath and rub my eyes again, feeling deflated. I put the phone in my bag and stare at the ticket sticking out in the side pocket. I pick it up and read automatically :
ANA flight #008, passenger’s name: Allison White.
Origin: Tokyo Japan. Destination: San Francisco.
Then my eyes drift down, to the number of my seat: 14C. Hmm, my lucky number. Funny that I always seemed to get it on everything. On my passport, on my ID, the driving license. I stare at the number again and feel a sudden chill. As if something’s wrong. I shake my head, smiling and rolling my eyes. Me and my stupid premonitions. Honestly. My imagination did the strangest things sometimes. I look around inspecting my surroundings.
It was quiet, most of the lights were turned off. The passengers in deep slumber or listening to music. Very peaceful. The only sound, a quiet buzz from the engine. I looked back to see if there was anyone in the passage. No one, not even the always perfect stewardesses. Strange, there’s usually someone there ready to help if necessary. Polite and not in the way. So, I guess it was just me then. Me and the pilots… hopefully. I shake my head again. Ridiculous. I decide to get up and use the bathroom, at the same time using the opportunity to stretch. My joints pop a couple times and I check to see if anyone heard it.
Nope, the aisles seemed deserted and the passengers definitely asleep. Great. So the only one awake was the crazy, neurotic and over stressed woman. Me. As always.
I walk by slowly taking my time, then open the bathroom door. I stare at the mirror and sigh again. Well, it could have been worse. For a 27 year old, who hasn’t slept for more than 18 hours and had too much complimentary champagne, I didn’t look too bad. Nothing a good jetlag couldn’t help with. I smile in spite of myself, looking at my tired face and my long, messy blond hair. Well Ms. White, it was time to get it together – my smile widens – Tokyo.
Now, that was a reason for celebration. I wash my face with cold water and immediately feel better. I think back to the time I spent indulging in the Japanese culture and it’s constantly spreading technology. Marveling at everything I saw.
The sights, the people... Oh who am I kidding. I mean, those things were great… but the Miraikan museum*? Wow, that place was just breathtaking .
Okay, let me explain one thing. You know how some people get an adrenaline rush from extreme sports and living the dangerous life? I get a kick from prototypes. New, shiny, never yet seen, or used treasures of nanotechnology. Yeah, that much of a science geek… and proud. Hmm, I finally had my big adventure cross the Pacific Ocean - I think to myself as I pass the aisles and sit down in 14C, sinking deeply in my chair. Now the only thing there was to do, was to return to my definitely less exciting life in San Francisco. I close my eyes, smile and dream of the future world as I drift into happy oblivion.
The light shines boldly as I try to wake up properly. I shield my eyes from the sun and groan loudly. Did I just drink the entire contents of the planes bar… or was my mouth always the texture of the Sahara desert? I sit up and rub my eyes. I definitely needed to wash my face and drink some water… or dive into it. Whichever came easier. I stand up a bit shaky and head for the bathroom, grabbing a small bottle of water from the cart. Moving like a dark shadow from a really bad horror movie. I reach the end of an aisle and try to grab the handle of the door… but it’s not there. I step closer and the door just opens, shifting to the left. I stare at it for a moment. Was this always like this? Never mind, it could wait. I step inside and the door closes quietly behind me. I wash my face without looking at the mirror and quickly step out and get back to my seat.
Alright, that was better. I felt almost alive. I take a steady breath and look out the little window. So bright. Ugh. I stare at the view for a moment and blink a couple of times as the bright blue letters move slowly against the glass surface. Wow, the Japanese airlines really did like technology.
I stare at the glass, tap it with my finger and start to read:
June 28th, 2037. 10:55 AM. 67° and sunny. I furrow my eyebrows and look the text again. The year 2037? Huh, so much for good technology. They should really check their calendar. I grab my bag and fish out my big, over the top sunglasses. Now, if I could get some aspirin… I don’t finish the though, because a stewardess steps closer to my seat.
Please strap your seatbelts ma’am, we’re landing in about 10 minutes.
She says this politely, but with some pressure. Then she points out to the window. I stare it and notice the message on the glass surface.
Estimated time of landing : 9 minutes : 28 seconds - - - - Please fasten
seatbelts correctly - - - - Passengers using virtual presence are
inclined to check battery status - - - - For further instruction use
helpers guide above seat - - - - Thank you for attending ANA Airlines,
flight #008 - - - - We wish you a pleasant day - - - -
The text ends and then turns to Japanese, French, German… and about twenty other languages, that I don’t even recognize. How very global of them... I stare in confusion, as the massage changes back to English. I read it again. Then swallow. Then I close my eyes and count to ten. I open them and stare at the window. It’s still there… almost screaming at me, but this time in different coloring. The letters change gently from a peaceful blue to a more alerting orange color.
My heart starts to pound faster, nearly matching the pounding that’s happening in my head. I can feel my body turn to panic mode. What the hell? Did I miss something here or was I still asleep… doubtful, dreams didn’t usually involve a massive hangover.
I move slowly, turn around in my seat and stare at the stewardess. She’s already sitting in her special chair, everything about her stating : professional. She notices me and smiles pleasantly at me and points to my chair with a more stern expression. I swallow again, but manage to fasten my seatbelts with shaking hands.
After a while, the plane changes its position and starts the landing process. Time passes and the plane touches the ground, landing so gently that I have to make sure we’re really on the ground. I stare at the view outside and notice that the glass surface is once again just a window. I inhale and exhale dramatically, making a lot of noise. Maybe I just had hallucinations, or the light on the window was playing tricks with my eyes. Or maybe it was just some kind of a publicity stunt… I look at the changing views and freeze, like I just got shocked with extremely high voltage... eventually I manage to blink a couple of times.
Yep, definitely hallucinations. The big ones. The kind that usually involved an expert’s intervention and some sedative. Preferably from a psychiatrist. I look again and my eyes almost pop out.Maybe I didn’t know what was going one or why, but this was not San Francisco. Not unless, I magically traveled through time and space… this was so absurd. I shake my head and then remembered today’s date that I saw :
June 28th, 2037.
No, that was ridiculous. It was a joke. It had to be… I look at the passengers, starting to get up. Everyone’s packing their things and taking the bags from compartments above their seats… packing, moving, chatting quietly. Nothing out of the ordinary. The scene seems so normal and boring, that I finally break out of the spell. Everything was fine, and I just had too much champagne to drink. The jetlag kicking in more, then I thought it would… I was stressed from the amount of work I had, and exhausted from the long trip. I’ve done so much, in so little time… processed so much information… all that put together, it was bound to rub in eventually. I stand up and grab my things, leaving the plane almost as the last one. Okay then, back to reality – I think to myself, as I adjust my sunglasses.
San Francisco International Airport
11:37 AM, June 28th, 2037
My glasses are high on my nose, and my head is bend down, as I try to ignore my hallucinations. Apparently in my three days absence, the airport of San Francisco has managed to grow out its form and gained another floor. So, as from now I’m in full on denial, when a small bus takes me to the main building. My co-passengers seem to be perfectly at ease. Very quiet and polite. Hmm, that was new. No arguments, no screaming kids… maybe they were just tired.
After all it was a long flight.
I go past the sliding doors and slowly enter the airport building. I head straight to reception – thankfully it’s in the same place – in desperate need of some answers. I reach the counter and stare at the information board… except that it’s no longer really a wall, because I can see right through it. I stare at it in consternation for a while, feeling like an idiot. The letters and numbers seem to almost float in the air. Disappearing at one point and reappearing at the beginning again. I blink a couple of times, than slowly look up and down. I furrow my eyebrows, when I notice small lights on the shiny, spotless floor.
Then my eyes wander up and there they are too. Flashing lights, high on a narrow metallic beam, close to the ceiling. So, not coming from the thin air… but from something resembling a hologram. Like a picture from a movie projector. Okay, that seemed logical… not at all scary. I turn back and stare at the woman behind the counter. She notices me, looks at me politely and smiles.
Welcome to San Francisco National airport, how may I be at service? – She gives me a reassuring smile.
Yes, hello… I have a couple of questions regarding… - I clear my throat – my flight?
Why of course ma’am, can I take a look at your ticket?
Oh yeah, sure.
I roam around in my bag for a moment and hand her the ticket. She takes it, places it next to a small glass surface and smiles again. I look at her and try not to frown. There’s just something off about her, something plastic. It gives me the creeps.
Ah, here we are. Welcome home, Doctor White. Did you enjoy your flight?
Doctor White…? – She looks at me calmly, then looks again at her information – Allison. Jane. White. PhD in engineering, since the year 2023. Flew from Tokyo, ANA flight #008?
She runs her fingers past the glass surface.
Age 47. Vice-president of “Tech-view Industries” – she smiles again – Is that correct?
Yes, I mean no… my name is Allyson White. I am an engineer, I do work at Tech-view. But I don’t have a PhD and I’m definitely not 47.
I close my eyes and once again think about some medical care.
I’m very sorry, let me check again... Would you be so kind and wait, while I change my avatar status?
Your what? – I ask confused.
The woman flutters her eyelids and momentarily freezes in place. Completely still. I stare at her for a long time and then quickly close my eyes shut. I rub my forehead, feeling a heavy migraine on its way. I was still asleep, that was the problem. Of course. One of those long, never ending dreams.
Excuse me, Dr. White? My name is Helen Queen and I hope I can help you solve this problem.
I open my eyes and give a little scream. I stare at Helen and her frozen double behind the counter.
I apologize, did I scare you?
She looks at me with kind eyes and gives a small – normal looking- smile. Then she turns her head left and gives her double a long stare. Then she smiles wider, when a thought hits her.
It’s because we look identical, isn’t it? Now, I know most of people prefer to use different looking avatars – she shrugs her shoulders, then speaks in a hushed voice – you know, better versions of themselves…
I stare at her wide eyed. My mind confused even more than ever. What was she talking about? Was this some kind of parallel universe, which I used to read so much as a student? You know, the kind where everything is upside down and different… even though you seem to be on the same planet. I take a deep breath and try to stay as calm as possible. Ok, I will just play along. This is only some weird, supernatural dream (and that was the version I was sticking with). I might as well enjoy this… I look around the huge airport and start to feel my brain work on higher speed. All that new technology. Just for me.This. Was. Amazing.
Excuse me, Helen? – I ask, trying to sound normal.
Yes? – She seems eager to help.
I’m really sorry. This has been a long flight and I seem to have an extremely intense headache – the woman looks worriedly at me, so I quickly add - but it’s getting better.
Would you like some medicine perhaps?
Oh now, that won’t be necessary – I answer politely – it’s just this, and the lack of sleep… and maybe a bit too much champagne… – I smile shyly and she nods quickly. Ready to solve any problem, that will come her way.
Of course – she nods again.
So, I think we should start over. The information you read before, seems to be perfectly in order - I can see Helen relax, her smile calmer.
I’m so glad. We do have one of the best information and data systems in the country -
She says this in a proud voice, slightly straightening her back.
Yes, I’m aware… but could you still answer some of my questions?
Great. Could you tell me more about your avatar? It seems to be an improved version… am I right?
I ask her politely, obviously bluffing. I had no idea what I was talking about, but something told that Helen will enjoy the complement. I stare at her, as she seems to light up from inside.
Thank you for noticing, Dr. White. It’s the new M.E.G. RH700 with addition functions and multiple security improvements – Helen seems to gain a couple of inches, as she speaks – And not only that. As you can see, this model has increased flexibility and strength power… which is very practical when dealing with a medical problem.
Oh? – I ask, actually interested now. Dream or not, this was my place to be.
Oh yes. Some of the passengers say that this model is better and faster than an ambulance - Helen says this with a big smile, her chicks turning pink.
A perfect example of a virtual presence then? – I ask smiling back – Now, can I ask how’s the communication between you and the… avatar? Does it work correctly?
It works without difficulty. Very quick response and human like qualities. I have to admit, there have been times when people thought it was me, and not Megs – She admits this with a big grin.
Megs? – I ask, a bit lost.
It’s a nick name for this model: M.E.G. RH700 seems a bit of mouthful, don’t you think?
True, but Megs does have a nice ring to it…
I smile back, then frown suddenly as a thought hits me. Something clicking in my mind. Okay, if this actually wasn’t a dream and there was the slightest chance that this was all real… I could feel my brain speed up again. The best information and data system in the country…
Helen, do you have access to articles and world news, dating back more than 10 years?
I ask, thinking again about parallel universes, black holes and… I look at the huge glass wall of the airport and stare at the clouds covering the sun. What did I hear in the news a couple of days ago… something about increased solar activity… dark spots covering a large amount of the sun’s surface, which causes a… I strain my memory, trying to remember just the right information. Increased activity on the sun… changes the magnetic fields covering the Earth. I look at Helen wide eyed again.
No, that couldn’t be.This wasn’t some silly TV show, or the “X-files”. These thing just didn’t happen. I swallow hard.
Certainly, even back 30 years and more – says my friend and starts to run her finger past the small glass surface of her… tablet, I guess – What information interests you?
Now, I know this may seem a bit odd… but can you tell me what happened exactly on June 28th, the year 2017?
So precisely 20 years ago? – Helen scrolls down her pad furiously – Did you have any particular information in mind?
Yes, weather wise. Could you tell me if there was any anomaly happening in that time?
Anomaly, let’s see. Hmm, yes. Multiple, expanding dark spots on the sun’s surface… which seemed to cause disturbance in the magnetic field. Yes, it had a lot effect on the satellites… some power brakes. According to this article millions of people suffered because of it… the internet was down for several hours. Can you imagine?
Helen looks up for a short moment, shakes her head disapprovingly and returns to her scrolling.While she does that my mind drifts to multiple possibilities. Magnetic field disturbance… solar activity… dark holes… One word pops in my head. Portals. An opening through time and space. My pulse accelerates and my heart starts to beat faster and faster. Portals… time travel. June 28th, 2037. Not possible, and yet somehow true.
Well, there must have been a beautiful aurora then? – I ask weakly, surprised that my voice still works.
Northern lights? Oh yes. Very beautiful… - Helen smiles kindly, but then frowns surprised – Did you know that something similar is going to happen soon?
It will? – I try to breath normally, but find it really hard.
Very similar. Thankfully were are more prepared now. I mean for this kind of situation. We can detect it beforehand and lesser the damages. Nothing as dramatic as in 2017, I can tell you that – she says, her head nodding with satisfaction.
Yes, Dr. White?
When is this anomaly forecasted? – I ask calmly now… well, as much I can anyway.
According to the weather broadcast… a sub-storm will come our way in approximately six days – she says concentrated, then gives a funny smile.
What is it...?
Nothing important really. I just checked your next boked flight and it seems to be exactly then. In six days. Another flight to Tokyo I see? – her smile turns warmer.
Yes, you could say a flight back home…
“Alice: How long is forever?
White Rabbit: sometimes, just one second.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
This was originally written for a contest. https://seat14c.com/future_ideas/new
“Your flight has been mysteriously transported 20 years into the future.
How could this happen?
* National Museum of Emerging Science and innovation - Japan’s major science center located in Daiba, Tokyo.
She sits down and starts to talk. Letting everything out, all her joys and the sadness. It takes a lot time before she’s done but the words seem to bring her relief. So she continues. Telling him about things that have been stuck in her insides, rotting for years. Thoughts and problems that she has been struggling with for so long.
And as she says all that’s been needed to be said, he sits there beside her. Staring at her calmly and holding her hand. He knows how hard this is for her, so he doesn’t interrupt. He sits there silently, almost not moving. Just nodding from time to time, and trying to understand. There is no judgement in his eyes, no anger.
Regrets are set aside, bad memories put away somewhere in the cardboard boxes, that will leave this home with him. Everything that stood between them, is now tucked away. Replaced by assurance, that they are doing the right thing. Finally on the right path, in a place where they were heading for some time now. A place where they should have been ages ago. But there was always something stopping them. The comfort of being together for such a long period of time, the safety of a steady relationship. A safe haven of sorts, that made them stay. Because the alternative of being by themselves, frightened both of them. Not for the same reason, but still it was enough to stay.
Even if it didn’t work out between them like it used to. Even though it was all falling apart and they were heading for the rails, big time. They still held on to each other. In need of balance, of a strong base to stand on, when everything else was crashing fast. They had issues beyond fixing, things that couldn’t beat, no matter what. Both damaged in different ways, but damaged still.
She held a grudge against him, for a big loss, that fitted in her hands and yet the size of that loss was so enormous that it made her soul darker, heavier, polluted. It was hard to look at the man she loved and think what she had to sacrifice because of him. It was something that constantly stood between them, what lay in their bed, colder then the sheets covering their body’s on a winters day.
She often stared at him and felt nothing, literally nothing. She would look at him, while he worked on his computer, or when he read the newspaper and wonder. Tilling her head to the side and just staring. As if he wasn’t the person she had once fallen for, but a strange specimen of man. A an odd bug under the microscope. She just couldn’t understand what happened to them. What happened to her feelings and the love that seemed to outstretched its limits. But still she stayed.
Because leaving him , would mean leaving some of the feeling she couldn’t let go off. Not yet. She didn’t want to forget about her loss, latching onto it. Afraid she might lose it in a completely different way and that upset her. The possibility she might forget about her little treasure. As if it had never existed. As if it was never there. All of her hopes, all of the expectations. Dreams and future plans, plans that will never happen now... and still. It was so hard to let go. So she would stay, not for him or for the forgiveness that she wanted to give him so many times... even when it felt like there was nothing left in her to give.
And now, as she looks at him there is no more anger in her, just peaceful words, that come out in a long stream. Never stopping, never ending. She speaks, her voice already horse and he listens. Knowing that every one of those words are needed. That this is good for her. It’s Therapeutic. It lets her relax, let go of her pain. He squeezes her hand tighter and she gives a small smile. Relief and tiredness in her taking equal space. He takes a deep breath, almost chocking on a relief of his own and decides to say something before he changes his mind.
I have always loved that smile, Marley.
She stares at him almost surprised to hear his voice. There have been so many words from her and almost none from him. But that’s okay. He understand what she had to do here. What was needed to be said. She squeezes his hand back and the corners of her mouth lift slightly again. Something inside her that feels almost good. A strange spark that fills her up. Proving that there still was some life in her. A fire that she so needed.
It feels odd... as if I’m not doing it right.
He gives her a pained look. Sad that he was the reason for this. Sorry that they had to go through so much before understanding how wrong it was, and what it had done to them. He takes a deep breath and lets her know with his eyes that it’s all going to be alright. They are going to be fine.
Just remember the sensation and repeat every day...
She nods once and continuous. Words flowing once again. So much has been said already and yet it still wasn’t enough. He stares at her smooth face and listens calmly, thinking and counting her freckles. He always loved those, it was such a beautiful imperfection. His eyes shift slightly down to her hair, as the light shines through the window. He looks at them and wonders what their little girls hair would have been. Would they be fair and straight like hers, or would it be brown and messy just like his. He wonders at this and thinks once again about the small thing that made him stay in this relationship that was falling apart.
Silly, meaningless things. A joint account, the furniture they had bought together... paying of a student loan and the stack of CD’s filled with music they both liked... and some of the bigger stuff, like mutual friends and memories made in the time that they were together... they were happy once, they loved each other... and then his mind turns to their families. How his mum, stayed with them at the worst time and his dad build a swing in the back yard... He wraps his fingers tightly against hers and she nods again. Understanding. His pain, that of her own.
Just a little longer Sam...
He nods as well, and lets go of her hand, a bit scared that he might eventually brake it... all those emotions filling the room, too intense for either of them. He sits back against the couch and looks at his hands placed on his knees. He listens while she talks about their past and smiles as she hopes for the future. Separate, but hopefully a happy one. Minutes pass, turning slowly into hours. The sun setting quietly against the darkening sky. And when it disappears and the room gets darker, it finally all comes to an end. And when she says all, that there is to say and explains all, that there was to explain, and there is nothing else to say, she finally can allow herself to breathe. They both can.
They smile at each other and get put, bodies tired, limbs stiffed but minds at peace.
He pulls his arm around her and she falls into him. Allowing herself to remember him for the man that he was, and remembering the girl that once couldn’t live without him. A different girl, in a different time. She smiles again, knowing now that she was still there, somewhere deep inside.
A girl that could change the world with a boy that made her smile.
Framed for murder
“The impossible could not have happened,
therefore the impossible
must be possible in spite of appearances.”
― Agatha Christie
Murder on the Orient Express
Blinding lights, small room and a bunch of hateful eyes behind the glass wall. And all I see in the mirror - after making the effort to look up from the table - is a pale face and a blank expression. Deep purple circles under the eyes and an unattractive bloodshot gaze.
I didn’t kill her.
How many hours has it been? I stare at the mirror again and ran a hand against my face. It feels dry and strained, just like me. This whole scene seems so surreal. This room, the dirty floor covered with an old green linoleum. The empty chair opposite me... the handcuffs pinned to my wrist and on a thin metal pipe. I lift my hand and the chain pulls against my skin, bruising it even more. I look at the red marks and sigh, because somehow this doesn’t turn out to be some strange magic trick, and the metal circle around my hand doesn’t just click open.
I didn’t kill her.
Those words pop in my head every couple of minutes and I flinch every time. I was completely innocent and yet I was the only one who seemed to know this, not so obvious truth. Because apparently, “I’m not a very reliable witness” and my alibi just doesn’t add up - funny, isn’t it? Odd, somehow I’m really not in the mood to be laughing. I sigh again, cross my arms on the table and slump my head heavily against them. Making the table’s legs scrape against the floor.
How did I end up to be accused for murder ? How could I be the killer ?
I didn’t even know the victim.
I’m harmless. Well, that’s what people say, pretty much all the time. Which used to be my least favorite label, until tonight that is... or should I say this morning. I lift my head for a moment and stare blankly at the big, white, round clock. I watch as the hand of the clock reaches twelve, making it officially 3 o’clock in the morning. My head slumps once again and I turn numbed for the next hour or so.
I’m hardly moving, except for the breathing part, but my brain is on constant alert. Reliving last night’s events. Over and over again. My mind drifting to the last moment when everything was okay. I remember sitting in my favorite chair, huddled over my sketches for the “Landbery House Design”. Architect work certainly wasn’t good for the back, that was for sure. I straighten up my posture and hear my joints pop a couple of times. I take of my glasses and rub my eyes. Trying to regain some focus, my eyes even more tired than me. Let me tell you one thing, if I didn’t love my job so much, I would be a really frustrated man, but since this was something that really kept me rolling, I didn’t bother to moan. Too much.
I sit down on the chair again and my stare falls on an open book, at the side of the table. I shake my head disapprovingly. Designing a luxuries bathroom and reading an Agatha Christie novel in between. I narrow my eyes, looking at the title : “The secret adversary” and then smile to myself. The serious architect, a man in love with his work and mystery novels. Nothing wrong with that picture. Nope. I take a sip of my coffee and stare at the window. Hmm, was is just me or did the scenery seem a bit more shady than usual? Well, that’s what you get form living next to a forest. Beautiful at most times, yet sometimes a little creepy at night. Especially on a night like this. So still and peaceful, so much that it has this strange, dangerous feel about it. Almost sinister.
I shake my head again. Too tired to think logically. Right now every odd shadow would seem like a monster form under the bed. Nightmares and dreams mixing together, letting me know, it’s time to finally give in and turn in.
I wake up suddenly, the door bell ringing relentlessly without stopping. At the first moment I think that I might be still sleeping, my head a bit fuzzy. I sink under the covers hoping that the ringing will finally end, since it must be some crazy person... ringing in the middle of the night... I finally give up when the ringing is being followed by a lot of pounding on the door. I groan in frustration as a small headache starts to develop. I look at clock in my dark bedroom and stare at red vibrating numbers.
I moan even louder and start to get up, tripping on the edge of the carpet and almost fall directly into the wall. Crap, crap, crap...
What lunatic calls in the middle of the night!? What’s wrong with people, don’t they have any respect anymore? - I nag all the way down the stairs, careful not to trip and accidently break my neck. Anything was possible tonight - or today, depends how you look at it. I reach the door and notice red and blue light through the window. A low siren whaling endlessly. Well, this couldn’t be good. I open the door and stare at the police officer before me. His hand loosely layed on the strap of his gun. I look blankly at him and back to the car behind him.
Mr. Clark Jamieson ? - Asks the officer and I stifle a shudder. Something was very wrong here. I take a deep breath.
Yes, it’s me. Can I ask what’s the problem? - The policeman stares at me, no visible reactions on his face.
Can you step back into the house ? - He asks sternly, his voice not to be discuss with it. His request less of a question and more of an order.
Yes, of course... - I say quietly, moving back and keeping a safe distance from him - but may I know what’s wrong, I really don’t understand... - the cop looks around slowly, his expression still cool. He stares at the furniture and things laying around on the table. A messy bunch of papers and coffee mugs. I swallow and he looks back at me, noticing me again. He straightens his back even more and turns formal. Apparently on some strange kind of mission. Not good, not good.
Mr. Jamieson. You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future.
There must be some mistake...
I whisper and the cop doesn’t stop talking even for a second.
...If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. If you decide to answer questions now without an attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney.
Can you please tell me what’s this about - I ask trying to sound more confident as a thought hits me - Alright, is this some kind of sick joke? Did Pit put you up to this?
Sir, please remain calm... Do you understand these rights as I have said them to you?
He asks, his voice even more stern, and at the same time it turns a bit cautious.
I am calm... so was it him, because I told him he wasn’t a good pranker ? Because if that’s the case, he definitely went over board.
I say putting a hand on the guy’s shoulder, still a bit in shock, rambling on and on.
Sir I advise you to remove that hand of immediately! This is an assault on a police officer and will be held against you in court !
I didn’t... - I start to mumble as the officer pulls my hand away sternly and reaches to his belt, taking out a pair of handcuffs. They make a nasty sound, clashing against each other.
Mr. Jamieson, you are accused of a first degree murder on Sara Walters.
Excuse me...? - I ask even more bewildered, as he turns me around, grabbing my wrists and pulling them behind my back. There’s a sickening sounding click, as the metal circles wrap themselves around wrists, digging deeply into my skin. This was a nightmare, I must be still sleeping, because this just couldn’t be true. It couldn’t.
I lift my head as the door to the interrogation room opens with a creak.
Your personal connection with the victim?
What are you talking about, I didn’t even know this woman !
Is it true that your company has a “work chat” ?
Yes we do, but I don’t see how that’s relevant?
So you confirm, and the purpose of the chat is...?
It’s too... ask questions regarding building issues that can happen when dealing with a project... or consulting about the details. The technicalities. I don’t know, keeping up with the work plan we have... it’s just a “know how” I guess. Most companies have this.
That is true, and you have been also using it for “professional” use, isn’t that right?
The detective asks, looking into some files. I shake make had confused. Why was he asking this weird questions ?
Yes, but... - I start when the looks up, his stare sharp.
Mister Jamieson, I’m going to ask you one more time... and I advise you to think the answer through. Did you, or did you not know Sara Walters?
No ! - I scream, sounding more desperate than I wanted, then add more calmly - I do not know this woman.
Alright, than let me ask you a different question .
He says, taking a moment to lit his cigarette and smoke it, the smoke instantly felling up the room, flowing in the air in small circles as the cop breaths it out.
Do you confirm knowing a person with the nick “mandy9857” ? - he asks, as if this doesn’t really concern him. I stare at him, furrowing my eyebrows.
Yes, it’s a girl I’ve been talking about architecture, a college student.
And also discussing your newest project - he looks in his files again, searching for something - “The Landbery House Design” ? - he asks and my eyes widen.
Yes, perhaps a little, but how is this of any importance?
Isn’t that project confined by a secrecy policy... and a very strict one for that matter, Mr. Jamieson ?
He asks and I can feel myself going pale. How does he know about this? The only people who knew about it were me and... no, that couldn’t possibly be.
Mr. Jamieson. The person behind the nick “mandy9857” wasn’t a student of architecture. She was a woman of thirty-two, working for a company, which specialized in obtaining confident information. There are many who don’t want your company’s project to succeed. Apparently the land that the house is to be build on, is very significant to other, let’s say “investors”. People who don’t necessary play by the rules and are not afraid to get their hands dirty. Am I making myself clear?
Crystal. But that woman. How is she connected to....
Mr. Clark... may I call you that? Let’s stop playing games, shall we? The woman that you have been talking for the past six months, and successively passing private information, is indeed Sara Walters. Our victim that you had stabbed and left to bleed out in her apartment.
No, that can’ be. No, no... I didn’t kill her. I didn’t even know her. I mean, I thought she was a student. I was helping her. I didn’t kill no one, you have to trust me on this, I'm telling the truth.
Mr. Clark! I’m loosing patience with you. But because I like you, I’m going to go through this one more time. Just for you. In the hope that you’ll regain your memory. Let’s go through the facts one by one. Sara Walters. Female. Age thirty-two. Stabbed twelve times in her apartment with a thin 6,5 inches metal chisel. Which led the victim to bleed out in less than 20 minutes and die in the process. The possible time of death, 2:30 a.m. Wednesday night, August 23rd.
Are you still with me Mr. Clark? Good, I didn’t want to lose you there - know, as I said before. The victim dies of multiple stab wounds in her place on Eastwood street, apartment 24B. The woman has been found by the her landlord at about two hours later due to the “strange noises coming from up stairs and an open door to Miss’s Walters apartment".
It wasn’t me, I promise you. I would never kill her - I can feel my heart start to pound faster as I realize what I’ve just said - I mean kill anyone, I was at home, sleeping. I couldn’t have even been there...
The detective says in a tired voice, like he has been here before, hearing the same statements over and over again.
Do you take me for a fool? Besides...
He smiles in nasty way, like he knows something that I don’t.
You didn’t let me finish. After the police arrives at the crime scene and checks for evidence, they find a couple of very interesting items. The murder weapon - as mentioned before - a metal chisel, all in blood and finger prints. Guess who’s? That’s right. Yours. Strange isn’t it? And there are even more “fun” surprises. The last person to call Miss Walters, was you! Isn’t that just amazing? But it doesn’t end there, oh no. There is a lot of personal correspondence on the victims laptop between you and her. Not to mention the projects to the “Landbery House Design”. Any comments ?
I don’t know, and never knew, anyone of the name Sara Walters.
I say in a strained voice, training not to drown and stay up float.
I don’t know how my finger prints got on the weapon - and yes, I corresponded with a woman I thought was named Mandy... and yes, at one moment it got more personal, but I didn’t know it was this woman.
And the project for the house? - He asks calmly, not at all convinced.
I don’t know how she got that... I can promise you it wasn’t from me. I would never do such a thing. I’m obviously being framed.
Obviously mister Clark... Oh, and one more thing. Let me remind you that you have no actual and reliable alibi for last night.
I was at home.
Of course you were. But let’s face, as alibi’s go, yours is not a very strong one. Tell something, do you know how we got to you, so fast?
No, I don’t really...
A very interesting fact indeed. We received an anonymous call from a woman, claiming she saw the whole thing from outside of the building. Apparently you like to keep the light on while performing.
That’s impossible! I’m being framed ! You have to see it.
I see a lot, Mr. Clark. Especially, that the woman called again... that’s right. Not so anonymous this time. Decided to speak in court.
She what ?!
I ask, finding it difficult to think straight. The witness was real? I could feel my mind starting to go fuzzy, on the verge of insanity. None of this seemed real... was this a nightmare in the end ? Was I belong in an institution ? Because I do not remember stabbing anyone, or the blood, or the victim. And yet, everything states against me. EVERYTHING. I stare at the detective and notice his face expression. He looks like the cat, that just got the cream.
Oh yes. Prepare yourself Mr. Jamieson. You have your first trial tomorrow. Be sure to think of a better alibi by that time. Some judges are very eager for the death sentence. I know that yours is. But don’t worry, I’m sure you are innocent after all...
For now. End scene.
On June second, just little over two years ago, I was in car accident. I survived and so did my husband. The family of four from the other vehicle also survived from death. They experienced several serious injuries, like concussion, open brakes, many damages to the spine... but they survived. Every one that you could see looking from the outside of the car. But there were more than six people in that crash. There were seven living and beating hearts on that day, but only six kept theirs.
On June second, I was second month pregnant. Exactly two years ago I had lost my child. My little baby girl. Barely two months. It was so early. You couldn’t even see. Just eight weeks. A month before that, I didn’t even know myself and yet from that day everything changed. It was the most life changing thing in my life. Until now.
We were so happy. I was 25 years old and my whole life was ahead of me. My husband Matt gloving from joy, though I was the one pregnant, and the one that should be gloving. We had so many plans.
And from there it really went down the hill. Regrets, hidden anger and resentment that was slowly destroying our lives, or more to the point our marriage. We still had other things to care about, like our carrers. Those parts that didn’t require resentment. The parts that didn’t disappoint us. I had an architect degree and my job as a decorate designer. It kept me going, when my thoughts turned to darker shades. Times when I looked at my husband and no longer so a person I once loved, but a stranger... or maybe worse than that. I saw someone responsible for my pain. For my loss.
And he had a carrer of his own. After all he was a successful PR manager and a computer genius. They adored him at the office. He was the man with a plan, someone who always had a solution. His job always took long hours. That was never an issue. We separated our personal and private lives with ease. We weren’t like other couples. Always nagging the other person about the late night at the firm, or cancelled plans. The difference was, that we really loved our jobs. Just as much as we loved each other. So when we were coming home, there was no room for frustration and moaning at the “bad boss”. I mean we all had our bad days.
After all nobody ever had a perfect life, right?
But as it went, it was quite close at times. But I guess that all of that changed after the accident. Like we lost something very important, a very special part of us... and it wasn’t just the loss of our child. Our little baby, that hadn’t had the chance to grow up... that was a crushing moment. It was unbearable, but it wasn’t the worse thing... that day we lost something else. Somehow when the car crashed, we also lost ourselves in the process. Slowly falling apart. Rusting inside and out, just like the battered remains of our silver Volvo.
We lost our love, our happiness, the future that we had planned... or maybe it was just me. Maybe I started this, because my pain was so much bigger than his. After that day, no matter what I did, I felt empty inside. Physically and emotionally. And underneath it all, I felt angry. All this time he was the one to blame.
Not the car that crashed into us, not the bad weather or the fact that we were both tired. None of these things made me angry or resentful... no, not as much as he did. I was furious that he made me go. That I agreed, when I really didn’t want to go. I could have stayed at my mothers, but he wanted to come home earlier. I could have made him go alone. I should have stayed.
But instead, I went with him and argued in the car about silly, meaningless, idiotic stuff. I was two months pregnant... you couldn’t even see if you didn’t know. Funny, you couldn’t see it, and yet it still felt as if I was being ripped into pieces, crushed... chewed and spit out. As if all that was left were my bare, cold bones. I could still feel that belt digging deep into my body. I remember the sound of two cars crushing against each other... it felt like I was a million miles away, away from myself and a million miles from my baby. But she was gone. I knew it instantly, the moment the belt sank deep into my stomach. I could fell a sudden change, an empty feeling. Even though there was this loud, ear crushing noise, all that I could hear was the silence. The silence inside of me. I just knew. My little baby Lucy...
Later in the hospital I would still somehow cling to some delirious hope, that it wasn’t true, that maybe I was wrong. That all of this didn’t actually happen. I think I was in deep denial by then. Protecting myself from reality and the entire world put together. Using the rest of my energy to shield my mind from the obvious truth... or maybe, I just wanted a couple of more moments with my daughter... no matter how delusional that time might have been.
So I laid there, on the hospital bed. Trembling hands spread lovingly across my flat belly. My left shoulder and leg bandaged tightly. Still hoping, still praying.
But it was too late, I knew that...
I lost the little love growing inside of me... and the other love of my life, that was standing behind the hospitals doors... was slowly shifting and changing its shape,
with every passing moment turning destructively from love to hate.
This story is not based on real events.
The short story of Arthur Haddin.
The world was peaceful that day. Sun shining, the breeze gentle. Not a speck of dust out of place or a word misplaced. Nature taking it slowly and mankind for once acting mellow. Yes, everything seemed to be at place that day.
As Arthur Haddin, crossed his usual path, a coffee in hand, an umbrella just in case. Everything was as usual. The same road, the same people walking by. Some even taking a moment to smile or wave back... For you see, our Arthur was the kindest of souls, though sometimes a bit of a grump. But only on rare occasion that required a more feisty spirit... Yet, all in all, a good person taking place in the world and frankly being very efficient about it. But enough of that, for that is not the point of this story.
As mister Haddin walked down the path, that he had in deed walked for the millionth of time or even more, if one was inclined to ask. He reached the end of the sidewalk and was about to cross the road... when a peculiar thing occurred. Well, maybe not that special. One is prone to exaggerate at times. When Arthur took a step forward an unfortunate series of events took place.
The street's stop light didn't change, which led to a bit of a hold-up...
A man on a bike slipped on oil that dripped out of a truck standing nearby...
Which led him to fall and scare a child, age of four to be precise.
That child ran up to his mother, making her groceries fall to the ground.
A bunch of oranges rolling down the sidewalk, to be once again precise by the high number of eight...
One of them bumping into our Arthur and causing him to stare down and lift the juicy fruit, and as he did so, the light finally changed bringing the cars back to life. As the luck may be, one of those cars rode with too much speed... do to the oil spill, caused very unintentionally by the owner of our truck... and all of those tasty oranges just rolling around the sidewalk and the street.
Kind of like being in my personal theme park.
But back to the point, I shall be fast... or at least I will try.
Now if it wasn't for all those events, that day would have gone by smoothly for our dear Mr. Haddin, but as it is today was not the case. Our peaceful soul was meant to die exactly on this day. Exactly to the minute, right on scheduled time.
Yes, I'm afraid it is true.
It was time to end this man's mundane life...
Arthur took a step to cross the white lines, unaware of the situation and his upcoming doom. Too busy to notice anything, still focused entirely on the fruit. I watched him walk and heard the breaks squeak loudly. A car speeding without the chance of return.
It was close, the finale ending to my show. Just seconds and it will all be done...
...and then I felt it, a change of wind.
A shift in structure.
Something different then it was meant to be. I looked around, searching for the cause of this sudden rebel occurrence. My eyes gazing in each direction as my stare turned into a deep frown. My eyes wandering to the ground and the nearest green patch of grass. Because strange as it may seems - and this shouldn't be a bother - someone has left an
ice-cream cone and shifted a single strand of grass... yes, that might not seem like a big deal to be concerned about, however that particular strand of grass that shifted was not really meant for today, but for the year 2035...
such a strange mistake, definitely not mentioned in the files.
I stare at Arthur, as he steps shakily back, a hand placed sternly on his forearm...
that of someones' mum...
to be more clear, that of our crying child...
scared by a man that fell of his bike, because of some oil spilled from a truck...
I put a hand to my face and moan in silence. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for our lad Arthur, such a peaceful soul, that he is. However, this changes things. I look into my little black notebook and sigh yet again.
Just wonderful, it seems that the Apocalypse is misplaced by 2 000 000 years.
If I had a nickel for every ice-cream that stopped the ending of mankind... I could buy a new notebook, to stuff all of the reports that were coming soon. Tons and tons of reports to the office. No employee of the month for this worker. That's for sure.
Very amusing Universe
Yet you strike again...
I see her every day in school. We go for the same classes. She’s new here and somehow while I wasn’t looking she managed the take over my mind and all of my thoughts.
We don’t talk too much, I try to keep a distance. It’s just better this way. Safer. For me.
I don’t know how she feels and I’m not sure If I want to know. Because there is no right response here. Nothing that wouldn’t complicate things even more.
Not that I could ever muster the courage to do anything. I’m a coward when it comes to her. She’s so beautiful and I love the way she moves. Though I don’t think I have ever noticed that in any other woman. Not like this.
I try to focus on the teachers when they speak and wonder if she’s looking my way.
If she’s smiling again. I can’t think of her. Because it makes me crazy when I do, when my thoughts revel around her, let alone even consider anything happening between us...
I like the way she furrows her eyebrows when she’s concentrating. My pulse speeds up when she enters the room. Stirring the things I thought never existed. Not like that. Not for her. I try to ignore the feeling that growing so rapidly. The sense of falling and crashing hard to the ground. The notion that I can’t move or breath properly... and yet, everytime that her lips lift in a meaningful smile as if she owns the place, I just fall apart in thousands of little pieces. Crashing, shattering, breaking. But in a good way.
In such a good way...
I sit in my chair and can feel myself strain under the touch of a heavy arm. He smiles at me when I lift my head. Smelling so great and making me blush. He loves me and I love him. It’s been like that for a while now and at times it feels like forever. I smile back at him and feel pushed to the ground, a strong pressure on my heart.
An intense combination of guilt and disorientation.
I look back at the professor. Not really hearing the words. My mind twisting and bending, trying to comprehend the situation and denying it completely. He grabs my hand and I feel like a fraud. Like an imposter, taking up his time and his love. A foolish girl that didn’t understand her own heart. I take a cautious breath and make myself stop. All of those thoughts that make me sick. All the feelings that I can’t stop.
This wasn’t for real. It was just a crush. I close my eyes just for a second and my skin starts to burn, a clear sign that she’s looking. My pulse rises again and the adrenaline rushes through my veins, slowly turning me into ash... and I like it.
I open my eyes and slightly turn my head. There she is. Gazing at me like I’m the only thing worth looking at. Her mouth twitches and she can’t hold a smile. Throwing me a meaningful stare. Like she owned the place.. because she already knows, that she owns me. So there I sit, heart pounding. Mind already crazy with love. I brave myself and return the stare. Smiling at her in the exact same way. As if she’s the only person in this place. The only girl that I want to look at. And as the time stops for just a second my mind is finally made up. I return to my studies as my boyfriend squeezes my hand.
It was the time, to be honest with myself. To find the courage.
Because I’ve already found the love... and a girl that stole my heart.
While I wasn’t even looking.
Now, this is story I wrote almost a year ago and thought I would share it again.
I somehow just didn’t want it to get lost.
Darkness. Just deep purple darkness. Covering my body from foot to toe.
Keeping me under and making me fight for air. Where am I? What happened?
I force myself to find the light. To find my eyelids so I can be again. It takes all of my strength to wake up and when I do... the world seems to be an even darker place.
I gaze at the space before me, look around and scream at the top of my lungs.
Cold ice filling my lungs, terror sipping through my veins. My worst nightmare coming true and tearing me apart into tiny pieces.
Dead. Just a ghost now, a shadow of a being.
This is all that’s left of me.
How Fast it all ended, when I wasn’t even looking.
These were my first conscious thoughts when the shock had finally worn off.
It was strange to see my body lying in the morgue, half covered in a black bag. A death certificate lying on a table nearby. The ink on the paper still looked fresh. As if the body didn’t lie there too long. As if I just died... maybe that was true, I couldn’t tell, because I had no memory of actually dying.
I spend hours there. Just looking at myself. Staring as if that could change something. As if my stare alone could make that body move and set the spirit inside in motion. Like some of this actually made any sense. Like I still had a choice.
I lie on the floor of the morgue, drifting into unconsciousness and drifting back to it. Like my spirit wasn’t sure if it wanted to stay or leave. My soul somehow stuck in between. Trapped in a daze, stranded in a strange alternative of a life. I could feel my vibes getting stronger and weaker, always shifting, almost flowing in the air. Vibrating through time and space. It was really hard to grab onto something, anything that I could use as an anchor. Maybe there was no longer anything to hold on to.
I looked one last time at the body that was once mine. That belonged only to me, a body that would now lie in the ground and me... I would just... I make myself focus on this reality, on the world I was leaving behind. I needed to say goodbye, because somehow I felt as if that was the thing that was still keeping me from the final absence.
The simple realization of the fact that I was dead.
That I could no longer change anything.
As I came closer to myself, to the girl that was once me. I bent slightly to touch my own hand. To give that one last touch, a farewell. My faded fingers slipped through the stiff flash and my eyes started to water. Could ghosts cry? Was that even possible?
Was it just my imagination, or a basic memory of the person that I was?
As my spirit reaches her skin, I can feel a difference. I shift. The smallest of triggers.
My eyes turning wider as my silent voice gasps for air... this can’t be... it’s too late.
Yet my eyes can’t be wrong. This was really happening. The body was moving. It’s color returning ever so slowly, just a little blush on the cheeks. Eyelids parting. A small finger twitching, the one that I touched.
The room is still.
The silence shattering through my mind. My head feeling like it will explode at any moment... not possible. Too quiet. Too still. Dead.
But it’s happening, the body returning to life.
Just barely. And still, it does, just another short moment which seems like an eternity... a dark hole sucking me in, frozen just on the edge of dreams.
Stuck. Frozen. Never moving forward.
And when all seems to be lost the girl moves, takes a shallow, frantic breath.
She’s alive. This means that... I stare at her, feeling even stranger that before. If that was even imaginable. I come closer as she looks around panicked. Disorientated. Her eyes still empty. Not quite alive. She looks as if she’s searching for something. So desperate.
She looks up and finally notices me as if I was real too.
There’s a strange sensation in my... in my body. Yes, I could feel it. I feel her lungs as she inhales in deeply. I can hear her heartbeat as it pulsates through my ears. I feel her stare as her eyes burn through mine... as my eyes burn hers just the same .
I feel everything.
I can feel myself walking up to her, without making a single step. I get closer and reach her in just seconds. My fingers drifting to her. Touching her skin. My skin.
Because I was never dead in the first place. It was just a trick.
A plan that was meant for me, to stay alive when everything went wrong.
My back-up plan.
Some poisons were hard to find in the human body.
Almost untraceable, able to fool those around.
Desive the audience that the body was dead. When indeed it was only in deep slumber.
And now, I was back and it was time for payback.
You fooled me once sweetheart, shame on me.
You fooled me twice...
”...tetrodotoxin, a powerful neurotoxin that on top of having no antidote tends to kill people as soon as they ingest it. By taking a dose of this poison, person’s heart rate and breathing supposedly will slow down to virtually nothing, making people believe that the person is actually dead...”
ps. it only works in spy movies ;)
At the ball
The mask looks good, a little crooked to the right... just need to straighten it up.
Hmm, perfect. She looks in the big mirror and admires her reflection. Her long brown curls cascading down her back. Just a little of it pinned up, to give her a more fierce look. She looks at herself from different sides and straitens her dark blue, velvet dress. The thin material fitting her lean figure perfectly.
This should do, she thinks to herself and smiles.
She leaves the impressive hall and steps into the grand ballroom. Lights and guests spread everywhere. She gazes calmly around. Smiles and laughter filling the enormous room.
I wonder if any of those smiles are real, authentic - she thinks, at the same time staring at at the colorful masks. Deciding the masquerade is a success. No one could really guess the identities of those honorable guests... some of them just actors, playing their role for the audience. But she knows who they are and what they are capable of.
And most of all, she knows what will happen tonight.What will happen just before the clock strikes midnight... She smiles pleasantly and picks up a glass of champagne from a tray. Nodding at the handsome waiter. He nods back and sends her a signal.
Her smile turns darker. It's time.
Let the party begin.
She takes a sip of the champagne, enjoying the little bubbles that tickle her throat and starts to walk into the crowd. Well, my fellow actors, this lovely play is about to have a different finish than expected. The lights dim slightly and the music starts to play.
An Orchestra starting a Walts. How classy... She looks to the sides, as a hand touches
her shoulder. Her mouth twitches as she recognizes the man behind the mask.
Well finally, I was just going to start without you...
You didn't think I was going to let you have all the fun, would you now?
They stare at each other in a moment of silence and then start to dance with soft grace, spinning around a stage full of false actors. Ready to take over this play. Prepared for an entirely different ending. The music carries gentle sounds of another song starting... the clock finally striking twelve... it's time.
mundane...but so good
The light in the room shines bright blue, as we sit on the couch, watching TV. Snuggled up together under a big pled blanket. She smiles at every joke in the movie and bursts out laughing before the punch line even starts. We have seen this movie a million times, but it’s her favorite, so I let her. Happy to just lie here, next to her. She turns and smiles towards me. A wide grin on her face, that of a guilty person - for making me watch this movie again and feeling smug about it. I shake my head and stare at her, lifting an eyebrow in a disapproving way. Her grin stretches out even more.
Oh, you know you love me, babe - she says with self-satisfaction - I am the best thing that happened to you, since that fiasco with your last girlfriend...
I snatch a pillow and hit her over the head, messing up her perfect hair and turning it into an electrified haystack. She screams out and throws it back with perfect aiming, hitting me right in the face.
Hey, I didn’t hit you that hard! - I shout out and jump off the couch and run to the kitchen. As I do this, I hear some rustling in the living room.
Jane? Jane! Don’t you dear... - I sprint back to the room with a glass of water, ready to throw it at her - oh come one, you wouldn’t...
There’s a shrieking sound even before I can do anything. The noise truly ear-piercing, shattering my eardrums.
Fine! I won’t, you win! - I say in defeat and she calms down instantly. Her smile turning from pleased to sneaky.
I always win.
She says proudly and sits back down on the couch. Picking the blanket and snuggling back on the soft cushions. I shake my head again and join her, as she lifts the side of the material and pats the pillow, sending me a seductive stare. I roll my eyes, but reach her in just seconds. Never the one to refuse a invitation.
If I didn’t love you so much, I would throw that smirk right off your face.
I sit down and she puts her arms around me, as I turn the movie back on. Sneaking a kiss or two, just before Patrick Swayze can pick up Jenifer Gray in the air and sing to her, that he had the time of his life.
So glad that I found her. She makes me smile when everything else goes wrong. She supports me through all the bad choices that I tend to make. Making me believe that even if our life tends to be hard and full of regrets, there is something worth the while.
She’s my best friend and I love her to pieces. She’s crazy, drives me insane half of the time... and I love her even more for that.
Act I, Scene I
An actress, an empty stage and a single light centered in the middle of the stage.
Shining on our actress, ready to perform. She stands up straight, shoulders back, expression focused and concentrated. The audience is empty as well,
only except a guy in the third row. He's here to audition, a notepad on his lap.
A professional expression on his tired face and maybe a bit bored. But that is irrelevant to our story... the man coughs slightly, encouraging the actress to start.
So J, what will you be performing for us tonight?
(He asks politely, looking at his watch.
The actress, notices it and clenches her fists...)
I'm here to show the "stages of pretense" I'm quite famous for the act of pretending and fooling my heart...
Oh, I see. Then begin, the audience awaits.
Yes, of that I am aware... Act one... People often ask me... How are you?
How do you feel? That's when I use my pretenses like this...
She looks at the space before her, body language shifting and changing until it falls into the role. Concentration disappearing, replaced with the softest of smiles. Her posture relaxing, her eyes losing their edge. A single spark filling them from inside. She gives a nonchalant wave of her hand and enhances her smile so it almost reaches her eyes.
Oh me? I'm just fine, never better and how are you?
(The actress freezes at the last word and loses the smile,
a pained look instead of the fake modest one)
...and then they leave, and I am left with myself. Playing pretense, even when alone... Because I no longer know the person that I once was.
(The actress looks up and waits for the review.
The guy in the audience filling in his notes)
That was great J. Very tasteful and engaging...
Do you want to see something more?
No, my darling... that will be all.
Yes, of course, I understand...
Oh, and J, my dear...
How are you feeling today?
Me...? Why that's a silly question to ask of me... As always, I am just fine...
The lights dim and the "audience" leaves. Our single actress, leaving as well...
Walking down the stairs, her back once again strained,
the smile faded away, just like everything else.