“You disappoint me, Aiden.”
I was a twelve-year-old kid back then, driven in distress as I rampaged from pillar to post to escape from this endless and unbearable hell. My daintily shod feet dragged me forward, letting my fear engulfed throughout my stark and ominous existence. My piteously mangled hands swaddled in dark blood while long unmistakable scratches slather through my forearm, carrying the grieving pain I created a moment ago. My sensitive grey eyes divulged salty tears as fragments of sufferings streamed down my blemished cheeks. Rustling of voices swayed through my eardrums, compelling me to surrender passively from aiming once more.
A tortuous rocky path paved the way. Toilsome gaps deepened as deserted buildings alongside flared. Sparkling phantom fires from diminished electricity poles exhaled out incessant fieriness. Its tongues burning every target in sight. Trunks of dead trees fell, bared with leaves. The gloomy sky painted in red, basing the raven cumulous clouds. The resonating sounds of crows bellowed as my steps clattered through the route. I whispered breathlessly, “There can only be one way- “My exhausted legs trembled in a panic, “Go forward.”
I carried mightily my feet as the gravitational force pulled me inwards the ground. But as I attempted to, my toe tripped over a jagged rock dropping me to the cement with a loud thud. At this moment, I can’t lift myself up. My torment erupted. My breathing began to be rapid. My ankles twisted in pain. I reflected, ‘I can’t go on.’
Vultures from above circulated. A silver lining traced around their wings. The sun shimmered, keeping my eyes close to say goodbye.
Beside me, a cornflower bloomed between the voids. Its intense blue petals carpeted from the tongues of the fire. Dust flew as the sunrays nurtured the flower. A surge of natural fresh water moistened its roots. I regarded in silence, ‘If I was a cornflower, will I still live like this?’
With no other hope left for me, I adjusted slowly my arm reaching for the flower. My uncombed leather black hair dripped in blood as my head held low in the land. My tattered white uniform shirt and khaki pants fitted my weary body.
As I finally picked it up from the soil, the flower in a sudden transfigured. A ray of light shimmered. The eastern wind surrounded the plant forming a miniature whirlwind; as an angular, feminine hand enveloped holding loosely mine. Its warmth subsided the coldness within me. Its intangible but visible presence cleared my insanity.
It took me awhile to grasp this unusual incident as the flower petals hovered about in an axis, shaping piece by piece a woman’s willowy physique. Her dark-skinned, solemn body recoiled every now and again. Her undistinguished features moulded dimly as one friendly smile crept through her feminine face.
Although I could discern her heavenly, aerial beauty, her presence remained empty as if it’s only a mere shadow who follows me around till the ends of the earth.
She assured graciously; her melodious voice soothing my heart, “Aiden, I’ll be here for you.” Her long, insubstantial arms wrapped around me. She patted slightly my back, telling me to not cry further. But even with her insistence, my heart-rending howls set free. The blood-thirsty vultures above migrated.
While overblown with astonishment and misery, gigantic segments collapsed as thousands of blue petals from indistinct places collided. The strong wind hauled them around us, rotating wildly in a way that might topple me. But as the strength and the adoration of the unknown woman granted on me, my feeble arms rolled up around her. A contented smile drawn on my face.
The setting I’m involved with changed. Instead of being caged inside a devastating place, a sadden desolated chamber surrounded us. The rough-hewn timbered walls enclosed the area as antique carpets and sofas laid on the grimy beige floor. The predawn sunlight illuminated the room, reheating the frigid atmosphere as flakes of dust danced through the humid sticky air. My body rested on hers as her long, unbound hair cascaded down her shoulders.
She cupped my hollow cheeks while kneeling on the wood panel below to check my wounded face. A crease folded between her wry bushy eyebrows as she stated worryingly, “Aiden, I’m here- “She pulled out a decaying petal, which was left stranded on my hair, “I’ll always be here for you… no matter what.” I asked, pouting in a grotesque manner, “Who am I to you to be saved like this?” She straightened her back while fidgeting gently my blood stained fingers. She replied as her deep-set black eyes peered through mine. Faint colours of the rainbow flashed on her, encouraging me to move forward, “You are special… whatever it takes.”
As she noted that, my pain lowered. My artery jumping into places. The tiny hairs on my arms electrified. A devotional feeling sunk me towards faith. ‘If there is one thing I wanted from life, it would be someone who see me as special… person who can be any other.’
My face beamed with light, ‘I wanted to cherish the people who cared about me… I wanted to live my life being with them.’
As I remarked my findings in a lifetime, the spirited woman all of a sudden shattered away rendering a pleasant smile to bid farewell. Her figure separated piece by piece as slow for me to comprehend more, modifying again into cornflower petals. Bright blue fragments sprang out from her, enlarging down to the minute as variety of sceneries clouded from each of them- sceneries of hope from three momentous friends.
The films documented their long-lasting relationship as though it has a meaning for me. As I could see, a world-weary twenty-year old man was often the star from each and every motion pictures- A man living in a terrible world where viruses couldn’t be entirely controlled, fooling with two other women in about the same age as if they were the only people left for him. The first woman had a long wavy light brown hair and the other had a chocolate hair tied in a ponytail. Their face full of gracious delight.
One photographic film caught my eye like it meant too much for me to ever grasp it. They were playing like a kid, inheriting once again their childhood memories- playing hide and seek in a room full of medical equipment, not caring enough if the object might fall when running around. They laughed and laughed without being conscious of their atrocious environment, kicking into places as the moon winked from the bay window. ‘Will I be happy like them? Will I ever feel like that?’
As I conjectured that, the same man showed up from the wooden door clenching his digital camera on the side, swallowing the fragments left by the faded woman. An elated smile crept through his face. His quiff black hair matched up with his fashionable dark leather parka coat. A disposable mask covered his chin. He giggled sympathetically, “Hey kid, it’s me.” I asked, my eyebrows furrowed, “Who are you?” He looked away, gazing the furniture inside, “Your other.”
He studied my appearance and soul in a minute as the silence flattered through the atmosphere. Not satisfied with his answer, I asked out of curiosity, “Why are you here?” He laughed out as if I’s said something ridiculous as he expressed emotionally, “To check if I’m distancing with you further.”