Her inverted world.
“I have never found an answer.” – Alya Perez
I always have doubts about my life. I had always lived upon a textbook. A perfect daughter, parents could ask for. Diligent, polite, disciplined, respectful, responsible, curious, cheerful, friendly, and brighter than the sun. It should be a good life; I wonder why I’m not satisfied? Why I’m not happy at all? Why do I feel the void in my heart is getting bigger each day that had passed? Why did my eyes looked tired upon gazing the city from above? Why can’t I feel anything?
Those questions continued and I had never found an answer.
Today I woke up with a heavy feeling with eyes poached from tears. I blinked twice and moved away from the bed. As I was about to open the door to the restroom, I saw my full-sized mirror, and I saw a girl hanging upside down staring at me. I stopped reaching unto the door knob and walked in front of the mirror. The girl stayed the same, so did I. I smiled at her but she didn’t. I removed my smile and she remained the same. I tilted my head to the right, and just like reflection she also tilted to the right in my perspective.
I touched the mirror before sighing loudly. And looked once again. “Dead eyes…” I muttered and smiled in a textbook quality; she didn’t smile back but I can feel her eyes turned greyer. I left the mirror alone and prepared myself for school.
“Good morning, Ms. Alya!”. They greeted me as I walk down the hallway to my classroom. With a smile forcefully plastered on my face, I brought myself to face them. “Good morning to you as well”. I greeted back. They smiled happily at me and continued walking. I watched them walked away before I resume my walking. The smile on my face slowly fades, but I stopped it from slipping away. ‘It hurts’, I admitted quietly.
The classes went slowly as it always been. The smile that I forcefully placed on my face remains until the bell rings for lunchtime. I quietly packed my things and went straight to the student council room. I greeted every student in my way and they happily greeted me back. As I reached the room, I quietly entered, did a few paper works, ate my lunch, do paper works again.
I sighed as I finished the paperwork due today. I stretched my arms and stand from my seat. I placed heavy things on top of the papers and opened the window behind my seat. The breeze entered the room and I can feel my hair getting disorganized and my skirt flutters. I tucked the loose hairs behind my ear and inhaled the wind. “It smelled like the sun”. I muttered with a real smile plastered on my face. It felt very peaceful. I stepped closer unto the window and gazed below, I saw students walking and laughing while eating sandwiches in their hands. I watched them from a far feeling contented, but my smile vanished instantly. I didn’t know why; I never had the answer.
I removed my dead eyes from them and shifted my gaze on the horizon, and I could see the inverted city brimming with life in front of me. I just stood there blankly gazing at the inverted city as it doesn’t mind any other business besides his. The inverted city functions just like any other cities. Everything is upside-down. You could see the birds freely swimming in the sky as I stood here inside the room upon the window by myself. The city’s sky is within my feet, the city’s buildings upon my head. And I never knew the answer.
The school ended like any other days, being fetched by my father, my day ended just like that. Seated at the shotgun seat, I then placed my head on the near the window of the car as I gazed outside. In that distance, lies the inverted city. I just gazed at it with my blank eyes. I then shifted my eyes from the window to my dad who’s driving.
“Dad…” I called him. “Yes, dear?” He answered instantly, without breaking his eye contact from the road. I thought for a bit before asking a question. “Dad, the city from the distance, what does it look like?”. My dad blinked his eyes twice, as he is puzzled by my question; he then answered, “It looks like a normal city to me? I mean it is radiant and lively. People there are brimming with hope and passion, it is a city fueled with passion. Why did you ask, dear?”. He questioned me while glancing at my side for a bit. I removed my eyes from him and stared at the city ahead, “It…it looks exactly as you said!” I exclaimed while my heart beats faster because I almost blurted out what it looks like to me. My dad chuckled, and the smile remained on his face. I only looked at him nervously, as I let my heart calm.
“Mom, we’re home!” I exclaimed as I got out of the car and ran straight unto our front door. “Welcome back, dear!”, my mom exclaimed as she peeked from the kitchen while preparing food. I then ran straight to her and kissed cheek. “What’s for dinner?” I asked her as I glanced unto the boiling pot. “Curry” she said with a smile. My eyes lit up on its own, like an instinct. I then ran upstairs to my room then change.
“As I thought, my face is tired”, I told myself in front of the full-length mirror. I am now all alone in my room, and my face instantly reverts to its blank state the moment I step inside my room. My parents are downstairs watching t.v., as I am an honor student, they are used to me being inside my room all the time, studying. I finished my homework early and shifted my gaze unto my window. And again, my feet drag me unto the window and found myself gazing at the inverted city.
Lights are moving in and out, as cars passed. I closed my eyes and feel the wind caressed my face. The noise also came along, strangely it felt good to hear. I remained like that for 15 minutes, feeling the world. I opened my eyes 15 minutes later, and fortunately, the city remained inverted. I closed the windows and prepared to sleep. The moment my head hit the bed; I fell into slumber.
I woke up and proceed with my routine as usual, wearing my fake smile all day. I ate breakfast with my family, get myself dressed to school, being drove by my dad to school, greet, paperwork, and then go home. My week started and ended like that, and every day I felt tired than yesterday. I also feel that my eyes go greyer than ever. ‘There would be time I can’t hide it anymore’, I thought to myself as I dragged myself to my dad’s car and smiled at him. As my fatigue build up, I found my head resting unto the windshield, and everything feels cold. I can’t feel anything, my body feels heavy. I can’t cry, I can’t open my mouth to get help nor call my dad. I don’t know what is happening to me, and strangely I don’t find myself panicking. I feel calm, I felt peace. My eyesight fell grey. The colors slowly leave my pitiful world. I closed my eyes to sleep, and never bother looking at the inverted city.
Someone’s shouting. My ears are ringing, but the noise does not reach me. I opened my eyes to look at my surrounding but to my surprise, I am floating in a place filled with water, I tried holding my breathe and looked around once more. My eyesight remained grey, and I can’t move from my place no matter how hard I swim. As my oxygen ran out, I give up and tried inhaling the water, but the water never reached my lungs. I am still alive, I just inside a dream. There’s nothing to do here so I remained motionless for the rest of the time as I had no way of knowing how much time had passed.
My parents must be worried if the time continues from where my body is. My paperwork must have doubled. The student body must have been wandering why ‘Alya Perez’ is absent. Well, this is nice. I finally had break from forcing myself to smile. I don’t want to wake up from this dream for now. Just let me rest.
I don’t know how long have I’ve been floating inside that dream but I never bothered to wake up. The time fleets as I stare above me. ‘The water seems stagnant’, I thought to myself. I tried waving my hand to it, but nothing happened. I sighed and continued to stare at it. It feels boring because everything is grey. I smiled bitterly.
“I think I had enough”. Was the first thing I blurted out after not talking for a long time. I tried moving around but it was futile. I tried to shout and talk to whenever person, but not a respond came. “I’m going crazy” I blurted out loud to this stagnant space filled with water. “Please let me out!” I pleaded.
“I want to see my parents!”.
“I want to go school!”.
“I want to do my paperwork!”.
I yelled at the top of my lungs, and felt that my throat was about to be ripped. But none of that stopped me.
“I want to listen to my dad’s songs!”.
“I want to listen to my mom’s stories!”.
“I want to meet new people!”.
I shouted and shouted, until I cried and falls into despair, but an answer never came.
I stared blankly at the water, I don’t whether what I’m looking at is the top or the bottom. Everything looks the same. A strange thought came to me, and I blurted it out loud. “I wish I was trapped inside that inverted city. At least in that place, I knew where is the top and bottom”. After blurting that out, it felt funny so I laughed. I never thought that I’d miss that sight. The buildings above me, and the sky’s below me. it felt like I am a powerful being and the sky’s my plaything. I think I’m going insane in this stagnant space, so I closed my eyes for the first time in a while. “If ever I opened my eyes in the real world, I’ll try to go in that city and feel the sky beneath me”, I mutter as I closed my eyes and feeling the sleep reaching my head. “I did enjoy that rest, thanks”, I muttered as I fell asleep.
Everything feels wet, did I escape that space? I opened my eyes because I feel cold. Sunshine came to my view as soon as I opened my eyes. I squinted my eyes before opening them fully. My eyes are blurry and unfortunately, the world remains grey. Everything is still blurry and a silhouette came into view. My eyes then adjusted and I can see everything clearly now and the silhouette moved towards me as it splashed me a pail of water. I received the water impact wholly; I wiped my face first glaring at the silhouette standing before me. The silhouette was surprised for a moment and I never gave it a chance to speak.
“What? Is splashing water on a patient a trend now?” I asked the silhouette without breaking the glare. It looks like it is surprised for a moment, it looked at the pail before quickly putting it down. “You’re…. awake”, it spoke in a distorted voice. So I never knew if it is a he/she or maybe neither.
“Who are you?” I asked again. The silhouette just looked at me and never gave me an answer. I never pressed him because it seems like it is wrong to ask it. “My parents, where are they?”, I asked again. “They went out”, the silhouette answered. It still kept looking at me, but I removed my eyes from him and checked my surroundings. White walls, the smell of disinfection solutions, and the beeping sound of the life support machine. What in the world happened to me?
The silhouette must have noticed my troubled look. As it suddenly spoke.
“You had fallen into the eternal slumber and you just woke up.” The words rang up in my ear. My mind can’t process it at all. Eternal slumber? It is like falling asleep without a chance to wake up. You will die slowly without saying your last goodbyes. My eyes are shaking as I process my thoughts. It spoke again without giving me time.
“Your parents asked me to wake you up”. My head sprang up as he stated that. I was about to asked him a question but he told me another thing. “Be thankful, ’cause if I had arrived a little later, you would have died”. He told me sternly. He walked to my side and sat in a chair, then asked me, “The real question is, what the h*ll did you do?”. He asked me firmly as he brought his face in front me. His face remained black and I can’t see its eyes nor its nose. I can’t seem to make anything from it, just like a mask.
“I don’t know!” I said to it. “I really don’t know! I don’t remember anything out of place, it just happens!” I told to it. The silhouette retracts its face from me and think. “I see”, It answered. But I didn’t felt relief, instead a premonition came that something troublesome will happen.
It stood up from its seat and went outside. Puzzled by its actions, I only stared at the closed door. A little later a clatter came from the outside and the door swung open abruptly, my parents and their tear-stained face greeted me. Both of them stood frozen for a while as they gaze on me, but my father broke his ice and ran unto me. He hugged me hard and kissed my forehead. My mom stayed at the doorway and cried.
Feeling the warmth of my dad that I haven’t felt for a long time, I responded to him. “I’m home”, I said softly to them. And both of them bursts into more tears.
I calmed them both after crying for a long time. Then the silhouette entered the room after our reunion. My parents thanked the silhouette for how many times.
“It’s nothing ma’am and sir. I’m just lucky that I was able to wake your daughter up. But she’s not fully healed.”, that statement left my mom dumbfounded. My dad gritted his teeth before asking, “What is it that you want? I’ll give you anything I have. Just heal my daughter. I don’t care what is it just heal her!”, my father exclaimed. I just watched them without making a sound.
“I’ll heal your daughter, but the payment will be paid by her”, that statement struck me frozen. Payment? Heal? But I am fine? This is how I always felt? I looked at the silhouette, puzzled.
“What the h*ll did you say?!”, my father exclaimed. “I should have never believed you! For world’s sake! She just woke up! And you want her to work?!”, my father got up from his seat and started to approached it. I held my father’s sleeve, stopping him. I flashed him a gentle smile to calm him.
“So what do I have to do?”, I asked to it.
The silhouette tilted his head to the right, and asked, “Do you want an answer?”.
“Yes”, I replied right away, as I looked at it straight to where its eyes must be.
“The city, let’s go there”, it replied. It stretched its hand to me. I reached for it. It looked to the windows, so I did.
The city, still inverted, and strangely it has a color.
An answer was never found, but I think I found a way to find them. I tightened my grip on its hand.
See you on the next part! Stay tuned!
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