People watching is without a doubt one of my favourite things to do. The human race is an interesting species; we come in all shapes, colours and sizes, yet we are fundamentally the same. Genetically linked each one of us. Sometimes I think we are like oysters; our lives are the precious pearls that are so small, so treasured. I have experienced the shortness of life, and I have learnt to treasure the things that make it special.
I am not normally so sentimental, but as I sit here watching the people rush past me, I realise that my life is not that of the average person. I have experienced things just like any other person. Love, lust, hope, fear, joy, pain. Loss. I have had moments of pure ecstasy and I have drowned in the dark abyss of depression. My story is happy, sad, inspiring and wretched all at the same time.
I am not the first girl – and I am definitely not the last girl – who will fall victim to the toxicity of love.
My story ends because I met a boy. It doesn’t have a starting point, because how do you start a story really? Do we start from when we were brought into this world all bloodied and screaming, or do we start with the exact moment in time when a spark flies and a whole storyboard of synchronized events unfurl. Events we have no control over.
My story is too sporadic for that. It is too dark, with moments where I do not remember time moving, yet there are shining points that dazzle me so brightly that I want to spend hours, days, recounting the precise words spoken, the exact sounds, smells and feelings of these wisps in time. I want to write memoirs based purely on the way that a single smile, a fluttering touch and barely whispered words so dramatically altered my life.
Yes, a girl met a boy. A boy with eyes so cold they could freeze you. A boy who smiled without dimples and who laughed when people got hurt. He was intense, harsh. He could go from flirty, teasing and charismatic to throwing a body against a wall and holding it by the neck in moments. He wasn't a nice boy, but he showed me the value of life.
I wish I could say that I lived happily ever after with this boy that saved me, but the happy moments are rare and far between. I wish I could say that he is a fond memory for me to think back on with a smile and say "Those were the days", but there's too much wretchedness and it taints such happy memories. Like an oil spill poisoning the sea, it kills everything in me to think of him. This boy showed me that I didn't need to rely on the blade that so often caressed my skin. He showed me that I was everything I needed. He showed me that my thoughts were more destructive than the drugs, the cigarettes and the alcohol.
He saved me so many times, just to kill me at the end. Words are the most dangerous weapon after all, aren’t they?
Because really, what sort of story ends with a happily ever after? Fairy tales have been reworded to entice young children into a sense of security. Parents would rather foster this belief in the 'happily ever after' rather than expose them to the horrors that they originally were. I respect the Grimm Brothers for telling the truth of humanity, yet children are too naive to understand the extent of the darkness that dwells within the human soul. It's better this way.
Fairies. Pots of gold.
As I stare out at the sea of people, I wonder how many truly believe they will have a happily ever after. How many of these people go home to their families with smiles that hide the torment they feel but do not understand. I have encountered murderers and rapists who hide their darkness behind smiles, only to have people wonder why they could do what they did, how they could do that. "He was such a lovely boy" they will whisper to each other. "She loved her children" a family will cry. Humans have to believe in the good in each other, because to recognize the evil, they need to admit that their world is not as safe and not secure as they like to pretend it is.
I once was naive. I once believed in the good in humanity. I once was a child with wide innocent eyes that looked at my parents with adoration.
Now, I am a woman with an artwork of dark emotion on my arms. Now I am a woman who does not believe in innocence. How many of these people surrounding me believe in the notion of 'innocent until proven guilty'? How many of these people have decided on a 'not guilty' decision in a juror's room, only for the accused to be released and rape and murder a woman in cold blood? These humans turn such a blind eye to the atrocities that happen every day, right under their noses.
I do not sit here for no reason. I am cold. I am hungry. But I am waiting.
For months I have played the part of the poor beggar girl. I have been kicked by strangers; I have been the recipient of slurs and derogatory remarks. I have been called 'whore', 'crack head' and 'white trash' by people who do not know me and where I come from. Men and women of all ages have walked past, pulling their children in close and hushing the questions about the girl sitting in the corner. I have suffered humiliation, debilitating cold and the hard iron of handcuffs every other night as police officers arrest me on suspicion of solicitation, or for loitering. I have eaten out of trash cans and drunk from the gutter.
A noise above me – a seagull – brings me out of my thoughts. A long time ago I was trained to recognize sounds, sights and smells that do not fit. A shadow stalking a woman walking alone at night does not fit. A hand slipping over a young woman’s drink in a packed nightclub does not fit. A man opening a car door to a young child does not fit. A seagull's cry in the middle of a city far from any sea does not fit, and I tense, ready to spring into action if need be.
This is it.
With a strength deceiving of my weakened state, I rise. I do not have possessions. I have nothing except the scrap of fabric that passes as a dress on my back and the worn sandals on my feet; I was trained to need few possessions. I do not remember the last time that I brushed my teeth, showered or used deodorant. I have been starving, eating the meager scraps of food thrown away by people with too much money and not enough respect for what they have. Millions starve, yet these people throw away food in distaste because it's burnt, too cold or not good enough.
This has been a test of perseverance and I know that I have at long last passed. I do not doubt that they have been watching me, scrutinizing my every move. That is why I had to do this in the open, exposed to everything. No more games. Killing Adelaide Illingworth and everything she once was, was hard. Harder than I first thought, but now I am free of her weaknesses. I am her, and she was me. This final test reduced me to less than human, and I accept that I am finally ready. I am stronger than the humans around me.
I have finished my training and I am ready to take my place within my Unit. I am ready to forgo all ties to humanity and accept the tasks that I will soon carry out. These past few months have shown me that these people are greedy, selfish and cruel. Life is precious but they do not see that.
As I walk away from the corner that is in plain sight but never seen, I understand that I am a new Adelaide Illingworth. My eyes may remain a pale blue and my hair almost white, but I am sure that if I was to look into a mirror, I would not recognize myself.
I said before that my story had no beginning but an end.
This is my end.
This is the story of how Adelaide Illingworth died.
This is my Awakening.