I gasp for air, desperate to fill my lungs.
My left hand reaches to my neck, my finger grazing against the smooth skin. I continue to inhale and exhale as if I have been desperate to breathe in air for hours and finally manage to breathe it in. My eyes roam the view in front of me; wide, dark and isolated. Where am I? I feel my whole body being pushed down against my will, making it difficult to lift myself up.
My hand continues to hold onto my neck as I turn to take in my surroundings. The candles against the wall on my right were all lit; besides them were dark stone figures. The candle light creates a flickering effect on the stone figures, making it difficult to distinguish each sculpture. On the other side, there were rows of benches along with multiple high windows and a large wooden door at the far end.
I never been here before, but I instantly recognised where I am. I’m inside a chapel. The word chapel repeats in my mind as I try and determine how I got here and how to get back home. Why am I lying down in the middle of a chapel? I think to myself. Forcing myself against gravity, I push myself up to an upright position and swing my legs off the table, hanging. I finally let my left hand fall from my neck onto the table. The doors of the chapel swing open; the cold wind rushing into the room. All the light emitting inside the chapel fades away. I am blind to my surroundings, only able to see the furniture near the only source of light that is coming from outside.
Apart from the whispers of the wind, I could hear my own heartbeat drumming deafeningly and fast. The pit of my stomach aches in agony. The silence of the chapel doesn’t help. If anything, the silence makes me feel lost, scared and vulnerable. I don’t want to be here; I want to be at home.
I slowly push myself to the edge of the table, allowing both of my barefoot feet to touch the ground. Taking a long, deep breath, I push myself to stand. My knees instantly buckle and I almost fall onto the ground as I grab onto the table. Taking a few more breaths, I stand up straight, feeling my legs shakily holding my body up. I don’t know how I got here and the only thing set in my mind is to go home. I take one step at a time, trying to reach the other side of the chapel to the doors. To my surprise, my legs move, slowly, passing the multiple rows of wooden benches.
As I pass the large, carved doors, I walk out into an isolated street. The fresh, crisp air brings shivers to my spine. The very feeling that someone is watching is strong, overwhelming my thoughts. I take in my surroundings, but couldn’t find anyone. The small buildings across me were closed, metal doors preventing me from seeing what’s inside. The streets are empty, soundless and dark. The large clock tower’s bell on my right erupts with large echoing noise, capturing my attention. The clock read it is midnight.
I couldn’t determine where I am. All I am able to recognise is that I’m in Havenwood, the small town I recently moved to. But what part of Havenwood? I don’t know. I need to call someone. My first instinct is to call Dad, but I knew questions would arise and he would be left with disappointment. My next thought was to call Lily, but I knew it would be the same for her. How am I supposed to answer questions even I didn’t know the answer to? Feeling lost, I reach for my pocket to touch my metallic phone, but only to feel nothing but the fabric of my jeans. I feel my heartbeat quicken as I search my other pockets for my phone, however, all pockets were empty.
I look around the streets for the second time, my feet moving on their own accord to the middle of the intersection beside the clock tower. I stop at the centre and stare down each of the four streets surrounding me. How am I going to get back home? I don’t recognise the way to get back. I tightly close my eyes, trying to remember the last time I came here. Hopefully, I’d remember the way to get back home. I drove pass this place, on the first day I moved to Havenwood. When we were driving to our new home, we drove past this place. I remember the clock tower, I remember the stores and I remember the people walking down the footpaths.
This place, from memory, was lively, erupted with people. Bright and kind. I wouldn’t have recognised this place if it weren’t for the familiar sound of the clock tower. Despite that I know this place is the lively town square, it feels like I’m in the centre of a ghost town.
I face the direction which I was looking from, the road between the clock tower and chapel. I look down the road, slowly engulfed by darkness. I have never walked in the dark by myself, I thought to myself. I feel another gush of the chilly wind pushing against me from that road as if telling me not to go down this street. Pushing my fear aside, I force myself to walk in that direction.
I don’t know how long I have been walking for. My legs are beginning to feel numb due to the coldness and my arms are starting to shiver. I wrap my arms around myself, hoping my own body heat would keep me warm. I try to take the same route I could remember from memory, hoping that I’m heading the right direction. However, at times my memory is blank and can’t remember the direction back home. I ultimately had to go with whatever my gut was telling me to do; even though my gut feeling has never been accurate. But I have no other choice.
By the time I reach the street I do remember, I feel relief wash over me knowing that I’m closer to home. The closer I get, I feel my heart beat reaching its normal pace. I wonder if Dad, Lily or even Brian realise that I’m not at home. I wonder if they’re waiting for me, ready to yell at me. I wonder if any of them believe I’m in my bed sleeping like I should be.
Finally, for what felt like hours, I stand on the porch of my new home. None of the lights in the house is on, meaning that everyone is asleep. I grab the spare key hidden in the azalea bush near the porch, and quietly open the door. I close the door behind me, locking it before I walk upstairs. As each step I take, I hear a small squeak.
I bite my lip as the louder the creaks got. By the time I reach the top, I stare at dad and Lily’s bedroom, checking if they woke up. After a few moments of no sign of them awakening, my whole body relaxes. I head to my bedroom, trying as hard as I can to not make any sound. As I place my hand on the doorknob, I felt safe already.
All thoughts about what happened in the past few hours instantly vanished as if they never happened. That all of it was only a dream, a nightmare that I already forgot about. I turn the knob and lightly push the door open. Instead of hearing a small push of air, the door creaks as it slowly opens. I bite the inside of my cheek and feel my heart racing.
I rush into my room without any delay and close the door as silently as possible behind me. I lean against my door, feeling safe. I couldn’t recall what I did or how I got there. I check my analogue clock, desperate to know the date. It’s three o’clock in the morning of the twenty-first of September. I attempt to remember what I’ve done yesterday, but I recall no memories. All memory of the past week is blank from my mind. It feels like I just skipped a whole week of my life. I can’t find any explanation of what has happened that would make sense and I’m not even sure if I want an answer. Did I actually sneak out? Did I sneak out of the house last night? If so, why? Why did I leave? And why did I go to the chapel?
I capture my own reflection from the mirror in the corner of the room and instantly feel my heart drop. Starting from the bottom, I’m barefoot, not wearing anything to protect my feet. I wear my black jeans, dirty and ripped. As I finally reach my favourite white blouse, I almost couldn’t recognise it. It isn’t all white anymore. Near the collar of the blouse is drenched in a dark red liquid. The red appears as if paint slide from my collar towards the centre of my blouse, like an abstract art piece. I stare at the collar, noticing some patches of white but then my eyes reaches my neck.
My neck has a faded red colour to it. There is a dark, thin red line across my neck and my skin surrounding the line appears to look like a bruise. My hand reaches to my neck and feel the roughness of the skin. Instantly, my mind flashes back to the same ceiling of the chapel. However, this time, the view is slightly covered as I see the dark outline of someone’s hand, wearing a black glove, holding onto a metallic knife. As quick as it covers my view, the knife comes down and I feel the blade slide against the skin of my neck.
I gasp, trying to capture as much air as I can. The ceiling of the chapel disappears and my view becomes open to my reflection, holding tightly onto my neck as if I was putting pressure on the wound. The pain from my neck disappears, realising it was only a memory; a memory of my own death.
I died. Yet somehow, I’m still alive.