This could be part of a bigger story, work in progress!
She felt alone. So alone she hugged her arms around her uplifted knees. Her back against the cold steel of the park bench. The sky was grey and white with no hint of bright cheery sunlight breaking through. Matching her mood completely. Her soft brown eyes stared into the distance and though seeing everything, but seeing nothing at the same time. Wind rustled the leaves around her solitary figure. Brown, russet, gold, red, orange. The only colours that Nature provided at this time of year. What was she doing here? At this time? Out in the cold? All alone. Her grey clothing helped her to blend into the surroundings. Something she had wanted to do for a very long time. To disappear from humanity. To have the ground swallow her hole. From now on, forever be a shadow to those she walks past. A silent still being, passing by. A chill snaked its way down her collar. Shivering she draw herself even closer into a comforting ball. Nothing could calm the quell of emotions roiling in her stomach, her heart, her mind. It was if she had been tossed into a stormy sea with no life jacket, no lifeboat in sight. Short wisps of hair flicked out from beneath her hat. The hat providing the only colour on her slim small figure. Deep turquoise.
The bench provided no wind barrier. Much like life had not provided one. More to the fact that people hadn’t sheltered her, helped her when she had most needed it. Betrayed. Shunned. Abused.
Her life rolled around her head like images from a silent movie. No sound. Just pictures and words projected onto the screen of her memory.
Sun, warmth, golden light. Brown skin, laughter, happiness. Family. Connections. Friends. Once upon a time she was desired, wanted, treasured, desirable. Talkative. Full of dreams and propositions, and achievements. – a map-sized sheet of white paper blue-tacked to the wall. Writing, photographs, drawings dotted the canvas sheet. Goals made long-ago. Those achieved celebrated through italics, coloured pens, and a snapshot of the eventful day. Many spaces were still left to be filled. Half of the page.
The first smile crossed her face at this memory. In the space of time it had taken her to fill half her page, most others would only have filled a quarter or less.
Her smile slowly faded. Her page stopped filling up with achieved goals. Her colourful pens and art work lay scattered in a drawer. Gathering dust. Who knew how long it had been since the last goal had been marked and celebrated? Only a select few. Too long ago. Or so it felt.
The wind pulled at her scarf. Small wind tunnels forming, leaves whirling. The stern harsh cold contrasted heavily with the warmth and tranquillity of her dreams. Memories that were starting to fade. The sharpness and focus of each image blurring as though the cameraman had purposefully made it so. Yet there was no cameraman. This wasn’t take 2. It wasn’t something she could escape from just by leaving the set. The set was real. It was her life.
Rocky beaches. Black beaches. Gold beaches. Sand stretching for miles. Bright blue oceans in front. Wild entanglement of vivid green trees behind. Running along the wet sand, holding a cricket bat. Beach cricket. All the rage.
Again, that faint soft smile.
Laughter, shouting, teasing. Frowns, cries, frustration. Her side was losing. Streaks of competitiveness coursing through her body as she took the bat. Ready. Eye on the ball. Face to the wind. Smack. It was the turn of the game.
Her eyes searched and searched for the other faces in her picture. She could see them, just shapes, silhouettes.
She slumped back against the bench back. Memories were too difficult. Too difficult to remember. Too difficult to process. Too difficult to acknowledge ever existing. Some were too strange to allow her to fit in. Yes, her page filled up quickly because of them. She lived on the outskirts of friendship circles because of them. No one understood her dreams, her passions, her goals, her pursuits. People were safer, content to stay in their bubble of unawareness.
People didn’t get her. People didn’t like her. She was sure of it. False lies. False rumours. Things she had done. Things she had been accused of. Things people wanted to assume in order to make themselves seem more righteous. Hypocrites. She had read a big book somewhere that mentioned hypocrisy as being a sin. A sin? What was a sin? How did you commit a sin? What was hypocrisy? Why was it such a bad thing? It was one way of saying I’m better than you, because I don’t do the things you do. I am righteous git. You’re a good-for-nothing slut.
These were the voices. Maybe fantasy. Maybe real. These days it was hard distinguishing between the two.
Was there anyone out there who really cared?
The face of her mum. Her brothers. Her grandparents. Deep down she knew that they wanted to know how she was feeling. Why was she upset? Why was she losing her grip on reality? Why was she slowly sinking into the mire of despondency and leaving no trace, no emotion, no feeling? It was like hands were waiting to pull a treasure from out of a swamp, to stop it from disappearing forever. But the treasure didn’t want to be found. It wanted to remain hidden.
Then one more face. A face that brought more memories, along with a wave of tears. Her best friend. Feelings of happiness. Sadness. Joy. Fear. Love. Depression.
There was love. On both sides. Beaming smiles. Starry eyes. Cherished moments.
When did it all end? Or did it?
She was showered with love. No waking moment would pass by without a simple ‘I love you’. And it was returned. ‘Forever and always’ she said.
The girl on the bench blinked. Then nothing. Her mind snapped back to reality, to the wind picking up its speed and whipping around and through her. She shivered. Somewhere in the back of her mind, a thought came. “Lazy wind.” She whispered. Her friend once told her that when it feels like the wind can fly right through you, it’s called lazy wind. The wind ain’t got time for going around things. She stood up, took one more glance at her surroundings, and walked off into the city. It was the dawning of a new evening.
Copyright Olivia Cousins (2012/15)