Chapter 7:

...flash before my eyes

I watched Life Spring into my eyes

Slowly I slipped...further and further into a void. A cold and emptiness that one could never logically comprehend. I slipped past a glob of light that drizzled light down to a frail creature reaching for it. I fell past slits of sunlight that seemed to rip into a mint world; another vermin crawling towards the hazel light to inspect its delicate radiance.Bookmark here

I continued to fall into what logically would be called down. But here, there was nothing like that. All around me cascades of various moments slipped in and out of view, each picturesque moment getting darker and darker; the golden light the vermin sought slowly losing its radiance.Bookmark here

I tried to contort my face in disgust but I...I just couldn’t feel the muscles that allowed me the luxury. I felt no mouth, nor eyelids fluttering against the wafting wind rushing me downward. All I could do was objectively watch as folds of countless lightless worlds shuttered by, it was almost as if I had been flipping through a photo album of something's life.Bookmark here

I noticed that in each frame something minimal or grand would be different, it varied from how much space other people or objects filled, to the actions and poses the matter in each frame held. But one thing persisted, that disgusting vermin. Though I was shrouded in darkness, it felt that each time I saw it I could just tell the origin of all this. All of this darkness within each picture and this world was due to that creature's existence. Bookmark here

The vermin lacked appendages of any sort and seemed to slither closely to the hinges of each frame, seeming as though it wanted to leak from the frame and inhabit more space. Bookmark here

The sight of it alone made my chest heave, this allowed for a slit in the blankness of my face to form. Puffs of angered air escaped from the created lips.Bookmark here

It was hungry for more of the world and wanted to stain more of existence with its disgusting parasitic nature. It angered me, its faceless mockery. The fact that it was the only animated creature within each frame. Bookmark here

The fact that it spoiled each of these beautiful dreams I could have had, everyone...that everyone around me could have had. Bookmark here

The frames stopped flying by and my descent came to a halt. A flatness stretched under my laying body, it felt as hard as concrete. I sat up from my horizontally flat position on this platform of nothingness and looked around. Bookmark here

I turned to look behind but found nothing.Bookmark here

I turned back and suddenly there was a grey flatness almost like one of the frames but much larger, before me. The only way to tell that there was such an object before me, was from the distinct grey hue it held similar to that of an unpowered box television.Bookmark here

I looked right then left. I tried to speak but only blood spilled from the slits of my lips. Something within my neck began to form, and tighten. Bookmark here

Then voice ruptured into the nothingness.Bookmark here

“W-what the hell is this?” I was able to say into the abyss of this world.Bookmark here

The words reverberated like lonely stones clanking in a hollow cave.Bookmark here

Silence resumed once the darkness absorbed all sound.Bookmark here

This is me.Bookmark here

A serpentine-like voice said beside me, then behind me. Then before me. From everywhere the words whispered and slithered their way into me. The sound bounced against the emptiness of my head allowing for a heavy mass to form--a brain--in the pit of my head. The sound having somewhere to go, slipped through the folds in a repetitive pattern, in and out in and out. I grabbed the top of my head in great agony, and then all noise ceased, just like when I tried to speak.Bookmark here

A dripping sound began to emerge from what seemed like my left-hand side. My head slowly turned to face it. Bookmark here

Beside me, it lay, the same dark vermin as before. But something was different, something about it or something about me was different. I didn’t feel anger, fear, or animosity towards the repulsive creature beside me. I felt nothing at that moment. The creature didn't seem to want to move either...even though it had escaped those futile stayed.Bookmark here

It's like it found the place it had wanted to go all along.Bookmark here

“This is me,” it said again. Once the words slithered from its ghost-like being and into the vacancy of this world the vermin transformed...and took my exact shape. My same skin tone, hair...everything. It became me.Bookmark here

“Wh-what?” I said shocked, confused, and downright stupefied.Bookmark here

“This is me,” it repeated, the words resounding in the same pitch as my voice.Bookmark here

“What are you?” was the only logical question I could conjure.Bookmark here

“You,” it replied in a calm tone. The slight bounce of the whiting hair on his head and the clearly outlined jaw allowed me to really see myself. The bony figure and pale skin seated in the dark seemed more human-like than I ever thought I was. It was a puzzling view, I never saw myself speak or really ever looked at myself.Bookmark here

I reached my hand out and grabbed its arm. “I am me, you’re just a cheap imitation made from...from god knows where!”Bookmark here

“Perhaps...or perhaps you are just a cheap imitation made from god knows where.” The words flowed from it so articulately and soothing. I felt like it was already being a better me. This disgusting amalgamation could be a better me than I ever was within just a fraction of what? Two minutes?Bookmark here

“But...” I just couldn’t find the words. I couldn’t resist even if I knew it in my very soul that I was the real me. I couldn’t put into words, what justified that I was me.Bookmark here

“Observe,It said, and its imitation of my frail body clad in shorts and a t-shirt turned to face the large frame before us. It came alive. Unlike any of the other slides of dreams, this image was animated. It was within a white room, a room that seemed annoyingly familiar. The object capturing the image was positioned well enough for the whole room to be seen, a bed with plastic railings and a bunch of machinery with a sprinkle of chairs resided around the bed. Then a door directly opposite me. It wore a dusky-brown wood riddled with synthetic rings and a metal door handle.Bookmark here

“What am I looking at? What the hell are you, what the hell is all of this?” I cried out, “WHAT IS ANY OF THIS?” I roared as I stood up, every ounce of my being wanting to tear everything to shreds and find something or someone I could find reason in. Mom Ariana...anything even a damn rose petal. But my mind rested in monotone peace. My mind felt eerily detached from my body. All of my feelings were suddenly quelled and bottled up like I never experienced them or had reason to and soon enough I was calm again.Bookmark here

I stared at the creature and saw myself. It looked back at me with an expressionless face and uneventful eyes that bore the same look as lightless headlights; it makes you think, what drives you to continue even though the light has expired.Bookmark here

“You’ve been here countless times.” Each movement from its lips and face were calculated and calm, none in excess. “It frightens you that you meet yourself, just as I am frightened to have met you” It spoke quickly, not allowing me time to interject or retort. Bookmark here

“I, like you, know nothing of this place nor my existence. I, like you, have wandered aimlessly through this void in hopes to understand and find meaning in it all. I, like you, want to see something other than this darkness.”Bookmark here

Each word hammered into me, each sentence made me reflect on the exact moments I have thought the same thoughts or felt the same feelings. Bookmark here

To understand myself in this world and why I was born this way; weak and pathetic.Bookmark here

To walk through streets alone, without any friends, and to just observe the beauty of the world alone. With nobody to reciprocate my feelings or enlightenment.Bookmark here

The desire to be freed from the hastily approaching nothingness.Bookmark here

“I...see,” I said solemnly and dropped my gaze, fixating them on my hands which now drew before me. The creases in my palms forming as I watched. Bookmark here

“It’s like you disappear if you don’t use it”Bookmark here

“It’s like you disappear if you don’t use it”Bookmark here

We said together. My head, now perking up to look at it. Its face--my face--seemed softer, almost like a creature burdened by a task imposed on it. Bookmark here

“I have lost my form over the many times I have danced through those frames. First I lost my appendages and my body, then my face. I had no reason to speak. I had no reason to exist.”Bookmark here

“I reason.”Bookmark here

“The only times I regained my former body, which is the one we inhabit. Is when you dreamt far off dreams of death or up until recently idealistic love, or when you underwent comas. Like the one now.”Bookmark here

“Coma?” I interjected, cutting him off before he could say another word. “I know I’ve been in comas before but not now, right now is just a dream. I literally just dropped off Ariana. You don’t know what you’re saying.” my tone picking up an angered pace again.Bookmark here

“You don-”Bookmark here

The frame behind me made a loud unlatching noise, and the door from within the frame slowly opened. A female nurse clad in teal stepped in then to the side allowing someone inside. Two figures stepped in. Mom and Ariana. They walked slowly as they sniffled slightly, their paced footsteps becoming slower as they approached almost as if wanting but not wanting to meet the frame.Bookmark here

Mom held Ariana closely, almost guiding her as they smiled with tears riddling their pained faces.Bookmark here

My eyes began to throb and a knot in my throat ached. It hurt me deeply to see them like that.Bookmark here

“Hey Theo it’s us, Ariana came to visit with me again.” Mom said in a low voice while chuckling and then sniffling. A slight glimmer of hope dancing in the hairs of their eyelids. “Are you finally awake my dear?”Bookmark here

“I’m sorry mam, but he hasn’t awoken just yet. He just only opened his eyes in a sort of reflexive manner.” the nurse said quickly as she apologized, exited the room, and closed the door behind her.Bookmark here

The faint glimmer ceased its frolicking, and their tears...their tears rushed on and on. They hugged each other as they wailed and caressed my seemingly vegetative body.Bookmark here

“This can't be real, NO! no no no no,” I muttered in repetition to myself. My knees buckled and I fell onto them. I couldn’t cry, I wanted to, I wanted the saltiness of tears to clear away this sight. But I couldn’t cry. I could only scream and so I did. I screamed along with my mother and Ariana. Bookmark here

The only thing separating us was a world one could never really comprehend...almost like being at the edge of the universe about to fall into the pit void of reality as you know it.Bookmark here

I could hear the droplets growing closer to me again, this time he took the same position and mimicked everything I did. But he didn’t scream.Bookmark here

“I’ve wanted to cry as well, but you wouldn’t let us. Don’t you think it’s ok now?” His words flowed so profoundly, it made me realize that even at this moment I was withholding my tears and pain. Bookmark here

Even when nobody but myself was present, I lied to myself and bottled it all in.Bookmark here

I relinquished my screaming, looked over to myself, and nodded.Bookmark here

“It’s ok to cry now.” The tears flowed angrily from their affixed glands as we stared at each other. Bookmark here

We cried alone within the darkness of our mind and watched the world pass by through the frame. Days drew into weeks and weeks fled into months, then months cocooned into years.Bookmark here

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Bookmark here

Both mom and Ari didn’t miss a single day of visiting me, they always came together and also left together, sometimes a handful of relatives would drop by along with mom. It surprised me every time I saw Ari, I didn’t think she would come by to meet someone like me who was in such a pathetic state or better yet someone she barely even knew. Maybe she just continued to blame herself for this. But that didn't matter, what mattered is that she came and still cried for me even a year after slipping into a coma.Bookmark here

Each day we--me and my innate self--would just simply sit before the grand frame and lay waiting. We didn’t need to eat or sleep or laugh or speak. We just existed without existing.Bookmark here

*click* the metal latch of the door reverberated through the room. We stared at the opening in the room as the small latch turned and in came Ari, “thank you” she said with a half-smile towards the male nurse behind her, to which he nodded and closed the door behind her. Bookmark here

“Hey, Theo.” She started and drew a chair right beside the bed.Bookmark here

“Crazy day today, I just started my senior year and I still have no friends.” She laughed quietly.Bookmark here

She dragged her right hand to the top of my head, I couldn’t see it but I could slightly feel it. It wasn’t like the normal sensation felt in the physical body but more like an interconnected feeling of seeing something and then thinking to yourself how it might feel, then your brain trying its best to emulate it. Bookmark here

“Most of the girls hate me because they think I want to be better than them or something, and all of the guys just see me as meat.” She sighed softly as she lowered her head and rested her chin on the plastic railing beside me. The hand that had been touching my hair now lingered towards my forearm where she slightly caressed it for a bit and then to my hand where she gently intertwined our fingers. Bookmark here

A tear rolled down her eye “I’m so sorry,” she said with a glassy and pained voice.Bookmark here

Beads of tears began to form in our eyes as we watched Ari through the frame.Bookmark here

She sniffled and began again. “School doesn't matter, either way, I just wanted to try it out. But it turned out just as I hoped it wouldn’t.” Bookmark here

She inhaled deeply and then let out a gust of breath that sent ripples along the white sheets covering my body.Bookmark here

“I wasn’t going to ever tell you about my past but, if it helps you wake up then I would have at least helped you someway.” Her free hand dragged a tissue across her eyes to blot the tears.Bookmark here

“Alright so..." She cleared her throat aggressively almost as if she was mustering strength for the chaos that edged nearer. Bookmark here

"I don’t know who my actual parents were but I do know a sort of mother figure, a woman that adopted me at the age of ten. Up until the age of ten I had been in an orphanage, I don’t really remember much about those days besides actually feeling like I fit in for the first and only time.”Bookmark here

“When I was adopted, it was by a single woman named Rachel Malwhi. She never allowed me to call her anything besides Ms. Malwhi. She was strict and would beat me for not doing as told or cleaning the house enough, and if I didn’t cry from the beating she would just starve me for a day or two.”Bookmark here

She forced herself to clear her throat.Bookmark here

“B-but I would try my best to escape that by using an old laptop she had. She allowed me to use sometimes if I had finished everything I was told to do.” Bookmark here

“I found a different world on that computer. An escape from this unwanted world.” Her voice grew a bit tense.Bookmark here

“I would start to make live streams of me singing or trying to play an instrument, at first it started with famous pop songs that I knew the language of but then as my following grew I would just leave it up to the followers recommendations. I enjoyed the fame and fun for a while, but I did this in secret. I would always make sure to not exceed a certain volume so as not to alert Ms. Mawhi because I didn't know how she would react towards this."Bookmark here

"But then she found out. I just happened to get a bit more excited that day and sang a bit too loud. This caused her to rush to the room where the laptop was and discover what was going on. She didn't care for an explanation she just told me to turn off "whatever the hell it was" and as soon as she confirmed it was off she began to beat me."Bookmark here

"She only stopped after a while from fatigue and wanting to inspect the computer. When she went to look on the computer after leaving me bloodied and bruised, she saw what I had been doing from all the previous videos on the channel, and then she realized that people had been donating money. She saw an opportunity to strike big and took it."Bookmark here

"I was forced to continue, even doing and wearing stuff I didn’t want to.”Bookmark here

“I ended up becoming extremely famous after a Japanese company recruited me for virtual concerts. I found solace in the fact that she wouldn’t beat me anymore and so I thought I could be happy with it all.”Bookmark here

“But then all of a sudden Ms.Malwhi up and died. Out of nowhere, she had a stroke and I was left alone."Bookmark here

"I was happy she died, as wrong as that sounds. I felt liberated."Bookmark here

"I felt like things could finally start going my way, and since I was basically making my own means of living I was allowed to be my own guardian. I thought I could finally really experience all of life like never before.” Bookmark here

“But then again I was just a chip to be used. My managers set inhumane amounts of shows without asking me. But they just knew I would smile it off.”Bookmark here

“I became really depressed and suicidal.”Bookmark here

“Then my fans started to point out my lack of enthusiasm and began to bash me online. All my social media pages were riddled with hate comments. I was even harassed leaving one of my in-person concerts.”Bookmark here

Tears finally began to give way.Bookmark here

“So I ran away when I could, in hopes to end it all. I planned to do it on the day I went to the park but...I met you.”Bookmark here

The tears intensified and began to pound against my vegetative hand.Bookmark here

“Thank you for helping me at that ridiculously named ice cream shop.”Bookmark here

We gave crying laughs from behind the frame and so did she from the other side.Bookmark here

Her hand tightened against mine. “You really saved me at that park and at that ice-cream shop. Even if all we’ve done so far is talk and even if we only had met for two days.”Bookmark here

“You and your mother are the only people who have ever treated me like I was a person. Thank you. Thank you for running for me even though you were in such critical condition.”Bookmark here

She leaned in and placed a kiss on my cheek.Bookmark here

I couldn't fathom the words that erupted from her mouth and formulated into the story of her past. I...I don't think that words could ever console somebody who's been through so much. All I wanted was to soften her presence, and after hearing her story. I just wanted to hold her until the world crumbled. If only I wasn't half dead and watching the world through my comatose eyes.Bookmark here

From behind the frame, we stared at the plastered light in the darkness and bathed in the emotions pouring in. Emotions I could almost physically touch. I closed my eyes and touched my cheek--my inner self followed. I wished dearly for anything to get across, for any slight movement of my arms, legs, or body to happen. I wished dearly for her feelings to be returned.Bookmark here

But nothing happened, not a single muscle could move. I was basically already dead after all.Bookmark here

The only sound for a while was the rhythmic beep of the EKG. Then her absence.Bookmark here

Ari smiled softly towards me, and after one good look, she got up and left the room for the day.Bookmark here

We sat there, unmoving. Each day breaking me more and more. Making me desire life more and moreBookmark here

“We can never truly prepare ourselves for death”Bookmark here

“ we can’t. I thought I was finally over this horrible ending.”Bookmark here

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Bookmark here

We continued to sit and stare but it was light at night and nobody was going to come by not even the nurses. So I decided to break the silence and ask.Bookmark here

“Why is it all like this now, and why don’t I remember being here?” I inquired pointlessly. Every fiber of this bodiless body feeling empty.Bookmark here

“I’ve inhabited our mind for all of our existence. Like a shadow, I believe I am a part of you that we call the subconscious and you are the conscious. I only ever slip out when you let me get control. Sleep or unconsciousness is where YOU cease it.”Bookmark here

When he spoke he spoke in a sophisticatedly calm manner, it felt like that me was so much more enlightened than the current me even though we were of the same mind...Bookmark here

“ we are just in our purest forms. We are thoughts given shape.” I spoke ambivalently.Bookmark here

“Yes,he replied.Bookmark here

“I know it hurts. To see this all.”Bookmark here

“Yeah. It hurts so badly and I just feel so empty.” I said laying down with a heavy feeling.Bookmark here

The slight dripping sound he made grew louder as he approached me and laid behind me with his back facing mine. The emptiness of his back pressing against the emptiness of my back somehow comforted me.Bookmark here

“In life, you saw day-to-day things like someone walking through a park, having a relationship, or holding their baby. And at night when you let the thoughts and hopes trickle down to my world, it seemed like a pleasant visage that we dreamed about for a moment. But that’s it…we could only dream of it because we could never live that reality. Never.”Bookmark here

His words like waves glazing a beach, filled the loneliness of the sand momentarily then receded into the deep naught of the sea.Bookmark here

Real Aire
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