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Today, everything looks dead.
The houses, the streets, the stray dogs, the giggling groups of teenagers, the middle aged men hurrying around with briefcases, the pigeons on the roof, the trolley buses speeding down the road, the mother with her three young children…..everything. Everything is dead.
The buildings and the street are a crumbling wasteland and the people are like wisps of smoke drifting through space and time, their minds unknowing and blissfully ignorant of their reality. A tiny ember lights up briefly in each one as he or she is born and then flicks off as they die. Everyone dies in the end.
Smoke seems to drift away from smoldering ruins, motion is a mere memory preserved in time. Life here means absolutely nothing.
A breeze could blow it all away.
I don’t belong here. I shouldn’t be here, seeing all this. I shouldn’t be in this shadow world. And yet I am. I am here. My senses want to deny what they are seeing, but my mind does not allow it.
Yet, I am not sure if this is reality or not. I don’t think it is. Reality shouldn’t look like this.
I realize the scene is familiar. I am sitting on this bench, where my love kissed me for the first time.
The bench feels real and solid enough-but is it? It looks like vapor.
Even the ground feels real. But is it?
If it were, why does it look so fragile, like glass or like it could evaporate at any moment, like smoke?
I can see a chasm opening beneath my feet….I can feel the hopelessness and despair down there; it’s pulling me down. I would love nothing more than to sink down and embrace it, so that my sobs will rack my body and mind, casting everything else into oblivion.
Oblivion. What a wonderful word.
Why am I here? Why am I here in this shadow world? Perhaps I came to find something. Perhaps I came to find…someone. But why bother? He can’t be here.
A small evil voice whispers hoarsely out of nowhere, “He’s not coming back, doll.”
“What?” I snap at it, my own voice hard and cold, which surprises me. “I promised to wait. He promised to come. He’s coming back. And I’m waiting for him.”
“Right here, doll? Really? On this bench till he comes back, back in 6 years?”
For some reason I want to say yes. I want to stay here forever in the shadow world, frozen in time, till he returns to me. Even though I am so lonely and sad here, I know it’s nothing compared to what it’s like from…where I came from. Reality.
Maybe if I stayed here, I won’t feel the pain so much after a while.
Maybe if I stayed here, I won’t become more damaged than I already am.
Life can’t touch me here.
What would he want me to do? I wonder. But I know.
He would want me to grow and expand, to mature, grow in my understanding of life. My love would want me to laugh and cry, dance and sing, work hard and gain experience; becoming more beautiful and intelligent by the day, become someone who is able to love him unconditionally like he loves me. He would want me to live.
But what is all that anyway? Life has no meaning in this shadow world.
“You know he doesn’t love you, right? You are simply a fascination, a puzzle, something he cannot fix. Your lush body and your pretty words bring him pleasure as well….”
Somehow it caresses my face with its voice. I flinch and pull back sharply.
“Such a beautiful shadow you are too. So intelligent, so very talented in every area. But what does it bring you? Nothing. You are alone. Does anyone love you? Is there anyone there who even cares enough to despise you? No, doll. Nobody loves you.”
I try to strike out, hit it, make it go away, somehow, but it doesn’t. It simply laughs at me.
I turn my cold shadow eyes around for the source, but I can’t see it anywhere. “You’re wrong,” I say, “They do love me.”
“Who? Your family? That boy you are so besotted with? Don’t make laugh.” Its high, hoarse laughter sounds like metal skyscrapers falling down. “Your mother grieves the day you were born, and your father wishes you were a son….and that boy will leave you and forget about everything as soon as he sees a girl with long legs.”
I try to ignore it now, that voice which has no name, and thankfully I find that I can’t hear it anymore.
But it’s little comfort. This shadow world has no sound, and the voice was the only thing I had heard in a long time. Yet, its last taunts linger in my mind.
You are alone….Nobody loves you…He’s never coming back…He doesn’t love you….Nobody loves you doll….You are alone…Nobody loves….
“STOP!!!” I cry out and cover my ears with my hands, heart hammering in my shadow chest.
I want to cry, cry everything out, but find that I can’t do it. So I simply sit, hugging my knees to my chest, trying to find a single logical thought, a single comfort I can cling to. There’s only emptiness.
If I could, I would remain on this bench forever. I would wait and wait until he returns or waste away if he doesn't. But I know I can’t. The mysterious force known as “Life” will go on and I will be torn back to reality at some point or other.
I can’t stay here. I never should have come in the first place. I must return to reality. To life.
A last thought lingers in my mind though. Should I tell all this to my beloved?
I don’t want to.
I don’t want him to know how hard it is to drag myself out of bed every morning because I have no will nor wish nor purpose to live, I don’t want him to know the miserable state of my mind.
Why is my every sentence beginning with the word “I”?
Maybe it’s because I’m a selfish b.itch.
Life for him is unbearable enough as it is. Why make it worse? Who am I to burden him? What right do I have anyway? Yes, I am his love, and I am his best friend. But is that enough?
I bite my lip and look up at the grey, cloud infested sky. It should be raining. Instead, everything is as dry and cold as bone. I don’t want to remember the reason why I should tell him everything. I do anyway.
I promised to tell him everything.
I can’t break my promise no matter how much I think I should, no matter how much I want to, want to protect him from my pain and worry. That would be selfish.
I close my eyes and count to 10. When I open them again, I will be back in reality. I won’t like it. But I know that that is where I belong, and where I must live, like it or not. But that is also where, eventually, I will meet my love again. That last happy thought crosses my mind as I finish counting.