The flutter of youth sat stationary for a moment upon her crease brow. The walls accelerated past at a pace that which her innocence would evaporate. Bleakness and dark creatures roamed the outside of the carriage and the inside of her eyelids. Formulating a dystopia, the faces transformed from Italian masked play figures to creatures of the night that she had once met in the dark escape of sleep. Shadow beings and side profiles of rugged and abrasive males and slender, dainty females magnified, stretched and curved over the concave surface of her retina, the space she inhabited was filled with creatures only moving out of the light could bring into focus. She leaned her head back onto the metal of the carriage and let the vibration from the acceleration suck any reminisce of humanity from the caricature that reminded her of the void beyond the physical. She was in the vacuum and they were waiting for her, showing her the way to surpass all the suffering and the harshness that bit at her ankles and at her neck like mosquitoes in the jungle. The night air through the opened window was warm, damp and wafted in smells of fried fatty foods and strong synthetic aftershave that drowned out the stark realness of human stench. The culmination of free thought brought with it the shroud of uncertainty and opened the trap door of confusion; uneasiness paved the very floor she stood upon. The glittery, sticky vinyl floor of the carriage reminded her of cling wrap plastic, holding within its confines the leftovers, the unrested, the psychotic and the bewildered. She stood lamenting although nothing could move as fast as the blood through her veins that propelled the thoughts of evaporating into nothingness, into the very marrow of her bones and across the blood brain barrier into her fabrics, into her movements, into her breath.
She stepped neatly onto the platform and whirled her bag over her petite shoulder, the sun casting its last rays over the metal caterpillars that crawled at a pace of casualty and indifference. She looked away without giving thought to the cold pang pressing down in her stomach, knotting and kneading her rumination into the lining of her stomach. She was directionless in the very heart of her hometown, all directions pointed north and all directions went to nowhere. What’s the point of having direction when there’s really no destination to reach? The sky was washed with a light pink that extenuated the reserved darkness that nestled around, beneath and within the snow globe of her world. A silver lining she thought, the silhouettes of the trees made them sit like guardians and ponder like onlookers, her friends, her family. She clung to the images of the light streaks in the sky, non-threatening and fading. The cusp was where she liked to tread, standing behind the yellow metro line that was the definitive. The darkness was her padding, her buffer, she felt comfortable there, where the mystery could conceal the details and just show her form, her essence, no distraction, no deviance…
A message popped up onto her phone screen and her train of thought was severed. It read, “Where are you?” She closed her phone screen to shut off the brightness as if to erase all traces of the message from her memory. She trod over the butter-grass and green nature strip, taking long paces to feel the spongy surface beneath her feet. She strode out another twelve paces before placing her oversized bag gently onto the dry earth. She turned her phone off. She surveyed the area, taking pause to notice the stillness of the street and the emergence of a newfound privacy sitting in the garden. A sense of timelessness wafted as the pink turned to orange, melting into abstract shapes dotted through the gaps of the tops of houses. A brief moment of time in colour, she thought.
She took a seat and proceeded to sprawl her body over the short rough grass that inhabited all nature strips in the land of her city. She could feel the prickle through her linen dress and the scratch upon her exposed legs, like the grass was greeting her. She scanned the contents of her mind, her room she liked to call it and took a deep breath. She felt stretched out large enough to fill her entire suburb and what worried her was that she would never be able to regain her shape again. Elastic can only be pulled so far before it loses its retractability.
The movement of her chest, the pattern of survival, became her entire world, consumed by it she withdrew to join those faces again that smiled at her and welcomed her in, luring her with their wide grins and free flowing, effortless movements. She felt the muscles in her neck stiffen and a sharp pain began to propagate through her spinal erector muscles. She was closing in on herself, the oceans collided within her skull, jumping off the lifeboat she had fought so hard to locate and keep afloat. The waves accept their demolition, she heard herself chanting, her mantra of peace that seemed to make the internal beating she was taking to be necessary, to be expected, to be deserved.
His footsteps sounded like a tentative shuffle, hurried and disjointed propulsion that halted only centimeters away from her face. She was roused by its cessation, sitting up in a daze, she felt she had been pulled from the depths of a deep restful sleep and to be inundated by confrontation was overwhelming. But she could feel warmth that came with a feeling of familiarity emanating from him that calmed her. They were both reduced to feeling, a feeling of amity that permeated stone like the rays of sun after a harsh winter and cast arrows straight through her and her armor. He was bare and they were silent, he saw her in all her formless forms and she did too. The last rays of sunlight allowed her to see he was wearing cream cargo pants, the ones that unzip at the knee, a navy ripped tee- shirt and a bottle green bomber jacket that did not seem to bear a label. His short brown hair appeared to be tied back, the smoothness of his skin shone like gold in the dancing rays and the universe was so kind as to not let her see his eyes. Her heartbeat slowed for the first time all-day and there was stillness, liquid peace gushing like spring rain from the pores of his skin. He offered her a nod and articulated something along the lines of what a lovely evening, she did not hear him properly to remember. The gushing sound of tires turning on bitumen cut through the daze like scissors on paper and she tore a page out of her internal diary and cast it into the wind. He was there still, lingering, she could feel it, even long after he was taken by the darkness. The line had been severed and she was a helium balloon in her snow globe, adrift between the sky and the ground. She did not know if she had had her eyes closed or open the entire time.
Words by Ariane Virgona.