Aflame-d

Nothing could have prepared me for what I had to do next. I ran into the woods and towards the soccer field, running uphill with only the vaguest sense of direction. In the dark, fallen branches and moss-covered rocks appeared. There was a fuliginous fog thick in the air giving an eerie feeling.

An omen of what was to come.

I tripped and fell repeatedly and worried but I have never felt so sure of doing something before, not ever since the accident. I ran. I ran like I had golden shoes.

Five minutes later, I was crouched behind the trees fifty feet from the soccer field. My heart thumped like a techno drum-beat.

The plan? Simple. Light and run.

It lit with a sizzle that reminded me of every July Fourth spent with her. I was mesmerised. The pooping started. The fireworks bangbangbang in sync with my heartbeat. When the firecrackers finished, I heard, “STOP OR I’LL CALL THE POLICE!”

I mentally cursed. I should have ran before the firecrackers ended. Regrettably, the distraction had failed. I doubled my speed, my heartbeat that of someone suffering from asphyxia. I avoided the brightly lit areas, moving zigzag, wishing that the overweight security guard would not catch up with me.

I finally reached the stairway. Taking two steps at a time, I traveled to the third floor science lab. As foreseen, the doors to the lab were locked. The fire extinguisher near the lab aided me in breaking in.

Upon entering, my nostrils were attacked by the fetid lab. I walked straight in, passing through the labyrinth of cabinets with bottles of chemicals to turn on the gas chamber.

I walked to a table bent down, took a Bunsen burner from the cabinet, connected it to the gas pipe and turned it on. The flames came alive and I was instantaneously hypnotised. I chortled and then came the waterworks.

The addiction began exactly a year ago today after I drove my best friend into a truck that had jackknifed. I was in the thousand -yard state of intoxication, we both were, but common sense had flew through the window when I entered the car turning me namby-pamby. She fell into a deep slumber to the highway’s monotonous lullaby while my right-side burnt.

For a year now, I have failed to comprehend my survival. I think of her every moment and see her in my dreams, the exact identical dream each night. Her weight falls dead on me, crushing my chest, stealing my breath, and she is cold and wet, like melting ice. Her head is split in half and a pink – gray sludge oozes from the fracture in her skull and drips down my face, and she reeks of formaldehyde and rotting meat.

Guilt, cold wrenching guilt had formed deep in my heart, thus the need for warmth.

Thus the need to finish the job.

I walked back to the cabinet full of chemical, picked bottles labelled with ethanol and splashed them around the lab. I got another bottle this time labelled methanol and watered myself with it. With a hand full of wooden splints and the Bunsen burner, the science lab is aflamed.

I laid on the table in the middle of the lab and waited for the fire to engulf me. Second thoughts began to leak into my head but I did not move an inch. As I watched the ceiling, I played back the accident, replaying how I killed someone and lost half myself in the span of seconds.

Footsteps and shouting resonated through the corridor as I had begun to lose consciousness but it was too late.

At least, I hoped I would have been dragged out to sea by the undertow before they arrived.

“Whether or not you believe in Fate comes down to one thing: who you blame when something goes wrong. Do you think it’s your fault – that if you’d tried better, or worked harder, it wouldn’t happen? Or do you just chalk it up to circumstance? I know people who’ll hear about the people who died, and will say it was God’s will. I know people who’ll say it was bad luck. And then there’s my personal favourite: They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then again, you could say the same thing about me, couldn’t you?”
– Nineteen Minutes, Jodi Picoult

At The Crossroads

‘Where are you going to go?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘How long are you going to take?’

‘I don’t know.’

The worry in Mother’s eyes was beginning to affect me. It was evident she did not appreciate my lack of answers but I had no answer that would ease her worry.

‘What do you know then?’

‘I know that I am going for a drive and that I shall come back when I am ready to.’

‘Please stay safe and keep in touch every hour.’

I nodded as a reply and walked out the front door. Mother was not one bit willing to let me go but she was aware that I needed a breath from everything.

I walked to the garage, took 3 bottles of fuel, a blanket, the stack of cash I had saved, some clean clothes and began my trip to nowhere. The large green fields slowly turned to large trees and the urban houses turned to large high rises. The familiar strawberry scent in the air was long gone and replaced with a strawberry ash mixed scent. The light blue sky was turning into a gloomy grey one, a great representation of my feelings.

I was not surprised that i had unknowingly driven myself to the city. All my life, I knew that I was meant for it. At night, I would stare at the ceiling pretending that it was the city and would hear it softly but surely calling out to me. Sometimes, I would stare really hard, reality easily faded away.

The only reason why I, such an independent, strong-headed, smart lady stayed in a place that did not go in sync with the rhythm of my heartbeat was because he had stolen my heart. He also happened to be the reason I was moving with no destination on a fast lane. Tom and I knew each other ever since we were in diapers. Our Mothers were best friends and nothing less was expected of us. We did everything together and shared everything. The flowers of our friendship soon blossomed to romance and we soon became the envy of all our friends. This later extended to the whole school. We were prom queen and king, we were voted best couple for all our years in high school and we were voted most expected to get married. I did not care for the fame, I was simply happy being with Tom.

After we graduated, he took me on a surprise road trip to the city. His destination was a mesmerising water-body which went two ways. He had stumbled upon it and knew that I would love such a unique place was nicknamed the crossroads and became a symbol of our love.

A few days ago, the promise was broken, shattered into unrecognisable pieces when I found Tom cheating. It is funny how one can know someone their whole life yet not know them at all. When I found out, I did not shed a single tear, not even a single drop. I had simply returned the ring and left.

Now, I find myself back at the crossroads.

I would be lying if I said I was not hurt but I would also be lying if I said I was surprised. Life is everything but a fairytale and when everything was going so well, I knew somewhere along the line, there would be a problem. It just happened to be a much bigger problem than I ever imagined.

Gazing at the crossroads, I wished for a reset button but none came. My mid-length waves had begun dancing to the melody of the wind before I realised how cold it was. I watched the waves in the water-body hit against each other, creating a beautiful dance. The stars were out when I left the crossroads but immediately when I got into my car and began my drive, I knew it would be my last time here.

My life was going to change and this time I shall be the pilot.

Victoria in Gold

For years, the majestic beauteous painting of Aunt Victoria had hung on our cream walls. It had a large iridescent frame and the painting was made of gold. It was a portrait of Aunt Victoria dressed in an iwis elegant dress. She had no expression but it could easily be mistaken for sadness. Still, she looked very beautiful, a beauty I have longed for, for ages. I had asked the story of how the painting came about multiple times but the topic would always be changed. That was until my dearest Grandmother held me by arms, dragged me to her favourite Victorian styled room, sat me down and began to tell me the story of Victoria in Gold.

In the old days, Aunt Victoria was the finest lady in town. She had long wavy brown hair, a slender figure, pearly white teeth, and an incredulous smile and was beyond voguish. Every woman wanted to be her and every gentleman wanted to marry her. She had many suitor especially young gentlemen from prestigious families but she never fancied them. She treated them like stone on the pavement. They all failed to get her attention except dear Victor.

Victor was an adonis but average nevertheless. His father was a well-known doctor and his mother a caregiver. They led a humble life. He had manners far beyond any royal and a gorgeous smile. He made Victoria feel happy and comfortable in her own skin, something she did not feel often. However, they both knew that they were living a fantasy. They were from far too different classes after all he was a painter with a gardening job at Victoria’s house on the side. They were positive that if their love were to live, they had a tremendous uphill battle to face.

Victor left wonderful paintings week after week addressed to Victoria. They always had a hidden meaning and Victoria could decipher them with just one look. At times, she would laugh upon seeing them and other times she would cry and lock herself up for days at end. Victoria was Victor’s poetry and his pen was his paint brush. Victoria’s parents questioned her about the man sending paintings but she feigned ignorance and they soon became accustomed to the delivery of paintings.

Months passed and Victoria’s room was filled with numerous picturesque paintings. Yet, at the same time, Victoria’s father’s patience was depleting. His greatest wish was to see his only daughter joyfully married. He pleaded with Victoria to find a man she would be blissfully married to but she could not tell him about Victor thus she kept refusing. She did not want him to be rejected before she woke up from the fairy tale love of hers.

For Victoria’s father, days passed like years and he was very aware that his early years were long behind him. He could not take it anymore and thus he got Victoria engaged to one of the finest gentlemen in town. When she heard the news, Victoria uttered “I am not a property in which you may trade for your wish to be fulfilled,” in a calm yet vile
tone.

“This is for your own happiness, you shall be thankful in the future,” replied Victoria’s father in a heartbroken manner.

Just like that, the topic was concluded. Victoria had too much respect to overturn her father’s command or even protest more than she had done which left her torn, as she felt she was betraying her love for Victor.

News spread and Victor heard about the betrayal but he did not say nor do anything until the night before Victoria’s engagement. Days before so, Victoria felt penitent. She believed that Victoria’s silence was punishment for her lack of courage. On the night before her engagement, Victoria received a huge painting from Victor. She took it and flew up the stairs into her quarters with a big smile despite the size of the painting.

That was the last time Victoria was seen smiling. Victoria never woke up the next morning. On her dressing table was a letter worded with ‘I am sorry but I hope you can hang the painting up’. The reason for her death nor how she died was never known, just like the location of Victor. That was the beginning to Aunt Victoria’s gaze upon us from our cream walls.

Grandmother believes that she died because she was love sick.

I, on the other hand, believe that there was something in the painting that only Aunt Victoria could understand.

04/12/15

Hunting Expedition

The dark heavy clouds followed me from Wall Street to, well, nowhere? The sky was my canvas, and painted on it was my mood. I had no plans, just a complicated map, a three-dollar Target compass and a 1960s car. I was tired of making plans, having plans and fulfilling plans. I was tired of being the person described in my job description. So, like your average half-dead, fully drained, dowdy woman, I embarked on an expedition.

Along the highway was a gas station filled with men of inflated egos. Their only prides were grunting vehicles. Their 30kg baggage made it hard for me to enter. The pistol-like stares they shot at me was enough evidence that I was a flower among thorns or better still, a woman in a man-only town. A 3kg of fuel had never felt lighter as I rushed towards my car.

The heavy silence throughout the journey was a constant reminder of how my social life had failed me. There were no buzzing, no twittering, not even a single ‘ring’. When I thought I had found my hero, it was a pop-up of my office schedule—a grim reminder of the life I was running away from. I was tempted to allow my phone a chance at sky-diving.

Once my stomach started grumbling, I realised there was something I could not run away from. Thus, I decided to try my luck at a diner for brunch. Upon entering, I was overwhelmed by a strong aroma. It was as if Vanilla and lemon had a baby. The attitude of the mini-dress that cat-walked towards me with a cup of complimentary coffee unfortunately, was a jarring contrast. Yet nothing was going to distract me from a well-deserved meal: the finger-licking, high-in- calories, honey-glazed waffle and the roasted, perfectly brewed, aromatic coffee took me to Mars and back. It was a miracle how much the taste of coffee could right the wrong of a waitress!

It no longer felt like an expedition to nowhere.

With the windows down as I continued the journey, I smelt the salt in the air before my eyes laid upon the water body. It made me speed with zealousness. Upon exiting the car, I was welcomed by passionate winds which played a melody my mid-length waves fell in sync with. I felt right at home with the sea softly calling out to me.

Rainbow fishes illuminated the vast blue sea and their synchronized movements were evident.

Painted on my canvas was now cerulean. I was on the hunt for the meaning of life and as I stood gazing into the horizon, with my feet sunk into the wet sand, fully embracing the warm kisses from the cool waves, I found it. I knew there and then what it meant to be alive, to be alright and to want to live.

I knew there and then my own unique hunting expedition had become my salvation.