The Place Promised in our Early Days


sunshine, spring, tree, blooms

By Paul Coleman

The normal weekend house party had arrived. I attended the party alone as I normal did. But I wasn’t bothered about my arrival; I knew that Katie would be there. I hope tonight that we would finally kiss. The house was full to the brim with students, many of them already drunk. Our student life is so simple, drink until we can’t feel anymore. I made my way through the crowd, all the time feeling I was being observed. I reached across the room and grabbed a beer. The taste is so vile. But I like it; I’m accustomed to the taste.

In this room of people, I had never felt alone. I couldn’t even see Katie. After drinking several cans, I began to lean on the kitchen cupboards. Gently someone grab my hand and pulled me through the crowd. I could only make out a hazy outline of the person in front. Soon I was dragged into a bedroom, the lights flared up and as my eyesight adjusted I realised who had been dragging me.

‘Kara?’

‘Surprise!’

‘What are you doing here?’

‘Something told me you were feeling lonely and nervous so I came to see you, so surprise!’

‘How did you know I would be here? I don’t recall mentioning it to you yesterday at the skate park?’

She ran her soft and smooth fingertips down my stubble laden cheek. It felt nice to feel her touch again; it’s just like a home comfort. I closed my eyes as she pressed her cherry red lips against mine, she still kisses the same as she did the first time. Nice to know some things will never change. The moment started to take hold of us. I ran my hand through her soft hair and swiftly lifted off her t-shirt.

*

“How did you get that bruise?”

“Some boy at school hit me in the eye for standing up to him.”

“You should tell someone if you’re being bullied!”

“I don’t really care. It won’t change anything. One day I’m going to run away to this lakeside beach that I went to when I was five.”

“What does it look like?”

I turned around and looked at her. She was beautiful. Her long brown hair looked like waves when it blew in the wind. That blue dress floated in the breeze. The shadow of the cherry blossom engulfed us. Behind the hill, the sun began to set and the skyline was tainted blood red. I watched her brush the hair off her rosy lips.

“White sands as far as the eye can see. Waves from the lake break gently and can lie in the wake without a care in the world. The area is so quiet, surrounded by a think line of trees; no-one ever knows this place exists. I remember sitting on this wooden pier with my feet in the cool blue water.”

“It sounds so magical”

She walked over to me and wrapped her arms around me. It was the first hug I had ever received.

“I promise one day we’ll go back there together.”

*

The door to the room flew open, two drunken students burst into the room. One was topless, the other pant less. They looked at me, with my arms wrapped around Kara’s waist. Then they started to laugh.

“Du… dude what are you doing to the air?” the topless one blurted

“Yea… like there’s… like no-one there!”

“Oh man, he must be one of them fucking weirdo’s who thinks he’s got someone when he hasn’t.”

Confused I searched the room to see where Kara had gone. But she was no where to be found. Distress began to reign. Kara had vanished in front of my eyes. I barged past the drunken students and locked myself in the bathroom. I collapsed in a heap onto the floor. Outside I could hear the drunken students laugh about what had just transpired.

“Why are you upset?”

I looked up. Kara had reappeared again. She was fully dressed as if nothing had happened in the last five minutes.

“Oh god, I’m so fucked up!”

“Come with me… You won’t feel that way anymore if you come with me!”

“Where do you want me to go?” I asked as I stood. The reflection in the bathroom mirror showed me and me alone. Strange that in the corner of my eye I could see a girl I thought I knew for the entire of my teenage years that can disappear on a whim. Her touch had felt so real in that bedroom.

“You told me once that you had a place you wanted to see, I can take you there. You won’t ever have to be mocked by people like that again and you won’t feel pain anymore.”

I paused and thought of the beach I had drawn in mind. The first conversation Kara and I had under the Cherry Blossom. The place promised in our early days.

“Ok.” My voice was shuddering and sounded so faint.

“Wonderful, all you have to do is slit your wrist.”

“I can’t… I can’t kill myself”

“Look, I love you. I want to take you to where you want to be. Do you want to be with me?”

I felt the touch of her lips again before I answered anything. The taste of her lips was so enticing like a spell was cast over me. I reached across the cream wash basin and retrieved the razor blade. One last time I looked into the mirror to see nothing staring back at me. Gently I rested the point of the blade above the vein on my wrist. I took a deep breath. Millions of thoughts flashed through my mind at once. I began to move the blade away from the vein until Kara’s arms wrapped around me. She was so warm; I felt comfort whenever I’m with her. In my ear she whispered the words “do it!”

With one swift movement I pushed the blade into my wrist and drove it down to my hand. The blade fell into the sink as the cut on my wrist erupted with blood. A jet of blood sprayed across the walls. I cried out in pain as I fell to my knees. A pool began to form around me as the wound wept more blood out. It seemed so inviting to lay in it, as if the warmth I felt with Kara was there in the blood pool. Seconds later, I allowed myself to fall into the pool as my eyes began to feel heavy. I began to laugh hysterically. My eyelids blocked out the light from the room, and eventually the sound of own my laughter faded away.

*

I could hear the sound of sirens and numerous voices cried out my name. My eyesight was so hazy I couldn’t make anyone out. I turned my head slightly and saw Kara once again shrouded in a white glow like an angel. The warmth of the glow beckoned me to follow her, alike the pool of blood. Once more I closed my eyes.

*

My relationship with Kara has been turbulent to say the least, but we are good friends now. I had left for university to get some freedom in my life. Kara says she’s going to commute to the same university for her psychology lectures. It’s rare that I see her these days. But I’ve felt ok about it because I can’t always rely on her.

I sat on the edge of the half-pipe in the local skate park. My worn black skateboard rested behind me. The local boarders surfed across the humps in the park. As I observed them I took another long drag on my cigarette. The smoke I had blown back danced around on the spring breeze. All around me were drawings and phrases sprayed on the concrete with vibrant coloured spray paint. The artwork of a generation raised in a country of class differences and racial inequality.

I flicked the butt of the cigarette into the grass near the half pipe and picked up my board. Within seconds I was surfing the sides of the half pipe without any care in the world. In a sudden moment I plummeted down the concrete curve without my board.  The skin on my elbow scrapped across the concrete and felt like it had caught on fire. As my body halted, my board rolled past me. I rolled over and inspected my elbow to see the extent of the damage. Blood leaked from underneath the torn and burnt skin.

“You know one day you’re going to get so hurt hat I’m never going be able to take you back to that lakeside beach!”

I brushed part of my fringe away from my eyes. Kara stood at the edge of the half pipe.

“Yeah, well… I went out in style.”

“In so much style you ended up fucking up your elbow.”

“It’ll be fine; I’ll bandage it when I get home.”

“How are your housemates?”

“Alright I guess. I just think that they don’t like me as much as they like each other.”

*

Warmth

I feel the warmth again. It engulfs me like it did when I closed my eyes for the first time. Slowly I opened my eyes and felt the pain of the sunshine burning a hole in my retinas. It was like I’ve never truly used my eyes and this was the first time I had woken up. In the background I could hear the soothing break of waves gently crashing onto the beach. When my eyes had finally adjusted to the light, I turn my head to the left and saw her lying next to me. Kara looked at me and smiled that wondrous smile. We sat up and I looked at the world that she had brought to me. It was the tranquil beach I had always longed to find. Across the lake was the wooden pier. All the trees that I remembered surrounded the beach. We had arrived in the place promised in our early days.

“All I felt in that world was pain, but here I don’t really feel anything anymore.”

“That’s because here all emotions are removed when you fully succumb to this world so no-one can be hurt. It’s your perfect world.”

“Did you ever really exist when I was in that old world? Or were you a ghost?”

“I existed in your mind for when you needed some comfort or support. All of the memories you have of me are unique to you.”

In my left hand I grasped some of the sand and I stared at it on my palm. It felt so real. I watched the tiny grains fall through the cracks in my hand and disappear into the soft breeze. In my eyes I felt tears gathering fast. Slowly I curled up and began to cry. The tears fell from my eyes and into the sand like the first raindrops of a summer storm.

“None of this is real is it? This lake isn’t real! I’m dead aren’t I?”

“Please just relax in this world; you shouldn’t try to feel anything on the Beach. You offered your body back to the Water. Let it take you.”

“The Water?”

“Everything that lives originated from the Water. A life stream if you would prefer. And when people die, there bodies may decay but there immortal image will return to the life stream.”

“I don’t understand why I’m here.”

“You were alone. So I brought you here where you can be with me. Like we promised under the Cherry Blossom.”

“But I never was truly alone…”

“Then why did you let me take your life. Was it this illusion? This fantasy? The longing to be with someone who cared?”

“Liar! You never cared. You just didn’t want me to have friends besides you”

I launched myself at Kara and pinned her down by her neck. This rage only made my hands tighten around her neck. Her eyes turned bloodshot and her pupils dilated as I squeezed the last breathe of air from her body.

“Are you… rejecting this… gift?” she mumbled. I loosened my grip and began to cry once again. Tears splashed on her soft face. I struggled to see through my watering eyes, but in the mist I could make out Katie’s face. This image brought a smile to my face.

“I met so many good people in that world… and I want to see them again, I want to see her again. I know that the love I felt for her was the one thing that I know to be true in the world and I want the chance to tell her that. I just wish that I could see them one more time, even if it’s just for a minute, because when I’m with them I feel happy and no longer alone.”

“Then open your eyes. Open them for the first time, if you feel that is where you want to be.”

“Are you sure?”

“Don’t worry my love. Everyone can return to life just as long as they can picture themselves back into that reality.”

“But what if I can’t see myself there?”

“Then you will become whoever or whatever you picture yourself as.”

Slowly we both stood up and I looked over the glistening red sea. I walked into the wake with Kara and let the waves break against my feet. As the waves broke, Kara began to disappear into thin air. I observed her body blow away in little cherry blossom leaves. She held out her arm and I felt the warm touch of her fingertips brush against my cheek for one last time. Her wondrous smile emerged on her lips as the last pieces of her blew away into the wind.

“Goodbye… my love” I whispered and then I closed my eyes. As held out my arms, I saw the face of the one I wanted to be with. I took one final breath whilst falling backwards willingly into the Water.

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