I had never been a fan of reality. Ever since I can remember, I have always preferred absorbing myself in fantastical tales of love and adventure to facing the grim, dull reality of life. I don't know exactly when these thousands of stories joined together, blurring and merging to create Utopia. But it nestles there inside my head, the most marvellous child of magic and creation ever born. It is my paradise; my sanctuary; my heaven. There I flee when life overwhelms me - there I flee when the world is not enough. It seems like it has always been an essential part of my life: as necessary as breathing.
I cannot remember a time when it was not there. It seems inconceivable that I could survive even for a moment without being able to run through lush green fields or sweep through marble halls when I wished to, weaving between intricate pillars and listening to the soft, silken rustle of my gown as I walk. That perfect, wondrous haven must surely have existed before my consciousness for it seems eternal and as ageless as the hills.
He was there too, ever since the beginning. His eyes were always there to fall into: they never had a specific colour, for attempting to pin down anything in Utopia with certainty was a guaranteed way to slip away from it. But I know that they were as fathomless as oceans and had a greater capacity for love than could ever exist in a real person. I wondered if he too had a world in his head, if even perfection was not enough to satisfy him. Certainly anything could be possible behind those bottomless eyes.
I suppose the love of this utopian man had kept me from relationships in reality, but it hardly bothered me. I had no interest in normal guys: how could anyone human rival someone that was so brilliantly flawless? They were unimportant, inferior - they were not men, not as he was. They were relegated to 'guys', too superficial and unthinking to ever earn the title of a 'man'. I was blinded to their affections by his radiance - often meaning I would jerk out of my world with the sudden realisation that I was the object of their affection. I found myself being kissed once, hardly knowing I got there - an awkward situation at the best of times, and only worsened by the sudden arrival of his fiancée. I'd never known anyone surpass a wolf in ferocity - but if anyone could do it, she could.
I barely got out of that situation with my hair still attached to my head and had spent most of the months since avoiding her like the plague. As with the plague, however, it was inevitable that sometime or another I was going to run into her again.
She spotted me just as I was waiting for a clear patch to cross the road. Like an eagle homing in on its prey, she prowled over to me, tossing her dark hair as she did so.
"Who let the dog back in?" she sneered, running her eyes up and down my gangly frame with obvious derision.
"I don't know, but I could let you out again, if you like." I replied, trying to keep a serene expression despite the sudden increase of my heartbeat.
Her eyes narrowed and she took a step forward so that her loathsome face was inches from mine. "I thought I told you, slut," she spat, mocking giving way to open hostility, "That if I ever saw your disgusting face around here again, I'd rip it off."
This was enough to send me flying into my sanctuary. My mind leapt away from those cold, cold eyes - like chips of stone - and into the warm embrace of Utopia. I didn't need her spite, I didn't need her cruelty. I didn't have to listen to it with anything other than vague acceptance that she was indeed hurling insults at me. I was too busy dancing about the fire, white dress and long, glossy hair flying about me. The air thrummed with the power of a thousand souls, each absorbed in the smooth movement of their bodies: all save one. I saw his form through the glow of the flame. The smile spread across my face before I even realised it, and my wings spread from my shoulders, feathery and magnificent, as they could only in Utopia.
"Well, I'd hate to spoil your fun, but I've got to go." I heard myself saying, back in reality. "Sorry about that. See you around, maybe." I continued without the faintest hint of sincerity. I stepped out, off of the pavement and away from her.
With great beats of my wings, I flew towards him. A smile stretched across his face, eyes sparkling with genuine pleasure. I could scarcely think of a thing other than that all I wished for was now to be in his arms.
Her eyes widened, just for a split second. For once she is looking at me with something like concern, but it hardly registers, because now I am soaring. My hands are inches from him. If I were to extend my arms even slightly I should touch his skin.
I didn't see it. Barely even felt it; one and a half tons of metal crashing into me with the force of a herd of elephants yet all I saw was him, those lean arms stretching out to embrace me as I stepped forward. His doting expression didn't change as I was thrown violently sideways. As I hit the road again with a crunch, all I saw was him smiling at me in the loving way I had become so accustomed to.
"Stop it!" I wanted to scream, "Don't just stare! Help me!"
But I couldn't. My mouth would not obey - or if it did, the only sound to come out was a distorted moan of pain.
"Why are you standing there? Help! Please, just do something!"
I was surrounded. I remember a man, his face white with shock and his hands frantically gesturing. He was talking to me, I thought. Yes, he was definitely talking to me, but I couldn't hear a word of it. And there she was too, the usual malice in her face replaced with horror, eyes brimming with salty liquid. Her mouth moved though she didn't make a sound either.
My Utopian finally moved. He walked towards me, his expression still the same. His hands remained at his side, his pace was leisurely.
I felt tears falling from the corners of my eyes, trickling down towards my temples from my position on my back. Why wasn't he helping me? If he loved me, he would help. He loved me, didn't he?
But no. No, he didn't. How could he, when he existed only in the depths of my own imagination? As he neared, I saw for the first time his translucency. The shape of his body wavered and pulsed in and out of sight. My belief in him waned and so too did his face. Even as the men and women in their white uniforms and thin gloves rushed about me, my eyes remained fixed there on his disappearing figure. By the time I had been lifted into their van with its characteristic green and yellow checked pattern, there was nothing there but air.
Suddenly, I realised there was no point in the rise and fall of my chest. There was no need for the rapidity of the thumping organ inside of me. I could not live in reality, I could not survive without my inner sanctuary. But neither could I conjure up any flower-flecked fields or mountainous landscapes around me. The column lined halls of white marble and deep caverns with their crystal pools were lost and I could not find my way to them. I had always lived with the reassurance that should I ever fall, my world would be there to catch me, a divine safety net.
But it was not. It was imaginary, it was useless and stupid. Suddenly I was there, but now I was tugging out great clumps of grass, smashing the columns to jagged fragments with only my fists. I wanted to destroy, I wanted to burn this world to ashes - no, I needed to. If I did not raze it to the ground then it would forever lurk there, a murky reminder of the fool I had been.
All too soon it was over and I stood surrounded by rubble, the shattered remains of my dreams and desires. Somewhere far off people were working frantically. There was a buzzing sound and then there was something on my chest, ripping through it to my heart. I fell to my knees. Over and over it happened, and each time my heart gave a feeble thump. But then it stopped. I felt myself falling, falling further and further. I twisted and turned, desperate for something to clutch onto.
And then - nothing.