A/N: This is a very short, short story that I wrote last year, and I thought I'd just put it up here. It's one of those pieces you look at and go, "wow, I'm actually not terrible!" I've read this so many times, and every time I compare to my old writing like, "oh look, this is so descriptive," or "oh my god, I can picture this in my head, I've done it!" I'm just very, very proud of it, and I hope that someone out there that's reading it likes it too and isn't in a perpetual state of confusion, wondering as to what the heck this story's about. That's all, happy reading!
Beep! The loud, blaring sound of a car horn honking in the distance causes her to jump right out of her skin. She looks around to see if anyone on the busy street noticed, and lets out a sigh of relief when she realizes that they hadn't. She keeps walking along the sidewalk, sweat dripping from her forehead as if it were rain and she was the cloud.
Why is the human body so weak? she wonders. The blazing heat of the sun didn't even make her feel hot. It simply caused a disgusting, salty, water-like substance to dampen her hair to such an extent that it looked like she had just gotten out of the shower.
Doesn't the color black absorb heat? she thinks glancing down at her torn black dress. She remembers reading about it in the few books that she could manage to find thrown away or steal from her sister. Father did this to me on purpose, she thinks bitterly, he couldn't possibly stand to see me happy. He couldn't stand to see any of his children happy unless they did exactly as they were told.
As she keeps walking straight on ahead, a loud car horn beeps again, frightening her to no end. Why is everything so loud here?! she wonders, trying really hard not to scream at the top of her lungs.
The car is inches away from her, its tires screeching on the road as it comes to a halt. "Hey, what do you think you're doing?!" a man shouts at her, popping his head out through his car window.
She's at a loss for words, unsure as to what she should say. What had she done wrong? She was simply walking down the street like everyone else.
"You have to wait for the signal to change you moron!" someone else shouts at her. And that's when she looks from side to side, and notices that there's a group of people standing on either side, staring at her as if she was the strangest little creature that they'd ever seen. They weren't moving, it's like they're all waiting for the same thing to happen. She sees them all looking at something other than her, and follows their gaze until her eyes land on a signal. There are two parts of the signal; the top part has a picture of a hand, flashing a bright, red-orange light. Just then, the signal changes, and now it's the bottom part, with a picture of a person walking, flashing a bright, white light.
The minute that little person on the signal started flashing its light, everyone on either side of the sidewalk had started walking.
Is this some strange ritual that I've never heard of or read about? she thinks, feeling perpetually confused.
"Jesus Christ! You'd think she's never crossed the street before," an elderly woman mumbles as she walks by the poor confused soul standing in the middle of the road, pulling her trolley filled to the brim with groceries behind her. She remains quiet and follows the crowd. Once she has safely crossed the street, she walks into a secluded alley, making sure that no one had followed her.
A smile adorns her face, her mind finding comfort in the lonely atmosphere. But that smile disappears from her face just as soon as it had appeared, right when she set her sights upon the brick wall in front of her. She doesn't even have a shadow, of course she finds comfort in loneliness even though she shouldn't! Loneliness was the very thing that she'd come here to get away from, after all. She'd been in the dark for too long, it was time to come out into the light. Even if the light was annoyingly bright and dreadfully cheerful. She gathers her thoughts and heads out the alley, intending to find a place to eat.
She had been walking for what feels like hours, until something finally catches her eye; a huge sign that reads 'University Bar & Grille.' This place should be good, she decides, it's filled with people. She walks into the crowded restaurant, looking for a place to sit. She finally sets her eyes upon an empty barstool, and she decides to go over there and sit down. She picks up a menu; there are so many things to choose from, all of them with strange names, none of which she'd ever gotten the chance to try herself.
"Can I get you something?" she hears someone say, causing her head to bolt up.
"Um… well, what do you have?" she asks, stuttering because this was the first time that she'd actually spoken to someone other than her father or her siblings.
"We have iced tea, coffee, beer if you show me your ID, you name it!" the waitress tells her. Except all she heard was blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.
"I'll have a glass of water," she says, closing her menu and setting it aside. The waitress looks at her strangely but then catches herself, smiling brightly and perkily saying, "Coming right up!" before walking away.
Minutes pass, and she starts to get bored. She swings her legs up and down, hoping that the action could manage to keep her awake. It doesn't help. Her eyelids feel heavy and she is on the verge of falling asleep when a tap on her shoulder startles her, jolting her awake.
"Whoa, hey, sorry!" exclaims the guy who had just tapped her, throwing his arms up in the air as he sits down on the empty barstool next to her.
"It's fine," she says, taking a deep breath, trying to calm herself down.
"Are you new here?" the guy asks her.
"Something like that, yeah," she tells him, trying not to give away too much information.
"Cool, are you a freshman or…" he trails off, waiting for her to fill in the blanks.
"A- a what?" she asks, unsure as to what he was talking about.
"Never mind. I just wanted to tell you that there's a party at my fraternity, and I think that you should come."
"Your what?" she asks, wondering if this guy was speaking a whole other language.
The guy lets out a frustrated sigh and writes something down on a cocktail napkin. "Just show up at this address at around midnight," he says, before leaving in a hurry. She stares at the cocktail napkin, looking down at what was written. Parties are good. Parties are fun. Or, so she'd heard. While her siblings were allowed to go out, her father never let her attend a single party. Well, looks she's finally going to get to go to her first party, and there's nothing that her father could do about it. She just needs to ask someone what the heck was written on this napkin.
After asking three different people what was written on the cocktail napkin, she had finally reached a house, booming with dance music and equipped with flashing lights. She walks into the house, with the first thing on her mind being to go find the guy who invited her there in the first place. But in a room this crowded, it would be impossible. She decides that it could wait, that she should enjoy herself first, and then look for the strange, possibly foreign guy.
The music was loud, so loud that she was surprised that people's eardrums weren't bleeding! People were squished together, as if they were all one giant, house-size human being. No matter where she stepped, her flimsy ballet slippers were soaked with whatever alcoholic beverages were being served. Why would people even waste money on these things if all they're going to do is break them? she wonders, unable to understand the concept of throwing around beer bottles, knowing that they were going to break in the end.
Soon, it all became too much for her to handle. The noise, the lights, the people… the wet shoes that if were to be wrung, could potentially fill up an entire glass. She can't take it anymore, it was just too much. She starts to look around, her eyes filling with worry. She had to get out! She makes her waythrough the crowd, trying to find a way out. Doors, windows… all blocked. She was trapped.
This was a bad idea. A really, really bad idea!
Her eyes search for something, anything! A table to hide under, a closet to hide in, even a hole in wall that she could crawl into and never come out of would do. And then she saw it; there were stairs leading to the upstairs bedrooms, and if she ran at the speed of light right this minute, she could beat the crowd. She zooms past the dancing college kids, dodging the couple practically lying down on the stairs as they made out.
She lets out a sigh of relief as she enters a pitch black room. She locks the door behind her, wanting to get away from everything, and everyone. She slowly slides down to the floor, the thin material of her dress unable to shield her from the freezing cold floor. She brings her knees to her chest, resting her forehead on them, hoping to block out the sound of whatever bubblegum pop song they had playing. Soon, the light pitter patter of rain drowns out the music booming downstairs. Thunder and lightning join in, finally giving her a sense of peace and serenity, soothing her nerves.
It was all too much for her; the bright lights, the loud music, the crowds of people… all within a small, confined room. Hundreds of people, sweaty and squished together in a room like sardines in a can.
"Why did I ever think that this would turn out to be okay?" she wonders out loud. "Me, out of everyone else, me at a crowded place, a party, trying to socialize with people. Father always said people were awful little cretins, that I was better off at home. Alone and surrounded by darkness. Like I am right now. Like I was at home."
The word 'home' triggered an alarm in her head. Red lights started flashing, sirens were buzzing… all because of one, stupid word: home. She didn't want to go home and live under her father's thumb, she couldn't, she wouldn't, no, no way! She'd worked so hard to get here in the first place, she can't let all of that go down the drain after just one day. She can't give up now, she knows she can do better. "It's only the first day," she assures herself. "First days are always bad. It'll get better." She's not going home, not now, not ever.
She kicks off her disgusting shoes, if you could even call them that at this point, and notices something strange. There was a shard of glass, probably from one of the beer bottles, stuck in her foot. She removes and thinks, Guess that's one thing I should be grateful for… the ability to not feel anything, to not feel pain. Lack of pain and shadows were just part of who she is, the latter of which she doesn't enjoy, but maybe that'll change.
She gets up, the cold floor feeling amazing beneath her bare feet as she walks over to the window, staring up at the moon, the one source of light that doesn't cause her to run and hide. She basks in the glory of the moon, a smile forming on her face. It was a little blue and white ball of subtle, calming light that helped people to find their ways in the night. She liked the moon, she liked the stars, she liked nighttime in general. She liked this darkness that surrounds her, that consumes her! Even if she didn't want it to. She misses it, but she shouldn't. Does she miss the home, the overbearing father and the 'always shines brighter than the sun' sister that came along with it? Hell no! But her father was right about one thing; she couldn't do it. She couldn't live among regular people, she could barely even manage to stay at a party for more than twenty minutes. Her father knew she'd come crawling back to him, so he set her up for failure by letting her go. He's right. She can't stay away from the darkness, it was a part of her - heck, it was all of her! That's it. Her father had won. Just like he knew he would.
"Take me home," she whispers, willing tears to stream down her face… but they don't. She's sad but she can't cry. And she hates it.
She looks at the window in front of her, and sees her reflection… except it wasn't her reflection. Whereas she was a mess - dark tangled hair, dark torn dress, all brought together by her dark, dark facial expression - her reflection was perfect in every way possible - light perfect hair, not a strand out of place, light airy dress that was primp and proper, all put together with a light, not bright like the one that waitress had, smile. That wasn't her reflection staring back at her, oh no. It was her sister.
She places a hand on the glass window, and her sister does the same. Their fingers intertwine, as if the glass was merely air between them and not a solid object, and her sister says, "Hello Darkness, my old friend."