“Where is my family?!”
“You’ll never find them!” The woman yelled as she grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the house. “You won’t even remember them.”
I stared at the ceiling as a freezing wave embraced my body. The haze would be over soon like every other morning and the nightmarish dream will fade into dust as day shines through my window.
I count down from five slowly as the brightness of the day enters my bedroom. It’s boldness lifts my spirits and washes away the doubt of not belonging. The chorus of the birds drifts in as steady ocean waves, only their melody is dancing. In a moment the tune can fly so high and resettle, an auditory version of how they play upon wing. I move towards it, feeling a strong need to have the light watch over me. I reach out with my hand and lean on the white gloss frame, noticing the subtle pattern on the glass of raindrops that came and dried. I smiled softly showing my dimples and thought how perfect this scene is.
I stretched my arms and dressed as quickly as I could. I started my daily routine of saying good morning to the mother of this house and the other residents. I walked with my heart throbbing along to the bird’s music and parroted good mornings around me. My smile started to slip as if someone was pulling it down. I had no reason to be upset in this perfect life.
I was on the very brink of knowing all that is possible to know, but the barrier of impending doom held it at bay. For the briefest of moments, I knew precisely who I was, I remembered my family who these people took, yet could never be certain until the event. Who was I? Why was I here? Had I fallen like one of my loved ones? Had I been born into the land of forgetfulness, and to die as a false woman?
But like always the cold feeling disappears as fast it arrives, and I smile to comfort the others. I’m okay, I repeat, and it comforts them. While I wonder, is there anything else I can say?
I pick up a basket and go out to the garden again. There was a routine to be followed in this perfect life. I had to swallow the burning acid down my throat that hinted that this is not where I am meant to be. This feeling wasn’t part of the program. So, I skipped happily, and I hummed with the birds, who sounded tired of repeating their songs. I hummed as loud as I could to drown out my raging heartbeat screaming at me to leave. It begged with every shake to my rib cage to remember the family waiting for me and that these people I lived with were the enemy.
I hummed as the birdsongs floated around me, promising a false freedom. It’s notes never written as steps taught to overtake my legs. Each sound-bouncer came as a sculpture, one that can only come from a soul born free, never tainted by the cruelty of a cage. It’s why I loved hearing it every day at the same time! It always cleared up the mist in my vision.
The cold feeling crashed into me as I noticed the silence that crept up. This was wrong. There’s always a song playing. It only stops when I reach the house, like every other day.
“Every other day,” I whisper as the earth shook and my vision blurred, giving enough time for the scene around me to warp and change. Terror crept up slowly from my toes to my brain taunting me with pieces of the truth that I couldn’t grasp. It whispered for me to follow the path of bones and dead leaves that lead me straight back to the house and to that man. It faded into the twilight promising to relish in the agony of its victims.
I stepped backwards, dropping the basket as the haze of doubt and fear slammed into me. This was wrong. This path is supposed to be perfect. This was not right. A glint of light behind me caught my attention and I stare, anticipation making my fingers twitch. A bird with grievous red eyes and ink stained wings, seemed to float towards me with the swift movement of its wings. I watched, swallowing the need to scream and ignoring the agonizing pain that laced my body that tried to remind me I’m trapped. It landed on a tree and turned its gaze behind me where the house was. I followed its gaze and felt the creature boring it’s eyes at me as if it knew that I wouldn’t leave this dark place.
I turn towards the thing and stare at its eyes. I tried to always ignore the doubt or the soft voices encouraging me to leave this so-called perfect life and to find where I truly belong in this world. It wasn’t what I was supposed to do in this perfect life. But as I continued to stare, I couldn’t ignore the truth laid before me.
I realized an option was given to me. Stay and listen to the beautiful songs of birds that deep-down hint at loneliness or choose the raven that only promises darkness and despair, stepping stones to reach freedom.
(Image Credits: Diana Wing So – https://unsplash.com/photos/i6lhZENduVE)