Of all the things on Earth, your mind is the one thing you can never escape from. Like a swallow trapped in a cage, it remains in your head throughout life and death. It is your constant companion. Who needs friends, or family, or acquaintances of any type for(more) that matter, when you have your mind to rely on? It was with this thought that I'd taken flight, quite literally, on a plane to God knows where.
On the first night, I'd sat smoking on a park bench, my bags piled beside me. I was lonely yet jubilant. Solitude and happiness were much the same thing, or so I had thought.
As the weeks crept by, the leaves fell from the trees; the snow fell from the heavens and I fell victim to the greatest torment anyone could ever face. I had woke, one bitter evening, bewildered and irrepressible, my fists flailing. With no target for my violence in the empty park, I took my wrath to the street, aiming my punches at the wall. I hollered and cursed, my shouts amplified by the emptiness of my surroundings.
Sometime later, I sat in the back of the car, my bleeding hand in cuffs. They asked for my name. I'm an honest man, I would have told them if I'd have known, but it seemed that my final friend and my only companion had abandoned me. I tried to gather my thoughts, only to find that each one slipped away, like sand filtering through one's fingers. No longer human, I had nothing more to live for. I had achieved the impossible, and escaped my own mind. (less)
Amelie looked with apprehension at the battered white bureau. Since moving to the little market town a couple of miles west of Nice, it had stayed locked in the corner of the spare room, crammed with old treasures and the odd skeleton.
(more) She reached for the brass handle. A clear out was long overdue, and Amelie needed the extra money. With the economy at an all time low, the business wasn't doing as well as it had been. She planned to sell her old outfits to a couple of the vintage boutiques in town.
She reached into the depths of the bureau, her hands brushing against a myriad of different textures m, from rich velvets to light silks. In the farthest corner, Amelie spotted a kitsch floral print. Although speckled with moth holes, the cheap cotton held a thousand memories in every fold.
It had been Amelie's favourite dress, a sixteenth birthday present from her grandmother. The material had always been slightly faded, and the pattern was far too busy to ever be considered elegant, yet it was the only garment she had ever felt beautiful wearing. The black bodice framed her fair skin, the roses on the skirt brought out the colour in her cheeks.
Amelie smiled fondly as she hung the dress back up. She remembered their first date; his bashfulness when he complimented her. She had blushed and waved it away. Later that night, they had ran through the cobbled backstreets of Paris, hand in hand. When wind caught her dress, she had noticed the dainty print almost glowing in the moonlight.
She closed the bureau and turned to leave. On the landing hung a framed photograph. A young man stood in a garden, his arm around the waist of a girl in a rose print dress. (less)
She walks home, dropping a penny for every street she passes. I'm intrigued by her: she's a stranger, a total outcast. She doesn't belong in the neighborhood.
I'm a couple of yards behind her now, but she's oblivious. There's something sprightly in the way she walks. I've neve(more)r seen anyone so carefree. It's almost as if she's never had a worry, but I suspect otherwise. Nevertheless, life won't get her down anytime soon.
She saunters past Orchard Street, and surely enough, drops yet another penny. The fifth today. The other four are tucked away safely in my pocket. They'll go towards the donations I've been collecting for Anxiety UK, although she'll never know that.
As I bend down to pick up the penny, she turns. She's startlingly beautiful. Her one eye is of the darkest hazel, and the other the colour of a milky opal. Both are framed by sweeping lashes. Her hair is tied messily into a long plait, which snakes it's way down her shoulders, tracing the curves of her body. Her mismatched eyes meet mine, and she grins. It's an honest grin, a grin of pure happiness. In an instant, she's gone, her summer dress billowing behind her in the breeze as she skips away. Somehow I know that we'll never meet again. (less)
The crowd press in on me. Families chatter away. To my side, a young woman talks excitedly to her boyfriend.
'Last year, the display was absolutely breathtaking. Lasted for almost two hours, and each firework was different, would you believe it?'
Out of the corner of m(more)y eye, I notice a child, perched on her father's shoulders. Her beaming smile reveals the dimples in her glowing cheeks.
Everybody here is with somebody else, sharing the experience with their nearest and dearest, forging memories to cherish for the remainder of their lives. Never have I felt so out of place.
As the first rocket shoots into the velvet sky, a gasp ripples through the crowd. Fingers point, eyes glint at the spectacle. A tear runs gently down my cheek. It lingers on my chin, as if waiting for the incentive to fall. Above, the sky is an chaotic explosion of rich crimson and gold, yet my eyes are not focused skyward. I am staring deeply into the puddle beneath my feet, which my tears fall into at a steadily increasing pace.
The whole situation was completely inexplicable, and even now I struggle to think about it without acquiring a sharp headache. Of all the people in the world, it still astonishes me that it was you, all along. I remember that overcast Tuesday evening by the bay as if it(more) were yesterday.
'If I ever find myself burdened with worries,' you had once told me, 'I throw them out to sea, a message in a bottle. It's the only thing that helps.'
Three years later, I found myself stood at the water's edge, watching a perfume bottle float on the tide. Inside, a tiny scrap of paper, on which I had scribbled:
'Forgiveness came too late; I am destined to be without you. And so my life crumbles slowly away, yet I shall not resist. Life without you is simply not worth living. - RW'
9500 miles, three oceans, and 7 days later, you found it. It was nothing short of a miracle. After a further 28 hours spent searching frantically for my contact details, you reached me. I can't even begin to describe the joy of hearing your voice at the end of the receiver. If you had rung one minute later, I never would have had that joy.
As the swallows sing from the branches of the cherry tree, my feet trace the cracks in the pavement. I should be looking where I'm going, but I'm not. Instead, I study the litter, tossed aside by passersby. The empty Coke can, crushed under the feet of a couple(more) strolling towards the park; a carrier bag, rustling gently in the summer wind. Today, even rubbish seems to possess beauty. In fact, I can't recall a day as perfect as this one. I wander the streets, letting my mind lead me onwards. I hope with all my heart that this day lives up to my expectations, and in such a beautiful place, I don't think it will take much doing. And the best part is that I have no idea where I am. (less)