[TW: Slight mentions of insanity]
[Caution: The following texts will cause you to think deeply, to question everything you know. It will make you remember. The things you recall may not be exactly what you want. Don't be scared of your mind. Let it wander. Your inner child will thank you.]
"Don't you remember?"
"Remember what?" My voice is strikingly cold, bitter like my surroundings. Marble is dusty, the walls are covered in spiderwebs. Creepy little things. As I look around the empty station, something in me isn't very consoled. I should be happy. All I ever wished for was some alone time. The time I couldn't get when someone was asking me to go somewhere that would probably end up with me drunk, or someone else asking for homework help through a fairly rude text. After all, Elizabeth [insert last name], nothing's more meaningful than going to a random party to stalk your mall crush! (note my sarcasm)
I used to be so irritated when someone interrupted my daily listening of music to bother me about my ongoing life. Who cares about university when my headphones are dying? I forget about going shopping, there was so much raw knowledge on the internet. Right? But it was okay. Pre-Cal assignments and biology reports were more important. Everything was important. Urgent. Demanding. Not that I cared, to be honest. Why should I have cared? They said the world would end millions of times, who would believe them this time? I spent my waking and soon to be dying hours on my phone; my laptop; my tablet. I had a dedicated folder to the very drugs of my age.
Facebook (supposedly for old people, but it was funny from time to time. That's all I wanted anyway: some humor to season my flavorless life).
Snapchat (honestly just a pit of developing insecurity and random old guys trying to send me pictures).
YouTube (mainly for aesthetic purposes; who didn't want to learn how to be that girl during SATs?)
And finally... the most addicting ones of all...
Instagram and Twitter!
Both of which were literally just sinkholes of memes and stupidity. Can't blame a girl for finding amusement in it all.
Instagram was like a pool of jokes and cyberbullies and 'outfit inspo <3' and 'cute ways to live your life :))' followed by hurtful and desensitized comments on everything from eyes to toes to lips to fingers. The world's ending? Nah, I still have to see what the celebrities of the world are doing.
Possibly the worst of all.
Twitter was bursting with memes of the news that the world was going to end. Yes, memes.
cant see the future if you don't have one !! <3
whats next? aliens? give it up, nasa.
me watching the tsunami about to kill me from my bedroom window: o_o
they said "this is my year" now look at us, eating beans from the can. cold. lmaoo.
Not 'lmaoo'. Not funny at all. All of these posted by classmates who never could take anything serious. The school was locked down? As long as we could track our Amazon packages, there was no need to worry. Teachers on fire? I better get an A on my English essay. Sorry Mrs. What's-Her-Name!
"That show. The one we used to watch? The main character had purple hair--"
"No, she didn't." I interrupt. I reach into my bag, rummaging for a snack. I've looted more times than I can count. Although it's not considered looting. My parents would scold me. Yelling across the house at me that stealing is bad and they didn't raise a delinquent. Well, they're not here. No one's here. So who really cares? Certainly not me. I'm hungry and alone.
There's no reason to care.
"Yes, she did. It was purple. Violet, really--"
I groan. "Could you shut up? Seriously. Not in the mood for this." My hand gropes around the space and comes up with crumbs. I go back in, ruffling my things with a vengeance. As if the bag senses my agitation, it "magically" produces a protein bar. I pull it out, ripping open the packaging like a wild woman.
There really is no such thing as flavor when the world ends. All I can taste in this protein bar is a couple grams of sugar and salt and maple syrup shoved into a bowl with cashews. Ooh, old chocolate too. Really spices it up.
"That's quite rude. I'll have you know that I'm offering valuable knowledge here."
"That I don't need and don't care about."
"Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed."
"I wish I didn't wake up at all." A poster of some old musical star smiles at me as I pass. She's got golden skin and voluminous curls, the kind of thing teenage girls would die for. Acne was the bane of all of us. Her picture perfect smile has a text bubble attached to it. Come see me perform on Broadway! And then the rest is a gimmick to get people to buy overpriced tickets to be stuffed into seats for three hours and take no pictures. Then again, we all die.
What do you care for memories when you forget everything one day?
"Your mother raised you better."
I don't know my mother anymore. I don't know my father. In actuality, I've forgotten their names, their faces. I don't know them. I used to have pictures, I'm sure, but I threw away my phone so there was no way of me being tracked. Whatever lies out there isn't friendly.
"Could you be quiet? Just for a little bit?" I drag some fake sweetness in my voice. This little voice just doesn't know how to shut up. I find it genuinely annoying. Yet, when it's gone for more than a few moments, I feel different. Lighter maybe?
And then the insanity sets in.
The world doesn't make sense, I feel like an imposter in my own body. And my memories don't make very much sense. The voice makes it all make sense. The voice helps. So I may say shut up, but the voice knows I'm not entirely serious.
or maybe a quarter.
"You know very well that's not true. Now back to the topic at hand."
"No, it was green." I roll my eyes. "I should know. I had green streaks in my hair."
"You mean purple."
"I mean green."
"I'm honestly shocked you remember colors."
"I remember everything."
"Not true. You forgot--"
I immediately go into defense mode while the voice starts yapping.
"Do you think it was another person? Or a rat? Oh, how I despise rats!"
"Shut up!" I snap, drawing the switchblade I've kept on me for months. I slowly inch away from the sound, when another, unfamiliar voice speaks.
"Hello?" It's a child. Maybe a little girl? I don't reply, not pausing my movement. "Hellooo?" She says again in a sing-song voice. She sounds farther away now. Maybe I'm hearing things. No way there's a child here, in Grand Central, several months after the world has supposedly ended.
I jump so far out of my skin that I grow wings and fly. The voice scoffs at me. This is the closest to embarrassment I've felt in seven months.
I'm gasping, heaving in air as I look at her. She's a pretty little girl, the kind that social media would've fawned over. Her skin is a rich medium brown that matches her dark chocolate eyes and her dark curls have a faded streak of purple.
"I told you!" The voice says victoriously. "It was purple!"
"Are you serious? She could just like purple."
Lila raises an eyebrow quizzically. She makes a show of walking around me and looking behind me. "Who are you talking to? Are you crazy?!"
Crazy, crazy girl.
You know that feeling when you say or write a word so many times it looks weird? Or it loses meaning and is just suddenly a bundle of letters? Then you look back, and it makes sense again. That is how I've felt all this time.
Someone has said something about me too many times and suddenly I don't make sense. I have this idiotic voice inside me that maybe me going insane but I'm sure it's someone I used to know. Maybe I'm being haunted? I think I would like it. That being haunted is so cool. That it would never happen to me.
This little girl can see me so clearly.
Goodness. I'm crazy. I hope not. I don't think The Voice likes that. The Voice doesn't find itself crazy. Rather just a little weird. A little bit quirky, The Voice told me when we met.
"No." I manage over my suddenly thick tongue. "I'm not." I survey her again, this bold little girl. She's in a winter coat that looks new. And so do her boots. They are shining with melted snow. There's no way it's new. All the stores in the world were ransacked for clothing the second the actual end of the world hit. Don't know why. They were all going to die anyway.
I heard about it before I threw away my phone.
The Voice cackles. "Ask her why she dyed her hair."
"That's not important right now!" I whisper shout. "I need you to shut your trap."
"That's boring," The Voice pouts. "Why would I do that when I'm literally the reason why you're here?"
I close my eyes and pinch the base of my nose. "Just... shut up."
The station goes quiet.
I blink open my eyes, and find that it's empty. What... I whirl around. "Lila?" She's gone. She's probably playing a game with me. Or maybe I never saw her to begin with. I don't remember. Either way-
Where's The Voice?
My head feels empty. Finally, some peace and quiet. My head is burning, though. I feel a little bit tired, a little bit lost. And I can't seem to remember what I was looking for. It was a... what was I looking for?
I slump to the floor.
A laugh bubbles out of my lips.
I'm going insane. I'm not sure how I know this, not sure at all. But I can feel it. it's a sort of unsettled feeling in my blood, in my bones. I'm not where I'm supposed to be. I'm not who I'm supposed to be. I'm an imposter. I've stolen this from someone and...
I am a lost traveler searching for relief in a world that isn't my own.
or I might just be insane.
I like the former.
The thing about the world ending is that you never know what to expect. They said the world would end in 2012.
They said the world would end in 2020.
Close, but not quite.
They said the world would end in 2056.
Not. Even. Close.
This cycle goes on and on and on. it's how humans work. History repeats itself. But the scientists were right once.
And one time only.
They said the world would end in 3045. This was broadcasted all around the world. There was a virus going around, a new mutation that we couldn't handle, that society would crumble.
Social media had a laugh at that.
The Black Plague was bad, but who cared? We weren't alive then.
Even COVID-19 was bad, but all we had to do was stay inside and that could save the world. So compared to all that, what was another virus?
That's what it was.
It's important that you know: you're not that significant. you're the universe's plaything. Something's not what you remember?
Jokes on you: You don't remember anything. You've been lied to and you don't even know it.
So ignore the misconceptions that you know where you're going in this life, because you don't. Ignore the screams and the laughter and the monsters.
There have never been any monsters. Never any inconveniences or pain or suffering.
Oh, one more thing.
No matter what they tell you,
it's all fake.
Don't you remember?
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Great voice in this piece, young, strong and defiant. Also a well-conjured feeling of losing your mind. Love the premise too!