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Mystery

Much Madness is divinest Sense -

To a discerning Eye -

Much Sense - the starkest Madness -

’Tis the Majority

In this, as all, prevail -

Assent - and you are sane -

Demur - you’re straightway dangerous -

And handled with a Chain -



 -Emily Dickinson

I really thought it would be okay. It’s a lie the human mind tells us to reassure ourselves of positive future, prospering inspiration, and most importantly, joy. It’s a lie necessary to be told in order for the human mind not to go mad.

I’d merrily went along with that lie for the last couple weeks, hiding in my bedroom and rocking back and forth on the tiled bathroom floor

(Everything’s okay, you’re okay, you’ll be just fine, your life will be full of happiness and joy all you need to do is forget about him forget about him forget about him distract yourself it will be okay be o-)

and eating from just the food stored in my kitchen. I don’t think I’ve been outside for days.

It’s very concerning. I’m concerned myself, and I’m the lunatic. Can’t imagine what dear old mom is thinking and what my friends are gossiping about amongst themselves.

I sigh and flop back the velvet covers from my bed, getting up from the darkness, not quite sure whether it’s afternoon or morning or night. The windows have been covered up with blackouts, blotting out all light from the outside world. I remember a poetic paragraph he once spoke to me, when I awoke at four a.m. and watched his gaze sliding over my porcelain face.

“what are you looking at, you oaf?” i question, blinking morning fogginess out of my eyes.

“just you, madam ayana,” he chuckles. i groan and sit up on my elbows, turning my bare body towards him. he stares at me for another minute, taking in my curves and features and my dainty lips.

“why?” i ask, confused. it is early in the morning, so early it can almost be considered night.

“…women are most beautiful when they sleep,” he whispers. i almost want to laugh at this, but something in his voice stops me from mocking him. “they don’t have to struggle against the world, don’t have to scream internally. don’t have to face the mistakes men make and expect them to clean up. they simply exist without poison.”

“where did you learn this, jayden?” i ask gently, pressing an arm onto his shoulder. he barks a bitter chuckle.

“my mother. who else? educated by my father.”

A quartz of stone crystallizes in my throat. His painful past was swallowing him whole before he died. I should have known. I should have know how fed up he was and just how much pain he was going through. That makes it my fault he’s dead.

Tears well in my eyes once more, though it hardly makes a difference. My eyes are already bloodshot red from weeks of crying and the skin around them is crimson and aching. I walk into the living room and see that it is late morning from the dim light protruding from the windows. That’s good, I suppose. It means I’m still on schedule.

Before I know it, I’m wandering to the cabinet next to my television, the television that’s been running day and night for the past weeks. Anything to distract myself, anything to quench my sadness. The cabinet, on the other hand, is a place I haven’t touched in a while. I kept the crumpled sheet of paper kissed with a bloodstain he left me three weeks ago in the oak shelves. Three weeks ago when he left for the bridge with his dripping scarlet wrists and his azure eyes flowing with dewdrops and when he jum-

I blink. The letter is suddenly in my hands. I don’t remember opening the cabinet door, only standing in front of it contemplating. I read it again, willing myself not to cry because if I do I’ll ruin the ink on parchment and he’ll be gone all over again.

Dear Ayana,

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I know you won’t forgive me for this- or yourself, for that matter. This isn’t your fault, it’s mine alone. All the pain my mother’s been through and all the things my father’s done kept trickling back over the time he got out of prison. Only a seven year sentence. Only a seven year sentence for attempting to murder his son and wife. He’s been stealthily pulling my mother’s strings again and she’s fading back into her old ways of becoming a puppet. I can’t take it anymore. And then we kept fighting. And you didn’t know how scared I was. What if I turn into my father? What if the alcohol gets to me? I’ve seen brief traces of my mother in you, and at times, I’ve seen my father in myself. What if I harm our children one day? I don’t need to worry about that if I’m dead. So I think this is for the better, for both of us. I can tell you’re growing fed up of me already. Please. Blame me for all this. Throw my things out of your window. Run over my photographs with your car. Please. I don’t think I could take it knowing I hurt you. Please hate me. It’s for the better. You won’t go through pain and I won’t feel remorse for leaving. I hate myself. I hate myself and it’s stopping me from loving you, even though you are the most wonderful thing that’s happened on this godforsaken planet.

Goodbye, Aya.

-Love, Jayden.

I don’t cry this time. I think I’ve used up all my tears. I trace my shaky fingers over the crisp dried blood crusted onto the bottom right corner of the letter. A piece of him. It almost disgusts me to think this way, but in all technicality, yes, the blood is a piece of him. The letter smells like him, like oranges and flowers and vanilla. I breathe in. I pretend he’s here with me, dancing under the kitchen light.

“come on, aya! dance with me! don’t mope in this tasteless darkness!” he whispers into my ear.

“jayden!” i shout, turning and falling into his arms. he grins into my hair and twirls me to the kitchen, where the lights are on and the stereo is booming.

“here, your favorite song, electric love,” he mumbles, flushing.

“candy… she’s sweet like candy, in my veins,” the speaker hums.

“baby, i’m dying for another taste,” i sing along, lips forming a fragile smile.

“and every night my mind is running ‘round her,” jayden continues, taking my hands.

“thunder’s getting louder, and louder,” we finish together, smiling into each other’s eyes, spinning around the kitchen floor. jayden kisses me as we dance, his lashes fluttering.

“baby, you’re like lightning in a bottle, i can’t let you go now that i got it,” the speaker screams in response. “and all i need is to be struck…

“..By your electric love,” I trill. I’m slapped back into reality. I’m not in the kitchen. The lights are not on. Jayden is gone, gone, gone. I still do not cry.

I make my way into the kitchen, in reality this time, and begin to prepare breakfast, Electric Love by Børns still playing in my head. I keep a hand on the refrigerator door, half expecting Jayden to place a hand on my shoulder and say he’ll make breakfast, don’t worry. I tense up for a moment. The hand does not come. I turn around with a sigh. Nobody.

Again, to the fridge door. I open it this time, making a grab for some bread, but there’s nothing. The fridge is empty. Another sigh. This means I have to go outside.

I return to my bedroom and find a hoodie to wear and some sweatpants that don’t make me look too shabby. I stand in front of the mirror, taking myself in.

My hair’s uncombed, making me look fresh out of the jungle. My eyes are red, so red they almost look like ruby jewels tucked into my eye sockets and half-hidden by my dark hair filing onto my face. I look like a monster.

I suppose I just might be, after all. Another rattly sigh. Sighs seem to be part of my routine nowadays, even when my breath is rancid and my lips are dry as the desert. I stumble down the stairs, muttering curses at how steep they are, and make it to the front door. I’m almost confident in myself to leave, but I can’t. Typical. My hand freezes on the doorknob. If I step out right now, my personal bubble is going to shatter. People are going to look at me like I’m crazy. I am going to have a nervous breakdown in the grocery store and I will be talked about around town. If I don’t step out right now, I am going to starve myself in this pit of abyss and they won’t find me for months. I am going to go mad in this hellhole and I will be locked into an asylum for life.

The choice is harder than it should be. I open the door.

The world is more or less the same. My neighbor’s lawn is still overgrown with wild roses and birds, the tree on my street is still bearing stink flowers, the children still dance in their sprinklers. I walk by all this bursting life because I simply do not believe I can bear to see it without thinking of him.

I walk and walk and walk.

The road to my nearby grocery store is longer than ever, my feet growing sore by the minute. I don’t recall it being this long. My hoodie is sticking against my skin as I walk, sweaty from the late-summer heat. The air itself is thick like heavy cream, settling on my lungs and layering itself in my nostrils. I hate to say it, but my hands are shaky. I thought I was braver than this. I’m a sniveling coward.

The grocery store is still not in sight. I’m slightly perturbed by this, but then I realize I’ve just been walking terribly slow. Like a sloth. I force myself to speed up, my very bones aching. It should have been a Lazy Sunday for me, just like the rest of the town, but it merely feels as if I’m being stifled by the heat and choked by my fears.

I keep walking.

It feels like it’s been hours walking. That’s obviously untrue, but my mind has warped reality into something despicable, almost unrecognizable. I wish I were back in my dark house, weeping over Jayden between ad breaks on the television, eating out of the pantry and sometimes skipping days of meals, keeping my wallet back into my closet so I don’t have to waste mon-

Shit. My wallet. I stop the treacherous walk and frantically check all my pockets. Gone. I must’ve forgotten my wallet back home on the counter. Fuck. I feel like crying. All that walking and cursing myself for nothing. I’ll go back into that house and then I’ll second guess myself and I won’t come back out and I’ll starve myself and no one will find me because no one cares and I’ll turn into a skeleton before my mother comes to check on me and all my friends will forget me until my body’s discovered but they still won’t care and-

I stop that chain of thoughts. I need to de-stress. I start to walk the opposite direction, to the foliage-covered cliffside, where he and I both used to spend our days. Should I go there? …Yes. My vision wavers for a second, a side effect of lost sleep. I blink to clear my eyes from the dark spots, pausing in my footsteps. My head feels a little better after closing my eyes for a minute or two, so I gently open my eyelids again. And then the wavering vision comes back again. Because what I see scares all possible sanity out of me.

I thought he was dead.

I thought he was dead.

I thought he was d e a d.

But no. He’s there, standing in the street, grinning at me as if he’s simply come back from a long walk and come back to kiss me in his arms. My heart beats a mile a minute, echoing in my skull.

I start crying. I can’t decide if I more want this to be a hallucination or if I want him to be real. “Jay… Jayden?” I call out, my voice cracking. I haven’t spoke to anybody in weeks. My voice sounds like sandpaper has caressed the inside of my throat and scraped up and down.

“Hi, Aya,” he replies warmly, his eyes twinkling. He’s dressed for warm weather- the opposite of what I’m dressed like. I suddenly want to rip off my hoodie and bathe in the sunlight with him.

“Are you… even real?” I ask incredulously. He grins and cocks his head to the side, his mop of warm-brown hair falling to the left.

“Why don’t you come and check?” I run, then. I run, ignoring my aching bones and the previous pain of walking, and leap into his arms.

“How are you not dead?” I sob, burying my head into his shoulder.

“They never found a body, did they?” he says, mischief creeping into his voice. I lean back and anger surges into my veins suddenly.

“So it was all a hoax?” I question, my voice about a hundred shades colder than before. His smile is still as poignant as before, though there is something… different about it.

“I can’t get into details.” And then he kisses me, in the light, and it feels like a thousand butterflies have rested on my lips. I forget my earlier anger and settle into his touch, tears streaming down my face all the while. “Come on, Aya, we should go to the cliffside!”

And we run, don’t walk. We run to the cliffside and I yank off my hoodie as we reach there. A breath of fresh air after weeks of living in that stale house with no friends, no family. Jayden studies my figure, his lust a light aroma around his face, drawing his eyes to my chest and my waist. His eyes tell me exactly what we’ll do when we get home. “I missed you Jayden,” I say, my voice soft and willowy. Jayden doesn’t reply. “Jay?”

“Don’t call me that!” he blurts. I’m taken aback, but then realize why he shouted. He flushes. “Sorry, Aya. My father used to…”

“…Call you that. I know. I’m sorry, too.” We sit hand in hand, gazing at the morning clouds miles above the cliffside. Our town’s lucky to have such a sight like this- it draws in tourists often.

“Hey, Ayana, stand up for a second please,” Jayden commands, his eyes locking with mine. I do as he pleases, a little confused. He turns me around so my back is towards the edge of the cliff and gets up himself. His eyes trail over me again, and he reaches out to press a hand on my bra. I inhale sharply, and for a moment, I think he’s going to rip it off. But then, his eyes match mine again, and I realize what was off about his smile.

It was sinister. The smile he smiled was sinister. Jayden’s smile was never like that, and I don’t know what happened. I suddenly want his hands off my intimate parts and start clawing at the wrist. No scars. Not Jayden. “Get off of me!” I shriek, nails digging into soft flesh.

“So you realized? Ha, I thought it would take shorter. You’re awfully gullible,” he sneers, hand moving to my shoulder. I’m suddenly being pushed to the edge of the cliff.

“Get off, get off, GET OFF, GET OFF-!” My scream is cut short from words and melds into guttural nonsense as I fall from the edge of the cliff. “AAAAAAAAAAAAH!”

“Goodbye, Aya. Love, Jayden,” he mocks as I fall towards my death. I suppose my last thought was anger, but that isn’t all.

I don’t think this is real. I don’t think Jayden was ever real. I don’t think the stale house was real. I don’t think the stink flower tree was real. I don’t think the wild roses were real. I don’t think the grocery store was real. I don’t think the cliffside was real.

I realize it was all a facade I made to keep myself company in the concrete asylum room, locked away from the world. I realize I kept myself company with this facade as I hung myself with the light linen and waited to die.

I am not real.

This is my

p e r s o n a l b u b b l e. 

July 29, 2020 18:25

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19 comments

00:21 Feb 17, 2021

If you don't mind, could you please come to check out my story and give some feedback? I would really appreciate it!

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00:21 Feb 17, 2021

I couldn't stop reading once I started!

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Aditya Pillai
08:43 Aug 09, 2020

Great great stuff! Loving the writing style. The ending was...something else. In a good way though ;) Always great to see something unique and fresh. Awesome job! Would love to hear your thoughts on my latest! :)

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Nico K
19:20 Aug 09, 2020

Tysm! I'll be right over to yours :)

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Jubilee Forbess
15:31 Jul 31, 2020

Wow, very good story! It was poetic and compelling, like a very prettily done action novel, if that makes sense.

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Nico K
20:58 Jul 31, 2020

tysm!!

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Deborah Angevin
01:58 Jul 31, 2020

Oh, the opening hooked me to keep on reading! I like the way you write the "personal bubble" at the end too! Would you mind checking my recent story out, "A Very, Very Dark Green"? Thank you!

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Nico K
15:02 Jul 31, 2020

Sure! I'll be right there :))

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Courtney Stuart
23:55 Jul 30, 2020

this was such a good story!!! i especially love the emily dickinson quote - i would quote her all the time in my writing if i could, and the poem you chose fits your story very well. the grief you wrote of was also very well-done, and i loved the stylistic choice of writing the 'flashbacks' in lowercase letters and italics. the dialogue was also very good! some of my favorite lines included: 'A quartz of stone crystallizes in my throat.' 'I don’t think the stale house was real. I don’t think the stink flower tree was real. I don’t ...

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Nico K
01:50 Jul 31, 2020

oh my gosh thank you!! i'll edit the story accordingly :) i added the part about jayden's father because there had to be a reason he died; it would have been confusing otherwise, since ayana blames herself for it. but thank you so much for the feedback! i love constructive criticism and it helps improve my writing a ton.

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Rosa Rainbowz
15:25 Jul 30, 2020

I'm so amazed at this, it deserves more likes! 😭 I loved how you wrote a poem/quote by Emily Dickinson there in the beginning. She's one of my favorite poets! Also, at the end when you wrote "personal bubble," it makes it cooler. :D Great job, keep writing!

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Nico K
15:27 Jul 30, 2020

Oh my gosh, thank you so much!! Emily Dickinson's one of my favorites too :))

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Rosa Rainbowz
15:28 Jul 30, 2020

Your welcome! 😊 That's so cool! :0

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Roshna Rusiniya
19:45 Jul 29, 2020

I liked it how you started it with a quote. This was a sweet story. I loved the letter!

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Nico K
22:50 Jul 29, 2020

Thank you so much :)

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ADHI DAS
08:27 Jul 31, 2020

Interesting 😊

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20:17 Jul 29, 2020

I love your writing style, Ananya! Keep it up! Also, would you mind checking out my new (and by that, I mean I posted it 10 minutes ago) story, ‘Jax Off Ash (Part 1)’? Again, nice work!!! -Aerin

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Nico K
21:42 Jul 29, 2020

Sure, I'll be right there :)

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21:43 Jul 29, 2020

Thx!

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