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Mystery Suspense Drama

On a misty morning at dawn, the cries awakened me of a child from a nearby house, a small two-story residence where a family of four lived with their giant dog, a shepherd of sorts. They appeared the perfect default family, the kind that a wealthy merchant from the capital, the dazzling royal jewel of Lumence, would pitch you as an ideal one. Well, I didn't have anything like that, and was alone in my three-story house, autonomous and in anticipation. As this one-year-old child continued to scream, sleep eluded me as well, so I got up and headed for my and my only spacious kitchen on the ground floor to make myself some coffee. While I was brewing it, I admired the beans' quality and the richness of the aroma. After all, I had the best coffee in the Kingdom. Well, again, something was missing. I also owned an elegant porcelain cup from which I loved relishing that same coffee and a silver tray on which I took the prepared beverage to the living room and sat down, sinking into my black leather armchair. So again, something was missing, and I couldn't decipher what. Milk? Sugar? Music to accompany my breakfast to which I added delicious butter cookies? None of the above, but I couldn't figure out what I was truly yearning for.

At the tender age of thirty, I was a man in the prime of my youth and worked as a professor of literature at a local school on my island to a large number of children of various ages. The job filled me, and I always wanted to be a teacher as it was a calling. I was single, which was beneficial because being attached to one woman would only bother me in all my freedom and career. Maybe I would get hooked if I ever met one worthy lady. Well, perhaps I had one in mind, but she came in and out of my life faster than I got to know her properly. However, she ruled my heart. If her words were to be believed, and so were mine — it was meant to be — but she disappeared so suddenly that I couldn't even conjecture what love really stood for.

The coffee was magnificent, I had money, I was a rich man, I did what I wanted, and I had my dream job — my students listened to me, they often told me I was a captivating speaker. Children? No, I didn't want to have children. But she — yes, she, whom I hadn't even thought about for a very long time - she left a mark in my life and on my heart. Without her, I would not have achieved all that I was — and again, it was still not the core of what I was looking for. That girl — where was she now, and did she even remember me? I wondered and reminisced, sipping the delightful beverage. I realized that I was craving for closure, as she disappeared overnight, without a single note.

The child's wailing now carried me out of my thoughts, that is, away from my grief for what once perhaps was, but it soon subsided, and I heard the baby's mother's voice soothe him. That little brat was lucky. An angelic voice echoed through our small street, and the child fell asleep as I was stimulated by coffee, and I believed I could conquer the world now, for I was ready for the day. It was a Sunday, and I didn't have to go to work, so I devoted myself to reviewing my students' compositions, starting with those with a talent for words and whose writings I appreciated. They had potential, those little fifteen-year-old naughties, because in their hormone-induced madness, no matter how disconcerted they were, they were honest. Something I couldn't be towards myself. I worked non-stop until noon and then headed to the kitchen to prepare myself another coffee as I started yawning again, and the effect of the first one undoubtedly lessened.

Returning from the kitchen with another whole cup of freshly brewed fragrant coffee, I found myself in front of the mirror, glancing at it. There, I was greeted by a young and handsome man with blue eyes and brown hair, who was both my best friend and most significant stranger. Someone who wore some unfathomable dissatisfaction behind the wrinkles on his young forehead. I wondered why something was bothering me so much that day, as if it hadn't even existed before. Returning to my office, I took a break and again sat in my armchair and enjoyed a coffee with a large quantity of milk, but that time the sun was much higher on the horizon and tickled me with its cold winter rays of sunshine. Who am I, that is, who did I want to be?

A few years ago, on my eighteenth birthday, I recollected I had nothing, yet I felt like I had everything and the whole world was on my side. I have achieved a lot since then, and at the same time, nothing, but I decided not to hesitate and dedicate myself further to reading some student work, which may bring me closer to my past and show me what I lost along the way. But their homework didn't help me either, so I spent the day growing anxious because what pestered me the most was when I couldn't figure something out and understand what I was facing. As night came, I turned on the lamp in my room, after a hearty dinner prepared from local ingredients, a dish that contained everything I loved — and all the nutrients that could be unearthed on the island.

On a full stomach, in my vast bedroom on the second floor, on a massive bed on which I was — unfortunately or fortunately retiring — I was gradually falling asleep. As my eyelids covered my eyes, I discerned the pink-orange light of my salt table lamp warm me, and felt it slowly melt and take on new shapes. I heard a painful lullaby in the distance, which that time was not performed by a neighbor, the mother of that weeping child. Then a painful scream followed, and I suddenly jerked and bolted upright, feeling the intense odor of moisture and stuffiness of the air around me, sitting on the hard bed.

It is not known if I will ever be truly free because of my own failings. In fact, I have denied the freedom to myself, and no one else did it for me. The girl I longed for, I protected her, and I didn't regret doing so — but that meant I had to give up everything in the end, including her. I hoped she was happy and alive. That was the only thing that mattered, and I didn't blame her because she was more important to me than the Kingdom. She never visited me here where I ended up, not even once, to ask me how I was, say thanks, and I suspect she didn't dare because she was from a wealthy family, the daughter of one of the king's closest associates. I got up again, looking for the mirror in which to face my sins — but it was gone. I simply found myself face to face with a set of thick bars.

That's when I understood what I was really missing. Everything that transpired that day, and all I thought I had. Everything I stood for. All that I once was and wanted to become again. Now, I was just a prisoner in my cell on another island of that same Kingdom, the one where the undesirables found themselves at. I stood up for something that was forbidden, and I have received my punishment. I wasn't even close to the light, and the coffee here tasted like charcoal, brewed in muddy water, while everything else was just an illusion that kept me sane at times.

November 19, 2021 13:24

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