Monday 13th April- 9:30 am
The silvery mist licked at every surface. Rain fell on the forest canopy covering dense and tangled vegetation. Bowl-shaped plants caught the rainwater. Beetles, snails, flies and frogs continued their activities.
The forest is the orchestra of my mind, playing one enchanting symphony after another. Her leaves dance to an unheard beat, whispering their songs to the wind. In here, sheltered by the mighty trees, is every kind of life, from the humble beetle to enchanting birds of every colour. I hold my hands up to feel the cascading light, a brilliant white shaft illuminating the path that takes me onward and home.
I can't move without a plant touching my skin. Everything I loved about this rainforest just this morning is elevating my heart rate and killing my logical thinking capacity. The sheer denseness of the foliage had made me feel cozied, like in all this space I could still be snug. The thousands of noises had crashed over me as refreshing as any waterfall, overriding my senses and setting my brain to the same chemical soup it was in when I fell in love with Sam.
In that cocktail of endorphins I have wandered too far, now the closeness, the sameness, the noises are like robbers at the door, banging for entrance and the phone line is dead. My wide-open eyes move with pointless speed, I want to see blue sky and space all around - not these virescent arms that grope and lofty limbs that blot out even a patch of blue. Even the warm air, so reminiscent of saunas, has come to feel like soup in my chest. I would run but I don't know which direction to take...
Tuesday 14th April- 6am
The butterfly fluttered up and down, it's wings beating the summer air. It alighted upon a flower and folded it's wings neatly upward. It was as beautiful as painted silk and as delicate as rice paper. Instead of enjoying the aroma of croissants, toast, hash browns and all the other confectionaries you could possibly imagine for breakfast on a Tuesday morning, I awoke to the smell of smoke coming out of a cigar, in my watering mouth.
A few hours ago my stomach growled. Now it is silent. I'm past the growling point. I feel a sinking emptiness, but strangely don't feel exactly hungry. I just feel empty, like a part of me is gone and I need to get it back. I'm tired and can't focus. I can’t even speak anymore but my mind talks to me, “One more day Jackie and you’ll get home. One more day…”
The fireflies dance around me and keep me uplifted. They resemble the fairy lights in my bedroom. The cries and howls of animals remind me of the honking of cars and shouts of outsiders through the slightly opened window.
I had no idea why I allowed him to do it to me over and over again. Each time was a new start, a fresh him, a chance to leave the disappointments behind. But as I remember standing on the porch in my best dress and healed shoes, a touch or rouge on my cheeks, and watched the minutes lick past on the clock in the hallway, I realised he'd done it again. My heart sank and my anger had flared. 'Never again', I vowed under my breath. But how many times had I said that before? Too many times. Did I mean it this time? I had hoped so. It was the time to move on before. As my friends kept telling me, I only had myself to blame.
I pulled my knees up to my chest and wrapped my arms around my shins; if I could just curl up into a ball, I wouldn't have to face real life, I'd be protected from everything around me.
But I'd still have to live with myself, with the wretched memories swirling around in my head.
My eyes, already red and puffy from crying, squeezed shut to push more tears out. I let my head fall down to my knees, and I pulled my legs closer to me.
No matter what I did, there was no where I could hide from the thoughts in my head.
All I can do through hopelessness is stare at my watch as the time ticks by. Every precious droplet of seconds drip away. I found shelter in an abandoned dishevelled tent. Rain beating against the canvas roof and sides, drips of water running down the sides, water dripping inside, the diffuse light of a stormy afternoon shining through the droplets, throwing it's brindled radiance onto the saturated cloth, the sides ripple in the gusting wind, straining against the rope and pegs, edges flap wildly, feels flimsy and inconsequential against the encroaching squall.
If the owner will be back; I do not know. I may have to cooperate in some way possible.
A nudge to my ribs makes me jerk awake to see a mans face. Racognisable!
“Sam! What are you doing here?” I shriek without warning.
“This is my tent.” He says with a quirk in his eyebrows. “Don’t worry darling. Your breakfast is ready.”
He turns and plumps a black rucksack on my lap.
I don’t even bother peeking at its contents.
“Darling.” I mockingly say. “I don’t want belongings from a dirtbag!”
I throw the bag onto his chest and duck out of the tent. Whilst I thrust my feet into my boots, he stands behind me.
“I’m not here to be with you! I’m over you!” He says and turns me around to look at him. “I’m here to rescue you.”
His hands slide up to my shoulders and he squeezes both sides. I haven’t been this stiff before; I’m like a stick. I let a groan slip out off my mouth and immediately look up at his face. He smiles, but more of a grin. A toothy grin that spreads across his face as if he’s being pleasured.
Throwing his arms off of my shoulder, they hang by his side, “I don’t need your help, faker.” I mutter then turn on my heel.
I continue my trek under vines over tree roots and odd bits of greenery. Sam grabs my arm and begs us to camp for the night, so I agree for once but stand against a distant tree trunk. The bark upon the tree was like curling cream, as if it couldn't help but become like a ribbon upon the most exquisite of gifts.
An hour ago the sunset had radiated across the cloud, turning it molten orange with bands of pink. Now it is gone and I sit under the starless, moonless sky. There is no twilight, only blackness. I feel claustrophobic, like I am in a cave. The low sky has become a ceiling of grey black rock above. Only the wind and the first drops of rain let me know that we are in the open.
“Come on, come inside.” Sam says. “You’ll get a cold.”
“You go inside!” I shout back through chittering teeth.
A minute later his body plops against me.
“What’s the matter?” He says.
“Nothing.” I answer.
“There’s something wrong, why are you so depressed?”
A long pause is held.
“The whole time we came here, you’re just thinking.” He asks.
“I just feel like crying all the time.” I mumble through choking tears. “I feel so depressed.”
“Why?” He asks me and we both lean in closer.
“Do you know when we were together…” I say with a pause.
“Mhmm.” He says.
“You would ask me out on dates…” I carry on then take a shaky breath.
“Yes.” He answers encouragingly but gulps.
“I would wear my best dresses, shoes, makeup, jewellery and get so excited. I would stand on the edge of the patio and count the grass on the lawn. Minutes, hours passed…” I gasp for more air. “The night then passed… I go back inside, wash off my makeup, take off my jewellery and clothes. Then try to get to sleep.” I shudder with my last breath.
“Then we would fight, have rows, make up with each other and then ask me out on a date. Only to have a cycle repeated every night.” I whisper slowly and drop my head onto his shoulder. “You don’t know what it feels like to be rejected or treated like a worthless person.”
“You haven’t had food for a week. Eat something.” He pleads.
“You haven’t eaten either.” I blatantly reply.
“Fine.” He sighs and empty’s the rucksacks belongings into a ditch.
I walk onwards until a burst of movement attracts my eyes. A white tip of a tail peeks out from the sea of tall grass that partially makes up the meadow. I take a tentative step towards the creature with Sam clutching my hand, careful not to make a sound to startle her.
She turns her head quickly as she sees me coming, we stand frozen as she watches me, sizing me up with her honey coloured eyes. I reach out slowly towards her, and in a flash of copper, she is gone.
I breathe heavily, startled of the connection between the fox and me, I stare into the distance. That’s when Sam pulls me against a tree trunk and looks into my eyes. His eyes are so different in moments like these, more soft than I knew eyes could be. He moved in for a kiss and I felt the graze of his lips against my neck – a gesture that would have normally sent my head spinning only made me sick to the very pit of my stomach.
“No.” I whisper in his ear. “You’re over me. Aren’t you?”
He pulls back and hangs his head, “Sorry, it reminded me of old times.”
“What old times? We never used to do this. I used to DREAM of this!” I raise my voice. “The hurt you gave me, you will never go through. Never!”
Close to tears, I walk onwards, cautiously placing each foot in an undiscovered place. As much as I tried to hold it in, the pain came out like an uproar from my throat in the form of a silent scream. The beads of water started falling down one after another, without a sign of stopping. I hit the bark of the tree and tried to scream, but my voice was melted by the sound of the place.
The muffled sobs wracked against my chest. The world turned into a blur, and so did all the sounds. The taste. The smell. Everything was gone. The last painful emotion slammed against me before I lost the feeling of feeling. Everything darkened into nothingness as I passed into the oblivion of unconsciousness.
When I wake up, I bet I heard my mom yelling at me for sleeping in. But then the reality takes over my dreams. Mom's not here. The reality hits like a stab in the stomach. All I can do is take it in.
Sam sits in the corner of the tent and plays with his fingers.
I bring my head to my knees and scrunch up. The shuffling must have alerted him so I feel a hot stare at my burning neck.
“You got me scared yesterday.” He starts the conversation with.
“I’m sorry. It’s- it’s just that… our relationship…” I sigh.
“Can we forget about our relationship?” He frustratingly interrupts me. “I want to start over with you.”
He kneels closer and holds my hands.
The tiny bit of me says yes but then my brain tells me to be wise. “I want to, I always wanted to. But how do I know I won’t be left, standing on the porch waiting for something that will never happen?”
Sam faces the other side of the tent, his face creased and his fists closed so tight that I could feel the sweat trapped inside them.
Tears running down my face, like the water flowing through the drains, rubbing salt into my open wounds. When I wail, Sam turns around and realises where the sound comes from.
In a flurry, he wraps his arms around my waist, I calm down instantly at his touch. He rubs the tears away with his fingers and starts rocking me back and forth. Soon nothing but the night time noises filled the tent.
“I don’t like seeing you sad. I’ll get you out of here and you can live your own life… without me.” He says.
“Yeah… But I want you with me.” I plead.
“We’ll see.” He sighs and wipes his forehead.
When I open my eyes and gaze at the quivering light from beneath the heavy lust of trees I find myself lost again. All the footprints that could have lead home are now smudged in the mud. My feet can still sense the moist in the grass which seems to be now parched again.
The sweet fragrance of wet soil provides utmost pleasure to my nostrils. It feels as if it was just yesterday when mum and I use to come out here and play. The echoes of my childhood laughter with mum still surround the forest like swarm of bees around their nest.
“And… we are home.” Sam says as I trudge behind him, still in my distant thoughts. I peer up and startle him with a squeal.
“Oh!” He says losing his balance.
He topples on top of me and he stares into my eyes.
“I didn’t realise… your… your eyes are so beautiful.” He fumbles over his words.
Sam holds my gaze, the warmth of a lover it is. I crack a joke about it all being a “strange staring contest”. He snorts. He slowly lowers his head down until his breath tingles just above my lips. They connect like a jigsaw.
In an instance, he springs up and walks away as if nothing occurred. I needed to know his real feeling. I needed to know he wasn’t a faker.
“I want to stay with you. I-I want to sit on the porch with you, counting grass!” I chuckle. “I really do love you.”
He walked up to me slowly and pulled me closer to him wrapping his arms around me. His embrace was warm, and his big, strong arms seemed very protective when wrapped around my frail body. The world around me melted away as I squeezed him back, not wanting the moment to end.
But as usual, it ended.
“I can’t.” He says and scratches the tip of his head.
“Why?” I ask determined to get him to budge.
“I just can’t.” He repeats but this time more harsher and distant.
“But why?” I demand.
“You’re too…” He tries to say his phrase but stutters and stops.
“Too what? Forgetful we have a date? Careless?” I ask him.
“That’s it. You only care about yourself. You’re self centred!” He shouts. “Did you ever notice what was going on in my life?”
I look at him, his face close to tears, shivering and shaking. I close the distance from us and try and take him in my arms.
He says nothing but pushes me away every time I try. I bite my lip and let the tears run. I finally speak with my cracking voice, “Thanks Sam. Thanks for helping me and I wish you a happy life.”
The walk home takes longer than anticipated but I have time to rage and deepen my thoughts. I trudged along the pavement nervously, my mind focused on the gentle footsteps that seemed to echo throughout the desolate yet seemingly stalker-like street.
Ivy and ferns grew through the crevices of the old winding stone path, which led directly to the colossal structure. The mansion loomed proudly behind creaky iron gates, flanked by rows of skeletal trees crowned in crimson, swaying gently to the chilly autumn wind. At its threshold stood the delicate marble fountain, the soft gurgling of the clear water melodic as it resonated in the surrounding silence.
When I knock on the front door, an overpowering woman unlocks it, a sweet caramel not sour.
“You’re Jackie aren’t you?” She gasps and pulls me in for a hug. “I’m your mums friend and…” Her eyes wonder behind me.
“Where’s Sam?” She asks. “He came looking for you.”
“Yeah, I think he wanted some alone time, so he should be coming.” I answer her. “Where’s mum?”
She clears her throat uneasily and ushers me inside to an empty, abandoned seat. “You’re mum has gone off on a little holiday… she’s getting married! Finally again. Her last husband was...” Stumbling off of her words, she stops and reads my face.
I nearly fall off of my seat. “I go missing and she goes on holiday for her wedding!” I shout as the front door opens. “Why?”
My eyes holds a glassy overlay which looks like the protective coat of clear nail polish.
I get up, “It was nice meeting you.” I hold out my hand and she squeezes it.
I let go of her grip and peer up at Sam. His disheveled look could never make me hate him.
“You should stay!” She shouts after me but by that time I’m nearly out of the door.
I don’t take a second glance at Sam but nudge past him.
“Goodbye.” I whisper under my breath.
Under the faintest squeak I hear him reply with “I’m sorry.” But that would be lying, wouldn’t it?