All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
The flames that erupted with delicate fervor in the depths her eyes were nothing more than marbles, a vibrant compilation of various dyes and forms, yet inherently cold and distant, hidden forever behind the persistent panels of glass imbedded deep in the brown irises of her eyes. The brown of her eyes was a simple, plain one; even now, illuminated by fragments of light sent flickering by the small campfire burning just beyond the tips of her sneakers, they appeared nothing more than a standard brown. Neither hazel, nor coffee; neither chocolate, nor russet. They were . . . brown, nothing more. A disheartening thought, in essence. A revelation that, when realized, had molded her behavior, conditioning her to avoid looking too long at the unimportantly brown circles under her eyebrows when forced to stand in front of a mirror. Not that she had ever made any attempt to pursue her reflection in the first place.
She had never made much of an effort to pursue anything, least of all this place, beside the warmth of the fire. She had been invited here. But, perhaps invited was not the correct word. Her presence here was the basis of a joke, at least in the eyes of those who had offered her the invitation, half hoping that she would not even accept. She was still unsure of why she had mumbled the words of her accepting reply, not familiar with the demon that had possessed her to depart from her house at seven pm along with the rest of them. Following behind them down to the beach, completely unaware of the idiotic force that spurred her footfalls into a familiarly steady cadence through the sand. Whatever it had been mattered little anyways; it had lead her here, a place where she sat utterly alone surrounded by seventeen other high school kids her age, the uninvited intruder in the farthest corner of the campfire’s light.
She had been here before, each time the setting and characters slightly different, yet she had been here before. She had been able to be called the awkward, chisel-head Sharpie in a sea of Paper-Mate pens as others in her situation might have been able to be; instead she was the useless plastic cap, discarded to be forgotten in the bottom of a wastepaper basket. Worn out as her typecast part might be, she never seemed to be able to escape participating in this particular act of the play. Her only choice of evasion from the trap of endless déjà vu, to simply walk away. And so she did. Out of the firelight’s clutches, alone into the ever-darkening twilight, farther and farther down the concrete walkway, away from the giggles and uproarious shouts of those who knew all they ever needed to hear. She walked away from them; and no one even noticed she had left.
Alone in her room, she didn’t even bother to remove the layers of clothes that weighted down her depleted soul. Even though it was hardly more than a little past eight thirty, she felt that familiar bird with feathers of a weakening color swoop down to nestle on her shoulder blade, another instrument in the redundant symphony of this faded life. They had been companions for so long now that she had forgotten how to fight this avian of sleep, submitting like a wounded spaniel to the fangs of the wolf. She collapsed on her bed, a slight hiss, the exhale of breath, her only utterance of a plea. She would never, could never be free. And therefore she had no dreams.
The sun that stretched its fingers through the dusky window panes to forcefully pry her eyes open was a gay, laughing one. She blinked several times before her eyes adjusted to the lighthearted warmth, the distant chirp of the few birds echoing dully in her sleep-ridden ears from the other small window pulled open to the bitter sea breeze. Gingerly rolling over onto her back, she lifted her hands to rub the sensations from her eyes and was about to proceed to slip back into the familiarity of her morning routine when something stopped her: her own fingertips.
She could not feel her fingertips; or, rather, her fingertips could not register the feeling of her face as she brushed them across her eyelids, only a dull sensation at the base of the first knuckle bone on each finger. It was an acutely odd sensation, one that she instantly attributed to her sleep-drenched mind or perhaps sleeping on her arm the wrong way. Both possible explanations, but ones that suddenly had no value once her eyes focused upon the hands in question. Sleeping the wrong way could not possibly have caused her fingertips to disappear.
They were just . . . gone.
Immaterial, as if someone had slowly and purposefully dissolved every single particle of matter in the first third of each of her fingers, leaving only fuzzy, blurred stumps in their absence. But this blurred line between what was still her fingers and what was now nothing but air was not dormant; it continued to creep down her exposed flesh, slowly, like acid, or perhaps a rampant river wearing away the mineral layers of a rock. A horrifying realization; she had begun to fade.
Not a whisper of fear managed to escape past her trembling lips as she began to shake her hands erratically in a dazed attempt to dispel the frightening image of their state from her eyes. But the only thing that left her vision at a frighteningly steady, albeit minute, pace was the remainder of her fingers, dissolving further into oblivion. Forcefully she wrenched her eyes from her disappearing hands and affixed them upon a small photograph nailed crookedly to the opposite wall, letting her gaze ooze over the familiar image in an attempt to try and calm the chaotic dust devil that rampaged throughout her terrified mind. This happening, like a fracture in the perfectly flat plane of her world, stretched before her with the awesome size of a desert canyon, seemingly impossible to supersede. She felt her shaken stream of consciousness began to slip into her most primitive means of thought process to deal with this turn of events: escape, evasion, ignorance. Forced ignorance.
She had to escape.
Using the remaining stumps of her blurred fingers to pull on a pair of thick woolen gloves, she attempted to exile their disturbing appearance completely, all the while staring pointedly at a place, any place that existed really, that did not leave the opportunity for the image of her hands to invade and taint her vision. Therefore she remained completely oblivious to the sickening way the ends of the glove’s fingertips hung limp and empty like decaying worms; or, perhaps she was fully aware, but chose not to let any ounce of such knowledge even touch the nerve cords that might send it to her overflowing mind. Regardless, once she had successfully used her dissolving hands to open all of doors that stood between her and the exit of her apartment, she shoved her gloves forcefully into the pockets of her bulky coat and allowed her feet to strike up the maddening pace of movement that they had been insisting upon from the beginning. She didn’t even bother to resist; her destination was of little consequence and therefore remained unknown.
It was a destination never reached, if one even existed for her to arrive at, for she only found herself retracing her footsteps back to what she now considered as the sanctuary of her apartment bedroom at a pace that was only hair’s breadth from a full out dash; anything to take her farther away than possible from that sensation. She had not the filter of sanity left to spare that would allow her to do anything shy of running after her gloves, like a puppet with strings left unaided, flopped limp in her jacket pockets, completely void and empty of all that had once been her hands. Her hands . . . she had no hands.
Alone in her apartment after struggling to open the doors with her mouth, she managed to shake off the heavy fabric of her coat, but not without difficulty, for her arms had dissolved down to scarcely more than dwindling stubs hanging as lumps of dying flesh just below her elbows, only minutes away from being consumed completely. She needed not to bother with the removal of her shoes; they had fallen off empty and forgotten in the elevator as she had stumbled onto the fourth floor, reducing her mobility to crawling on her knees and elbows. A miserably humiliating state.
With the physical support of her feet remaining only as a fleeting memory, she had no choice but to collapse on the edge of her bed, the soft sensation of her down comforter her only glimpse of solace. Alone had been the way she had always backpacked through her dismal life, yet this was a species of solitude that came next was utterly foreign to her. Such a swift creature it was, size an inconsequential variable in regards to the force with which it ensnared her crippled psyche, beating her farther past the point of breaking than she thought to be possible. Its weapon was a single thought with the potency of an ingested poison.
She was completely alone.
Invisible: mentally, emotionally, and increasingly physically. In a simple hour, or perhaps two, she would be transformed into the nothingness that all had viewed her as, cease to exist entirely. And no one would even notice, save for perhaps her landlady once the rent stopped being paid. Or her always traveling mother, once the few emails sent stopped being returned. She would be gone, and no one would pause to wonder how or even why.
The dissolving process continued throughout the remainder of the afternoon, or so she judged by the shadows that slowly materialized and blossomed into adulthood within the confines of her room. She paid them the most attention, watching them intermingle in one another, tangling in splaying pattern across the expanse of her ceiling. Little else was allowed to register in her mind, working to let the vast ocean of thoughts swell, rage, and eventually subside into a calm; a herculean feat that she was not going to let be destroyed by petty thought. Reconciled was her present state of mind concerning her deteriorating state of being. She had no other option; unconstrained worries were for those who had someone to relay them to. And she had none.
5:03, those were the numbers illuminated in neon harlequin green, indicating nothing more than a transition made every day from five hours and two minutes to five hours and three minutes. Except on this occasion, it also marked the precise moment that her limbs ceased to exist, her own transition from a disfigured human to nothing more than a decaying head and torso lying forgotten on a small bed. Unaware of such specific details as she was, vague awareness was one facet of her otherwise blank mind that remained uneraseable, no matter how much calm she forced into her bloodstream, or how restrained her eyes had become at not looking at what had disappeared. Or what was left remaining.
Her almost immobile state upon the bed remained perceptibly unchanged as she faded from torso to simply a dismembered head, free from all worldly hindrances such as shoulders or a neck. She only became fully aware of the progression of her dwindling condition when her eyesight began to fail, the shadow-dusted ceiling flickeringly in and out like firelight as her eyeballs were slowly eaten away. And so she let her vision close. To the last memory of the mortal, physical world. Just as each second in this earth is born only to slip into oblivion, not to ever be repeated or remembered, so too did she tipped onto the verge of the separated abyss, and then fell through the barrier completely.
And then she was nothing. She ceased to exist.
The darkness that lingered beyond was of no substance that she had ever known. It cut to the very core of the immaterial, unconstrained soul, devouring with great fervor the rotting heaps of leftover emotion enduring from worlds all but forgotten, leaving in its wake a winding trail of withering black. The black was a nothing, and the nothing was all that was here. It was a warm nothing, at least, wrapping around her stain of consciousness that remained undisbanded with blanketing fingers. Like the rippling kiss of a moon drenched pool, hidden from all behind the wavering wisps of a weeping willow. Warm, her own thought caused a wave, a puzzled disturbance in the silver trickle of her psyche falling farther and farther from the light of the dimming, wandering world.
She was nothing, nonexistent, deceased in every conceivable aspect; therefore she could not be capable of thought. It was an impossibility. Becoming the invisible she had always been, the nothingness within her having been freed of the physical body, she should be peacefully gone, void of all things that would mark her as being, or having been in existence. Least of all, she should not be able to feel.
But the darkness was like warm bathwater lapping against what remained of her consciousness, a comforting lotion come to spread over all the immaterial wounds on her depleted leftovers. It smelt naked, like a rain that comes on the first of July, an evening full of bullfrogs, suntan lotion, and an unsuspected kiss. It washed clear the path before her with tears of mourning ash, falling soft around her like pepper-colored snow thrown from the hand of a child. And without eyes she could see into the darkness unclouded.
It was nothing, as absolute as shards of glass could never be called a vase. Yet it was more everything than anything could ever be complete. A soothing nothing, a comforting everything. And something; definitely something. More or less, only relatively perceived. Great or small, inconsequential to the basic truth of nature. Immaterial, spiritual, irresolute. Always something, yet never anything more than nothing or everything.
And it was then that Melanie wondered if it was possible to smile without ever smiling at all.