The Silhouette of a Woman

By
My feet dragged along the floor tiles as I made my way down the barely lit hallway. Room 303, Room 305, Room 307… I squinted trying to focus my eyes on the jittering room number plate. Room 307… I reached behind and pulled the card key out of my back pocket. Flipping it back and forth in my hand; which side do I put it in? Front, back, no, front. I tried to insert the card key into the slot above the door handle. After several attempts, the card key slipped into the slot and the tiny light next to the handle turned blue. I pushed on the door and it pushed back. I pushed again harder making the objects on the other side jingle but only found myself forgetting to turn the handle first. Silly. I opened the door to complete darkness; I reached my right hand over and felt for the light switch. Flip, flip. Flip, flip, flip. What luck! I carefully maneuvered through my room with my arms outstretched. I clumsily made my way towards my bed flailing my arms about. My knee gently hit a metal bar and so I crouched over to feel the bedding. Immediately, I melted into my bed and fell fast asleep.

I stood on pearly-white flooring- one endless sheet of polished rock. My eyes watered from the bright white-light reflecting off the ground. I brought my hand up to wipe the tears from the corners of my eyes. Looking around me, I could see no end to the place. Slowly at first, I started walking around not knowing where I was going. A quarter-sized black dot was on the floor in front of me so I went over to see what it was. Immediately, as I came within range of the black dot, thick black smog enveloped me. The light became faint. I reached in front of me with my fingers spread, my fingertips disappearing into the darkness. The fog moved between my fingers as I wafted my hand back and forth. Where exactly am I? I took a careful, small step forward. As my foot touched the ground, my body teetered to one side. The ground below me crumbled like eggshells. I fell backwards with my head first. I stretched my arms out awaiting a grand finale, tilting my head back and clamping my eyes shut. Afraid of what would happen next.

Mahogany locks fluttered past- gently whipping my cheeks. I took a deep, long breath, savoring it as though Death had nearly stolen it. The rough, salty, warm air and faint coconut scent filled my lungs. The foamy waves swished around my calves. The dark brown hair led my glance to a silhouette of a woman facing away from me. Her shoulders and peeks of her neck through her hair were creamy. The water sat at her shoulder blades, sloshing back and forth. I waded towards her, slowly at first. I knew quite well she didn’t know how to swim. What was she doing so far from the shore? I tried to run towards her before she went any further. The sand swallowed my feet and the waves held me still. My clothes clung and weighed me down. I tried to yell her name, but my voice was silent. My body grew icy cold in the warm water. I stood still, feeling a sense of worthlessness. The heavy silence consumed me- the only thing I could only hear my own quivering breathing. My eyes slipped from the woman. I buried my face in my hands as she walked towards the sunset until the last strands of hair vanished under the horizon. Afraid to look, a feeling of immense sorrow devoured my body and soul.

My leg jerked. I sat up gripping the sheets until my fingers grew pale. My body was trembling furiously as my heartbeats throbbed heavily. I took several deep breaths- my chest heaving up and down. I choked, gagged and wheezed. Drawing my hand to my face I wiped streams of sweat off. I look at my hands: sweat… tears?

I shuffled into the bathroom to wake myself up. I turned on the shower and while waiting for the water to heat up, I looked at myself in the mirror. My eyes were sunken in; all the color in my face was drained out. Had I always looked this horrid? The mirror began to fog up my reflection as the shower water grew warm. I stepped into the shower closing the sliding glass door. The water was much too hot, but the sensation on my back felt revitalizing. I breathed in the bland foggy air. Putting my hands on the wall in front of me, I closed my eyes and let the water stream onto my face. Flashes of the silhouette of the woman came into my mind. What kind of dream was that? Watching some unknown woman drown… It was someone unknown, but… strangely familiar. My heart clenched tightly. The steam moistened my skin making it plump with water. It’s about time I get out of the shower. What I need most is a cigarette.

The flowering shower died to a sprinkle. The sprinkle faltered into droplets hitting the tiles between my feet. I slid the sliding glass door open and reached for the towel. I sank my face into the towel, pausing for a moment. Oh right, cigarette.

I pulled a cutthroat thermal over my head and swiped the pack of Black Stones and a lighter off the coffee table and went out to the balcony. The sun was just beginning to rise. The morning wind was cold, blowing at my wet hair. I could easily touch the building across my balcony if I really wanted to. The mornings were quiet here. I could hear the Latino couple from upstairs start up their Jeep in the parking lot. The old lady with a dark spot above her cheek was sweeping the alley between the buildings; I could see the top of her gray, wiry hair from my balcony. The straws of the broom scraped rainwater off the sidewalk. The leaves were covering the gutters and a pool of water puddled on top. I slid a slim cigarette out of its box and placed it between my lips as I lit it. I learned against the cold, wet railing and took a nice, long drag. Just what I needed…

I ruffled my damp hair. The silhouette of her back haunted me. My heart lurched. I tapped the ash off down into the streets below. Sorry, old lady. I took another puff and dropped the cigarette off the edge into the puddle of wet leaves. Exhaling a plume of smoke, I walked back into the room.





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