“The skies. They kill me, literally,” quoted Audrey, gazing out the windows, facing upwards. The depth of the warmth in her eyes appeared to tear down the sky to pieces, somehow.
“Wow! Melting blue.” She smiled to herself.
Marylene chuckled. “Now, what is that? What kind of a blue melts?” She swayed the doll she was knitting from side to side, in a manner that implied she was surfing the waves of boredom. Still, she continued knitting, forced by the compulsion of habit, than of real interest. “Sometimes, you know, you really make me feel that I am not quite out of my mind. You do.”
Audrey had turned nineteen only the previous month. Boundless creativity defined her existence, or so she thought. She was excellent with paints and brushes; one swift stroke replicates a string of her mind, and, quite the opposite at public speaking. Marylene, her little sister, was only two years younger than herself. But, Marylene was years ahead of her sister in guarding her territories; one step more, and you would be thrown out like the cannonball. Naturally courageous and fearless, she was almost a combination of all what Audrey was without. Together, they made a perfect team.
Audrey turned; a blank expression on her face. “The kind of blue that melts your heart,” she said, blinking, as if Marylene was the first person in the world expected to interpret her words. Her sister turned curious all of a sudden. She was dying to know what all of this meant.
“Fine. You can tell me what the matter is,” said Marylene, throwing the doll she was knitting on the velvet cushion, which was an emerald green, fully satisfied to have an excuse to quit her routine, and faced Audrey like a saint, who had turned completely pale by that moment. Audrey was fighting with herself to speak up. Silence prevailed.
“It was this dream,” she blurted, “that I had last night. I try to get it out of my mind, but... I’m not sure what it meant either, which makes it all the more intolerable.” She cupped her pale face in her trembling hands.
“Alright, there. Go ahead.”
Audrey looked down. She said, “I was riding a pink horse, very high in the sky. The pink was a comforting tone. Like, I was in heaven, or something. I was in a race of some kind. Some dreadful wild race that I am no admirer of. Black and brown horses raced before me, leaving me more breathless every moment. I choked, Mary. I felt that I no longer belonged to the earth; unearthly. You get that?” She gasped, and swallowed hard. Marylene was determined to stay quiet.
“I feel like dying, Mary. This is of nothing I could put up with. I’ve had enough. More than I can possibly bear. Fighting with myself, all the time. Every second. Killing me from within. I don’t even know what to expect,” she wept, pathetically.
“You don’t even know what to expect?" asked her sister, observing sadly. “What failed you?”
“Everything. Except the family. Things have ceased to be what they were. My interests, my intuition have been crucified. Brutally. Lately, I have been fearing my own derogatory progress. Like, when you’re own feet fail you. Now, that is not bearable.”
Marylene appeared concerned. Not often does she get to see her cheerful sister in a battered state. Not that Audrey was a Napoleon of any sort either, but this was now snow in the desert. Outside, the agile clouds rolled into bundles of cotton, dancing gracefully in the infinite space. Audrey was now scrutinizing her trembling fingers. She took her seat beside her sister, eyes welled with tears.
“You have been troubling youreslf, lately,” said Mary. “This is not the sister I know. That strong lady with the unique eyes that could spot the beauty in almost anything. She who never gives up.” She paused, taking Audrey’s pale hands into hers, and squeezed them lightly, as a symbol of support. She then fixed her own eyes, a cocoa brown, on her sister’s.
“Listen. Just because things in life cease to be what they were, what they used to be, does not mean they are no more. It is just a change that comes along time and again to remind you, that agony is the condiment that gives success its flavour. You love watching the moon, I know. You stand watching it for what seems like an era to me. There is a simple, heavy philosophy in the life of the moon, just like you say there is in all forms of existence. Glowing black clouds cloak the moon, depriving it of its silver beauty. Now, does that mean she has deceived us? No, of course not. The moon is always the beautiful moon, and it shall exist, no matter what. Now, as the dragon clouds drift away, leaving the moon the bright queen of the night skies, she shines the same. Perhaps, better. So shall be the case with anyone trying to fight the darkness enveloping him. Stand up, Audrey. I know you can.”
Audrey was unsure how to react. A mixture of emotions besieged her forsaken heart, in the deep dungeons of herself, and showed way to what she hoped would be light. She experienced a momentary anxiety of having to part with her sister in death, and the gigantic wave of thought engulfed her into a deeper sorrow again, before Mary jumped in and rescued her.
“Hey, calm down. Control your world from the inside out. Not from the outside in. The latter could prove to be a disaster, I know. I know how it feels, alright. I haven’t told you about it, but I have undergone crucial moments like you. Horrible, they were.”
Audrey lifted her eyes for the first time during the entire conversation. She searched earnestly for a warrant that could possibly be available in her little sister’s eyes. “You did?” asked Audrey.
Marylene looked across Audrey’s tear-stricken face to the windows. The clouds waved goodbye to their blue mother, and raced away for all the goodness in the world.
“This is my final year in school. Also, the worst year in my entire school life. You do know yourself, you do, how much I worshipped school, the teachers, everything. Basically, everything. But then, the good lasts short, and in my case, it’s been quite long enough, through all these years. The teachers treat me like a misfit. They say my thoughts are stupid, and that I am going to amount to nothing. This is no new case. It’s been happening since the start of this nightmare of a year. I hate it when people judge me, when they know of me nothing. At times, I am at a loss of understanding myself, no matter how hard I try solving my own problems. I am my own judge. I decide my path, with experience and conscience throwing light on my path. No one understands you better than – “
“But, what if others misunderstand you? However good you are?
“What if the others misunderstand? Here I am trying to reason if others do matter, and you worry about their misunderstandings. Their musings. Of course, there are situations in life where people around us matter. Not otherwise. Not always. Not in this case. Do not let them into your sphere. It is yours, and you are the queen; you rule it. You really are so vulnerable. Well, you should be under my teachers. They would have carved chalk sticks out of your bones. By Mother Nature’s grace, it was me, and I am alive with my bones, alright.”
Audrey smiled. She admired the vibrant spirits of her sister in silence. She found hope in her companion’s resolute eyes. Marylene continued.
“The people who misinterpret you, as you say, think if they are truly worth all your sufferings and tears. Give it a good deal of thought, you know.”
“What if they are?”
“What if they are? Well... Let us see,” Mary drowned herself into an ocean of thoughts. Her face, as could be conjectured, was speedily turning the pages of a mental encyclopaedia. Audrey’s earnest eyes begged for an answer, as if her entire existence depended on it.
“Well, if there is someone who does not construe you rightly, despite your innate goodness, is that person really worth it after all? Think about it, Audie. You are just letting the black horses win. You let them win. You had an option, and you chose not to fight for it. Do not let your dreams destroy you,” said Marylene.
Audrey nodded, approvingly, like a physicist finally beginning to unveil an oblivious concept. She felt better by the time the short conversation ended, and she resolved to provide refuge in herself to her newfound confidence.
The day wore off as serenely as it had begun. That night, Marylene kissed her sister good night before she went to bed.
“Sweet dreams,” Marylene said, smiling broadly like a thoughtless child.
“Thank you. I am so proud of you, Mary,” Audrey said with a sigh.
“So am I,” replied Marylene, and they parted with an affectionate hug.
Audrey crept into her bed, uncomfortable at the sudden thought of her last night’s dream, and prayed solemnly with all her heart for a dreamless sleep ahead. She found it difficult initially, but attempting a Herculean effort, she managed to fall asleep, ere the dried leaf, hanging by only a thread of what remained of its once green stalk, fell to the ground.
The dream was livelier than ever before. The clouds held a heavenly glow; the shuddering radiance competing with the blue pride that hosted the clouds. Audrey found herself gently stroking the silver strands of mane, which were as soft as baby dandelions, of her pink horse. The healthy pink mare had well-built limbs, and muscles that represented insurmountable strength. Yet, it bore in it a touch of gentleness that softened its graceful features. She leant forward, and flung her arms around its neck, and cried, “Faster!” She noticed a handsome black stallion to her immediate left, its sleek coat as smooth and uniform as the night sky beyond the stars, and a brown one on her right side resembling a trained war horse, the only thing missing being a ferocious rider. There were still many horses in the race, but she diverted her attention to the path straight ahead. The horses galloped madly towards the petals of blinding light, as Audrey strained hard her eyes to find an eternal salvation through it. She felt fatigue surmounting her, streaming through all her veins like electricity, but it was of the good kind. Her nerves protested that she could take no more, but her burning passion counterbalanced her weakness. The black, brown horses were inches ahead of her.
Audrey felt her horse’s muscles going stiff, as she braced herself for the worst. The pink horse manouevred a majestic leap, during which Audrey opened her eyes to a magical sight of sheer happiness; she felt as light as a feather. So filled was her dancing heart, that she wanted to write a poem. Her fairytale vehicle landed like a falling snowflake on a puff of clouds. With her volatile energy fast evaporating, she slowly helped herself to discovery that she was well in front of all the other racing equines, much to her surprise. She laughed heartliy.
“Had a good night?” enquired Marylene, at breakfast, helping herself from a jar of raspberry jam, having sensed Audrey’s recovery.
“The dream repeated itself,” answered Audrey, casting a gleeful smile.
“Now, how in the wide world is that possible?”
“It did!” screamed Audrey, laughing merrily. “Thanks to you, it did. And, this time, I won!”
“Great! Now, that, is my dear Audie,” remarked her sister.
When she opened the door to the study in the evening, she found Audrey dozing peacefully in the chair, holding a painting palette in her left hand, with a distorted mixture of crimson and white pastels.
By the window, on a canvas supported by an easel, her eyes fell upon a beautiful pink horse, standing on its hind legs, no words to do justice to define its brilliant radiance.
“You paint your own dreams,” whispered Marylene, and quietly left the room, smiling.