1 MR LONG HAIR AND HIS MUG
No, this won’t do. Hmm, let’s try again.
Still not good enough. Ok let me see. Aha, this is the one:
To whom my story might be of any interest and guidance in hard times,
Yes, that will do. But again, shouldn’t I just address this to everyone and anyone? Regardless of interest? Regardless if they are/have been/will be facing hard times or not? Shall I leave it to the reader to decide if they want to carry on? Whether they can step into my shoes for a couple of hours? If they want to? If they need to? Do I want them to? Yes, I need them, I want them to do exactly that. But then what if they are not prepared? If what I have to say will be shocking? Too much to bear? Too unbelievable? Oh dear, I am struggling even to begin, how will I tell you my whole story? Well, I guess I am just nervous… But who wouldn’t be? I am going to do something I swore I will never do again. I have fallen in love. And I am going to tell Him. I am going to tell everyone. Do I really have to? Do I really want to? Will I upset anyone if I do it? And if I don’t? Apart from myself? What will change? Can everything be the same after my confession? Do I want it to? I don’t know, but I just can’t carry on like this. He is driving me crazy.
What happens if I am right? And if I am wrong? Which would be worse? Or better? Oh my… I feel like that little boy in that movie, whose parents got divorced. A big, scary man asked him, who will he choose, his mum or his dad to live with. The poor boy couldn’t decide, as he didn’t know what will be the consequences of his decision. Then you saw him grow up in different settings, showing you what would have happened if he chose this path or the other. Decisions led to further ones, and most of the time he ended up missing something, the picture wasn’t perfect, he just wasn’t happy. At the end, he just collapsed, could not take it any more. First he couldn’t make the most important decision of his life, because he didn’t know what’s going to happen, and at the end he wasn’t able to, as he knew exactly which decision will start which lifeline. And it did not make it any easier. He just got more confused. He knew that with every chosen path he will miss out on another. He couldn’t make up his mind, so he ran. Sometimes I wish I knew the consequences of my decisions, but then as I think about it I realize, that I would be exactly in the same situation as that little boy. I would be confused. Just the way I am now. Or even more. If that is possible at all.
I am not ready to decide. Not yet. I just need more time. More time than what I already had? Would that make it easier? I doubt it. But at least I would have time to prepare for it. Maybe with time I would gather some confidence, some strength. Or maybe I wouldn’t even have to do this if I waited a little more. But haven’t I waited long enough already? Haven’t I waited long enough to give up right now? When all the pieces are falling into place? It would be so easy, just to run away and never look back… It would be easy, but I can’t do it. Not now, not after all that happened. It wouldn’t be fair. I have come too far. And I don’t really want to run. I deserve a chance. Another one, to be happy. Even after what I have done. Everyone deserves a second chance, right? If you asked me a couple of weeks ago, what is my story, I would have just said ’oh there is nothing about it that is worth mentioning, just the usual not-so-much fairy tale ending’.
I couldn’t have been more wrong… Here I am, only weeks after my exclamation, and I am desperate to tell someone. I am desperate to tell everyone. I have a secret. Lots of secrets. Secrets that have been haunting me for years. Secrets I haven’t told anyone. Secrets, that kept me awake at night, but also secrets that gave me hope. Hope, that dreams can come true and fairy tales do exist. Or do they? Can everything just be a coincidence? I think I will leave you to decide, as I truly have no idea. But for that, I have to tell you my full story. All my secrets. Am I ready to do this?? Not sure, but I have to do it. I need someone who can look at my story as an outsider and tell me that I am stupid and I have to grow up and stop dreaming. Or maybe I need someone to reassure me that fairy tales do exist after all. Oh my…
This is what he does to me, always making me confused and frustrated. Confused about him, about myself, everything. He makes me realize what I want and makes me believe that he is the person who can give it to me and even more than that. But also he is my biggest secret. A secret, that should be kept safe no matter what. And I am just about to share this secret with you. All of it, as it happened, word for word. Be prepared, please do not think this will be easy for me. It isn’t. This was the hardest decision of my life, believe me. My story is full of mystery, unexpected events, coincidences, if you believe in such things. Well, I don’t. I think that everything happens for a reason and at the right time. Even if we are not aware of it at that time or if we are not ready to face the truth. Even if it is easier not to believe in it. Sometimes we don’t understand why certain things happen to us, sometimes we even wish it happened to someone else. Have you ever felt like that? I have. And the strange thing about it is that I didn’t only have this feeling about negative events, but about positive ones, too.
Because they did not last long enough. I just did not have a chance of savoring them, enjoying them, before they disappeared. Human beings are so fascinating. They want something good to happen to them so desperately, yet when that something is in front of them, they don’t know what to do with it so they let it go before it even happens, before it sinks in as that moment. They keep telling themselves, that another chance will come, and then another, and they end up waiting for a miracle to happen. And even if it does, they still won’t be able to do anything with it. They won’t be able to embrace it, to enjoy it, as they will be too scared. Too scared of getting lost in the sensations. Maybe because at the bottom of their heart they know that it won’t last forever. And if they allow themselves to come out of their shell and have a taste of the happiness that awaits them, they are afraid they won’t be able to let it go when the time comes. So they don’t even let it in, they choose to ignore it, and hope they won’t get hurt.
But won’t they get hurt anyway? Is there a way they can avoid getting involved, if they have already encountered that special moment? Isn’t that enough to have their hearts broken? What they fear the most, isn’t it happening to them already? So why not take a chance? It can’t get worse, right? Or can it? Maybe it can still be stopped, if someone acts quickly enough. But isn’t it better to lose something you actually had? Rather then live your life trying to avoid having it in the first place as you can get hurt when you lose it? Isn’t this what life is all about? At least trying? Hoping that it could work?
That’s exactly how I felt about Him, when I first saw Him. Confused. Although I was the happiest person in the World, since I found „The One”, at the same time I was sad, too, as I knew I lost my chance. My chance to be happy. With Him. It is so strange how many thoughts can swivel in someone’s mind during one of those „big moments”. I was confused. I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t. I wanted to say something, but I didn’t know what to say or how to say it. No words would have been good enough to describe how I felt. I wasn’t even sure I can ever speak again. I was paralyzed, yet unable to stop. Oh my… That look. That smile. That moment. As if it happened yesterday. Hmm, when was it exactly? Nearly three years ago now. And still… Every time I close my eyes, I can see that smile. I would recognize it from a thousand others.
I can’t believe how quickly time flies. It is nearly winter again. I can feel the chilly wind on my skin as I am looking at the window display. Winters are cold here, colder than back home. Still I prefer it here. I started shivering, but not because of the weather. I can’t believe my eyes. That’s it. The perfect present I was looking for! Not that I would give it to him, no… But it won’t hurt if I buy it and hide it at the back of my cupboard, will it? Just in case… Just in case what? Who am I kidding? I can’t give it to him. Not now. Not yet. But still, what if someone else buys it? An even worse thought crosses my mind: what if someone else gives it to him? What if she buys it for him? I make up my mind. I glance around quickly. I can’t see anyone looking at me, so I step inside. There is a young guy at the back of the store, arranging the display. He looks up from the books he is restocking, and with a wide grin approaches me and asks how can he help. His tone suggests that he isn’t only referring to the wide range of gifts they sell. Oh if he only knew…
’Can I have one of those mugs please?’ I ask as nonchalantly as I can manage.
He smirks at me, and with a knowing nod he places one of them in a bag and hands it to me.
’For someone special?’
I am sure my cheeks turned crimson right now (if they haven’t done so already). My hands are shaking as I take the small package. I am so careful not to drop it, as if I am holding my life in my hands. Well, I am. Sort of. I just shrug with an apologetic smile.
’Anything else Miss?’ He asks. He can’t hide the disappointment in his voice.
’ That’s it, thank you.’ I try to smile at him casually. I fail miserably.
I pay and then exit the store. Oh, I have so mixed feelings about this. Have I mentioned how confused he is making me? I look around again, and as I assume no one is looking, I peep inside my bag. Yes, I made the right decision. This is the perfect gift, just in case he… No, I am not ready to think about that yet. I mustn’t think about that, otherwise I won’t be able to stay calm. Who am I kidding here? When was the last time I stayed calm? That’s right, about three years ago. Before I met Him. Then everything changed. I changed. Since then I feel anything but calm. As I said, before Him I wasn’t like this. I was always cool, knowing exactly what I wanted to do, when and how. And I always got what I wanted. I always worked very hard to get it. Even more than that. I was ruthless with myself. I didn’t stop until I knew I did everything in my power to achieve what I wanted. Or what I thought I wanted. Now everything I have ever done seems to have been a stepping stone towards my destiny. Towards Him. I simply had to be at the right place, at the right time. I had to be here three years ago. Because I had to meet him.
I wasn’t born here, but since I was ten I had the strongest feeling of belonging. That was the first time I heard of this place. Strange, isn’t it? How can you belong somewhere you haven’t been to or you haven’t even heard of till that moment? How can a ten year old kid feel such longing for something they never had? For something they never even knew existed? Well, I had. And it just became stronger as years went by. So finally I decided to go for it. Somehow I never felt at home. I was always looking for something that can fulfill that empty space within my soul. I was looking for something desperately, but I also knew I won’t find it there. Something (or someone) was guiding me, giving me signs. Signs to show me where I belong. I didn’t know why, but I just knew that here I will find exactly what I am looking for, what I need, I will find my destiny. I will find Him.
I shiver again. People don’t like cold weather, they are scared of it. For them, it is a reminder of death, the end of every living thing. For me, it is a reminder of Him. For me, it means a new beginning. For me, it is life itself. Any time the weather turns cold, I put my coat on and just go for a walk. I used to go back there. Every week. I tried the same day, same time of day. Then I tried different days, different times. Still nothing. Then I gave up. Well, I gave up physically going there. To that cafe where I first saw Him. When I woke up that morning, I knew that day would be different. Don’t ask me how, but I knew. My stomach was full of butterflies, and I couldn’t explain it.
I had a dream of Him. Three consecutive nights. I was dreaming about the most beautiful man I have ever laid eyes on. He was perfect. Honestly. The man of my dreams. Ok, ok, no more jokes… I felt strange that day. Before, I only dreamt about Him. That day when I woke up, the dream did not go away. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw Him. With his long blondish brown hair, piercing blue eyes. Oh, did I tell you, that I love men with a little ponytail? He looked exactly my type in my dreams, as if by some miracle he came out of one of my novels I was reading that time. Or as if he travelled all the way from the Middle Ages, just to be with me. Romantic? Sentimental? Stupid? Maybe. But it was a feeling to die for. I still remember how I walked down that street. I was tired after a whole days work, and that was the only evening I had off all week.
So I did what I always did when I was free: went to the nearby cinema to watch a random movie, just to relax and forget everything for a little while. But this day everything seemed different. Everything was so quiet, yet other days people were rushing around. My butterflies returned. I knew something is going to happen. I was confused. I didn’t have any idea how is it going to be. I wanted it so badly, yet I didn’t know what I was craving for. I couldn’t get my head around it. I thought I have to follow my routine, otherwise I will go crazy. I wouldn’t have been able to stop, even if I wanted to. I was scared, yet excited at the same time. I kept walking. And there he was. Sitting at a table in front of a little cafe. Until then I hadn’t even realized there was a cafe on that street. Not that I was looking at the cafe this time, either. I was shocked. There he was, the man of my dreams, in front of me. I felt like pinching my arm to realize I am still dreaming. And then he looked at me and I froze.
That look. That smile. Oh my! Now I feel so stupid thinking about it, but that time the natural reaction was to look around and make sure he is looking at me. Omg, he was looking at me! And smiling. I have never seen such a dazzling smile in my entire life. One of those smiles, which are described in books as ’breathtaking’, or ’heart stopping’ or looking at which girls drop their panties to the floor and literally throw themselves at the subject of their affection. Honestly, those expressions were nowhere near describing what I felt. I felt as if time stopped right there, as if nothing else existed, as if everything disappeared around us. For a brief moment, it was only Him and Me. Nothing else mattered. I could only see those ocean blue eyes.
I could have got lost in them forever, never wanting to return to reality. I would have given anything that moment if I could stop. If I could make him invite me for a coffee. If I could make him kiss me. If I could make him want me. As much as I wanted him. If I could make him do anything with me… Anything he wants… Well, I couldn’t. I just walked away. Why? I was scared. I never felt anything even similar to this. And it scared me. I wanted to look back, I wanted to go back and shout at him ’Say something’. Oh how much I wanted him to say my name. How much I wanted him to say so many words. Words I wasn’t ready to hear. I had to turn back. I nearly ran those two blocks till I got to the cafe. I was panting. I looked around, searching for those blue eyes. But he wasn’t there any more. Disappeared. My heart started sinking. I knew I lost my chance.
But I just couldn’t take it, because I was too scared. I started crying. I was confused and hurt. And I was angry with myself. If I could only take that chance… I started blaming myself. I blamed myself for a long time actually. Then I started to blame him. Why couldn’t he say something? Surely he could have asked for my phone number! He didn’t seem that type of guy who never chatted up strangers on the street before. I was angry with him, because he didn’t kiss me. I was angry, because from that moment I would compare every man to him. And they would always lose the battle. They would never be even near him. They would never be good enough. Good enough for me. Not after I met Him. Strange how one moment can change your entire life, isn’t it?
The shop’s bell wakes me from my reverie. How long have I been daydreaming? Uff, it is really cold now. I should go home. Just one more look at my mug. Just one more, then I am going. I look in my bag, then glance up at the shop window. I am smiling. He will love it. It is beautiful, just as Him. Oh, I wanted to buy this mug since that day. The writing on it says exactly how I felt the first time I saw him (and every time since). With black letters on a white background it exclaims, as if reading my mind: ’OMG…’ Only three letters that say it all for me. Three letters that say everything I couldn’t. Everything I can’t. Everything I want to say. Everything I need to say. Before it’s too late.
I think it is time for me to head home, it is really chilly…
2 SWEET DREAMS
Why is it so bright in here, did someone turn on the light? I blink a couple of times, unable to open my eyes. This light is killing me, so bright and powerful. It can’t be just a light bulb surely. Or did I just drink too much last night? No, I don’t recall even drinking a single shot. It must be something else. Slowly I manage to open my eyes, just a little bit. The light is still there. After what seems like hours I manage to struggle to my feet and open my eyes a little. The blinding light comes from the Moon itself. Seriously? Since when is there a full moon? Why haven’t I noticed before? And why does it hurt so much to look at it? As if it was much bigger, much closer to me and as if it was burning a whole into my soul. Not that there wasn’t one there already, just for the record.
But wait, where exactly am I? And how did I get here? And most importantly, when? I quickly glance around, taking in my surroundings. I am in the middle of a park (or so it seems) with a little lake to my left and a huge castle to my right. Castle? At night? Why the hell am I here? These places freak me out, I would never come here on my own. Omg, did someone kidnap me? Is that why I don’t remember anything? But then where is the bondage? I can move freely, and there is no one around. Or so it seems. Strange. So most probably I wasn’t kidnapped. But that does not explain how did I end up in a place I don’t even recognize. Hmm, don’t I? A familiar feeling is forming deep down within me, but no matter how hard I try, I cannot grasp it. As if I have been here before. As if this place was of some kind of significance.
As if something important happened here. It is so scary, yet exciting at the same time. Shall I explore? Shall I run? Run, but where exactly? I am in the middle of nowhere. Did I just hear something? Or was it my mind playing tricks with me? Maybe it is just my nerves. I need to sleep more and lead a less stressful life. Not that I could. I heard it again. But what is it? I try to listen. Nothing. I stand there for minutes. Or hours? I wouldn’t be able to tell. I just stand there and try to listen. When I don’t hear anything and am just about to give up, there it is again, only this time it is crystal clear. A voice calling for help. A male voice. A very sexy one. Wait a minute, I can’t see anyone! Where is the voice coming from then? It seems to be all over the place.
Omg. Who is he? Where is he? And why can’t I see him?
I think this time it is definitely coming from the castle. So obviously I head in the opposite direction, as fear takes over. Well, heading there is not the right expression, as I am not brave enough to turn my back towards the mystery man. I take a step backwards, my eyes not leaving the castle, searching if I can see anything or anyone in the shadows. But no, it is too far and although this side of the field is bright, that one isn’t. Which makes me more scared. I have to come to a halt as I realize that my feet are wet. Oh no, I reached the lake. Now where? I turn around to look for an escape route, when something strange catches me eye. My reflection. I have the strangest feeling ever. The girl looking back at me does not even look like me. How can this be? She has long black hair, curling down her back, and piercing blue eyes gazing back at me. She is wearing a gorgeous (and surely expensive) long white silk nightgown. No, this can’t be real, or I lost my mind completely. Surely I would know if I changed my appearance? I am totally sure that I have short brown hair and greenish-blue eyes. And I most definitely don’t have an expensive nightgown. I don’t even like nightgowns! Help me!
The voice calls again and I jump. I forgot that I did not want to turn my back to the castle. A shiver runs through me. I have to find out what this is all about! I need to know that I haven’t lost my mind completely. Ok, I can do this. One step at a time.
Omg. This is scary. But still, I have to find out who is calling. He is definitely asking for my help as there are no other people in sight. Not that he is, just for the record. Omg, is he hurt? Or what if he just wants to trick me? Wants me to go to him and then he will do horrible things to me? I want to scream, but I can’t. I am not even sure if I want to. Yes, it is scary, but somehow I know he does not want to hurt me. He wants to help me find him, so that I can help him. But with what?
Now his voice is clearer and oh so close. It is familiar. As if I have heard it before. Somewhere, a long time ago.
Lia, help me!
Whoa, how does he know my name? And why doesn’t this scare me? Why does it seem so… natural? Why do I feel safer the closer I get to the castle? And him?
I have to stop to catch my breath. Since when is walking so exhausting? Since strange sexy voices guide you and ask for your help.
Nothing. Am I feeling a little disappointed now that I don’t hear his voice any more? A little lonely even?
I am there. In front of the castle. Boy, it is huge. I can’t even see the top from down here. The only things I can see are the white marble steps in front of me. I can’t help it, I have to count them. Eight. Hmm, the same amount of steps I needed to take to get here. Strange.
Please help me!
Ok, ok, I am coming… Jeez… And a minute ago I said I missed that voice? Well, if I didn’t think I was going crazy and if I was somewhere else, I would give anything to hear that voice again. And to meet the owner of it. I am wondering how he looks like? Is he as sexy as his voice? Whoa Lia, take it easy. I run up the stairs. All eight of them. At the top I stop to look back. Nothing changed, except for my breathing. I am panting. It is so hard to breath. Is it fear? Excitement? Anticipation? All of those? Ok, I am on top of the stairs, but how do I get in? As if someone heard my unspoken question, the huge wooden door opens with a spooky noise. I step inside without any hesitation. In front of me there is the longest and narrowest hallway I have ever seen. It is strange, but not out of place at all. Or on the contrary, everything is out of place here. Out of place regarding what you would usually expect, yet completely making sense if we were in the Middle Ages. Middle Ages? Oh crap. As soon as this thought comes to my mind, the hallway disappears and gives way to pictures flashing in front of my eyes. They change so quickly, yet I am able to distinguish them somehow.
A metal helmet.
Two swords laying on each other, forming a cross.
A red rose.
A scroll with ancient writing on it and a seal. A red seal.
A clock. Striking eight.
A lit candle.
A pair of blue eyes.
A black horse.
Then the same pictures again, in the same order. Eight pictures. Repeating eight times. And that voice.
Please hurry, we don’t have too much time.
Again that familiar feeling tugs at my heart. I have been here before. I have heard that before. I have dreamt this before.
I freeze as realization drowns. I am dreaming, of course, it all makes sense now. But no, not all of it. If I am dreaming, how can I be so much in control of my actions? How can I be aware of every word, every scent, every detail? How can I know that I am dreaming? How can I be still conscious? I can see the hallway again. Now I can even see the doors on each side, and the lit candles leading the way. I count them. Four candles and four doors on each side. Eight altogether. What is it with that number? I have to do a research when I wake up. If I ever wake up. If I am really dreaming. What shall I do? This dream clearly won’t end until I find what I came here for. Will I find Him? My mystery man asking for help? How will I know when I do?
I open the first door to my left. I find myself in a little room. The only items it has in it (I wouldn’t really call them furniture) are a bed-looking thing and a bedside cabinet with a book and a candle on it. Nothing else. No window, nothing. Strange. The room is basically empty. What is this, a barracks? From the Middle Ages?
Hmm, who lit the candle?
Before I could dwell on that thought, I hear his voice again.
His words are more quiet now, as if he was struggling to talk to me.
Please, just stay wherever you are, I am coming…
I open the door to my right. I am faced with the same view. Exactly the same. A shiver runs through me. This room is empty as well. No sign of a living soul.
Holy cow, what if a ghost is talking to me?
I don’t care, I have to find out. It is too late to go back. I count as I open the rest of the doors. Three. Nothing. Four. Still nothing. Five. Nope. Six. Not even a mouse. Seven. Nothing. Eight.
What I see scares the shit out of me. The room is the same as the other seven, but there is one tiny difference: someone is sitting on the bed! I want to run, but I am paralyzed. Oh, I know this feeling! Wanting to move, but not being able to. It is so familiar. He is so familiar. But how? I can’t see anything. He is wearing a full armor, with the helmet from my hallucinations! I can’t see too much, but as far as I can tell, he is looking at me. All of a sudden he lifts up his arms. I watch intently, trying to figure out his next move, what he wants to do to me. All I know is that he was the one asking for help. I don’t know how, but I know.
I hear his voice. Or is it a voice inside my head? I can’t tell. But I can tell that he is relieved. As if I helped him, as if I saved him just by coming here. Just by not turning away. A thought crosses my mind: did he ask other girls to come and rescue him? Did they run instead? Why do I feel jealous at the thought? And why do I feel sorry for him? Being here, locked away all on his own. Or could it be his choice to stay here, far from everything and everyone? Did he do something unforgiveable? Before I could figure any of this out, he slowly takes off his helmet. Whoa… All I can see is a beautiful smile, light brown stubble and light blondish-brown hair skimming his shoulders, flying free of the helmet. He is definitely taking his time removing it. He knows I am watching. And he seemingly enjoys his power over me. I could watch his smile for ever. It is so familiar, but I cannot place it in my mind. Where did I see that smile? Surely I wouldn’t forget it, would I? If I am not mistaken, it belongs to a gorgeous man. That is if I can judge his voice. And that smile.
Who was that? Clearly his mouth did not move. And this voice isn’t sexy at all. I look around quickly, as if scared of being caught, although I didn’t do anything wrong. Staring at this mystery man isn’t wrong, is it?
Oh this other man again… Go away! I don’t want you to interfere.
Not yet, please leave me alone…
I can’t help it. The picture suddenly disappears, leaving me feeling empty and forsaken. I want to cry. What did just happen? I tentatively open my eyes. Where am I? Slowly, oh so slowly I start to focus. I am back in my room, in my bed. Alone. The disappointment slowly spreads over me, and covers me as a thick blanket.
Wait a minute, if I am not dreaming any more, how can I still hear that voice? Someone knocks on my door, and I nearly fall off my bed.
’Lia, is everything all right? You have been asking for help all night. I tried to come in, but your door is locked and I realized you must be dreaming’
Oh, it’s just my neighbor, Lindsey. She is a very good friend, always helping me. Hmm, me asking for help? Oh… So it was a dream then. And it was me asking for help, not him. Strange. But it was so real… And I think I dreamt this before… I climb off my bed and open the door with a sigh.
’Thanks Lin, I’m ok, just had a strange dream, that’s all.’
’Oh love, you have to tell me all about it’.
’But Lin, it’s the middle of the night’
’Lia, as I have been trying to wake you up for the last hour or so, I guess I deserve to hear all the juicy details’ she smirks at me.
I try to suppress my smile, but can’t help giggling.
’Come on in then. I should better put the kettle on.’
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