The television still hadn’t faded to dead black yet. Its gaping mouth in the mahogany veneered cabinet stared at her with an intent that made her feel guilty.
Quickly, unable to look at the cruel beast any longer, she stood up and closed the sliding doors. Hiding it away from the world. Her world. High heels ticking on the marbled white floor. One, two, three ticks, and she was back on the ragged couch. Hands folded in her lap.
She sighed. Even though the lonely light bulb hanging from the ceiling barely illuminated the dank living room, she stared into the painting hanging on the right of the TV-cabinet. Trying to calm her senses on its blue horizon and rocky shores. Where’s the beauty? she wondered. I remember there being beauty. Where did it go? As answers failed her, she turned further to her right, shifting her weight on the brown cushions and wrinkling her purple velveteen robe. The vase of red roses did nothing to hide the musky smell that crept from behind the walls. How could they? They were painted. The children, the girls so sweet with their rosy cheeks and carefully curled hair said nothing as they read their book. They too, existed only in strokes of oil on canvas. Where did they go? Their non-existent memory became close to tangible in her heart.
The paintings did not soothe the impact the televised images had inflicted on her. The images she had seen so often, they were seared into her brain. But there was something new… When did Father become so cruel? she thought of the man with the countless bright teeth that dominated every single screen in the city.
The paintings didn’t do anything to fill the rose- and child-shaped void in her heart either. When did this emptiness get here? An intense missing rose up from the depths of her stomach. A more than subtle hint of loneliness flowed through her veins. A yearning waited to be screamed out. When she turned inward to restore her quiet dullness in the familiar pitch-dark of her being, she was confronted with a brutish light that hurt her closed eyes. A fresh crack running through the midst of her soul that let a truth in she wasn’t yet willing to see.
Abruptly, she stood up and almost twisted her ankle as stiletto heel slipped on stone tile. Bewildered, she looked down at her feet and realized her idiocy for wearing them inside in the first place. The shoes no more than symbols of the same lie. In an attempt to shake the foulness of her senses, she took them off and violently flung them against the wall in front of her. Falling to the floor, they mocked the sad room with their pink inappropriateness. A loud knock came from the other side of the wall. An angry voice told her to keep it down. So much anger, she thought and felt an immediate embarrassment wash over her. A shame that made her face flush and queezed her insides. ‘Sorry,’ she whispered and tiptoed to the one window, not daring to go onto the small, concrete, balcony for fear of neighborial confrontation and the toxicity of the smog.
Leaning to the far left, and stretching her neck, she saw a small strip of blue. Not quite as blue as it was on her painting, but as blue as the sky could be from this vantage point. From any viewpoint in the city even. The metropolis consisting of thousands of buildings and millions of people. All equally tall as they were grey. Like the one she was in right now. She knew no other place. Like she knew no other life. And yet she now knew… She now knew there was more. That there had to be more. Doesn’t there? Her mind struggled to find the words but couldn’t get there. A consciousness had awakened in a mind that had been asleep for several lifetimes. So how could it? How could anyone find words to describe what they feel if they’ve never felt before?
‘Truth,’ she quietly said to herself. ‘Truth,’ she said a little louder now, tasting the crisp consequences of the word. A word spoken by Father on the television. A word taught to her in school. A word mentioned in the Book many times over. A word recited by all the population at the beginning of the Work Cycle. She knew its meaning, and yet…it seemed as if it meant something entirely different. ’Truth,’ she said again, and the ironic juxtaposition of the conceptual word with the fakeness of the familiar fatherly smile made her feel uneasy. Though that was not a link made conscious in her brain. Not yet at least…
She walked over to the kitchen and took the big glass jar from the counter. The one which label read:
MANDATORY: FOR YOUR HEALTH AND SAFETY
TAKE ONE PILL WITH WATER BEFORE LIGHTS OUT
She filled her glass with water from the tap, the only water available, and popped the triple-A battery-sized pill in her mouth with her right hand. It barely required any thought. It was what was done. What was always done. As the lightbulb turned dark, she hung her robe on its hook, and lay down on the bed, eyes open. Wilfully ignoring the light that was still forcefully pushing its way to the forefront from somewhere deep inside of her, she patiently waited for the pill to do its work and send her to the oblivion she knew so well.
As the night quickly collapsed in on her awareness, a last handful of words took up the diminishing space in her mind. Words that, together, formed a question she had never asked before: What truth am I feeling but not seeing?
Biweekly, short, fictional stories around a philosophical theme for you to ponder on or not. The stories are stand-alone, but might just all end up being scenes adding up to a full-blown novel…
Inspiration comes from real life, from people, from art, from music, from anything… And I am open to suggestions and collaborations.
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