The Brown Eyed Dreamer

'Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.' William Wordsworth


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Found. (Part One)

Crowded places had always been a refuge for me- I loved the safety of numbers, of being just one dull, expressionless face in a black and white canvas painted with dull, expressionless faces. In supermarkets, cafés, airports and bustling streets I allowed myself to be lost in a wave of people, one ripple cascading among thousands of other ripples. In crowds I was always hidden, a tiny shuffling secret, safe- that is, until she found me.

I was in my local bookstore, a chain store that was always heavily populated with quiet whispers and wide eyes roving over the many-touched spines of newly published books, when I saw her first. Lazily eying a shelf of second-hand novels I had the sudden feeling of being watched, and so I turned. 
And there she was.
Her every feature was as starkly similar as the last time I saw her, as if she had been frozen in a picture frame until this very moment. But now the frame had shattered, the glass had exploded around the room- I could feel the crashing sound ricocheting in my head, could feel the blood on my hands from the jagged glassy edges. The girl had escaped from the still photograph, and my trouble was only just beginning. 


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The Art of Disappearing- Part One.

[Inspired by the writing prompt from Alice Kuiper’s website, here.]

He didn’t want to be a victim; that was the very last thing he wanted. He didn’t want lines of stony faces watching him with cold, emotionless eyes as he slouched along the corridor, head bent in a vain attempt to hide himself. He didn’t want sympathetic pats on the back and pep talks from awkward teachers, and brand-new, supportive ‘friends’. He didn’t want people tip-toeing around him like he was a bomb ready to explode. He didn’t want to come home every day to find his mother sat at the table, concentrating on something in the far difference that only her eyes could see. He didn’t want to walk about in this alien world where everyone pretended everything was fine while everything crumbled around them.

He didn’t want any of this. High School was the only place where he could escape from everything that had happened. All he wanted to was blend, and now he stuck out more than ever. And the scar probably didn’t help.

It was a huge gash running from his top lip up to his cheek bone, bright red as if bursting with blood. He hated the way people stared at him now, never fully being able to meet his eyes when they talked to him. He hated the whispers hardly hidden behind hands as he passed by, the rumours and speculations about what really happened that night. He hated the interrogations, people who’d never passed acknowledgement now wanting to know if he was okay, their eyes begging for a piece of truth, a delicious sliver of revelation on the incident. He always ignored the stares, bowed his head and carried on walking, mumbling a half-hearted reply and shrugging his shoulders as he left.

Today was a day just like any other. His mum barely tore her gaze away from the spot on the kitchen wall to say goodbye to him before he left, and after closing the door he knew already he’d come home six hours later to find her sitting there in the same position, fixated on a memory frozen in her mind. She’d completely changed since everything had fallen apart; she was barely a person anymore, merely a ghost trapped in another night. In his own confusion about everything, he chose to ignore it, making sure she had food and water and always leading her up to her bed at night. He felt more like a carer than a son- but instantly he pushed these thoughts to the back of his head. He didn’t want sympathy. He wasn’t a victim.

Everything could be normal if he could pretend for long enough.

His hood up in the light drizzle, no one could see his face. No one could know who he was, and in that brief, momentous walk to school he was a normal kid, not the boy everyone had heard about. He could walk and passers-by didn’t lift their heads in recognition, cars didn’t slow while drivers stared out of windows, mouths slightly agape. No one could see his scar, and in his head he could imagine his skin free of bruising and scar tissue.

He was so caught up in his daydream of perfect normality he didn’t notice anyone walking alongside him until a voice spoke from beside his right ear. A voice that was warm and quiet and completely unfamiliar, that flowed gently through the air like a fresh breeze on a Summer’s day.

‘Sometimes it’s nice to disappear, isn’t it?’


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Slow Dancing in a Quiet Café

Picture this. A small, fairly unknown café on a street corner in late September, where inside it draws closer to closing time. And there’s you, in a small booth beside the window, coffee cradled in your hands to warm your fingers. The first leaves have begun to fall from the trees,carried in a cool Autumn breeze past the window and skittering along the pavement. You’d be busy marvelling at the beauty outside the window if you weren’t marvelling at the beauty sitting opposite you.

This person; you’ve only known them a short while and yet you’ve already formed this bond a thousand years of friendship couldn’t match. This person with eyes so wide and welcoming, and a smile that awakens the butterflies in your chest and makes your hands clammy. They’re sitting in front of you, this sweet smile playing across their lips as they tell you a story, and you can’t help but smile and nod along within them, completely captured by their everything. You barely lift your head to nod a ‘thank-you’ at the waitress busily scrubbing at the crumbs on your table, so absorbed in this wonderful being in front of you. And it is only when you reluctantly stand up to leave the café that you realise it is empty except for a few half-empty coffee cups scattered across tables. The waitress has disappeared into the kitchen, leaving the both of you completely alone.
‘I had no idea we’d stayed here so long!’ they exclaim, looking at you with a small smile. You shake your head to stop yourself getting lost in those eyes and try to think of something to say.
‘Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess,’ you reply, scratching the back of your head, unable to stop a smile and nervous laugh escaping your lips.
You always hate this part the most; goodbyes have never been your favourite things. You hate the awkward goodbyes and promises of seeing each other again which mostly get broken. You pack away your stuff slowly, trying to savour the moment for as long as possible. Meanwhile they stand patiently beside you, humming along quietly to the tune crackling out of the old battered radio on the checkout table.
‘This is my favourite song,’ you utter, looking up. Your gaze is met to a hand reaching out to you where behind lies an expectant gaze and curious smile. You return a questioning gaze, an eyebrow raised.
‘Do you want to dance?’
The small question is answered by a quiet gasp. Nervously, you take their hand and straighten up. You both draw closer, until your bodies are gently brushing each other, and you can feel their chest rise with each breath while their heartbeat gently thuds against your chest. You pray they cannot hear the intense thudding of your own heart and begin to dance.
The moves are slow and simple, perfectly matching the smooth, calming acoustics of the song. You both remain silent, eyes locked as you spin and step to and fro. Your fingers intertwine, they absent-mindedly stroking your thumb with theirs as you roll a strand of hair intricately through your fingers. Small, shy smiles create conversation that no words could match, the silence enveloping you both in your own world. Their eyes are pools that reflect yours, searching your face, trying to create a memory as feverishly as your eyes are. You could happily stare at those eyes forever, fall deep into the crevices of their soul and remain there in perfect serenity. You could fall in love with those eyes.
And so that is how your perfect date with this perfect person comes to an end; not with stiff, awkward hugs and the drop of your chest as you have to watch them walk away, but with a slow dance in an empty, quiet café in late September. A café where outside leaves fall and life moves on, and where inside two people dance to the gentle rhythm of two hearts beating as one.


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The Smoke & The Dark

Last night I dreamed I was standing alone in a cold, gaping darkness. A darkness that seemed unending until the harsh click of a lighter echoed through the abyss and filled the shadows with its intense light. A single enormous flame spurted upwards and flooded the plane around me with relentless waves of heat, flickering at my body with red-hot tongues. Using my jacket sleeve as a protection for my eyes, I peered forward into the flame to see where it had come from.

Suddenly from behind a cigarette appeared and leant forward into the lighter, thirstily lapping up the fire until the end had stolen some of the flames. Then from behind a face appeared, one I vaguely recognised but in my slumber was unfocused so as to hide from me. Lips latched around the opposite end of the cigarette and inhaled deeply, greedily feasting on the contents within. The embers flared a blood red that gleamed mockingly in the darkness, and as the user exhaled a rush of ash and smoke tumbled out of the edges and surrounded the both of us in a dark, menacing cloud..

A storm of thick ash engulfed me, filling my lungs and pricking at my eyes until I was bent over coughing, tears streaming out of my eyes in tiny waterfalls. My throat wailed and shrivelled in pain from the torments of the smoke, and as I looked up to call out to the looming face in front of me my voice caught and came out only as a raspy whisper. Desperately I coughed to try to clear my throat so I could warn the face of the smoke’s dangers but it simply poured through my throat, seeping through my blood like poison and scratching and scraping at my insides. I forced my eyes open despite the burning hot ash that fluttered dangerously around me so I could watch the huge figure above.

His face was covered in ash that engrained itself like an iron-master forging fiery patterns into his skin until it was gnarled and sunken. The flicker of flames against his cheek gave him an almost skeletal appearance as he suckled ravenously on the seemingly never-ending cigarette. Smoke coiled and curled around his features, creating a thick noose around his neck that slowly tightened with each breath of smoke that quivered outwards from his wrinkled lips. His pupils had nearly swamped his whole eyes and were as dark as our surroundings, filled with a malicious desire for the devilish taste of the cigarette.  He was drawing his own death sentence without even realising it, and as I tried to call out to him I noticed suddenly the smoke held me in a noose too and my throat was clenched so tight I could not utter a single syllable. I flailed my arms and legs around me in a frantic attempt to free myself from its iron grip to no avail.

Terrified, my eyes widened as tears prickled behind the eyelids and I tried to capture a few clean breaths. My body was slowly becoming weak, the smoke infecting me with its slow taunting spread. Suddenly the smoker stopped; lowered the cigarette to stub it out. The last few embers were beaten down, and I felt the noose around my neck tighten one last fatal time. As I felt a last splutter of breath escape my lips, we plunged into a cold, unending darkness and I closed my eyes, waiting for it all to be over.


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The Clear Out

In a cold, cluttered study dimly lit by a bulb encased in a thick layer of grime, a man stands surveying old, flaking walls filled with bookshelves and cabinets, head cocked on one side as he impatiently tuts and looks around him. A room once the hub of his home and working life now sits dormant and forlorn in the cold October sun peering through cracks in the yellowed blinds. A room once so lively and loved now seems as alone and lost as the man standing within.

He takes a step forward and roughly glides a finger across the nearest shelf, leaving a bright trail of mahogany standing stark among the surrounding layer of dust. Lips curling in disgust and rubbing his covered finger on his jumper, he sighs. This room, now of no use and an annoyance to him, needs clearing desperately.
As a plan forms in his head, he leaves the room only to return a few seconds later armed with every cleaning utensil he can find. He then starts clearing out the room. Initially, he takes his time, taking each item off the shelves and inspecting it before deciding what to do with it. But as each dog-eared novel and notebook full of scribbles is salvaged from the dust and dirt of the shelves, old memories resurface themselves to mock and taunt him. Memories of days where writing was his life and words tumbled out of him like droplets onto a page, and the world around him held the fascination of a child. But too many rejections from snotty publishers can make a man bitter in his ways, and soon his bubble of ignorance was torn as the world became cruel and unforgiving. Suddenly the passion of the world was gone, and a dream to write died along with this room.
Memories flood back like flames, taunting him with their flickering, fiery tongues. Fury filling his core, he flings out his arms and pushes every item into bin bags, grabbing books, ornaments and ornate ink pens and throwing them to walls, ignoring the glass smashing and ricocheting off the walls. Ripped pages fall like burning ashes to a floor filled with shattered glass and puddles of blue ink stains sinking into the carpet.
His crazed cleaning does not stop until he grabs hold of an old glass photo frame and a jagged edge catches his skin. He curses loudly as it draws blood and looks down towards his cut, only to be stopped short by what he sees.
It’s an old frame, a photograph within that had been blocked and almost faded from memory. He sees himself, a young man of only twenty, standing beside his childhood hero, a published author whose name he cannot recall now. He looks upon the uncontrollable smile on the young him’s face, the eyes shining with childlike eagerness, and that day comes back to him like a bolt of lightning. He remembers meeting this man, and sharing with him the hope of one day joining him with the esteemed title of ‘author’, his love of writing and wanting to write forever. And most of all he remembers the author looking at him with an almost fatherly smile, patting his shoulder and saying, ‘If you want it enough you can do it. Never give up on a dream like that.’
The statement echoes through the man’s head and around the room, bouncing and echoing off the bare walls. Never give up on a dream like that. The frame drops from between his shaking fingers, landing with a dull thud below him. He stops; sinks slowly to the ground. Everything is too much. How could he forget this? How happy he had been then, how full of joy and life… memories flood back once more, but this time like rushes of water coaxing the tears from his eyes as he falls forward onto his hands, sobs rocking his whole body. He balls up his fists and beats the ground, yelling to a man who is not there, who cannot hear him.
‘Never give up?! You can’t even begin to unravel an idea before reality shoots it dead now! I’ve been shot down one too many times, I’m wounded. I GIVE UP. I can’t get back up this time.’
The cold, empty shelves stare at the man sunken and broken in the centre of the room with blank, harsh stares. Tiny speckles of blood spurt from a cut in his hand, but that short, sharp pain is nothing compared to the tearing of his heart, the thumping of his head, the desolate thud as his stomach drops. No pain could compare to that of a man falling apart from the seams. Tears fall relentlessly from his eyelids, and his body lurches forward and back with pain, as emotion floods out of him in a tidal wave of desperation, total loss and turmoil.
‘I can’t get back up this time,’ he whispers, his eyes shut to try to bottle in the pain, ‘I can’t get back up.’