My world is real and I know it. I have lived through this game inside me that cannot be stopped. I've drawn circles around and around until there was no more room for a new cycle. I don't know who I am and I don't know where I am. The only thing that is clear is the essence of my existence. I've been plucked out from the rest of the world, but the comfort of this place is remarkable. My breath is caught behind the wind and my soul prances freely. It's a whole new world to me, but it's real until my eyes open. It all started like this.
The hazy memories filled my head like a cloud. I couldn't feel my body, but I knew I was there. My mind drifted to something, anything else but that. I didn't know what 'that' was. The blue sky moved above my eyes. The sun was blocked behind clouds and the wind whispered a tune that I wished to know. A raven soared gracefully through the clouds like all its weight dropped out of it. The sun reflected its golden rays on the colorful raven. A smile formed on my lips and I wanted to touch it. I wanted to feel its feathers graze against my palm as it flew towards something unknown. I reached for it higher and higher until I could not reach any more. The beautiful sight before me slowly dissolved into nothing but darkness.
I awoke in a vast field of endless grass with a night sky that laid out its colors of fluorescent lights. The stars scattered the sky like skittles sprinkled across a table. The breeze tickled the sides of my arms as it passed. My breath came out evenly and I wanted to stay there and stare at the stars longer. The only thing that stopped me from endlessly wasting away my time was the curiosity. I picked myself up from the ground and continued forward. I didn't know where to go, but I anticipated that if I continued to walk ahead, the scenery would change and I'd find something or someone. There had to be someone that could explain why I was there and why I can't remember anything.
As I paced through the grass, there was a bright light straight ahead. I had to look back. The uneasiness of going somewhere unknown was creeping up on me. I knew that I should trust my instincts more, but I had to continue. The mystery gnawed at me and I wanted to get this emptiness out of my head. Who was I and why do I feel like this place is my home? Is it? I pushed forward with the little courage I had left in me.
The whiteness surrounded me and I could not see anything. There was a distinct sound of the waves crashing against the shore. I walked towards the soothing sounds of the ocean and found myself staring at something stunning. The sun floated above the horizon where the sky met water. The color orange divided the two elements and the ocean created a reflection of the colors. The last remnants of orange vanished with the sun. The waves dancing back and forth drew me into a comatose state and only the soft howl of the nights wind kept me awake.
My moment of admiration was interrupted when someone shuffled behind me in the soft sand. I turned around to a boy that looked about my age. He had the perfect jawline with an amazing smile. He had high cheekbones with eyes that bore into me like fire. His eyes were this incredible blue and it defined him whoever he was. His blonde hair fell down the sides of his face and he had a slight tan that was obviously from the beach.
"Do you like it - this place?"
I asked, "What is this place?"
He said, "Oh, you must be new here. I actually don't know what to call this place. You can say this place is like a haven - it's safe. I've always felt this way. It has this calming effect on people. It just makes you want to stay there forever. Didn't you feel that way?"
He was right. I did feel strangely attached to this place. It felt comfortable. This place felt like a heaven and a haven. I wanted to say I was correct and answer my own questions, but I couldn't just conclude everything with an assumption. My response to his question didn't sound sincere, but it was because my words wouldn't come out the way I wanted them to. "Sort of."
"So what was your first memory?"
"I'm not sure. It didn't even feel like a memory. It felt more like a dream than a memory. It was all too confusing for me."
"At first, I was like that too. Everything was so ambiguous and nothing was clear to me. Now I can remember most of it. Can I tell you mine?"
I could feel this connection between us. He knew how I felt and he was letting me answer questions half-heartedly. I said, "Sure."
"It's very unclear and I'm not sure how to explain it well. It felt like I was staring down at the ocean. It didn't feel amazing and beautiful the way this ocean is right here. It felt kind of scary and lonely. It was like I felt myself jump in and the water was this amazing color. The color blue was so melancholic like I had this memory somewhere before. I guess that's why I call myself Blue. People here name themselves after their first memory. What about you? What do you want to call yourself?"
"I'm not sure."
There was a long silence. My heart thumped in my chest and the palms of my hands were covered in sweat. What stopped me from answering was that I'd hear him call my name. I didn't have a name, but something that was close to one.
"How about Raven?"
"That's interesting. Did you see a Raven or something?"
"Okay. Raven it is."
I probably looked uncomfortable in front of him because I was biting my nails. Was I this sort of person? Did I get this nervous from interacting with another person? I had a very hard time looking into his eyes. It felt like I'd drown in them and remain in a daze forever.
He clearly saw this and he asked, "Am I bothering you? I don't want to pry too much, but I just get excited when I hear about the memories people had. It's very interesting and it tells me a lot about that person. I get a piece of something I never knew. I guess it's the eccentricity that intrigues me."
"I'm not that interesting, but is it okay for you to plunge so deep into someone else's world?"
He reassured me that it was okay with a smile. That smile made my heart turn into lumps of coal; it weighed me down. Without realizing it, my eyes unconsciously remained on his lips for too long. When I looked up from his lips, his eyes caught mine. Time froze. My breath was caught behind the wind. I managed to blurt out something I didn't expect. "Who are you?"
There was another long silence. It was as if that question struck a chord in him. He looked away and whispered a sentence that was lost with the sounds of the ocean, "I'm just Blue." With the beach in front of us, both of us were lost in thought. It was like we understood each other. None of us spoke, but we felt each other's presence. I pressed my hands together and waited for the stars to come out, but it didn't. It was like time was lost in this place. The sun remained just above the horizon and the sky remained pink and orange. It was like everything was stuck in this place. I loved it; it felt as though I had all the time in the world.
I felt him shift beside me. I was so distracted that I didn't even realize we were sitting on the beach. I had this urge to show him the place that remained in my mind like a picture. It was the kind of place that clung to you like a fragrance of a perfume. It never left me and it grew on me.
"Could I show you where I woke up?"
He looked over at me, "Do you want to?"
I nodded, "Yeah. I want to."
"Then what are we waiting for? Lets go!"
He motioned for us to head towards the white light. He was following close behind me and his footsteps echoed mine. With each step, we drew nearer to the grassland. As we entered the light, I felt the soft breeze. This was where I belonged; I could feel it in my bones.
I heard Blue gasp in astonishment, "This place is amazing! I love it! Wow, I've never seen anything like it."
"Neither have I. Well, of course I wouldn't have. I don't have any memories."
Blue laid down and stared up at the sky. He began tracing the lights with his fingers like he was painting the sky. I sat next to him and enjoyed the landscape. He began humming a melody that seemed unusually familiar. I unexpectedly joined him. I didn't know what the words were, but I knew the melody.
I asked, "What is that song?"
He smiled, "I don't know. It just came up. I don't really remember it. You know it too?"
"I guess I do."
"I started humming that song when I got a part of my memory. Even after I got that memory, I didn't remember the words. Kasa and Smiley didn't know the song, but they liked it!"
"Who is Kasa and Smiley? There are other people here?"
"Of course there is. Want to meet them?"
"I'm not sure. How many people are there?"
"There aren't a lot of people now. Most of them left."
"How? Is there another place other than here?"
"Yes, but not really. They vanish into thin air. When they regain their memories, they disappear. I don't know how or where they go. I'm not that curious though. I don't want to vanish. I like this place too much. Don't you? Have you ever thought that this place is magical?"
"It is magical. I love this place, but I want to know what's beyond this. It feels so unreal." I pointed out the sky and everywhere else. Unlike Blue, I wanted to know where people went. I wanted to know what this place was. There was so much that I didn't know. It would be impossible for me to just succumb to my emotions and let it get the best of me. If I did that, I would just remain in this dream-like world forever. Blue had the saddest look I had ever seen and just as fast as he revealed that expression, it had disappeared.
He quickly changed the topic with something he knew that I would respond to. "Is it okay if we go and meet Kasa and Smiley? They're nice people. I bet you'll like them."
I nodded, "Okay, but on one condition."
"What is that?"
"You have to tell me how to get my memories back faster."
"I don't think there is a way to get them back fast. You could try looking at things around you and pointing out things that seem familiar."
"Okay fine. I asked the impossible. How about telling me about your memories?"
"That sounds reasonable. Deal."
We shook hands and we were on our way to Kasa's place. As soon as we entered the light, Blue shouted, "Jump!" I jumped and we landed on a small canoe. It was dark and paper lanterns were spread out across the river. Each of the lanterns had symbols scribbled all over. I was assuming that these were Japanese characteristics. Cherry blossom trees surrounded the sides of the river. Blue put his foot in the water while playing with one of the lanterns while I stared up at the petals falling down from the trees. I felt the petals of the blossoms fall on my head. Blue pointed at his head, informing me that I had one on my head. I patted my head and tried to get it out, but I failed.
"I'll get it." I put my head down for him to get the petal out of my hair, but it felt like forever before he did it. When I looked at him, there was something else in his eyes - fire. The fire pulled me in like water. It didn't mix very well and I felt my lungs squeeze just a little too much. His hand brushed against the side of my cheek, which intensified the burning in my chest. Another part of me was unlocked. There was a boy and he held my hand. His hands were rough and huge, warming up my cold hands. He smelled like coffee and I could feel his smile. I couldn't see his face - it was blurry. I pulled away from him and began rubbing the slight pain in my head.
"Sorry, I think I just remembered something."
"What was it?" I felt the desperation in his voice. He wanted to know.
"It was just a memory of a boy. I don't know who it was though."
He sighed and patted my back, "You'll remember some day. Don't rush it."
A girl with long black hair and a thin figure paddled towards us. Beside her was a boy with dark brown hair. He wore thick-rimmed glasses with a headband over his head. He looked like he enjoyed playing video games more than pacing around on the beach. Kasa stared at Blue's foot in the water and the paper lantern that lay face down in the canoe.
Kasa shouted, "Blue, dunking no good for pure water! Manners good for soul. Put lantern back in water. It for spirit to go back to other world."
"Okay Kasa! I will. Geez, you and your manners!" Blue put his foot up on the canoe and put the lantern back into the water.
Smiley complained, "Kasa, you have a terrible accent! Don't speak English!"
"Ie ni kaeru!"
"Hey! That's not fair! I can't speak Japanese!"
"You tell me no English! I speak Japanese! Yes fair!"
"What did you say?"
Smiley had a sour expression on his face. I didn't know why Smiley had that name, but it did fit his character. At first glance, I thought that he'd be the boring studious type, but I was wrong. It was fun being around them. All of them seemed very close and it was like they had a bond that no one could break. They knew each other and I felt like the new girl. I'd tell myself I wouldn't fit in, but I didn't know for sure until I spoke to them. Being with Blue made me realize that.
"Smiley. Joke. You know. Sorry." She put her hands together and bowed her head.
Smiley slapped her left shoulder and laughed, "Of course! Anything for Kasa! Sorry!" He pronounced 'sorry' the way Kasa said it. She glared at him and kicked him off the canoe.
"You get own boat! Mine!"
"Aww, Kasa! I was just joking! You didn't have to kick me into the water!"
"Clothes dry soon!"
Smiley climbed unto our canoe and whispered, "I think it'd be better if I joined you two. She's too grumpy!"
Kasa shouted, "I heard that!"
Blue said, "Raven? How about you join Kasa? I want to talk to Smiley about some stuff."
"Sure." I climbed unto Kasa's canoe and saw her praying after putting the lantern back into the water.
I asked, "Do you usually wish for something?"
"Yes. Wish come true. I wish for my family. I remember little. I hope family is safe. Raven, You new here?"
I wanted to know about my family, but my memories weren't coming back soon. "Yeah. I don't know what this place is, but it's pretty. I love the paper lanterns. How do these places show up?"
"We dream and world come true. My favorite place is lantern. I happy and it is safe. You?"
"I guess I came up with a field of grass and lights in the sky. I love all these places. How did you meet Smiley and Blue?"
"Oh. I meet Smiley first and Blue second. Smiley has everywhere computer. He smart and funny. We joke a lot."
"I saw that. What do you guys do all the time?"
"We like places and we like talk together. I remember little but it okay. Smiley and Blue make fun! I happy to meet girl. Too many boy in this world."
I could tell that Kasa didn't need anything more. She enjoyed the world that was there. She didn't want to go anywhere else or beyond what she had. She had grown attached to where she was just like everyone else did. I understood why people loved this place. It kept them safe and it was what brought them happiness. It was sort of like an escape. I still felt the need to find out what was unknown. Kasa paddled us back to where the bridge was. We climbed out of the canoe. Kasa tied the canoe to the pole sticking out of the ground. Smiley and Blue followed us and we all went up to the red and black bridge that had lamps on either side.
Kasa brought out papers and began writing down characters in Japanese. After she wrote down the characters, she pulled out a knife and began cutting the paper. As I stared at the knife, I pictured a knife held in a man's hand. I didn't know who. I closed my eyes as if that would help me remember. The memories came back to me like a storm. I had to press my palms against the pain in my head. The agony grew inside me. I fell down to my knees with salty tears flowing down my cheeks. Blue rushed over to me and held me in his arms and he whispered through my hair, "It'll be okay." His t-shirt was damp with my tears. He didn't seem to mind at all. He patted my back as if he knew what I was crying about. Kasa and Smiley looked at me worriedly.
Blue continued to comfort me. My eyes burned from crying continuously and the bright lights didn't help either. I closed my eyes and drifted to sleep. In my dreams, I saw a man staring down at me. His evil grin tormented me and he had a knife in his hands. He wanted me. I wouldn't let him have me. I ran as fast as I could, but he was faster than me. As soon as he grabbed my arm, I heard shouts.
"Raven! Raven! Wake up!" I opened my eyes to see Blue staring down at me. For a split second he looked like someone I had met. It was just another school year and cliques were already formed. No one bothered to get to know one another. There was a boy named Connor and he caught the eyes of many girls. He was the new kid that made that rule impossible. He was meant to stand out. Everyone wanted to be around him; he was like the light that drew moths in. I wasn't like him, not a lot of people wanted to associate with me - I wasn't a beneficial factor that helped them climb the social ladder.
Occasionally I would watch him stare out the window. I was always curious as to what he was looking at. One day I gathered up all of my courage and asked him.
"What are you looking at?"
He pointed at the sky and he said, "Did you ever notice that clouds move? I can't stop staring at it. It's odd. I'd think that a cloud has a certain shape, but after staring at it for a while, it changes. It keeps changing shapes - it's like it tells a story. " He smiled and gazed into my eyes. It was like he read me and he knew what I was thinking - I fell in love with him.
He continued, "It's like the world wants to tell you something, but you don't listen." There was sorrow in his eyes, but I felt like it was just my misunderstanding. Why would he be sad? That's when Connor blew me farther down the path that changed me.
He held my hand and whispered, "Do you want to go see it?"
I nodded without realizing the consequences. He pulled me up and we ran out of the classroom. Everyone stared at us speechlessly and Mr. Sanders wasn't pleased with us running off. I could hear his shouts to get us back in the classroom. That day, I knew that I got into something I would never forget. Connor and I went out to a field with a vast sky. We sat there pointing out clouds and laughing our hearts away. I felt that it ended too soon when I went home. I was looking forward to seeing him the next day. When I got to school, I heard everyone whisper. Connor was gone. Just as fast as I met him, he was gone. Connor was in the hospital. I tried to search for him, but he was nowhere. No one would tell me what had happened to him. Why would he be in the hospital? Years passed after that and I never met him again.
Connor stared down at me. My head was in his lap and he was sitting next to the bridge. He worriedly asked, "Are you okay? Looked like you had a nightmare."
I got up and called out, "Connor?" There was shock all over his face.
"How did you know that?"
"I remembered. I know you."
"I think that I should tell you something; now that you remember everything. I haven't been telling you everything. I knew everything from my past. When I saw you, I knew instantly that you were Sarah. We met before. You look the same, you're beautiful. I didn't want to hide it from you, but it wasn't my time to tell you - I couldn't. If I told you everything right away, you would just leave. You wouldn't want to see any of this." He was right. If I did know the truth, I wouldn't know how beautiful this place was. I would want to leave and find my parents. I wouldn't stay behind and let myself enjoy. I felt that I didn't deserve it.
"I understand why you didn't tell me, but couldn't you have told me the truth? I would've understood. You didn't have to lie about not remembering anything. Why couldn't you tell me your story? What happened in your past?" He waited a long time before telling me his past. I could tell it was going to be a long story.
"I had just turned 17 that summer and I thought that it'd be another pleasant birthday, but it was different and my life changed. I came home and found out that my parents were going through a divorce. It was all because my mom had found someone else. She didn't love him anymore. I was devastated and I didn't want to choose between my parents. My mom chose to move away to Arizona with the other guy and my dad chose to stay in California. Of course I chose to stay with my dad. I didn't realize that my parents were lying to me. My dad was the one finding other women and my mom didn't have anyone. They knew that I had a life in California. I had friends there and everyone I knew was in California. If I knew the truth, I would choose to stay with mom. All because I didn't know, I told her that I hated her and that I never wanted to see her again. I hated the fact that she would betray dad and hurt me as well. I didn't know anything. That same day, I got a call from a police officer. She had hung herself." Tears fell down Blue's cheek. I felt the world shift color - a darker shade. It felt like the truth didn't belong in this beautiful world. It sucked out all the color and left only black and grey.
"How was I supposed to know? I didn't even get to say goodbye or tell her I loved her. After she committed suicide, everyone began talking about it. They spoke amongst each other, but I heard it - I heard them talking about me. They all began pointing their fingers at me. They said that if I at least went with my mother, she would've stayed alive; if I at least cared about her. Who were they to tell me this, but it was true. If I did go with her, she wouldn't have killed herself. I couldn't live anymore. On the day of my mother's funeral, my dad chose to stay over at some other women's house. It broke me. I wanted to get away so badly. I couldn't live. It didn't make sense that my mom died and I wasn't the one that did. So I went to the ocean. There was this cliff that led straight down to the deep end of the ocean. I jumped off and committed suicide. I decided that I'd choose my own destiny. I don't know what happened, but I ended up here in this place. After recovering my memories, I searched for my mom, but she was nowhere. I don't know what this place is. I thought it was heaven, but if it is, why do people vanish? Why isn't she here?"
He was just an inch away, but he was so distant. I realized it now. We both loved this place and were too attached. The only difference was that I wanted to move on even though my past would never leave me. I still felt that it was my fault my parents were killed. I knew why I committed suicide. I wanted to because of the pain, but Blue didn't want to trust anyone - he couldn't. People lied to him and left him. It was so soon. I hardly got to meet everyone, but I already had this connection between us. Blue was watching out for me even though he knew the truth. He wanted me to see the world that no one else approved. This wasn't real.
"Blue, you have got to let it go. You have to free yourself. You can't stay here forever. I want to stay here with everyone, but staying here made me realize something in the end. It's not real. "
"You're just like everyone else. You want me to vanish." Those words stabbed into me like a knife. Have you ever lost someone special to you? Have you ever hated your life to the point that you wanted to kill yourself?"
"I know that more than you think I do. I never hated my parents, but I lost them. I also lost my sister. Do you want to know how?"
He was quiet.
"My life was great and I loved my parents. They made me laugh and I had memories that I cherished. I thought that I'd see them another 50 years. One day I was walking home from school and a man started following me. I was scared, so I began sprinting towards home. As soon as I got home, I locked all the doors. Right when I thought I was safe, he called me. He told me that he had each one of my family members captive in the basement. He told me that if I gave myself up I wouldn't have to see them die. I did what he told me to do, but I called the cops and left my phone in my pocket. I went downstairs and he was right. My dad, mom and sister were tied up in chairs. They all had the same horrified look in their eyes. All of them telling me to escape - I couldn't do it. I told him to let them go, but he had that crazy grin on his face. He wasn't going to follow the agreement. The cops came and their sirens rang throughout the house. He was furious. He began slitting their throats and one by one, all of them died… As soon as he tried to get to me, the cops got him. I was the only one left. Why me? After everything, I was sent to live in a foster home. I couldn't live on with these memories. I jumped in front of a truck and my last memories were of a raven in the sky. I don't love my past, but I want to give my future another chance. So please don't run away anymore. Blue, I will be with you. If we continue a new life, I will be with you. So please don't let your past keep you from starting again. I don't want to vanish. My past haunts me too. I know that, but life has to continue. I want you to understand that everyone here must've experienced the same things you have. I love this place so much and I know it saved me, but your memories won't go away. It stays with you forever. The pain won't ever go away. You have to know that. The crazy thing is, I love this place and what happened to me. I do. I love how I got to meet you again. I love how I love you." He smiled and squeezed my hands in his.
"Raven. I get it now. I'm not sure if I could let go of my past that quickly, but I know that someday I will. Thanks for that long story. I never thought that I'd see you here. It shocked me when I saw you on the beach. I thought you weren't real, but when you appeared in front of me, I had to talk to you. I wonder what it would've been like if I didn't jump." There was shock in Blue's eyes. He grabbed my hands and left a small note in them. I stared down at my hands and it became translucent. I could see through my hands. I saw Blue waving and I didn't want to leave him, but I had to.
"Blue, promise to meet me again!" Before completely vanishing I saw that amazing smile that I fell in love with. I awoke on a bed with a monitor beeping consistently behind me. People came running towards me, "She's awake!" Nurses and doctors rushed towards me and began asking me questions. "Do you remember anything? What is your name?"
"I'm Sarah. I live in a foster home and I don't have parents. There? Could you just leave me alone for a bit?"
All of them stared at each other and nodded. "Looks like she remembers." The nurses and doctors went back to what they were doing. They were checking up on other patients. I looked around the room and found no one there. I was alone once again. The only thing that was left was that memory. I wanted to go there again, but it wasn't real and I had to enjoy now.
As I was getting ready to leave my room, a note fell out from the bed sheets. I almost forgot the note that Blue left me. I opened up the crumpled up paper. It read, Raven you changed me. After I tell you the truth, you'll be long gone. I don't know if I'll ever see you again. I don't think you'll read this either. You might be in heaven or you might have become part of the earth. I don't care what you've become. I want to be with you wherever you go. Remember…
As soon as I finished reading that note, I heard someone hum a familiar melody. I dropped everything and ran towards the sound. I needed to. It's what saved me. Life has a way of unexpectedly plucking you out and placing you somewhere unknown. You'd think that it was all a mistake and that you don't belong. You start to doubt your surroundings and you start to fall deeper into the wrong side of the world. You know what's there, but you want to be like everyone else. You want to call it wrong and you want to deny everything. You want to escape and you want to be free. So you fall deeper and deeper. The only thing stopping you is that song - it's familiar and it saves you.