Traveler*

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Our dear Traveler finds herself in the a journey to meet a certain 'someone' who apparently wants to meet her, according to her dead grandfather's ghost.

Submitted: April 10, 2009

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Submitted: April 10, 2009

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Traveler:

Closer To Far Away






I was taking a stroll down memory lane one night when a great noise startled me into the present. My room was dark except for the moon’s borrowed light shining into my only window. I got out of bed and looked out of the window. There I saw my dead grandfather’s ghost smiling up at me. He raised a gray wrinkly hand to wave at me. I was too scared to scream but I managed to run back to my bed and hide under the covers.

“Dear, come with me for a while, will you?” I knew who was talking.

“Gramps, why are you here?” I wanted to cry.

“Can you not spare an old man some time?” He sat onto my bed. “You know, I missed you all so much. I just want to show you something.”

He sounded so sincere and so sad that I could not find it in me to say no. I slowly took off my blanket and was shocked once again. I was in a forest alone. I looked down and saw that my blanket was still in my stiff hands. “Gramps? Grampa!” I stood up and wrapped the blanket around me and started walking. I could hear the owls hooting and a million other critters making the night creepier than it already was. I saw a path and I decided to follow it. Walking onwards, this time I did cry. “Gramps, where are you?”

“I’m right here. Sorry, I’m late. I had to ask someone a favor.”

I wiped my eyes and walked on with my grandfather’s ghost right beside me. “Where are we going?”

“Hm, somewhere nice. I promise.” He looked up at the pale moon and smiled sadly. “How are your brothers?”

I looked at him. “They’re good. A little too rowdy but they’re doing good.”

He chuckled. “That’s good. What about your parents?”

I shrugged. “Okay, I guess. They get along fine, just like always.”

“Good.” He picked up a dead tree branch and started scratching the trees that ran alongside the tiny road that we walked. “And how are you?”

“I’m alright.”

“Is that right?” He turned at gave me a look.

I gave him a smile to reassure him. I was perfectly fine. Life was smooth as glass.

“Someone wanted me to tell you that you don’t have to live like you do if you’re not happy with it.”

“What do you mean? And who told you such a thing?” I was honestly curious. My grandfather was not one to joke around.

“Someone kind took notice.”

“Took notice of what?” I looked away from him, afraid that he might be able to read my thoughts. “I told you, everything’s good. Whoever said that was mistaken, Gramps. We’re okay. I’m okay.” When I turned to face him again, he had vanished. “Gramps, stop doing that.” I waited and waited but he never showed up again. I called out to him, sure that he was close by. “Gramps? What are you doing? I thought you wanted to go somewhere?”

“Go straight,” his quiet voice whispered in the air. “Don’t stray from the path and you’ll see it.”

“See what? Where do you want me to go?” He did not answer.

I walked on, the night seemed to have stopped moving towards dawn. I was feeling tired and less scared by the time I got to a brick wall. From what I could see there was no way in. There seemed to be a light far off to the right but my grandfather told me not to stray from the path and so I yelled. “Anybody on the other side?” When no one answered, I tried again. “Can you let me in, please? A rope or a ladder would be nice.” I sat down in defeat and leaned back against the wall. I fell down on my back and saw that there was an archway on the brick wall. “That wasn’t there before!” I said aloud out of surprise.

“You’re right. I just put it there.”

I turned and saw a handsome man smiling gently at me and reaching out a hand. His hair was silver-white like the moon and it grew up to his waist, loose in the soft breeze.

“Who are you? Do you know Gramps?”

He chuckled, his hair shining in the wind. “I’m Aura. I do know your Gramps. He asked me for a favour.” As soon as he had helped up onto my feet he turned around. “Now, let’s get going, shall we?”

“Where are we going?” I felt like that question was vital in keeping me sane.

“Your Gramps didn’t tell you?”

I shook my head as I followed close to him. “Not at all.”

He chuckled again. “He has his reasons, I guess.”

“Are you going to tell me, then?”

“No. If he didn’t think it was necessary, then I am in no position to go against him.”

“This is all a dream isn’t it? I’m just dreaming, aren’t I?”

This time, he laughed. “I will tell you now that you are most definitely not dreaming. You’re not going crazy either.”

“Then what is all this? I don’t understand at all!”

“You will at the right moment. You are a traveler now.”

I kept quiet and followed him, annoyed and scared. Only then did I realize that we were not even in the forest anymore. Everywhere was black. I could not see anything beyond us. The only light source was his shiny silver-white hair. I scuttled closer to his side. He glanced at me and smiled. “Don’t worry. It’s just a tunnel we’re passing through.”

“Tunnel? More like a black hole.”

He chuckled. “There will be noises up ahead. Pay no attention to them or else.”

“Or else what?”

He stopped walking. “Shh. Be quiet now.” He took hold of my hand and resumed walking.

Soon enough I started hearing groans and moans, and screams and howls. I shivered in fear. I gripped his hand firmer as we walked on. Something took hold of my blanket. “Ahh!” I let go of it when something cold touched my hand. The noises escalated in volume and I feared that my eardrums would burst from the noise. Just when I thought I would faint from anxiety, everything suddenly got bright as daylight.

“Were you scared back there?”

“Who wouldn’t be scared? What were those noises, by the way?”

He was quiet for a while before he answered. “Lost souls.”

“Oh.” I realized what he meant by ‘or else’ at that moment. Blinking in the bright light, I shielded my eyes. “Where are we?”

“Almost there. Don’t look down.”

“Why?” As I asked, I reflexively looked down and realized we were walking on air. Very very far away from the ground, might I add. I screamed because my heart all of a sudden started racing at the thought of falling and dying an awful death. Then I did fall. I was screaming the entire time. Everything whizzed past my eyes and I thought, what a horrible way to die. Suddenly I was in someone’s arms. I looked up at my savior. It was the silver-white haired man. “I told you not to look down.”

My tears came, out of relief. “Sorry.”

He flew higher up and once more we walked on air. This time, I kept my eyes forward.

“See that cloud over there up ahead?” He pointed to a neatly puffed cumulus cloud. “You must get on it to reach your destination. I can’t go beyond this point.” He had stopped walking. “When I say run, you have to run or else.” I did not want to know what ‘or else’ meant this time, so I nodded in understanding. “Run!”

I bolted for the cloud. I was feeling extremely positive about the cloud. It looked as though it would be nice to be able to sit on it. As I kept running, I started to notice that the cloud did not seem to be getting closer at all. I realized it was moving away from me. However, I was determined to catch it. “You’re not getting away from me, Mr. Cloud!”

All of a sudden, the cloud was in front of me and I had no time to react; I ran straight through it.

“I am not Mr. Cloud!” The cloud was saying from behind me.

I had no idea whether I should stop or not since the cloud was talking to me. I kept running.

“I am not Mr. Cloud! I am Jennifer! Are you listening to me?” The cloud, Jennifer, swirled around and around as I ran. “Are you listening to me?”

“I am. Do you know if I can stop running now? I’m getting tired.” I had to huff out my sentences.

Jennifer moved in front of me, moving at my speed. “You can ride on, if you’d like.”

“Thanks. I’d love to but I just ran through you earlier. Won’t I pass through you again?”

“No, no. That was because if I didn’t let you through earlier, you’d be electrocuted.”

“And this time I won’t?” I was doubting her logic.

“I’ll turn it off right now.” The cloud looker whiter and brighter. “Get on.”

I got on the cloud and had to take a few minutes to catch my breath. “Am I not allowed to look down yet?”

“I have no idea. I always just run whenever I see people running towards me. I usually nap back there. I don’t understand why they can’t just walk up to me and ask nicely if they want to get on. I always get scared they might try to catch me or I might kill them accidentally.”

“The person I was with told me to run. Or else.”

“Oh; that person again. He’s just messing with you. If you can run to me why can’t you walk towards me, hm?”

“Maybe the invisible road starts to disappear the moment you step on it?”

“Nonsense.”

I thought about the matter for a while. “Does that mean I can look down? I fell from the sky when I looked earlier.”

“Where you with that person you just mentioned?”

“Yes. His name is Aura, by the way.”

“He did that on purpose. Do you know what he is? A nature-manipulator. If you had been walking on air just fine then there is no way looking down would make you fall. That’s just logic, in my opinion. He just messed up the road so you’d fall when you looked down, I bet.”

I found myself getting irritated once I realized that Jennifer made perfect sense. “What a jerk.”

“He’s not a baby mosquito. Why are you calling him that?”

I blinked, trying to understand what she had just said to me. “I didn’t mean baby mosquitoes when I said jerk. What I meant is that he’s annoying, that’s all.”

“Why were you with him, by the way?”

“My Gramps asked him for a favor.”

“Your Gramps? A favor?”

“Yeah. My grandfather’s ghost asked him for a favor and he led me to you. He said I’m getting closer to my destination.”

“Hm. Where have I heard this story before? It sounds awfully familiar…”

“What? What do you mean?”

“I’ve had someone tell me a similar story but it was such a long time ago, I can hardly remember the details, let alone who mentioned it to me.”

“Jennifer, how often have you had to carry people like this?”

“Well, if I think about it, not that rare, but not that often either. I’m not surprised to see people coming but I don’t anticipate them either. I can count them for you, actually. Just give me a min—“

I fell fast from Jennifer who dissolved into mist until I could not see her anymore. “Jennifer!” I twisted around to see where I was going to crash. There were huge mountain peaks everywhere. Green grass were all over. I saw a shore and the vast blue sea. I kept falling. “Jennifer! Help me!”

“Who’s Jennifer?” An eagle circled me and was plunging downward, matching my speed. “Your friend?”

“Help me, I’m falling!”

“Tsk, tsk. You have to be kidding. Why would you say you’re falling at that speed?”

I was in such panic that I did not realize I was now floating, instead of falling, downward. I had to blink a few times to make sure I was not hallucinating due to fear. I looked around me and saw the ground was still quite far down and I was definitely floating downward like I was before. I looked at the eagle, who was watching me with awfully sharp eyes that I felt like he was expecting me to be full of lies. “What happened to Jennifer?”

“Jennifer? A friend of yours?”

“Uhm, the cloud. She’s the cloud that I was with before I fell off. She disappeared! What happened to her?” I was worried. I did not want to find out that she was gone forever.

“Tsk, tsk. A cloud, you say? Then no need to worry. Clouds always form right back. I’m sure Jennifer, the cloud, was going too low and that’s why you fell off.” The eagle’s sharp eyes blinked.

I looked down below me. “Will you be staying with me for a while?”

“Until you reach the ground, yes. You’re in my territory and thus it is my duty to protect it from any harm and also protect you as a guest. I am called Volo.”

“Do you often guide people down to the ground, Volo?”

“Not often, no. Maybe it is because my subject are the ones usually guarding this area. I tend to negotiate for bigger air space with other air inhabitants like myself. Today is my day off.”

“So you decided to guard this area on your day off?”

“Exactly right.” The eagle looked down. “Yonder is a path. Follow it and you shall reach civilization.” Suddenly, the eagle fluttered about in an agitated manner.

“What’s wrong?”

Volo shook his head. “There is someone down by the path there watching us.”

“What?” I looked down. “Who? Where?” I tried to look straight down but I was involuntarily turning in all kinds of directions. I could not see anyone. The small path was visible; it carved a pale brown line on the expanse of green grass. The mountains were quite close to one side of the path and the sea shore was quite far on the opposite side. We were quite close to the ground by this time; close enough that I would be able to see if there was a person standing anywhere close the path. I frowned at the eagle. “Are you sure? Maybe it was the sun in your eyes.”

Volo looked at me, his eyes somehow sharper than before. “Careful what you say. Our eyes are what we eagles pride ourselves with.” He looked down again and started fluttering in an even more agitated manner than before. “He’s right there. Can you not see him? He’s right there!”

“Why are you panicking? It’s just a person--” I stopped mid-sentence as I realized the possibilities of who or what could be waiting for us down there. “If it’s dangerous, then maybe we should land somewhere else.” I tried walking or running or fluttering upwards but it was not working.

“That is not possible. This is the only landing perimeter in this area. If you manage to get out of it, you’ll plunge down like a rock. I doubt you want that.”

I kept silent for a while, still trying to look at what was causing the eagle such distress. “How dangerous is it?”

Volo shook his head. “That is a shadow being. I am not particular with what they are able to do, but I know enough to avoid them. “I shall escort you down as promised, but the moment your feet touches the ground, I shall be gone. I am sorry.”

“Why can’t you stay with me? I’m sure with the two of us we can fight it if we have to!” I was starting to feel gravity. My body felt heavy. I stared at Volo in horror. “Volo! Don’t leave me! Please!”

“I cannot stay any longer.” With that, he flashed upwards without another word and I was standing on the ground. Everything was quiet. I could feel I was not alone.

“Come now.” I thought I heard a sigh. “Not being able to see me is probably for the best. I can already taste your fear.”

I turned around to see where the hoarse voice came from but I could spot no one. “Please, don’t hurt me. I am only a traveler.”

“Ah, yes. Traveler. So am I, for now. Shall we travel together?”

By this time I was confused. My fears faded and I became curious. “Why were you waiting here?”

“Oh. Simple question. Someone told me to wait ‘for a pretty little maiden’ like yourself.” I heard a thump thump thump of heavy footsteps. “Said you’d be from the sky so I was looking.”

“Was it Aura?”

The voice was closer to me. “Who’s Aura? Anyway, I should introduce myself. I am called Mungo.” A pause. I thought he was probably bowing down. It seemed like what he would do, judging from how he talked like a well-educated being. “If I take you past the village, then I will have my shadow monkeys back.”

“Shadow monkeys?”

“My minions. I only have quite a few, sadly. Not a lot of them respect me as of yet. Frustrating for a shadow creature such as myself, really. Why don’t you start walking, eh? Just follow the path. I’ll be right behind you.”

“Who exactly made you wait here and took your minions as collateral?”

“I don’t know exactly but he was nice enough asking me; not a lot of people do that these days.”

“Hm.” I looked ahead of me. The path went straight for miles. “And this path will reach the village?”

“Yep. I am glad you cannot see me right now. I haven’t been able to talk to anybody in ages.”

“What about the people in the village? Don’t you talk to them?”

He laughed. It was like thunder in my ears. “Oh-ho-ho. When we get to the village you’ll see.”

“See what?”

He laughed again. “You’re a funny traveler. I like you already.”

I felt uncomfortable and yet I felt at ease at the same when he said that. “You really have no idea who made you wait for me?” I asked him again while we walked on.

“No, but he was awfully nice to me; I like him.”

I frowned in concern about his trust towards others. “Even though he took your pets? I mean, your minions; sorry.”

“No worries. Well, in my opinion, it was only right for him to take something of mine to make sure I brought him what he asked for, right?”

“But you’re the one doing him a favour!” I turned around in earnest concern (wasn’t he being tricked?) but I realized all too clearly how alarming it was to be walking with and talking to someone invisible.

“That does not matter. Would you easily assume everyone as honest as to just do whatever a stranger tells them to, hm?”

I certainly saw the point in his statement. “I understand, but you wouldn’t usually think everyone around you are all bad, right?”

“True, but some creatures, beings or people do live like that, unfortunately.”

We walked on for hours but not once did I feel hunger, thirst or even fatigue. The setting sun seemed to be stuck halfway down the horizon eternally. It was something new that I was witnessing. I kept waiting for myself to feel tired or even sweat a little from all the hiking we were doing but not even a single sweatdrop would appear on my skin. “Mungo. Aren’t you tired?”

“No. Are you exhausted? We haven’t walked that far yet.”

“We haven’t?” From my estimation, I was sure we had been walking for more than four hours now. I scratched my head in confusion. “What time is it right now?”

“Hm, the sun is setting so it should be close to twilight.”

“I can see that. But what is the time right now, specifically?”

“I don’t understand what you mean. That is the most specific time-telling gets. You must be tired. Let’s stop for a while.”

“No, no, no. I’m really okay. Forget I asked that question.” I silently trudged on and was starting to think my mind was not functioning well when all of a sudden Mungo laughed.

“There’s the village now. Do you see it?”

I squinted to look, I couldn’t see anything close to the horizon. “There’s nothing there, Mungo.”

“Oh, my bad. You’ll see it when we get closer.”

“What do you mean? Is it quite close?”

“Very close. You just can’t see it from this distance because you’re human, right?”

“I guess.” I felt extremely inferior to Mungo at that moment. “There must be lots of things humans can’t see in this place, huh?”

He laughed again. “Yes, yes. That’s exactly right.”

All of a sudden a mist formed in front of my eyes, thickening until I could not even see the light of the sun. When it cleared, we were in the village. “Amazing.”

He chuckled just as I heard numerous shrieks and awful cries. I looked around to see the people running away from us. “Why are they running?”

“They are called the three-eyed people. They can see me as clear as day.”

“Oh.” I could hear cries for help and mercy. I even heard someone say that I was controlling a shadow creature, which was shocking on my part. I tried imagining how Mungo looked but I couldn’t so I asked him about his appearance.

“Well, I am a handsome beast, if I may so myself. These tusks make me look like a king. And my glorious silver-brown mane; just fantastic. My followers believed me to be such a stud, you know. Even though I’ve had my share of admirers, I would never betray my One and Only.”

“Your One and Only?” I asked, quite amused by his words.

“Yes. Oh, look, there he is. Up ahead.”

I squinted. “Where? There’s no one there.”

“Your human eyes can’t see like our eyes, remember?”

“Oh.” I was confused for a while. “So your One and Only is coming to meet us?”

He laughed so loud I thought my eardrums had burst. “No. The man who has my minions. My one and only is back at our lovely ancient cavern quite a ways from here.”

I blinked and tried to focus on the distance up ahead. I was sure it was Aura who had tricked Mungo into waiting for me. After all, he was the one who tricked me into running towards Jennifer. We cleared out of the village and I was not even two steps out of it when I suddenly saw a man in front of me. It was him. Although his hair was dark as night, I was sure it was him.

“This will be good, Mungo. Thank you. Your minions are with your One and Only back at your place so no need to worry about them.” The man smiled gently.

“Okie-dokie. Bye-bye, little miss traveler. I’ll be seeing you around.” I heard his footsteps going further and further from me.

The man looked at me. “Well, shall we go on then?”

I did not move one bit. “Why is this never ending? Is there really a point to my coming here?”

“Your grandfather wanted you to meet that person, did he not? I am only taking you to him.”

“Why is your hair like that? Wasn’t it silver before?” I asked out of annoyance.

He chuckled. “That’s my twin brother, Aura. I am Shadow.”

“You better not have the same personality as him.”

He smiled, amused. “He isn’t all that bad.” He started walking down the path.

“And where are you taking me this time?” I followed behind him.

“He didn’t tell you?” he asked.

“No. I really must be dreaming after all. This is just not making any sense. Where would I go in the middle of the night with so many weird tour guides including my gramps?” I sighed in despair. I was getting irritated with all the walking I was doing.

“I will tell you now, this is most definitely not a dream. And I apologize for my brother if he had done something annoying to you.” He suddenly stopped walking and faced me. “As an apology, let me carry you instead.”

“What? No, I can walk--”

He scooped me up off the ground and walked. “It’s okay. This way you won’t get too tired.”

His handsome face was too much for me in such close proximity. “I’m okay. I can walk just fine.” It was bringing out the worst in me. “Just let me walk.”

“A human can’t walk on shadow grounds. You’ll fall right through and get lost in the darkness.”

“See, saying things like that reminds me of your twin, if that’s even a story I should believe, so just put me down and I’ll walk.”

He looked down at me, apparently hurt by my insistence. “I am sorry you feel that way. I am telling you the truth, however.”

I looked away from him, somehow feeling guilty. I realized there was nothing in front of us except the darkness. I blinked several times to try and make my eyes adjust to it but I was practically blind. “Where are we all of a sudden?” I looked back up at him but I could not even see his face. I was sure he was still carrying me because I could still feel his hands. I reached out a hand to make sure. Yep; he was there; my hand was all over his face.

“May I ask what you’re doing?” He sounded offended.

I sighed in relief. “Just making sure I wasn’t being carried by a ghost.”

He was quiet for a while. “Ah, yes. Humans can’t see shadow beings in Shadowland. I, on the other hand, can see you quite clearly.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“Then what am I doing right now?” I stuck out my tongue at him.

“Sticking your tongue out at me.”

“You’re just guessing,” I countered, but I was finding the whole thing funny. “What about now?” I puffed up my cheeks.

“Puffing up your cheeks. You look like your enjoying this.”

I felt myself blush as I laughed. “I’m sorry. One last time. How many fingers am I holding up?”

“Three.”

“I am so jealous. How come you get to see in the dark and humans don’t?”

He chuckled. “That is not something for me to answer.”

Suddenly, a small light pierced the darkness and I sighed in relief. “We’re almost out of here, right?”

“Hm, not quite. You may see the Ray of Hope but it really takes a long time to get there, even for us shadow beings. Why don’t you take a little nap instead? I’ll wake you when we are close to it.”

“I don’t think I can sleep while I’m being carried like this. I’m not tired too, so that’s okay. Are you okay? Can you cope with my weight?”

He chuckled again. “You hardly weigh anything in Shadowland. Nothing weighs more than a speck of dust.”

“Then why did you say I would fall and get lost if I walked?”

“Because there is no path for you to walk, there is nothing but shadow here. I blend with the Shadowland when I walk but you will filter through it and since there is nothing but shadow you’ll be… stuck in space like dust floating forever, shall we say? Yes, something like that.”

I shrugged. “Makes sense.” I was thinking things over inside my head. “Can I ask you something?”

“Go ahead.”

“Am I ever going to reach that person?”

“Of course. That is the purpose of your travel. You’ll like the place too.”

“I’m not so sure I would want to stay there.”

“Why not?”

“I have people that I’ll be leaving behind.” I already felt as though being in this journey sealed me to a fate where I could no longer return to my family.

“We all leave people behind. It’s part of life.”

“You can say that but it’s hard.”

“What is hard?”

I was about to answer him but he distracted me when he said, “Oh look, the Ray of Hope is there, see?”

I turned and saw the bright light getting bigger and bigger.

“Hold your breath once I step through the light. If you don’t, you might get left behind.”

I gulped. “Okay.” I waited anxiously on his mark. He was walking briskly now.

“Get ready to hold it…” he said as he walked on. “And now.” We broke through the light and soon I found myself floating in midair among pinkish white clouds. “Where in the world…?”

“Welcome. I have been greatly anticipating your presence.” I heard a man’s voice from all around me.

I looked around in worry. “Where am I? What happened to, uh, to Shadow?”

“No need to worry. They cannot be harmed. They are a part of me; they are essentially me in different bodies. ”

This made me think back. “So even their personalities are yours as well?” I said, quite disapprovingly. “That doesn’t sound too comforting, seeing as how I’m supposed to meet a kind person like my gramps said.” I already had a feeling that this voice or whatever it was was the one that my grandpa wanted me to meet.

“Indeed your grandfather was the one I talked to about this whole meeting.” There was a pause. “Tell me, how would you like it if you could stay here?” As soon as the voice uttered the last word, the clouds gave way to a world I would never have imagined possible in my life. There were streams flowing like crystals shining in the sun the birds’ songs were lullabies that eased the worry out of my heart and in it’s place, a newfound feeling of contentment filled me. I turned around, now able to walk, staring wide-eyed at the marble palace that seem to grow from the pinkish white clouds that I have encountered only a while ago. Glittering trees were spread out to as far as my eyes could see. There were people but they didn’t look quite like humans. Their skin were glittering orange-pink like a sunset. They gathered around me, smiling and nodding in acknowledgement. A man dressed in white stood in front of the palace. I was certain I could recognize Aura in his countenance but I also saw Shadow in his manners. He must have been the one talking to me earlier. He walked royally down the steps and approached me. “Forgive my early misbehavings; even gods can get swept up in the moment.”

I took it as an apology for making me fall down when I looked down after he specifically instructed me not to. “Where am I?”

At this, he smiled sadly. “If I told you, you will never be able to leave. Is that alright with you?”

At that, I shook my head. “No, I don’t want to know that badly. I’m fine not knowing.”

He smiled warmly now. “Look at the bright side, you can call it whatever you wish.”

I nodded. “That makes sense.” After nodding for quite a while, I asked, “So why did you want to meet me again?”

“Come with me.” He offered his hand and I took it. He walked me up the steps and into the palace. The people outside where waving and smiling and hooting in celebration for reasons I was unsure of. The doors opened as we passed through, closing behind us quietly. We walked up the mable stairs and continued onto numerous hallways until we reached a room that only had two chairs with a small golden table in between the two. He ushered me to one before he himself sat on the other. He looked at me with such intensity then that I felt scared of him. I wanted to look away but I could not. He put one hand above the table for a few seconds. When he took his hand away, a glowing orb remained suspended in midair, pulsing like a heart. Then his look softened as he he smiled at me. “Now, tell me what I don’t know.”

I was confused. “What do you mean?”

“I know your circumstance, I know your family tree, I know the people you’ve interacted with, I know what you’ve been doing throughout your life--every single day of your life, actually--and I even know what you were doing before I made plans to meet with you, but there’s something that I don’t know.” He smiled patiently. “Tell me.”

“Tell you what?” After hearing what he just said, I was disturbed and frightened thoroughly. “You seem to know everything about me.”

He shook his head. “No. Of course that’s not true.” He looked at me then with the same intense look he had earlier. “I don’t know your thoughts.”

I was quiet for a few moments, trying to understand his purpose. “You want to know my thoughts? About what?”

“About everything.” His eyes had softened again. “I want to know.”

I didn’t know what to say. I opted for the common things I’ve thought about. “Well, I think traveling should be a more accessible function in the world.”

“And haven’t you been traveling to reach this place easily enough?” he asked.

“Well, this isn’t really what I meant. This doesn’t count. I mean it should be more common and… I don’t know, people should be able to do it whenever they want as many times as they want , let’s say, in a year or something like that.” I remembered how I had wanted to move away from my family a long time ago. I had felt very disconnected and being with them in the same house had been too much to bear.

“It should be as you say, but why do you think it is not so in your world?”

I sighed; I knew the answer perfectly well. “There are a lot of reasons actually. If you don’t have enough money, if you’re too sick to leave the house or maybe you’re too busy with life…there’s not enough time for it.”

“Hm. Then it good that this place does not need money nor do people get sick here. They’re not too busy either.” The man smiled as he looked at the glowing orb. He touched it with a finger and afterwards, leaving it alone, he murmured, “Strange indeed.”

He looked up at me again. “What else?”

“What else?” I repeated back to him. “Uhm…”

“What do you want to be?” he asked when I was just about to say something.

“Pardon?” I was unsure of what he meant.

“The question is asked in your world quite often, especially around your age. Now tell me, what do you want to be?”

I got it. He meant what I wanted to be when I grow up. Those questions never do stop coming until you start working, then it seems to just fade away. “Well, I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I also want to be a doctor as well a business manager even a restaurant owner or chef. There are a lot of things I want to be, but again not enough time in one lifetime, for me anyways.” I thought about how my mother had discouraged me from studying language arts in university. She had said that becoming a writer was not a livelihood that will be able to sustain me and my future family. I believed her then.

“And why is that?” His head was tilted to one side, a look of puzzlement in his eyes.

“What? Why is what what?” I sounded crazy.

He chuckled. “Why is it that time, for you, is always not enough?”

“Because it just isn’t.” I replied matter-of-factly. “I’m too busy with school right now and work is also hectic, I can’t just stop either one.” My mother had always told me and my brothers: Finish from school then you can do whatever you want with your life. It seemed like a good plan. Yet I’ve always felt that even after I finish university, I wouldn’t be able to do whatever I want with my life. I was already on the rigid road; I have no idea how to leave it."

“You can always change the time.”

“No, I can’t.” I looked at him in disbelief. Why would he say something like that?

He laughed at my expression. “Now, now. You’ve always done it yourself. You change your time on your phone or on your watch or in your portable video games. So why are you telling me now that you can’t change it?”

“That’s different. I only change it slightly so that I don’t get late for work or I can wake up earlier if I wanted to.” I didn’t say anything about the video games; it was too creepy hearing him say it.

He frowned in confusion. “So you can change it slightly, but you cannot always change it?” He shook his head. “What a paradoxical world. I say, if time can be changed slightly, then you can change it considerably as well.” He looked at the orb again. “But I guess, I do not reside in that world and I must not understand it truly, eh?”

He stood up and walked towards a table where a glass pitcher and little glasses stood neatly. He poured what looked like water into two glasses and carried them over, offering one to me. I took it with a quiet thank you. Curious, I took a sip. It was sickly sweet. My face must have shown what I thought of it before I could control my reaction and he laughed. “Dear me, I must apologize. This is the only drink we have in this place; it is all I can offer you.”

I shook my head. “No, don’t worry about it. It’s fine, thank you.” I held on to the glass, looking at the familiar liquid and yet it’s taste was foreign to me.“And by the way, you’re one of the few who actually took a sip.” He smiled, watching me.

Somehow, I felt happy that I was sitting and talking with this man. Everything around me was something new and unfamiliar; it was slightly exciting.

“Is this interview all that I’m here for?” I wanted to make sure.

“Well, I could always give you a tour of the place,” he offered.

“Okay, so it’s not like I’m stuck here, right?”

He chuckled. “I would never keep you here if you didn’t want to stay.” He looked at me, expecting a reply that I would never say aloud.

“I don’t want to bother you with a tour. Instead, could you tell me what that orb is for?” I wondered if I changed the topic too fast. I wanted the tour but I couldn’t say it aloud.

He sighed. “Ah, the orb. It records.”

“Records what?”

“Thoughts. I brought it out so I can learn the thoughts you have circling in your mind at this moment. It will teach me whether later I have to convince you or not.”

“What does that mean?” I was a bit scared that the orb could record my thoughts; does that mean he could hear my thoughts to? “So right now, you know what I’m thinking because of that orb?” How rude. I was starting to feel annoyed again.

“Don’t get the wrong idea. I cannot hear your thoughts or read your mind. The orb only records everything that comes through your mind at this time. The fact that your in this room makes the orb unusable for me. I cannot listen to it’s recording until you have left this room.”

“Ah.” I was still annoyed. How could he just say that to someone? No one seemed to be recording his thoughts. “That’s kind of unfair, don’t you think? You can listen to other’s thoughts and yet other people can’t hear yours.”

He smiled, somewhat cunningly. “Are you curious about my thoughts? Would you really want to hear them even though you haven’t returned to your world yet?”

I didn’t know what he meant but his question was a little threatening, it seemed to me. “No, not really. I don’t really care.” I lied.

He stared at me intensely for a while. Then he shrugged. “Too bad. You might have liked what you were about to hear.”

I didn’t know what to say so I stayed quiet.

“Alright.” He clasped his hands together and walked towards the terrace; I didn’t even realize there was a terrace. “Let’s get you back to your world.”

I felt sad that I had to go already. I wanted to know more about the place, about the people, about him. I was disappointed to say the least. “Okay.” I followed him, leaving the glass with the sweet water on the table.

He turned to look at me. “Remember, I would never keep you here if you didn’t want to stay.” He smiled a small smile. “Off you go then.”

I wanted to stay. I wanted to stay even for a little while longer. I wanted to talk to him, even if he was a complete stranger to me. I wanted to know more about his world. I already knew about my world and yet there I stood, about to go back. “If I wanted to stay, would I ever be able to go back to my world?”

He shook his head. “No.”

“If I left this place now, would I be able to come back?” I wasn’t ready to leave my family. Yet I was eager to learn what my life would be in this place.

“No. Well, that depends.”

“On what?”

“On your thoughts.” He tilted his head towards the orb.

“How does that work?”

“You’re asking too many questions,” he said, chuckling. “I refuse to answer any more.”

“Can’t we work out a deal or something?” I was getting desperate, although I didn’t know why. I did not want to lose my connection to this place.

He took a step closer to me, looking serious. “Look, if you want to stay, just say so. If not, then step through that door. That’s all there is to it.” He took my hand and clasped it tightly. “Choose wisely, dear Traveler.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~o0o~~~~~~~~~~~~~




And which world did the traveler pick? Did she decide to stay in her familiar world with her family? Or did she decide to explore the new world that she was given a chance to glimpse? It is up to the reader to think about this. Curiosity or Familiarity? Which one did the traveler pick?


© Copyright 2018 tin2twinkling. All rights reserved.

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