Gabby (A tale of two)

One.

There was a girl called Lea. She was brought up in an ordinary home with her fairly well-off parents and two older brothers. At her young age, Lea was quiet and tended to keep to her corner, though she knew how to socialise when the need arose. She loved to play piano and grow flowers. She was also intelligent and inquisitive, and these qualities sharpened as she carried them into her teenage years.

Lea excelled in her academics. She was an attentive, perceptive student, always asking questions to gain more understanding and trying to do that little extra. She was at the top of most of her classes, and was determined to go far. By the time she was 15, she convinced herself that she had to be at the top. Her older brothers hadn’t done so well academically, so she wanted to prove to her parents that she was not going to follow the same pattern, that she was better. This attitude began to fuel a type of competitiveness and arrogance in everything she engaged in. She had to be the best.

Lea dreamed of being a successful and prudent woman. She tried to embody this woman in her young age, choking the teenager she was supposed to be. She refused to engage in most common teenage activities and took a far more adult-like approach on things (which, in itself, isn’t a bad thing). Whenever she was with her friends, she was always the more serious one. She was controlling and figured she was far more mature than her friends. She even started dressing like women ten years her senior.

Lea wanted to order everything the way she saw fit. She detested making mistakes or failing or not being able to mentally grasp something. She felt she needed to be on top of everything and understand things around her. Lea wasn’t like this because she was a spiteful or haughty character, it was simply a deep-rooted insecurity that made her feel like she needed to be in control of all the things in her life. An insecurity stemming from the pressure to prove to her parents that she wasn’t just like her brothers.

*

Two.

Now there was another girl, Aria was her name. She was born in east Malaysia to an Englishman and her Malaysian mother. She was a happy child. Always outside, playing with her cousins out in the open fields. Her and her cousins would play many different games. At times they would assemble sticks and rocks, and build structures. They’d also play by the rivers and (unknowing to their parents) sometimes venture deep into the forest to marvel at the wildlife.

Aria went to a private school. Her grades were good, particularly in maths, music and of course English language. She enjoyed singing. Often, she’d go alone out in the fields, sit beneath a tree and sing to the butterflies and birds that glided around and above her. She liked the smell of the flowers, and was full of wonder at all the various colours they presented. To the flowers, too, she’d sing. When Aria turned 12, her mother bought her a harp.

The same year, Aria’s mother fell critically ill. Her father was convinced that there was better, faster treatment in England. He was terrified and erratic inside but he kept his exterior bold and assured. The trio packed all their belongings, as they didn’t know how long treatment would take. Aria had never been on a plane before. Malaysia was all she knew. She, too, was terrified. She held her mother and tried not to cry but to no avail. Tears poured and soaked the both of them. The mother was too weak to embrace her daughter. She died on the plane.

Aria’s father decided to stay in England for a few weeks, which turned to months. Aria missed her family, her home. That was her only connection to her mother, she felt. She began to play her harp more and more – feeling ‘in touch’ with her mother through it.
Aria and her father would visit Malaysia, but they decided to settle in England. She grew up and became stronger and happier as the years passed. She went on to study accounting and finance in Portsmouth university. Also, she became increasingly skilled at the harp. She started writing poetry and songs, and even performed at a number of open shows at bars and such.

*

“If you listen closely, you can hear whispers in the wind. And you can speak through trees, only if they were planted and grown with care,” she says, navigating her way through the forest with Lea close behind.
“Nature is like a portal in which the living can communicate with the dead. There are conditions, though. Both the living and dead participant must have a high enough spiritual energy. And that develops by first educating yourself about the spiritual portals, and then putting that understanding to practice. It takes–”
“Trees are just trees, though. They’re made up of atoms, just like everything else in the universe,” Lea interjects. “Just atoms bound together. That’s science. This spiritual stuff is hard comprehend with science, facts, in the way.”

She smiles.
“See, doesn’t that speak to already? Everything is made up of atoms, right? All things, nature, human beings, planets, stars, everything is connected. We’re all one.”
She stops here and points ahead.
“Just over there”, she says assuring Lea. Ahead of them is an exit to the forest, and a grassy plateau looking over a huge flowery plain.
“Wow.” Lea gawks in astonishment at the scenery.

An array of flowers flourish in front of them. Birds cruise beneath afternoon sun. A gentle breeze blows. The girls settle down on the plateau, and Lea opens her rucksack and withdraws the food they’d bought beforehand.

“So you can really communicate with your mother? Through trees? I just don’t get it,” Lea begins.
“I know it’s difficult. You grew up here. Although it’s apparently a Christian nation, Britain, the while West has a naturalistic world view. They believe in science. Knowledge is their God. Their God becomes bigger the more they discover. But that’s the thing, their God is only as big as information they have. They’ve sold their existence to their five senses and fail to see with their spiritual eyes. Because they feel in control with their knowledge and what they can comprehend. Everything else is myth and superstition.
“If it wasn’t for the frequent trips back to Malaysia, to my family and community who are far more spiritual and in touch with nature, I probably would have never grasped the true depth and reality of the spiritual. I thank the universe for opening my eye.”

Noon falls and the two are still out on the plateau sharing conversation and watching the moon take its’ place in the sky.
“Here, take this. Don’t swallow it, chew it. I’ve got some wine to wash it down.”
“What is this, a pill? Aria you know I don’t do these things,” Lea says reluctantly.
“It’s Xanax. There’s nothing to worry about, I’ve done it plenty time and I’m here with you.”

Without another word, Lea takes the halved pill which Aria ushers to her, and places it in her mouth, then takes it out again.
“It’s not a psychedelic, is it? I’m not going hallucinate and go crazy am I?”
Aria laughs. “You think doctors prescribe hallucinogenic pills to patients?”

Again, saying nothing, Lea places the pill in her mouth, this time she chews. Aria does the same, but a full pill. Some time passes and they both start to feel the effects. Lea is laid on her back, staring into the sky, Aria beside her laying on her side facing Lea. She slowly glides her right hand down Lea’s chest to her pelvis then back up. Lea flinches, and turns her head to Aria.

“Everything okay?”
“All good,” Lea responds. “Why did you just do that?”
“What, this?” Aria runs her hand down her body, this time lifting her top and thin jumper up.
Lea gently pulls Aria’s hand away. “Yes, that. Why are you doing it?”
“It doesn’t feel nice?”
“N–.. well it doesn’t feel bad, it’s just–”
“Strange? That I’m a girl? Or that you’ve never had some caress you like this?”
“Uhm… both?”
“Relax. Girls do these things together all the time. Trust me. And it’s about time someone touched you like this.”

Aria reaches for Lea’s stomach, and slowly slips her hand into her jeans. Lea flinches and lets out a heavy breath. It’s okay, Aria reassures. Feels good, doesn’t it? Lea gasps saying,
“I’ve never felt like this before,” She touches Aria’s faces, then pulls her closer to herself and kisses her intensely.

Just close your eyes and enjoy the trip. You’re young. You’re not this woman you think you are. You’re not perfect. You make mistakes. You’re insecure and afraid that everyone is watching you to make sure you’re as well-adjusted as you portray yourself to be. But you’re young. Lea tells herself this in her head. Just enjoy the trip. And be young.

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Love In The Purple Forest (This side)

I’m floating.
.
.
.

Where am I exactly? I’m not sure. Some kind of abyss. It’s all blackened out. So extremely black that I can’t see anything, myself included. There is nothing but pure darkness around me. A thin and distant and unmistakably real darkness.

I’m floating.

Sinking, actually.

I’m sinking. I’m being swallowed deeper and deeper into this blackness. Gradually, against my most tenacious will, I am being consumed. Wherever I am must have some form of gravitational clout.

How long have I been here? How did I get here? I have no clue. Everything is so distant, every trace of meaning, every slice of clarity, is so far off and sparse, consumed within the blackness. I am in a space where darkness is the only reality. It is so tremendously quiet that the only sound my ears pick up is the steady pounding of my heart.

*

In the very far-flung distance below me, I can suddenly see a tiny glow. It is about the size of a green pea from my distance. A very vibrant, lilac glow. I’ve never been one to be scared of the unknown, so instinctively, I begin to swim towards it. What is it? There is some elusively welcoming nature to the glow that compels me to navigate towards it. The darkness is weightless; I can’t feel water, but I start voyaging towards the lilac light in a swimming motion, as if I really am in water. Instinct.

The closer I edge towards the effulgent mystery, the more bright and sizeable it becomes. From five or so inches in front of it, the spherical light is now about the size of a two-storey building. Grande, warm and immensely lustrous. I can see something forming at the centre of the glow. Something peculiar. Something delicate and alive.

A hand?

A small, pale hand stretches out from within the light towards me. It moves slowly, gingerly. I reach out to it in a retaliative manner and touch it. A familiar feeling instantly traces itself right through my veins, surging through my entire body. The soft hand bears a subtle warmth which transits into my own, and eventually seeps delicately through the rest of my body also. I then begin to feel strangely weightless and tranquil.

Without resistance, I follow the hand as it gently pulls me closer to the light. The hand and I move into the light ever so casually, like it were an ordinary door.

This side.

On this side is a place I’ve never seen before. I appear to be in a forest. And much like any other forest, it is inhabited by a sea of trees as well as an assortment of vegetation, small and large. But, these trees have distinctly coloured leaves. Lilac, orchid, amethyst, violet, iris. And they glow. The glimmering leaves shed a sublime tinge of purple light throughout the entire vicinal area of the forest. Everything within and around the forest is bathed in this brilliant purple. I can hear birds which remain hidden away in the gleaming branches. At a closer listen, vireos immediately come to mind, though I cannot be sure for certain without seeing the source of the unremitting warbles.

In awe, curiosity and everything else in between, I stand frozen, gawking with my mouth agape at the mystifying wonder around me. I look upwards to a gleaming full moon, at which point I’m distracted by the realisation that my hand is still clasped loosely onto the same hand. Someone’s hand.

Julia’s hand? No wonder it felt so familiar, I think to myself aloud.

“But Julia,” I say, staring bewilderedly at her. “you’re…”.

She lets go of my hand and smiles daintily in my direction. This Julia is very much like the Julia I once knew. She’s built the same; she looks, smells and feels the same. But there are subtle differences, curious little nuances and qualities that this Julia has which differ from the Julia I knew – the Julia who died three years ago.

“Come.” As she says this, her lips do not part in the slightest. Rather, she communicates her instruction to me through some cryptic voiceless dialect. Even so, I am sure of what she said; she told me to come, to follow her. Continuing with her closed-mouthed form of speech, she tells me to trust her, and not to be afraid nor startled.

Julia’s silky, jet black hair rests leisurely on her shoulders. Her skin is pale, and her dark eyes alluringly embrace the forest’s glisten. She has on a baggy black and white striped top, arctic-blue jeans which leave her thin ankles exposed, and a simple pair of Vans slip-ons.

We begin to saunter through the forest. Julia seems to be familiar with this place, whereas I fail at keeping my neck and my eyes straightway – they are too busy trying to catch a satisfying gander at all the fleeting sights around us.

On this side, time appears to be a concept of irregular nature. It’s difficult to gage how long simple things take to do. What might feel like five minutes’ walking distance in the real world could take as long as what feels like hours over on this side. Everything is so intense and ‘involved’. So centred around the now.

Also, the scenery (in this instance, the purple forest) seems to exist solely from where we are to as far as we can see. All else simply gets lost behind us as we progress through the forest. Sounds, sights, even the happenings of a few moments ago get swallowed up into the same obscurity and darkness that I was drowning in before entering this side (at least that is the way things feel like).

At one point, Julia stops at a seemingly random tree and decides to sit beneath its radiant leaves. She invites me to join her, and I do. My brain is stocked to the brim with questions – questions about this place, how I got here, and how Julia can exist on this side.

Something inside me tells me to be silent and patient, and to let the events pan out without my disturbing curiosity. There is no need to question anything, there is no need to wonder. Just take in the moment and let it be complete for what it is, Julia ‘says’. I listen to her.

Would you like some fruit?

 

 

Thanks for reading! With this piece, I was trying something very, very different. I’ve not read a lot of fantasy fiction, and have written I think only one fantasy piece about three years ago. But I found a few lines in my drafts and decided to expand on them. This is what became of those lines. Criticisms and feedback are welcome as usual.
P.s – I will try to upload a part two to this by next weekend, I hadn’t planned on making it this long…