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A flicker in the Dark

On some nights after the lights are turned off, my eyes wander to places concealed by the dark. 

A few of these places are still dimly illuminated by the light of the landing sneaking in through creaks in the wooden door. To the left of the door, I see two shadows laughing as they draw figurines resembling their older siblings on a piece of paper. They are undoubtedly my sister and I, only 10 years past, impatiently waiting for our mom’s call for dinner. Right by the window, the silhouette of an elderly woman waves as she leans on the windowsill. Many years ago, our grandma would always wave at us until we disappeared out of sight. These are warm and comforting memories.

In other parts of the room, there is not one ray of light. It is hard to make out what sceneries are unfolding there, which might be because they are in a very distant past. The consist of the kind of memories I would have rather seen shattered alongside the round glasses I used to wear as a kid. But consolation is in vain. Sometimes the most unbearable memories are burned into one’s vision. 

And so my mind ventures to places I wish it would never venture to again. Holding onto what little light is left in the room is like fighting a losing battle because, at the end of the day, my mind has a mind of its own. Yet I still try to turn the tides of this constant struggle night by night, desperately running for the light switch. But it always disappears as everything around me dissolves into the night.

‘’I had hoped you would’ve made it this time,’’ a voice whispered. ‘’Better luck next time.’’

Urging sunlight forces my eyes open. Behind me lies an endless foaming sea, eating away at the grains of sand around my feet like a starved creature. Unsure of what to do, I start walking around the beach. It is deserted, and then I notice him. Carefree, sparkly eyes, curly hair combed by the wind. I watch him chase after an ever-ascending kite, but he doesn’t have much time left. Soon the kite will be up too high for him to seize. He falls face flat into the sand as his last valiant attempt to catch the kite fails. I run up to him to help get him up when his eyes lock with mine in a moment of instant recognition. I am him and he was me. I try to warn him of the impending danger, the tumultuous sea which was soon to swallow the world whole, and the starved creatures lurking in the dark, but all comes out in an incomprehensible foam. He turns around scared and darts off in the direction of puerility. 

In vain.

I can only watch as he reaches the sea and encounters the calamities of what is to come. Wrinkled, unfamiliar hands claw at him from below the surface, until he too disappears below the waves. I turn around, unable to bear the all too familiar muted screams.

Make it stop. 

I open my eyes to a lurid light devoid of any warmth: grey hallways, packed with faceless people coming in and out of different adjacent rooms. But he catches my eye again. Carefree, sparkly eyes, curly hair. He’s busy chatting to some people. ‘’That can’t be.’’ I think to myself. I grab his wrist through the crowd and he jolts around. His bright eyes widen in horror as he recognizes me again. He screams as all of him but one thing dissolves into the dark. His face remained, staring right back at me. Lifeless, exhausted eyes. Hollow cheeks. Incomprehensible foam comes out of his mouth. I am him and he is me. 

‘’That’s enough’’. I say. ‘’No. We’re not quite there yet.’’ My own voice replies indifferently, seemingly unfazed by the spectacle.

I open the door to a dark room. Screams are coming from every corner. The vowels are sharpened and articulated. I can’t help but wonder if the words were sharpened for my skin or for scales. Regardless of intent, they still puncture my skin in a million places. At the end of the day, skin is much more fragile than scales.

The room falls silent. Thoughts begin rolling in, a long list of names and events, the good and the bad, immortalised until the night ceases to exist. There are many doubts, regrets and lingering questions. To be haunted by what-ifs is a final testimony to the everlastingness of the past. 

Could everything have been different?

But timeless questions have timeless answers. 

At last, the light of the morning sun slips through the window, and I finally close my eyes.

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