Renville Cavalieri

My name is Renville Cavalieri, and my job in Hell is to stop people killing themselves. I'm not very good at my job. But then I met Anni Bay, and she is living hope, with a tendency of wandering into oncoming traffic and not eating for days, but when she does it's all pills. And I'm going to find a way to save her, if it's the last thing I do.

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6. Her Dreamscape Garden

Anni didn’t close her blinds, and the morning sun came streaming through the window.

I can’t believe it, she thought.

I wondered how long she had been awake for. I felt itchy and gritty behind her eyes, and she rubbed them with her closed fists. I stretched her arms out for her, the broken skin tugging open. We flinched at the sharp sting.

    “Good morning.” I said.

    Why am I still here? How come I managed to wait to see another sunrise?

    I internally rolled my eyes, “Come on, no one likes a weak leading lady. You’re not a damsel in distress.”

    I’m not a damsel in distress, she repeated.

    “That’s my girl. Now, we’re hungry. Especially me. Let’s get up.”

    She groaned and hid her face in the duvet, And no one’s coming to save me.

 

    I get it. A boring girl, right?

    Why should we read on? Why care about her? Why is the leading female of this tale an introvert with no hope, no defining characteristic, and no real potential for development?

    Well, here’s something to either intrigue you, or maybe strike fear into your heart.

 

    Since we hear your thoughts and all that, you might be interested to know that we can infact see your fantasies.

    Oops? Yeah, I know.

    So just to clarify, yes, we do see all those dreams and ideas form, along with all of those not particularly safe for work thoughts.

    And since at least one of you reading probably has a Guider or a Saviour behind your eyes, I felt I should just point that out.

    But, hey, it’s just a part of the job. And don’t get me wrong, never stop dreaming those things up. It’s very entertaining.

    

    Anyway, Anni Bay started fantasising. It usually starts with white light sort of throbbing, like strobe lights at a rave. It’s nauseating, but your feet are strong under you, because you actually get your own body for a little while during these conscious dreams.

    I was afraid for a second when Anni’s mind went white, honestly. There’s nothing worse than someone fantasising about their own murder, or their own demise.

    But she didn’t.

    I stood up straight in her dream landscape, or whatever you’d like to call it, and I waited for the colour to come in.

    And, boy, did it.

    Greens and yellows and pinks and blues surrounded my feet and the sky rained down petals onto my shoulders. The sun winked at me, and not like the one looking through her actual window. A warm sun, made up of rubies and gold. The grass was damp, but it danced in the wind like it was alive, and like it was watching her.

    Because watching her, you’d want to dance.

    She was wearing a long white dress that trailed along the garden floor and stained a million shades of a million colours, but she didn’t mind.

    She faced the sun, and let it wrap warm arms around her.

    I watched it lift her an inch off the world, her bare feet pointed like she was ready to start walking on the breeze, but it put her down when she decided that this wasn’t a flying dream.

    She bowed to the birds and deers, and she made them bow back. She whistled a song that kept changing in her head, and she spun around, until she stopped on a bridge that wasn’t made up of anything but plank of wood, and looked around.

    She took a break to form the landscape. After vines growing and shrinking, and waterfalls melting into brooks, melting into streams, she finally settled on her perfect imaginary garden.

    There were old oak tree towering over us. Red ivy wound up every branch, and the same dew that sparkled on the grass blades shone on their leaves. A stream ran almost silently through the middle of her world, between a dusty path. The petals still fell, although from nowhere in particular. She just liked the colours, physics didn’t really matter right then.

    But maybe the nicest thing was her.

    She stood over the river, on the bridge that transformed so it was made of small white rails engraved with designs of roses and thorns, overlooking the koi in the river. Her hair whipped up in the wind, wisps of blonde against the pink clouds. Her dress flew behind her like a cape, or like silver wings.

    I looked down at myself. Although she didn’t design me to fit into her dream, she designed everything to fit in, even without her realising it.

    And that was probably the worst thing.

    My feet were bare like hers, and dug into the muddy path. She subconsciously dressed me in a loose white shirt and blue trousers. Right then, I was glad no one else could see me.

    I looked around her dream. Was this reflection? Was someone else going to come? But no one did. It was just her, and me lingering in the shadows of the forestry.

    “Hello.” I said, and she looked up at me. At least I think she did. It’s hard to imagine features for yourself, so other than defined blonde hair, everything from the shoulders up was a blur. It was funny how this was the first time I really saw Anni, her having no mirrors and all. She seemed to be thin, but she was thinner than I remember her hands being last night.

    “Hi.” She said. Her voice was like silk, but sweeter than reality.

    Dreams are a funny thing. This was the perfect Anni, and yet it wasn’t her at all. She had features, and bumps, and scars in real life, but this way who she always wanted to be.

I’ve learned that the only time that anyone dreams up themselves accurately were nightmares.

    But dreams and fantasies were a blessed thing to us Guiders or Saviours. We got to talk to them directly, and they think it’s just their inner demons, or their shoulder angels.

    Usually we choose to sit back and watch, and try to psychoanalyze, but it was time I made an introduction.

    “You’re sad, Anni.”

    She laughed, and threw back her hair in a model way. It looked ridiculous, but this was her dream that I was gatecrashing, so I couldn’t judge.

“Aren’t we all?” She said.

    “I guess. But most of us can keep it together.”

    Her lips formed in the blur, just enough to frown.

    Probably not a good introduction, “Sorry, I’m not very…” What was the smart term? “Courteous.”

    Her lips smiled, and vanished again, “Join me?”

    Her mind stretched the bridge out enough for both of us to stand on it without rubbing elbows. I was grateful for that much.

    “You think others can keep it together?” she said after a minute.

    “Well, at least keep their skin together.”

    She shook her head, “You’re wrong.”

    I was taken aback, honestly. That was a brave thing to say, and I was one to intimidate people. I guess the flowy white shirt was a curse after all, “I’m wrong?”

    “Yes, you’re wrong. Everyone is broken. Everyone has cracks.” I felt a tear stream down her face, and the fantasy began to bubble and fade underneath us. The river slowed and the trees shrunk as she started crying under the covers of her bed.

“Just some of us have too much inside. It leaks out of the gaps and that’s what the world sees. The real us just looks like death and depression to others, but in reality the real us is bright and alive, it’s just slipping away. When others break, they’re so empty inside that nothing seeps out. That’s why they can keep it together, because there’s nothing to keep.”

    I smiled at her. I smiled at Anni Bay and at her stupid words and at stupid world because I knew I had the upper hand now. Everyone thought they had assigned me to a dead girl, but really they assigned me to the only living one in the entire world.

    Then I remembered last night, “Wait, why did your try kill yourself then?”

    She shrugged her ghostly shoulders, “Maybe to let the world see all of myself at once. Maybe because I don’t want to have to deal with myself.”

    “Why not? You seem fine.”

    She laughed, and it was brittle and low, like a real laugh was, “Maybe I hate myself. Did I make myself sound good because I was full of emotions and character or whatever? No, I’m…” She sniffed and shook her head. I watched her hair darken, the blonde fading into a brown like burned coins, or mud.

    “You’re what, Anni?”

    She looked at me, her eyes becoming clear as the world disintegrated, “I’m full of shit.”

    I don’t remember what I did then. I think I laughed, or at least smirked, but I wish I hadn’t. Since then, I’ve grown to realise that sometimes words aren’t poetic. Sometimes words are stupid and blunt and don’t say what they mean, but those words could save a life, if only they were listened to.

    I put my hand on her shoulder, but it fell right through. The petals stopped falling and the shadows receded as the dream finally crumbled apart, “Let’s go eat.”

    

    The real world was too bright, and the air was cold on our eyes. She yawned, and sat up in the bed. I noticed that her stomach and chest was stained red where the cuts hadn’t yet cloted.

    The clock said nine in the morning, and I suddenly wanted to fall back asleep until the early afternoon, but after our stomach growled I realised it was probably best to keep her alive first.

    She started walking towards the door, except she might have been faster crawling, she was so unbalanced. Fantasies really take it out of you.

    Then I realised I forgot to psychoanalyze, which would have been a great help.

    Dreams are the quickest ways into someone’s head, but her head seemed to just be random plants and walkways.

    I gave just asking a shot, “Anni, can you still hear me?”

    She kept walking until she reached the door handle, and took a minute to look over her cuts.

    “If you can still hear me, why did you fantasize about a garden? Was it self reflection or something? A memory? Anni, can you hear me?” I yelled a little louder, but my thoughts weren’t deep enough rooted in her mind for her to pay attention.

    I don’t believe in God. Her thoughts hardly whispered, and that didn’t seem to be a response to me.

    “What has that to do with anything?”

    She dropped her hands to her sides, pulling down her pajama shirt over her wrists, and twisted the brass handle, But if there’s a Heaven, I wish it looked like that. A garden of my own, with flowers and animals and kindness.

    “Fuck, Anni Bay…” I said, and we shook our head at her hope, “I wish you were right.”

Then I heard her whisper something in the back of her mind as she started her aching decent down the stairs,

 

If death comes upon me,

Let it be sweet.

As although I am bitter,

                                                                                          It is no sort of defeat.

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