The Village

Once upon a time…. It was so silent I could hear the wooden hands of my clock inching their way down the face. I chewed the end of my pencil and drummed my fingers on the table. I could write about anything. I could create my own world with solely my imagination and the blank book in front of me… But today no stories came to my mind. There seemed a wall, a melancholy tower between me and my usually whimsical ideas. Something was off. The air was frostier than usual, the fire dimmer. My tea was weaker, my headache stronger.

Then reality hit me in the face. Mr. Salazar. Exactly one year ago my life had changed, and the one person who I really loved was lost to me. I’d kept him in my head, my thoughts were his warm cracked voice whispering in my ear. He’d become a part of me, a figment of my wild imagination, an unending personality trapped inside my brain. That’s where I’d put him of course, once he was gone. Gone. The word punctured through my lungs and my breath was stolen. I’d reminded myself every night before I fell asleep, that the man inside my head was real. That he would live on even if he was not existent on the earth. That’s the reason I’ve survived, the reason that I have not drowned in a sea of desperation.

But it had become routine. I had found that I’d rather keep everyone I’d lost in my head, like they were all there. I couldn’t bear living alone, because that’s how my life had worked. If I loved someone, they would eventually die. I’d found that the only solution to loneliness was to keep everyone with you. I now have a village in my head.

When you enter, the first house on your right is Madge’s. Madge was my best friend for ages. We grew up together, stayed friends through college, and simply lived life together. But I lived longer than her, much longer. She vanished in a vapor not too far after the rest. Madge is the town librarian. She lives in a quaint cottage with a pond and rolling hills behind it. The living room is a comfortable sitting area with giant chairs and a roaring fire. Her house always smells like freshly baked cinnamon bread, and on the coffee table sits five cups of chamomile tea, and three espressos. There was chatter in the front room, a hushed tone that swept throughout the house and rang into my ears as I stepped closer. There was Montgomery, in his stiffly ironed suit and slicked back hair. He was daintily holding a scone and strutting about the room with an air of sophistication. His shoes tapped on the hardwood with an echo that pounded into my head, as if to remind me that this was all a dream.

Then there was Dotty Crockett, who pranced about in her yellow dress and red heels. Her hair is as high as the ceiling, and is a blue hue that will immediately cheer anyone up. She is the town gossip. When she was out of my head and on earth she was my talkative old neighbor that would stop by our house to bring me cookies and tell the week’s juicy secrets to my mother.  I was always fond of her, and I still am. But today her painfully long harangues were too much for me to listen to, so I left to go to Mom and Dad’s place.

Mom and Dad live in a small house at the corner of the village on the beach like they’d always wanted. That’s the house I visit the most, with the modern architecture and spotless floors. I could feel the grainy sand beneath my toes, the ocean breeze combing through my hair, Mom’s safe arms around me. Her eyes sparkle like diamonds, and her hair is the color of roasted chestnuts. She told me that everything would be alright. I closed my eyes and for a few minutes I could believe her. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be all right. Today, Mr. Salazar was creeping back into the forefront of my mind.

I sprinted down the lane to Mr. Salazar’s house. I flung open the crooked old door and stood breathless, my hair flying everywhere. But he was gone. The bed was unmade, dishes were sitting unwashed, and clothes were scattered around the hamper. I quietly strode over to his desk, where a picture of him was standing tall. His white whiskers stuck out in every direction and his glasses rested on the tip of his nose. A smile played around his lips as he stared back at me in amusement. Suddenly the picture dissolved, and everything crumbled. The roof fell as dust to my feet. The dishes cracked and flung pieces of glass across the room. Madge appeared, but the vanished without a trace. The rest of my family stood in despair while the wind blew them miles and miles away.

My eyes snapped open and the white paper glared back at me. The clock was frozen, and the fireplace was cold. Outside, the summer sun had sunk below the mountains. My tea sat, untouched and cold. Just another day, another day that had come and pass.

This could not keep going on. I lost each and every person I had come close with all over again daily. It was common, but the pain bore into me deeper than ever before. Maybe I couldn’t take the sting any longer. Maybe I should have let them go a long time ago.

That’s when I realized that the people who I cared about could stay alive. This day couldn’t be forgotten. I am in control. I have my own universe, and they are in it. My pen scratched on the paper and relieved my tension. Once upon a time….

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