Picturesque Memories: Shadows in the Dark
DescriptionMemories create identity. Welcome to Exhibit A.
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Memories, in some ways, are like the weather. Some days of the past are clear and sunny, ones which broadcast themselves as the main exhibits of the Grand Museum of Memories deep inside my mind. A number of them are overcast and rainy – a few projected as important pieces of tragedy, though most remain hidden away in the storage rooms, left to rot and be long forgotten. There are thunderstorms, starry nights, howling gales, and blissful snow. All of these pictures have a place of some sort inside the Museum, whether in storage or on display; they have a role to play, a part of every decision I make and of the identity that I am today. But for many years, there has always been a box that I had never dared to open, a rusted crate containing something that even I do not know of. However, tucked in the twisting hallways and corners, far away from the living daylight of my mind, the graying mists swirl around and envelop you into a gentle, goading invitation. Before you continue, I must warn you that this memory includes some personal feelings of fear, paranoia, and the unknown. I do not know how much of it was real and how much was imagined, but I will simply tell it as I experienced it. Thus, welcome to the First Exhibit: Shadows in the Dark. Life was uneventful, as always. Back when we lived in our flat in Jakarta, I did not think much on anything and simply lived the life of a busy child: school during the day, extra-curriculars in the afternoon, dinner with my grandmother, and time alone spent playing like most children do. However, the one period of time that I never really understood was sleep. I knew I had dreams, some of which I remember clearly until today – dreams of flying, of transforming into a giant beetle… there was even one instance where I dreamt of barreling down an empty street with an old wagon – but it seemed that for a while they had stopped, and my nights were filled with peaceful, dreamless sleep. That was when the nightmares decided to come. ----- The first time it happened, I awoke in the dead hours of dawn when the rooster’s crow had not yet sounded and all was silent in the streets below. Like a spectator in a theatre, I watched from above as my childlike form scrambled to his feet from the cold mattress and rushed out of room hurriedly. Inside there was pure panic and pandemonium, a torrent of turmoil bubbling up from within. Feeling the chill of the ceramic beneath my feet, my small frame sprinted across the hallway and around the corner as the darkness chased from behind. I saw myself reach for the brass doorknob, my knuckles whitening as I gripped it tightly. Pulling and tugging at the locked door in desperation, my heart thumped louder in my chest and my eyes widened, as an insistent pulse undulated inside my head. My head turned to the side, and I watched as the looming shadows crept across the walls, coming to attack me. Please don’t come closer, I willed. I heaved and struggled. My hands shook and my knees trembled. I’m doomed. I’m going to die, I thought. But as my mind’s voice screamed and shouted for what seemed like ages, my f fear would not stop. The shadows did not stop. The ever-moving blackness rushed at me like a gale in open waters. Then, suddenly, there was quiet. The ringing silence echoed in the depths of my soul. I woke up once again, and I opened my eyes, blinking once. My grandmother had her arms wrapped around me, prying me from the front door. I had immediately forgotten my fear and stared dumbfoundedly at the floor beneath my feet. “You were going to the bathroom?” she asked. “Oh,” I replied blankly. And so, I did, with my grandmother’s guiding hand on my shoulder. I plodded back sluggishly to bed a few moments later and returned to dreamless sleep, as the Shadows in the Dark retreated to the corner.