Saturday, July 18

Visiting old ghosts: Angel

*To be read while listening to this:
The light from the lamppost flickered in its feeble attempt to keep a vigilant watch on the lonely street below. Just when the light got steady again, the bulb gave up on life and darkness took over. Rain poured relentlessly since some hours ago, enveloping the city in its gloomy blanket. Even the dogs in the back alley were too miserable to bark at passing cars. Inside the unlit room, the only sounds heard were the constant pitter-patter of raindrops drumming the glass panel window and the grumbling of a century-old heater.
Alicia had been concentrating on the imaginary patterns made by droplets lingering on the window, trying hard not to dwell on her decision lest she change her mind. Now that the light from outside had expired, she could no longer make out the live painting on the window. With that, her mind was free once more for a heated debate. Trying to get that off her mind, Alicia felt her way through the small doorway into the bathroom – or whatever they call the small, cramped, insect-infested hellhole. She groped in the dark for the tap and turned it, standing silently as water churned in the ancient piping and filled the bathtub in a noisy, erratic jet. She had stumbled a few times in the desolate darkness, yet she refused to turn on the light. Alicia feared her own reflection more than anything at that moment, and she would not risk even an accidental glance at any mirror; not that there were many: one on the wall that supported the sink in the toilet, and one on the dressing table opposite the moth-ridden bed. Both were so cloudy one could barely make out one’s own features, but even that was more than enough for Alicia to handle. Outside, the rain showed no signs of calming down. Just beyond the sound of tap water was the pitter-patter on the window.
The heater in the room suddenly made a lurching noise and died down. Within minutes the faint warmth dissipated, leaving Alicia even lonelier and more desolate than she already was. The melancholy was overwhelming, and all the willpower she mustered was not enough to stop her from falling down to her knees. If she was brave enough to look at her own reflection, Alicia would have been disgusted to see the cheap mascara she wore making twisted, uneven lines on her face, one on each cheek. She forced herself to stop crying, to gather whatever dignity she had left, but the emptiness inside was much too much. Leaning against the cold bathtub, she wept in pitiful sobs, a multitude of unchecked emotions surfacing in a raw, powerful torrent. In the dark of the night, Alicia folded her knees close to her heaving chest and wrapped her arms around them. She rested her chin on the groove between her knees and rocked herself back and forth as she cried.
Her parents would blanch if they saw her in this condition, rendered helpless and pitiful by circumstances she had never asked for in the first place. They were always too busy with work to notice their only child even when she retaliated by getting intimately acquainted with numerous men, some her age, some older than her father. They hardly even noticed when she ran away from home. If they had cared, they would have found her by now. They would have saved her and made everything okay again. This was partly their fault. If only they cared….
Wiping back tears with the back of her right arm, Alicia felt for the lidded top of the toilet bowl. It should be there somewhere. She had left it there when she first entered the hotel room. Behind her icy water was already seeping out the brim of the tub, falling onto the moldy tiled floor in a weak cascade. The cold now seeped deep into her bone marrow, and she shivered involuntarily, but soon it would all be over. If she was lucky enough, she would no longer be bothered by the biting cold and the dark emptiness ever again. Ah, there it was. Its smooth metal surface refused to warm in her shivering grasp. Soon now, this will all be over. She just had to summon the strength she had found in making this decision.
A pang of consciousness halted her tears, but not the wrecking hiccups that accompanied them. Was she making the right decision? According to her mother, she was incapable of making one. But her mother had never been in this situation. Surely there was some way out? If she did this, would anyone care? Her parents had not even bothered to look for her, her boyfriend had left her for another girl, and her ‘friends’ had abandoned her to be eaten by ruthless vultures that bit at her chunk by chunk, leaving her nothing for herself. She had been wild, and her lifestyle would surely humiliate her parents if they deigned to take any notice, but surely she did not deserve this fate. She had never asked for this…thing inside her to coalesce. The act that brought this predicament about her was not even of her own volition! Five men had taken turn violating her, and she was almost torn apart because of that. But they left her with more than a burning ache and destroyed dignity. No, there was no other way out.
Alicia bit her lower lip and slid the sharp end of the blade across her cold wrist, deep enough to cause warm liquid to escape the cut. For the first time in what seemed like ages, she actually felt warmth. She felt it seeping down her palm and fingers. She reveled in the comfort it offered. Alicia lay down on the floor, ignoring the deepening puddle in the bathroom, and cupped her wounded hand with the other. She felt her strength ebbing, but she no longer felt the cold. That was enough.
As consciousness threatened to leave her, Alicia found herself reminiscing on her past. The only fond memory Alicia had of her parents was the time when her grandmother passed away. Her mother had placed Alicia on her lap and told her in a warm, comforting voice that an angel had come to take her grandmother away to someplace where she would be happier, a warm place filled with peace and happiness. Alicia smiled as she waited to be in the arms of the angel.