She saw a canvas painted delicately with hues of pink and gold, accentuated by the sparkling lights of the city. Strange pillars of dust fell softly from clouds on the other side of the harbour, like sand from an hourglass.
It was remarkable how a simple shift in location had given her a new perspective. So this was what it was like to be a leader – to be able to see every piece on the chess board, and orchestrate its next move. Hadn’t they just been under that same rain cloud an hour ago?
Nobody wanted to be the frog in the well. A lifetime spent jumping; a lone marathon of relentless self-exertion. Why be a cog in the wheel if you could drive the machine?
He turned her attention to the storm clouds gathering in the west.
‘We need to leave now.’
Always the voice of reason. Flat, dead eyes drowning in indifference.
He was a man of absolutes.
To support an argument he pulled out connections – tenacious at best; a one-sided gluttonous autonomy. Like a magician he pulled out trick after trick, and even when the bag was empty he twisted fabrications out of thin air. He laughed at her notion that arguments had to be played out on a level ground and instead taught her that in order to win the playing field had to be skewed in one’s favor.
Suddenly, the male protagonists of film noir lost their charm, as he began to mirror their casual nonchalance.
Her world began to shift to his handcrafted lenses; an unwavering voice infallible in its authority as her guide. She stood back like a lone spectator, and watched as her freedom became restricted to the intermittent flickering of an incandescent light bulb.
In photographs she appeared like a deer caught in headlights; her face characterized by a malignant self-deprecating uncertainty. She was slipping through the cracks, softly, gently, pulled by the inexorable throes of despair. The few strands of hair which slipped from her updo lay listlessly like arid land in the throes of fierce drought.
With time, even speaking was intolerable and she became voiceless, like a bird without wings. It was easier to stick to the daily monotony which was a precursor to every day life.
The glasses never came off.
They walked down the pier, staring at the harbour which was becoming increasingly turbulent. The ships in the distance were like toys bobbing up and down, left at the mercy of the elements.
Unbeknownst to him, the revolution had begun. She had began to question absolute truth, and had come to the conclusion that it was all a numbers game – she marvelled how quickly a perspective could flip from one side to another.
‘No.’ She stopped mid-step, her face heavy with the knowledge of what she was about to do.
I want to stand in the rain.’
A simple act of defiance which spawned a myriad of consequences, like the reverberation of a plucked string in a silent hall.
His eyes narrowed.
He turned on his heel and left, shiny shoes carving up the board walk.
They said that time would heal, but she soon understood the underlying meaning to mean increasing one’s tolerance level brick by brick, until a seemingly robust wall had been created to fend off any unwarranted attacks.
She picked herself up, slowly and painfully, wincing as a baby does when it encounters its first steps. Her wall of silence slowly dissipated into tentative whispers, like a deaf person learning to speak.
She traversed iteration upon iteration, trying to establish new frameworks, except this time any ideologies sought were purely for her own pleasure. She was no longer a puppet; instead she governed her own rules as puppeteer. What was black? What was white? Was she forever resigned to be on the fence in an accommodating shade of grey?
What works for one doesn’t work for all.
Sheep following the herd with no sheepdog to cause a tangential disruption in an otherwise linear and ordinary life.
She threw the glasses away as she worked on her manifesto.
Re-learnt to walk.
Re-learnt to talk.
To think, to breathe, to cry, to live.
The cars outside her window stood like awkward mechanical contraptions against the vast, cloudless night, as she gazed at the only certain infinity above. The skies were limitless.