The morning began normally enough. My friend greeted me as I opened my eyes to the smell of baking bread filtering in from the shattered window across the room. I’d had another nightmare. I was being chased by the clutches of the blinding light, my companion gone from my side. The light enveloped me, chewing me up and spitting me out like a hairball from Estrella’s throat. But my bad dream was just that—a dream—and it would never become a reality.
I always found it strange, being able to picture the horror that was light, considering I’d never seen it before. Honestly, I preferred the present company of darkness; he was much more comforting.
After I got dressed, I fed my only other friend, Estrella, a silken tail attached to a body of deep-throated purrs and a caved in face. I grabbed Frederico—my walking stick who’s grown with me over the many long years—and stutter-stepped my way down the three flights of stairs (bypassing the seventh from the second-story landing as it always shrieks like a train whistle when stepped on) and out on to Main Street.
The sounds and smells cascaded over me as people bustled by. I tapped my way to the edge of the walk, the people made of rushed words and the swishing of clothing elbowing their way past. For a moment, I enjoyed it, all the sounds, all the smells, all the chaos. And then the most peculiar thing happened: a presence approached, wrapped slim fingers around my elbow, and greeted me.
She was a Hello, delicate vanilla perfume, and swaying silk. A string of words poured from her lips to my ears, slipping in one and out the other, as she led me across the road and down the street. Car horns blared and voices shouted, but she paid them no mind, no even stumbling over her own storytelling. It came in snatches, “There are people, flowers, vendors…a child giggling at a mountainous white dog…chicken, vegetables, laughter…and here’s the metro!” She stops; my feet still. “Have a nice day!” drifts down to me as her light footsteps are swallowed by the stampede of others.
With a shake of my head—I’m told my hair’s gray and balding but I’ve always wanted it to be maroon, as I like the sound of it—I placed Frederico firmly on the listing ground and began to backtrack to my fifteen-year apartment. The howling of the street vendors selling their wares jammed into my ears while the mass of buyers scuttled past.
I’d never understood why people felt the need to own so many things they rarely used, but I’ve been told it’s because they “looked nice.” I suppose that stemmed from my inability to fully appreciate the things that “looked nice,” which was exactly why I owned only the necessities. Hmm… the irony of that even I can see.
The clicking claws of the mountain dog’s paws and the sweet scent of the tulip stall meandered along behind me all the way up to my sparsely furnished home. I left Frederico at the door, joined my friend at the table my father had carved, and caught my breath for the first time that day.