35 – Waiting for Indigo
Blue had joined the chorus of colours in the sky.
Stef nibbled on a doughnut, watching the auroras and nebula-like clouds drift into new configurations and shapes that – probably – weren’t always a result of that thing where you saw faces that weren’t there.
The central memory that had fallen into place, the snowflake that had caused the avalanche was somehow much more straightforward than some of the other segments of the rainbow.
But…it made sense in its way. If this was her life flashing before her eyes, then her first real moment of freedom was surely one of the pillars the rest of the short life had been built on.
A blue key sat balanced on her knee, a conjured fragment from the memory of her first night in her apartment.
Her entire life up to that point had been controlled by her parents or her family in general.
Sit still. Don’t speak. Don’t make trouble at school. Be simple. Be quiet. Be invisible. Be what we want or disappear.
She’d never been what they’d wanted, so as soon as secondary school had finished, her grandfather had presented a simple proposal: that she should piss off forever and never darken their doors again.
Her family being her family – one with more wealth than love – had cut a cheque sufficient – more than sufficient – to start a life apart from them.
It had taken all of her self control not to simply snatch the envelope from her grandfather’s hand and run as soon as the last word of his speech had faded.
Instead, drawing on every skill she’d picked up from the family she so deeply wanted to escape, she’d sat still, agreed to his terms, and negotiated for a little extra to be added to her moving expenses.
The pittance extra had been something readily agreed to – flinging the problem child halfway across the world was well worth the cost of a first-class ticket and some airport transfers.
And it wasn’t just distance from the family estate that had motivated her choice – nothing about the UK was home to her.
Brisbane, on the other hand, so much as it sat large in her mind as a place belonging to her parents, still felt more “her” than anywhere else.
What good memories she had came from there.
One stupidly luxurious flight later, she’d set herself up in a five-star hotel while she searched for somewhere to live.
Thus had begun the strangest few weeks of her life. Going from nights of room service dinners where every dessert came with gold leaf; to days of viewing the cheapest, dingiest properties the city had to offer.
Money, even the amount that had been sitting in her bank account, would only last so long – and she needed little more than a bed, a computer and a kettle.
But even when the properties stank of piss or had internal doors that didn’t close properly, the real estate agents had looked poorly on her lack of rental history.
And offers of paying an entire year in advance had only further deepened their suspicion.
Every door closed, and living in a hotel wasn’t sustainable.
A square of cardboard in the window of an unassuming building had changed her world.
A “for rent” sign for a property that hadn’t been listed elsewhere, owned by a man willing to take a chance.
With a mix of flat-pack and second-hand furniture, she’d moved in two days later.
And in the first space of her life that she could truly call her own, she’d fallen asleep on an unmade bed, clutching the key to her chest.
That only left two colours to go until…it always seemed logical to say “the end”, but the beautiful flower on her conspiracy board was a tiny beacon that what came after Violet showed itself wasn’t going to be a gentle slide into night and nothingness.
‘I want to know,’ she said, ‘I’m okay with not waiting.’
Immediately, there was a shape to her left, something barely in the periphery of her vision – a form that no longer existed when she turned to look at it.
She stood and brushed herself off, slipped the blue key into her pocket and looked again – there was nothing out of place in her small kingdom of clouds and dust.
She pinched the bridge of her nose, and through blurred eyes, saw the shape again – this time, ahead of her. There was no…danger, it wasn’t some spectre, some person, hiding just out of view, it was- Just a lump.
Schrodinger’s Lump. There and not there.
Either the world wasn’t ready to show it to her, or she wasn’t prepared to see it yet.
‘Please,’ she said, turning to look at her reflection in the standing mirror, ‘whatever it is, I’m okay.’
With the tiniest movement that would be so easily dismissed in any other context, her reflection shook her head, and she felt herself mimic her mirror-self, a fraction of a second out of step.
In the mirror, the lump appeared behind her.
This time, when she turned to look at it, it stayed – fuzzy and indigo and waiting to share the next memory. The lump became a couch – the same second-hand couch that had been part of the blue memory dump, but now it swirled with all the colours in the sky above.
Every drop of indigo slowly bled from the collection and pooled in front of the soft couch. The swirling colours stopped and settled into a mimicry of worn and pilled fabric.
The pool of indigo rose into a pile, as smooth and featureless as computer graphics from the eighties, and slowly morphed into a human shape, into a Stef shape, a miserable set to her face, her back against the couch, Alexandria in her arms.
She knelt and looked at the not-ghosts of herself and her favourite doll. This was…a memory on pause, waiting for something to start it, waiting for her consent.
She reached for her not-ghost’s hand, but as she did, the air around her real hand seemed to grow thick with static, the lightest of forcefields, warning her from going further.
Whatever this memory was, it wasn’t going to be pleasant.
She looked at her hand for a moment, to her not-ghost hand, then withdrew and sat on the couch, looking down at her pause memory. ‘Okay, I’ll wait a little bit longer. But not forever.’
Previous: 34 – The Shape of Stories
Next: 36 – Reflections
Pretty sure I know what that next memory is. And, yeah, being wary is definitely warranted.
Yeah, it’s one of the worse ones, and for Stef, that’s saying something. -_-