Short Story: What was the name of that silly girl?
What was the name of that silly girl?
It was a thought that always stuck to her, ever since she was five.
“You hear you see and wish and wish, but fate is cruel. Turn back the hands of the clock for a second and hundred other chances…”
She wanted to know about that girl dressed in white with red paint on the bottom of her dress. Was she a painter? As the vibrations of the car travelled to her laid head, she thought back to that day. The sky was so blue, she could see the stars during the day. It was a bright day that started with watching her as she played in the sand. Her older brother with big eyes full of passion and kindness, chased after claiming she was a robber. Her cheeks puffed up and burned red as her brother forced laughter after laughter, after her. She wondered why they stopped sneaking away.
You stopped talking. It was as if you two were strangers.
She closed her eyes as the radio kept singing, “turn back time for a thousand nights for a restart. Turn back time to redo mistakes and grant a second life. A life better than my first. Turn back time for a thousand years for one single glimpse of happiness. Revert and restart. And please for whoever listens bring back what once was mine…”
Why did she remember that now? Black circles painted their way to her eyes as she took comfort in the vibrations of the car spreading through her body, as her head laid on the cold window. Moving paintings of lush green blurred with the clear blue. Hints of white danced along the edges of the clear blue creating a surreal work of multiple rushed lines. Her blue eyes gazed at the sight with fingers twitching to pick up a brush to paint the view before her. She tuned out the radio’s repeated lyrics of ‘turn back time’ and imagined a small replica of the blurred landscape sitting perfectly in her sketchbook. She imagined her hands moving instinctively to the right spots, leaving brushstrokes after brushstrokes, building a new picture. It’s always an exact replica of her memories, and she feels warm knowing she has evidence for when memories fade into the dust.
They are so fragile. Little things could blow them away, and they would never return. And for the first time in her life, she wished her memories would be erased, that a simple white paint could cover the mistakes and create a new blank canvas for her. Her eyes stung with tears threatening to spill. She hated how confined the car felt. It was a metal cage with authority to not let her leave and access nature’s beauty. She squeezed her eyes tightly as memories of the past assaulted her, denying her an ounce of peace.
She was five years old when she snuck out of the house with her older brother to visit the beach looking for lost treasure. Her brother was eight when he convinced her uncle with the prettiest grey eyes and hints of green to take them to the beach. They played cops and robbers until the sun guided them to the earrings hidden below the stale sand, slowly turning orange, as the sun grew closer and closer. She was five when stars gleamed in the day sky and electric gold flashed in the sky with her brother claiming it was a sign telling them they were meant to be there. She would grow up and forget her adventure, but she would never forget the silly girl in white with red splatters on her dress walking into the ocean and never coming back out.
“Let’s go home,” the boy said, pulling the chubby girl up. She blinked as she was pulled to her feet and dragged away from the beach. She stared behind her wondering where the silly girl was. Even silly girls know that they can’t stay in the ocean or else they’ll be lost forever.
She was 15 years old when she got a job at a cafe. She smiled and smiled at the customer’s, keeping up the false façade of happiness that was forcefully painted on her. And at the end of her shift, her mouth tilted backwards as if some force had lost the power to keep a smile drawn on her face. She tilted her head and put a hand in her hair, grateful for the stabbing pain in her cheeks slithering away. She did her job with no complaints as she needed the money to leave this town and the yelling that sung its way into their house. But one couple always stood out to her with their unique appearance of grey eyes and warm white eyes reminding her of a blank canvas untouched and uncorrupted by the past. She wondered where they came from as she had never seen them in this town that she’s forced to call home. But eventually, she’ll forget about them. All she needed to remember was to earn a lot of money to escape the horrible residents who saw her as useless and a family that couldn’t care less about her.
And today she celebrates growing older but feels nothing as she merely exists in the car with the unique and surreal work being destroyed. She was 18 years old when the driver with grey eyes and hints of green asked her, “Will you come back?”
Don’t you recognise me, young girl?
The young girl looked behind her, with blue eyes slowly turning grey, and calmly whispered a yes. The driver’s gaze lingered on for a few seconds before he sighed and closed the door, waiting for her to return.
For you would return.
She walked ahead, her head tilting. The adrenaline would not leave her body, and the smell of blood reminded her of what she had done. She winced as she felt her legs pinch and hurt as rocks of the road dug its way into her feet trying to find a home. Why didn’t she wear shoes? She kept walking, ignoring the stabs and wondered why did that taxi driver let her in the car? She didn’t look normal. A cool breeze hit her and as many things in life, her thoughts were stolen by the wind. She looked up at the clear blue skies littered with stars watches that watched her every move. She moved her gaze to the golden beach resting gently with the crashing waves as her lullaby. She moved towards it ignoring the background noise of two kids being lectured by an older voice and then stopped as her mind slowly registered what she saw.
She looked up and realized that there were stars. “During the day,” she whispers, and as if her voice was heard, golden flashes danced in the sky with choreographed ease. She flinched as she quickly shielded her eyes as lighting came and went.
“..meant to be here!” A shrill voice shouted, but she paid no attention as she lowered her hand with the disappearance of the lighting. She walked forward slowly with laughter filling her ears and demands to stop kept being shouted.
She aimlessly stared at the ocean, her eyes darkening at the familiar scene. It was an exact replica to a forgotten memory. It was breathtaking, and it looked surreal as if someone painted it straight from her memory. A scene that will forever be remembered and nothing could damage it.
Don’t you recognise where you are, little girl? This painted scene an exact replica of your memory.
Her fingers twitched beginning to pick a brush. She used to paint with colours bought for a pound from a run-down market. She used to paint. Blue swirls of oceans or red fiery passion of burned soldiers filled her books.
She used to paint.
Why did she stop?
Angry shouts reminding you that you owned nothing. “Remember who gave that to you, remember I did that for you.”
She was probably bad at it. But it seemed so far away as she tried to remember when the last time the toxic smell of paint hit her.
Wrists painted with red lines, screaming to the world that you exist, and that you choose to stay here, for that is the only thing in your power.
She smiled at the peaceful scene, ears ringing as she drowned the noise of the two kids chasing each other. She breathed in the air and wondered how to let go of her locked feeling. It made her wonder if anyone saw how caged she was.
But now they see.
The stain on the dress, a glorious and horrifying reminder of what happened. This is what happens when they wage war on her torn heart. She ended what they started. She blinked and tried to remember why she had done it. Her eyes glistened, and her mind screamed, demanding for her to remember.
They shouted at you, throwing insults at you while your brother hid in his room no longer feeling the need to protect you. And you stood, taking the words, eventually, taking the hits that left marks which would take time to hide.
She stared at the ocean, as her tears dropped and wonder how long before someone finds her? How long till someone reminds her of what she had done? Her hands shake.
Anticipation or was it fear that laced her heart?
She closed her eyes and remembered her dreams of battle-hardened warriors, with endless blue eyes, wearing their scars as armour. She smiled as she sensed their soul shining brightly as the sun, in the darkest situations. They charge at every enemy ahead of them with the confidence of a thousand roaring dragons, burning anything that stands in their way, to the ground.
She remembers, as a young girl, she used to pretend to be a knight and guide her brother through the cruel world. She listened with hearts in her eyes as her uncle with the grey eyes spun tales about how they were brave, the only ones that rode into the battle, ready to sacrifice their souls, to ensure no one else has to. And with countless people putting their hopes into them, they slaughtered their enemies.
And the ashes remain.
They rule over the graveyard scarred by the blood of their enemies. “Kings of ashes,” are chanted through the streets as the knights and dragons stand tall in the wake of destruction. The corpse’s voices have been robbed.
“Like yours,” the wind whispers softly in her ear. She shuts her eyes tighter and lets herself be disillusioned by the wind’s lullaby. She’ll never stand with the confidence of lions.
She will not roar, begging for her voice to be heard.
She took her earrings off and threw them behind her trying to calm herself.
She was 18 years old when detectives went to her house and found the mess she had created. As she listened to the hurried footsteps getting closer, she imagined the scene.
Three bodies lay like ghoulish mannequins, the esophagus and artery sticking out like so much corrugated and rubber tubing. It looked as if a special effects team had worked overtime for some Friday the thirteen-movie set. But the smell…
That smell could only come from recently slaughtered animals. In this case, the animals were humans, and their corpses were still warm, the blood not yet dried on their waxy skin. Some cases took a while to decide if foul play was involved but this was murder all the way.
She imagined a detective in a brown trench coat looking away from the scene covered in yellow tape. Officers and analysts all over the scene, taking photos or swabbing for DNA.
“A father, mother and a boy,” she imagined a police officer saying bluntly. It was part of the job to dissociate, to be distant.
“There are two rooms upstairs, we missing someone?” would ask the detective.
“Yeah, by the looks of it the second child, a daughter.”
“Or she made this mess. Her phone is upstairs, and she has over 50 missed calls and text messages from two contacts.”
Your friends were always loyal to you. Why do you never remember that?
“Now why would they call so frequently unless they were worried?”
“Call them in?”
The detective would nod and head upstairs. He would inspect the room. She felt her cheeks getting warm at the thought of how ungirly and simple her room is. Was. Small and standard.
He probably wonders how far this family fell to pay such a price.
Walls painted with sticky darkened red.
She knew the next step was to contact her friends. She imagined their reactions would be horror and denial. She imagined them denying that she could do this, but deep down in their hearts, she was sure that they knew she was capable.
You knew they were loyal and they loved you, yet why did you never trust them? Always in denial.
She looked to the left as she heard the footsteps growing louder in her ears and saw two children running and screaming after each other. She smiled as the sky brightened, revealing more stars, watching the two children, silently.
She should’ve kept looking at this familiar scene, but she didn’t. She wanted peace and watched the waves dancing over each other, trying to dominate one another.
They took every ounce of love you could offer as if it was their right, and in return, they showed you only the most superficial of understating. Never returning love with love. No, love was replayed with dominance, hurt and their audacity to wage war on you. All you ever wanted was love and peace. After their arguments, they forced you to work for their affection over and over and over again. Made you beg. They took all your self-esteem.
Are you only allowed a certain quota of happiness before they dragged you down once more?
But the universe was not on their side.
For you have been at war since you were born.
How dare they think they can wage war against you, born from the blood of enemies, lived in the cruel battlefield? You were born to fight, and you would not let you take what remained of your blackened soul for yourself.
If you are to rot in hell, then you will make your own path down theirs. It’ll be your choice and you will not let them take that from you.
So please, end this nightmare.
She swallowed the burning acid that slides down her throat, decaying her ribcages and slithering around her heart. She laughed as loneliness is a vice on her heart squeezing with just enough pressure to be a constant pain. She suffocates herself in the drumming of her heart, hoping to feel warm but what’s the point?
“I’m still here,” she wants to scream to the universe.
When a family feels like paper chains in the hurricane and the sky staring with empty promises that are easily blown away, life is lonely.
“I should have called my friends,” she whispers quietly into the ocean.
She sighed and twirled. Her feet dug dipper into the sand and felt so alive! She danced and danced with her fingers beginning to paint, to make her feel whole. But her mouth was pulled upwards as she remembered the feeling of her last painted artwork. She did paint. She appointed recently, and it was the most beautiful one she has ever created. She did paint but with a new medium.
Only found in the human body.
The viscous adrenaline started to evaporate from her as she looked behind her to see the two again. Her brain screamed to remember why this scene was familiar.
It should be obvious, young girl.
A young girl with wide blue eyes filled with naive innocence. A young boy whose face is free from wrinkles created from stress and bright brown eyes that had no ounce of hatred or cold distance in them. She walked into the ocean and let the cold water sting her eyes with salts. She kept moving forward every inch of her screaming beginning her to stop.
If you stop now, your soul can be saved.
She couldn’t listen to anything, she just walked ahead. She ignored the water biting into her as her subconscious slowly awakened a memory from the past. She was five years old when she was the silly girl wearing the exact dress that she was wearing right now. She opened her eyes and cried out as the saltwater stabbed her eyes.
It is too late.
That voice! Grey eyes with a warm smile and pale skin flashed before her, but she couldn’t dwell on it now. She had to leave this icy prison. She had to get out but she was exhausted as wave after wave crashed against her and the events of the day emotionally wore her down.
As she closed her eyes, the scene changed, her perspective no longer mattered, and a gentle song being weaved into her ear beginning a new chapter of the cycle of misery.
The two kids looked at wonder at the little jewels in their hands. A beautiful pearled shaped earing glittered in the sunlight.
“Should we give this to the adults?” asked the chubby five-year-old girl, with roses for checks.
The boy pouted at the silly girl. She always wanted to tell mommy and daddy!
“No,” the boy ordered, causing the girl to tilt her head in confusion. If they get into trouble, she’ll make sure it’s not her fault. She doesn’t want her supply of candy to disappear like last time! Or having her mother shout at her saying how unfair it was that she was born.
The girl opened her mouth to say as much but noticed something behind the boy who marvelled at the earrings saying how they found an old Japanese ghost belonging. Her bright blue eyes stared forward as she saw a girl dressed in a white dress. The girl bit her lip thinking how strange the girl was. Her dress was ugly. And the girl must be stupid because even the five-year-old knew white stained easily.
She wondered if the girl was a painter. The bottom half of the dress was covered in red. Older girls were just so silly!
The five-year-old watched as the silly girl dressed in red twirled and twirled. The sun caressed the girl and enveloped her in a warm embrace. The five-year-old wanted to look away because staring was rude. But she couldn’t.
Why? Why keep tormenting yourself?
She kept watching while the boy chewed her ear off with useless talk. She watched as the silly girl walked forward into the ocean. She furrowed her eyebrows. Older girls were really silly! That dress is not good for swimming! And the girl didn’t have floatable rings or a hat to protect her hair. She really did not want to be older if it meant she’ll be dumb.
She watched as the girl disappeared behind the ocean waves.
And the cycle has started a new.
“Let’s go home,” the boy said, pulling the chubby girl up. She blinked as she was pulled to her feet and dragged away from the beach. She stared behind her wondering where the silly girl was. Even silly girls know that they can’t stay in the ocean or else they’ll be lost forever. The two walked away from the beach and headed upstairs where the driver was waiting for them.
“Uncle Sam, we’re finished!” The boy exclaimed loudly. The driver with the grey eyes with hints of green smiled at them.
“Come on. I’ll get in trouble with your parents,” the driver said. He looked at the five-year-old whose attention was aimed at the ocean. He sighed and told them to hurry up. Over time, the five-year-old would grow up and look for the silly girl. It was hopeless for she understood what getting lost in the ocean meant.
Death was never the end for you, but it could be if you rest.
It saddened her that she grew and learned about how the world worked. She sighed and pouted. She wanted her uncle to be here, telling her stories of knights and how they stood with the bravery of a thousand dragons. And her always believing she could be like them to stand up to her parents, who looked at her with animosity.
Uncle, where are you? Little girl, do you not remember how he looks? For if you did, then you would realize he, no, we are here.
Her lips turned up as she served another plate to another customer. Oh, how she loved it when the dragons would roar furiously and burn down their enemies. And only ash remains. Corpses lining up on the roads, bodies mutilated and rotten, forever silent.
“Have a good breakfast!” She exclaimed at the young couple, who smiled softly at her. The young man’s grey eyes with hints of green reminding her of the warmth she used to feel. And the woman with the rarest pink eyes, promising her that there was more to life than this small town where people resented her existence. She was about to walk away when the young woman grabbed her hand. The waitress looked back and tilted her head. “Is there something I can help you with?”
The women’s cheeks turned red, and she let go of the waitress’s arm. “Sorry about that!”
“I was just wondering about your earrings. They’re so pretty,” the woman said shyly.
The waitress laughed and told her about how she and her brother had found it on the beach, keeping the silly girl to herself. The woman smiled a pretty smile, and her eyes gleamed softly at her. She thanked her and the 15-year-old walked away to carry out her job. She would earn enough money to leave her house and be free. Maybe one day she will be.
Turn around. This is all we can provide for you, my dear.
The 15-year-old continued her work, not hearing the voice laced with desperation, begging her to do as it ordered.
“We can’t help her.”
“So, we should watch her suffer over and over again?”
The man with grey eyes and hints of green sighed “We have no choice. She needs to break free herself.”
The woman shook her head, biting her lip. “And how does she do that? When she doesn’t realize that she’s in a loop?”
The man calmly ate his burger, but the woman wasn’t done. “This is her 552nd life. Death by drowning then she starts again by being a 5-year-old who witness her own suicide. She has no way of breaking this loop.”
The man put his burger down and stared at the woman. “Our job is to watch then take her soul when’s she’s ready to move on. We are here because she is not able to move on. She started this, and she must end it herself. We’ve helped her as much as we can by trying to remind her the truth of her situation, the murder she has committed and clues about the loop. We even appeared to her as a family member. But she clings to a family who has abandoned her and doesn’t want to admit the truth. That’s all we’re permitted to do. “
The woman sighed and stared at the waitress. The 15-year-old felt someone staring at her and turned around. She smiled at the woman who smiled back.
The 15-year-old went back to work, thinking of all the ways to spend her money and what places to travel. She touched her earring and wondered about the silly girl. Did she have a family? A brother like hers? Or did she want to be a painter and paint the world? But she mostly wondered about one thing.
What was the name of the silly girl?
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