I’ve been told that the most important part of any literary work is how you start it, and what better way to start than going back to the beginning. I remember lying there in that room, wondering where I was. I kept looking around, trying to grasp my surroundings. No windows nor any door in sight. Nothing around but white walls and a fluorescent light, which flickered with every beating of my heart. Now there’s a clock, hanging by the bed. Was that clock there before? I must have missed it. The clock reads 4:37, but is it morning or afternoon? I feel trapped. I don’t know how I got here, but I just want to get out. I start panicking now, my heart starts to race. And so does the flickering of the light. I lay back down, trying to calm myself. All of a sudden there’s someone standing over me. The face looks familiar, but I can’t place it. I know I’ve seen her before. But where? Before I can speak, she places her hand on my face and closes my eyes. A touch so fragile, its hypnotic.
I awake six months later, in a different country. I haven’t been here before, yet I know that I don’t belong. It’s hard to sleep at night, with all the storms, and no one here to comfort me. But I try to remember her face. I still don’t know who she is, or what she was doing in that room. But I have to find out.
I’m getting a lay of the land, and I’m meeting new people. To me, they are my friends, we get along. But to them I’m just another person. They know I’m different, hence they treat me that way. They always distance themselves from me. I can’t say why they do that, I mean, I look just like them. Or is it more than that, can they see my fear? My fear and insecurity, and the knowledge I have that I don’t belong here.
Nothing much has changed, I’m still treated the same. But at least I try to accept it. Though I still feel like there is something wrong with me and that somehow it’s my fault. Oh, and the insomnia is still there. It’s all these damn storms. They never stop, its like they’re triggered by the darkness. At least some days are better than others, it’s not always as loud. But, it’s still hard to sleep properly. Especially with her face haunting my thoughts.
Its been 5 years, and I still don’t know who I am. All I know is what I’ve been told. My name is James Bishop. A lot of people have been stopping by. It has been different around here lately. A lot of comings and goings. And so many boxes. What’s with all these boxes? It’s starting to drive me crazy. I’m told that we are going back home. Now I’m even more confused, I thought this was home. No, they say. Not anymore.
I’ve been here before, I can feel it. This is where I saw her. But it’s not how I remember it.
The rooms aren’t white, and I have windows to look out of. But windows don’t make a difference, because all I can see are walls. But it’s still nice here. I’m finally back where I belong. I’m with my people.
I’m still treated like an outsider. It was better before. They judged me, but they did it quietly among themselves. But now, here, they ridicule you to your face. I walk by and they point and stare. It doesn’t help that I don’t speak the language. I need some form of communication. Now I am learning, and it’s worse than I feared. What they say is just so wrong. They label me, and cast me out. But I am a native, just like every single one of them.
If only they were strangers. But they are not. They are my family. My own flesh and blood. I always thought that families were supposed to look out for each other. I guess I’m wrong, forced to doubt myself once more. It took me a couple of years, but I’ve learned the language, and I’ve made friends. But I still don’t belong. I try to join in, but they tell me I’m not a Bishop. “you never were, and never will be”, they say. They tell me I don’t look like them or even talk like them. Is what they say true? I may never know. So I just hang my head, and walk myself into the corner away from the others.
Its been about twelve years since I was in that room. I still haven’t found the answer to why I was there, or where that even was. But I feel like I’m getting closer. I met some new people recently, and some of them are nice. They don’t mind that I’m a bit different. They think it’s cool. But there will always be a group that think I don’t belong. But they don’t really matter, because the boxes are back. Those god-awful boxes. They only appear when everything seems to be running smoothly for once.
What took me seven years to build, was torn down in an instant, and the reconstruction of my life begins once more. If you can even call it a life. Is this the third time or fourth? I can’t believe that I’ve lost count already. It’s got me spinning around. I can’t keep my head straight. Back and forth, and forth and back. I feel like I’m caught on a merry-go-round in a twisted man’s nightmare. Up and down, and round and round. Never able to touch the ground. Never able to stand still.
It’s been a couple of years now, and so far things have gone like they always have. But I have noticed something odd. It was something small and subtle at first, like something you see moving in the corner of your eye. Yet now, I see it more and more. It’s the people. They’re different. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I have noticed a difference. I’m not as far away as I thought I would be. I’m close, and because of that I see the similarities. It’s only superficial, the similarities I mean. But deep inside, they are like me. If they went to where I was, they would be labeled too. But to a lesser extent, because they wear their disguise well. The fact that they even have a disguise works in their favor.
But I’m getting better. My shell is getting tougher, and I’m used to most of what I hear. But it’s still shocking. The things that people can think of, let alone what they say. How those people dare to say things like that is just beyond me. I have found an escape from the hate, the jealousy, and the ignorance. It’s an escape from everything. I just put on my headphones, and listen to whatever comes out. Music is truly an art form. I mean, It must require science to produce such beauty and harmony. Music is my cure for the cancerous disease. The disease which has infected most of the people living in the world. The best thing about music is that it speaks for itself, and it speaks for you as well. It knows how you feel, and how to make you feel better. It’s like your best friend who shadows you wherever you are. All you have to do is plug yourself in, and get lost in it. Lost in all the notes, the rhythms, the beats, and the bass. That’s how I escape, I just plug in, and lose myself in the noise. To tell you the truth, it works.
I turned on the news today. And. And, well it was horrifying. But inside I was a bit happy. Now I’m sure you are thinking of me as a dark, sick, and twisted human being. But, I’m not. Allow me to explain. Something happened. Something horrible happened, and everyone in the world knows who did it, except for a handful of people, yet someone else got blamed. How they got blamed, and how people accepted the fact that it wasn’t who they knew it was, is beyond me. You see, I was happy because of who got blamed. They were my people. The same ones who criticized me even though we weren’t that different. In a way, I got my revenge. It’s not like I planned it or anything. It just happened, and that’s why I was happy. Because in a way, I felt like someone was looking out for me. Maybe it was her. I’m not sure, I don’t know who she is or what she does. If she’s even real. But I don’t want to get carried away. Now where was I? Oh yes, the score is karma one, the world zero.
Eight years have passed since I came to this land. It’s the longest stretch of time that I have ever spent in one place. But I’m not worried that we’re going to leave anytime soon, because it feels safe. Like we’re going to stay here for a while longer. I like it here. The people are friendlier, and they keep most of their thoughts to themselves. But everyone seems upset. They look so sad. They look like someone is waiting for them to make a mistake, then jump out and kill them. I used to look like that, but not anymore. I’m smiling now. It’s a weird feeling. I’m not used to being so happy, nor seeing the beauty in life. Even my friends are worried about me. They aren’t used to the happy me either. Everyone is worried that I’m losing my mind. They ask me why I’m happy, and I tell them I’m happy because of joy. That’s when they just stare at me, and I try as hard as possible to explain, but I can’t. Because so far that’s all I know. Her name is Joy. Yes, I mean her as in the girl who was in the room. I finally met her. Even though I still had her picture in my head, I wasn’t really sure if it was her. But, now I’m positive. I find it strange though, that I found her in a room similar to the one in which I first saw her.
It was like any other day. I was hot, bored, and tired. But all that changed the minute I walked into room 201. There were around 15 people, yet all I could see was her. Just sitting there and smiling at me. As if she was waiting for me to walk in and see her. She was so close to me. I could almost touch her, but I couldn’t stretch my arm. I had so much to ask, but I couldn’t speak. All I could do was look at her. She gave me this look that said “I know, just have patience”. So I sat down and waited. I felt like time froze, but it passed by so fast.
I can’t tell you if it was a month or a year, or maybe even a couple of hours. All I know is that I lost track of everything in life. But Joy finally came to me, and told me everything I wanted to hear. She even told me, “If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story”. To some, this might be where they want to stop reading. However, I’m not done telling my story. You see, since I’ve known Joy, I have learnt that she wasn’t the girl that I saw in that room. The face I saw that day was the face of my guardian angel. Over time, that angel embodied different people, and now it has found its final resting place in Joy. My name is James Bishop, and sometimes what you look for tends to find you.