City, Cheri Lucas Rowlands/The Daily Post
In my dreams, I envision a place. A place I can disappear.
Too much has happened in my short life, and most of it isn’t good. If you could see me, if you saw how young I was, you wouldn’t believe half of what I’ve done. Even the young are capable of awful things, though, if they have the right guidance. I can’t tell you about any of it, so don’t ask me. It’s too awful to speak of and anyway, if I did tell you, I’d have to kill you. I’m serious. That’s not just a bad line.
More and more often, I dream of disappearing from it all. I guess if I’m honest, I dream of disappearing from myself, too. There’s no way out, but at least I still have my dreams.
I don’t know for sure, but I think that most people would choose to escape to somewhere quiet and remote. A beach, perhaps, or an undiscovered waterfall roaring endlessly in the infinite jungle. That sounds nice. Peaceful. But I know myself. Alone is not what I need. I need somewhere in the middle of it all. A place where there are so many people, they would swallow me up. A place I can be anonymous. Somewhere that no one sees me or knows me. Somewhere that I don’t have to think or to see myself.
When I close my eyes, the horrors push in and invade my brain. To fight that, I need the dirt and grime and constant assault on the senses one gets from a big city. I imagine somewhere foreign, somewhere I would have to concentrate on the language rather than the visions of what would then, upon my escape, become my past.
In my dreams, I envision a place in which all this would be possible. Maybe, if I keep imagining it, I will keep the nightmares at bay. Maybe one day, I will find it.
In the city of my dreams, the air smells of exhaust, greasy food frying, cigarettes and cramped society. It’s hot and humid. I spend my time sitting out on a small iron balcony above the fray, looking down upon the masses. Not too high, though. I don’t want to be alone; I still want to be part of it. Unseen yet surrounded.
Lights flash night and day. After some time, the rhythm reveals itself. There are lights from the billboard signs, lights from the restaurants and the bars in the busy intersection, lights from the cars and trucks and mopeds, street lights, lights that never turn off inside the shops – pawn shops, luggage shops, shops selling fakes to bargain tourists. The lights pierce through all the cracks, reaching into my private spaces.
The fan inside my drab one-room apartment is broken. It makes a thump-thump-thump sound and turns lazily, barely disturbing the air. Air conditioning is non-existent here. The walls are concrete-grey under the peeling, faded, white paint. The floors are as well. Once-white curtains billow in the languid air, showing the marks of decades of pollution. Dirty dishes are piled in the sink and on the drain board.
Whether I open or close the windows, the stench seeps in. And the noise. Cars and trucks honk, gears grinding, as they break any traffic rules that may once have existed. People call to each other, scream at each other, embrace each other; the complex, emotional interactions of humanity.
I hear it all, see it all, smell it all.
And what do I do all day? I sit and watch and try to forget. I don’t know how much time I have – perhaps a lifetime – but whatever I have, it is a luxury to be away from the horrors. To do nothing. Even waiting isn’t so bad; I want to be ready if they come for me.