We all change and grow, and so do our forms of self-expression. This excerpt from my third book, It's All About Love, which I'm currently working on, is probably the most surreal piece I have ever written. It's a dream, and it's supposed to wake the protagonist and the reader up to something greater than themselves, to make them truly, deeply happy, without any pretenses or masks that we usually wear. Anyway, I'll let you be the judges, and I hope you will enjoy reading this extract as much I enjoyed writing it :).
"Something and nothing in particular woke me up, and I opened my eyes, startled. The beige ceiling with not-very-appealing water stains—the unfortunate consequence of the last-year’s water leak at our neighbors’—was still the same, albeit with bursts of light popping up on its worn surface every now and then. Still caught between the dreamworld and reality, I stared at the bizarre glowing pattern, finally realizing that they were reflections of headlights cast by cars zooming past our apartment building through the jet-black night. I rubbed my eyes with the back of my hand and let out a sweet, long yawn. How long was I asleep for?
The room was so quiet, all I could hear was a soft tick-tock of the wall clock and my parents breathing peacefully in their sleep in the room next door. Our two-bedroom apartment, popularly referred to as Khrushchyovka, was located in a five-story panel building in the Russian city of Voronezh—one of many such buildings that were developed on the initiative of Nikita Khrushchev in the early 1960s. It was a very modest dwelling, but I had been incredibly happy there for the seventeen years I had lived there with my mom, dad and Nan. I spent my love-filled childhood years reading books, mainly by Alexander Dumas, Stendhal and Agatha Christie, learning foreign languages day and night, like my life depended on it, and watching South American soap operas with my Nan. I was an only child, but I never felt lonely. Even when all my school friends would leave to stay with their grandparents in the countryside during long summer breaks, I still would find something to do—whether it was writing short stories, which were predominantly set in England (undoubtedly influenced by Hercule Poirot), singing in front of the mirror with a mock mike, aka hairbrush, and pretending to be the star of the stage, or baking pancakes with Nan. Life was simple and full of dreams of the great future, which was bound to be amazing, one-of-the-kind, the one people write books about.
My gaze fell on the pair of large headphones laying silently on top of my blanket. I would always fall asleep listening to romantic songs, dreaming of meeting my Big Love and walking off into the sunset together. That night I must have drifted off to Hard to Say I’m Sorry by Chicago, since the song was still pleasantly stuck on replay in my head.
I turned on my left side and closed my eyes, trying to go back to sleep. But something was stopping me. Thoughts about unknown future, so faceless and heart-freezingly scary, made me toss and turn for what seemed to have been an eternity until I finally sat up on my bed. The semi-transparent tulle curtains glowed white in the dark of the room, and silver snowflakes were spiraling down behind the windowpane in the most graceful and confident dance. Dance of nature itself.
Nature always has an answer. Nature always knows what it will do next. I, however, did not. My prom was coming up next week, and I knew that I would be going to college in two months, leaving my high-school years behind me. Life would never be the same. As exciting as it was, the idea of growing up and facing all the possibilities offered by the big world left me petrified. It seems that from the moment we are born, the script of life is written out for us. We make our first timid steps surrounded my family, we go to daycare and then to school, we do our best to get admitted to the best college there is, we pound the books at college, still striving to be the most bad-ass versions of ourselves. And then… Then it’s all over. It’s as if Hansel and Gretel’s trail of breadcrumbs ends ever so abruptly, and you are left floating in space. Nothing can be more intimidating than an empty page. You know you have to write something, but you are not quite sure what you are going to write. And even if you did, you’d probably suck at it. So instead you drift in the ever-changing waters of life, finding yourself a guest on various rafts every now and then. Rafts of trying to make your parents happy, rafts of mimicking those you admire, rafts of sensibility and responsibility masking the fact that you really have no idea what you are here for.
Then I shivered, sensing it again. I stubbornly kept my eyes fixed on the window, refusing to give in. Pulling the knees tight to my chest, I felt that familiar gnawing in the heart, and I knew that I had to do it. I exhaled slowly for the bravery sake, and looked over my shoulder, blood pulsating loudly in my veins. As always, there was nothing there. Just our living room, drenched in the ink of the night.
Suddenly, I knew that I had to do it all differently this time. Determination built up in my chest, like a huge soap bubble that was growing bigger and bigger instead of pop-ping, and the tips of my fingers became electrified with the knowing. Ignoring voices in my head, I got out of bed, velvety carpet pleasantly tickling my feet as if in encouragement, and slowly walked across the living room. I was afraid—oh, I was so afraid! Darkness had always scared me in the most primordial way, and a few steps I had to take seemed to have taken forever even though our living room was of a very modest size. I caught a glimpse of myself in the rhombus-shaped Art Deco mirror on the wall, a proud guest from the 1970s, the witness of the distant times when Nan and Granddad had money and status. My disheveled hair looked really funny, and my eyes glowed in the most curious fashion, reflecting in the dim looking glass. I kept on walking until I finally found myself in the tiny pitch-black hallway, standing in front of the door. I grabbed the worn gold-painted handle, the sound of my beating heart growing so loud, I couldn’t hear or think of any-thing else. Just my heart, the vibrating universe. The fear crystallized in my throat, and every cell of my body was telling me to stop. But my heart… my heart was saying otherwise. I’m going to do it differently today…
I pushed the handle down and swung the door open. The song of my heart grew so ever-present, I had to shut my eyes tight, and when I opened them, I was engulfed by the most translucent shimmering light I had even seen. It was swirling up and down my body, like a magic vortex, making me smile from ear to ear. Suddenly, I realized that something was tick-ling me all over. I looked down and saw that I was surrounded by butterflies of all colors of the rainbow. They were flapping their wings happily, brushing against me, buzzing as if they were trying to tell me something, and then soaring up and disappearing into the never-ending, cloudless blue sky. I started to laugh, since the tickling was getting pretty intense, and my laughter became so sonorous, it seemed it was coming from outside of me, from above, as if broadcast from a giant celestial speaker. I’m going to do it differently today…"
If you would like to stay up-to-date with my posts, please click here to subscribe.
Should you be willing to read more of my craziness, check out my novels by clicking on the book covers below. They are available on Amazon in both electronic and paperback formats.