by Sahana Ilenchezhian
Art by Joy Song
Issue: Solivagant (Winter 2018)
Close your eyes. Imagine nothing, a void. A white, blinding light flashes on. You sit on a white chair, in a white room across from a woman in white. She is far from you, far enough that you can’t see her face. Yet, close enough to recognize her. You want to run. You don’t. You remain seated. She walks closer. You thrust backward, tipping the chair. You don’t fall, but a surprised yelp escapes your mouth. She smiles. You can see her better now. Her beauty is immaculate, almost inhuman. You can see the black hair that cascades down her shoulders like waterfalls. You can see a pair of piercing grey eyes, imprisoned in round spectacles. Alas, you can see her red lips, a bleeding color against the blinding white. Now, It’s not a mystery why I — you’re afraid of her.
She takes a seat, her hands opening a white folder with your name in bold. As she skims through its contents, you feel naked. Exposed. Violated. A sudden urge to grab that folder overwhelms you. Your hand even makes a move towards it. Her eyes flash. You freeze. She smiles.
“I see weakness. So much weakness in you.” She tilts her head. “And you hope to become something? What a laugh!”
You remain frozen.
“Let’s start, shall we?”
You want to run, you can’t.
“What’s the new dream?”
You want to disappear. Don’t worry, you will soon.
“Do you know what it takes to achieve your high hopes and ambitious dreams? Perfection. Do you know what you are? Far from it.”
You want to cover your ears, you can’t.
“Look, honey, even if we look past numbers, you as a person do not possess a single redeeming quality. I mean, not even a single one. Are we selfless? No. Talented? No. Hardworking? No.”
You want to scream. You can’t.
“So why burden yourself with some futile illusions? Seems utterly hopeless don’t you think? I mean, there’s no way on earth someone like you could achieve them. So why bother?”
Do you know what you can do? Cry. And you do. Uglily, messily, noisily.
“Crying? How do you hope to face the big, bad world when you can’t even handle some friendly advice from little old me?”
You agree. What can someone like you do?
“You know what? Why don’t we stop it, the dreaming? We’re never gonna achieve it anyway.”
Why don’t you stop it? Why do you bother? What is the point of deluding my–yourself with these fantasies?
“Let’s throw them all away.”
You want to agree. It makes perfect sense to agree. But you can’t. Because you know, you of all people know, that the little scraps of impossible fantasies are all I–you’ve got.
“No,” I mutter. If I give it up, what’s left?
“What was that?” The woman looks confused.
“No,” I say with a little more confidence. Dreams keep the living sane. Without them, little fragments of ambition, what keeps you going? What differentiates you from becoming a lifeless machine? Nothing.
“No?” She asks, raising her eyebrows. “Sweetheart, you can’t afford to dream. You simply aren’t good enough.”
“No!” I scream. “I dream because I can. Maybe, I’m not good enough. Maybe, I’ll never be. But that’s okay.”
“What do you mean?” The woman is perplexed.
“I need to dream. For someone as utterly hopeless as me, it’s all I got and it’s all I need.”
Streams of color bleed into the pallid walls.
“No, it’s not what you need! Weren’t you listening? You are worthless, a piece of nothing. You will never be anything. Never!” She screams.
Her face is pinched in anger. She is neither perfect nor beautiful.
“Maybe. But we don’t know that until I try.”
The room is no longer pristine and white. It’s chaotic and colorful.
I watch as everything vanishes into a black, blank nothingness.
Imagine a person. Not an immaculate machine. Not a heavenly entity. A perfect, imperfect human. The person is everything you want to be. Imagine living as that person. You don’t have to imagine it. It’s right in front of you. It always was.