Summary: A story of a confused over-thinking 19 years old girl and her perfect fantasy of the word ‘family’.
My story starts with a gleam of light, and somewhere in time will end also with it. The beauty of the thing that has been taken away since the very beginning, for I was born in one dark October, finally reaches upon my eyes in this exact ticking time. Enlighten the space of my shadowy gasping breath; my brand new flashlight. The different particle of a shining thing gives a touch of strangeness to my whole senses. My eyes catch a different shade, my nose even senses a different scent. Every single inch of fabrics in the rack seems to have its own nameable spectrum, and every single page of my books looks like offering a new unreadable narrative. And as the oddness is fused with the oxygen I consume, the fear of something huge that is going to happen today crawls out from the dark hole in my deepest heart. It’s May the forth, and here I am, Rouse, first name Evalindya, sitting tight in silence among the floral skirts, the long-sleeved shirts and the furry coats, wondering about how could two or three or four and more share an unbreakable bond.
It feels like I might gaze out the window asking for one acceptable answer to the stars, but sadly there’s none near, for I am breathing air out of a closet. Here, it’s only a rack of fabrics, a pile of books, and an enormous mound of disappointment. Is it about the idea? The bond. Or something less abstract like the red sherry which streams through the tiny pipes under our tearable skin? Pipes do break. And the mystery of the bond persistent still remains like a locked Pandora box. Since there’s no soul to share thoughts with, I’ve always been the luckiest girl on earth for having Veronika right by my side. Veronika is fictional, but it’s not a big deal, since we’re all living a fictional version of our life, aren’t we? I asked for her opinion once, she never answered. I believe we share the same ignorance.
I met her a couple weeks ago in one bookstore in town. I couldn’t see her face—she appeared as a silhouette of a young woman, walking through the snow all by herself, surrounded by the shadow of high trees and the dark blue sky—but I knew she was beautiful all wrapped in blue. Dark blue. I felt like I could relate to whatever the thing she’s been through, even though my heart was just 250 grams of tears and silence, I totally did. She plays piano, and I enjoy music. Aren’t we one perfect combination, though we don’t share the same blood and breast milk once we’re younger?
But today, I can hardly hear her play. It isn’t because of the loud melody which streams down my earphones. She just simply doesn’t feel like playing her white piano keys for now. And no matter how deafening my music is, I can still receive the sound of some termites chewing the walls, the sound of something I cannot describe inside my flashlight, and the sound of bumping and crashing things from somewhere inside the house—probably from the living room where Carson likes to bring in his tricycle and Mom will grumble over it like all day.
I remember one of the stories Veronika told me the other day. It was about one honorable King, one loving Queen, and one vicious Witch in a joyful kingdom. One day, the witch poisoned the kingdom well with madness, and everybody in the kingdom was gone mad, except the King and the Queen. The kingdom turned into a mess; chaos happened all over the place. The King was no longer capable of holding his throne, and then, the loving Queen said that it’d be best if they drink the water from Well of Madness just like everybody else. They finally drank it and turned as mad as the people they led, and The King continued to hold his kingdom in ‘peace’ until his very last breath. The story makes me think, what is madness? Isn’t it all about one’s perspective? I can be mad, as well as you, Veronika, The King, The Queen and everybody else. So when one tries to cut their arm, which I’ve done once, you don’t give them medicines and psychiatrist’s appointments. Because when you do, that one person is going to do the same thing over and over again until they actually dies, and when they dies, it’s their blood on your hands. I shared the thought with Veronika, we both totally agreed on this thing she also can relate to, because she once swallowed a handful of sleeping pills, and hoped for never being awakened no more. She lost it, everybody lost it.
But I’m glad that she survived through the times. She is a warrior, a brave one. I miss her play. This one song that is played in my earphones for like a thousand times in a row starts to bother me. Not because of the depressing lyrics and melody, but for it cannot hide the sound of the outside world, no matter how often I press the volume button. I still can hear the termites. I still can hear Carson shouting from downstairs. Is it my earphones? Or is it me that slowly turn into Roderick Usher? Roderick Usher hears things that shouldn’t be heard. He is capable of catching every single sound in his huge mansion, for he is on the edge of his sanity. His brain boils. And he is dead. Am I insane? Am I going to die?
It is funny to think that this song might be literally my ‘Last Flowers’, which brings me to my grave, my eternal bed, my gate to the afterlife that I don’t really know about. Nobody knows about the afterlife. If somebody claims that they know about it, either they’re lying or they’re losing their mind. I am losing my mind, because as the sound of the ticking clock repeats itself, the sound from downstairs becomes louder and louder and louder. It feels like my brain is boiling because of it. I can hear the burst of laughter from Carson’s tiny mouth that somehow I begin to hate. I can hear Mom’s clapping hands and Dad’s flattering lines. A wonderful family, isn’t it?
Frederick Anderson Rouse, 52, a father of two, a husband of one. A former marine who loves to sit in the porch, and wave hand to the neighbor who passes by. He used to take me to the Edy’s once in a month when I was still 11. He would kiss me good night, and make me pancakes when I woke up. He loved to play with my tangled hair, and said that little girls were not supposed to have one like Barbie had. “Little girls should play with flowers in an open garden; they don’t need hours in saloons.”
Halley Cordelia Rouse, 44, a mother of two, a wife of one. A beautiful woman who dedicated all her life in being a florist, who ended up marrying a man whose last name was pronounced like the flower Rose. She fell for it from the very first time she heard it. It was her that always had something nice to say. It was her smile that could lighten up one dark room better than my new flashlight would ever do. It was her, and always gonna be her.
Carson Alexander Rouse, 5, a long-desired son and brother, who gave the family a reason to keep smiling and living gratefully as he grew taller and bigger.
Evalindya Wren Rouse, 19. I cannot remember.
All I can think about is why I can feel the sea breeze in my skin all of sudden. Why can I see the twinkling stars, as if it is a transparent ceiling above my head? The sound of the waves and the singing of the ocean, they’re calling me in whispers. I really want to go, I do, but I need Veronika to come along with me. And she definitely cannot, for she lives in Villete, a mental care facility somewhere in Slovenia.
The sound of the waves breaking on reef slowly transforms to a roaring thunder, and the scent of the sea slightly turns to some dead flowers in my old garden. It makes me think, is it Carson’s laugh I’ve been hearing for the past hours, or is it his scream that makes my ears nearly bleed and my brain practically boils. Is it the tricycle that bumps all over the furniture, or is it the appliances that have gone berserk and scattered all over the floor. I don’t know. Stars have left; it’s all dark low ceiling hanging above me.
Louder, louder, and louder. It haunts me like a ghost of a Christmas past. I’ve tried to seal my eyes, hoping that the sound will disappear because it is all only in my mind. I am going insane. I am Roderick Usher. But then there’s this one sound which every man can hear, yet none can bear. A broken glass. One earsplitting broken glass. My heart seems like stop beating. It’s horrifying. But it isn’t about the sound of the broken glass; it is about the following perfect silence. As if the world suddenly goes away and I am nothing but a stringless kite flying over an empty space.
I sense loneliness. ‘Cause even the stars appear as unrecognizable faces of people I’ve never met before. They’re trying to expel me from where I belong, this place, my undoubtedly beautiful land of closet. They say that I need to see what is going on there, downstairs. What is happening downstairs? And why is it a thundering heartbeat restarts playing inside my chest? I am terrified. No matter the voices inside my head tell me to walk toward the truth, I cannot move a single muscle. I am not the controller of my body anymore. And I can see Veronika’s eyes begging me to stay on my seat that she needs accompany, she needs me. But who is Veronika? I cannot even recall her last name, or her hair color, or the way she speaks to me.
I am lost.
All I can recall is that my name is Evalindya Wren Rouse, “Rouse” like the thorny flower “Rose”. I remember when I was 8, sitting in the backseat heading to the hospital for a desired birth, and then heading back home by a big black car, with a little black coffin inside. I remember what Mom said in her sobbing voice, that the tiny lifeless creature was supposed to be named Carson. Carson Alexander Rouse. I can still picture Mom’s motionless body on the floor, and Dad’s alcoholic breath filling the air. All the bruised cheeks and bleeding lips. I also remember that Dad stopped talking to me since I was 9, and Mom stopped growing roses at the same time. And whenever both started throwing and breaking things, I remember hugging my knees to my chest in the silence, in the dark, among the floral skirts, the long-sleeved shirts and the furry coats, far away from the confusing earth.
But now, I need the shouting, the yelling, the cursing, and the breaking things. It is too much silence that I cannot deal with anymore. I don’t want to be left alone. Nobody wants to.
The scars on my arms are smiling to me, offering a hug of a long lost friend, and a way to escape all the fear of breathing air. The amount of temptation is so great that it is blowing my mind just like how the wind blows dandelions. But then the sea breeze comes back and I can feel the wave dancing under my deck. I am alone, but I am no longer lost, for I can see The Crux hanging there brightly, and the light confounds me.
The Southern Cross then alters itself into a gleam of light, shaping a body of a 5 years old child, who breaks the border of my land of shyness, and my world of gore; he opens the closet door. Like the other stars, he appears in the face of a person that I have never met before. His smile is so much brighter than my new flashlight, and even brighter than the biggest bonfire. He lends a hand, and says “We’re holding a dinner party out among the roses, you should come ‘cause there will be cakes and juices.” And as my fingers sail to his palm of fair, the unbreakable bond is created out of the thin air. It’s May the forth, and here I am, Rouse, first name Evalindya, walking outside with an exceptional guest for The Southern Cross shines at its best.
Thanks to my beloved sister, grammar checker, and faithful proof-reader Vina Fasya Kartamanah. Aldila Putri Hakmi, for the middle names. And Rahmat Satria Harmi, for the shelter to write.
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/05/chicagos-best-ice-cream-l_n_1652523.html
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.gdi-solutions.com/areas/maps/region/maps_us_il_chicago_metro.htm
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crux
Coelho, P. (2000). Veronika Decides to Die. New York: Harper.
Jackson, P. (Director). (2009). The Lovely Bones [Motion Picture].
Radiohead (Performer). Last Flowers.
Lestari, D. (2011). Madre. Yogyakarta: Penerbit Bentang.
Poe, E. A. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ibiblio.org/ebooks/Poe/Usher.pdf
Coil, T. M. (Performer). Song to The Siren.
Word Count: 2152
Link for work dramatization: https://soundcloud.com/nandabay/southern-cross-of-a-dying-rose-a-short-prose