There she was. A little girl no older than age eight, with a pink bow and eyes so blue you could see the oceans in them. She wore a pink dress and silver shoes, and she looked at the world with a sense of natural wonder.
She stared at the tall man in front of her. He was dressed in all black. He had glistening pale skin with reddish marks all over, greenish-brown eyes, and a smile that showed his crooked, yellow teeth. The little girl was simply curious, you see, so she began to ask him questions as they entered her mind.
“Where did you come from, mister?” she said with a confident, kind tone.
The man smiled and said, “Well, little girl. I’m from a town far from here. A town where little girls like you don’t talk to men like me.”
Her eyes lowered to his dirty loafers, then to her own sparkly shoes. “I-I-I was just wondering, mister.”
The edges of his smile were seemingly plastered to the corners of his widened eyes. “You were just wondering were you? Well, what exactly were you wondering?”
“Well um… why you thought you had to come here.”
“Why I thought I had to come here? Darling, if you wanted a ticket into my mind, all you had to do was ask.”
The two of them began walking slowly, as the man began to tell her a story.
“Let me tell you. I’m not totally sure why I am here. I was traveling to get away from some pretty bad things and some pretty bad people. I can’t tell you too much though.”
His breaths quickened and he began to blink more rapidly.
“I’m not sure what I’m going to do here… I do not know anyone. But I had to leave the life I knew because things got out of hand and I didn’t know what to do. You know, now that I think about it, I don’t think it was all my fault, even though my family blames me. They don’t know what it’s like to live like I do.” The man sighed, then continued, “Oh, but I shouldn’t tell you too much though.”
The little girl watched, seeming to only understand some of the man’s story.
“They have no idea! No idea! None. I do all of this work for them, I put myself into situations where I was at risk of losing everything. Everything!”
The two of them had stopped walking but the man was pacing back and forth and the little girl was simply watching, waiting for him to be done. She saw lines of sweat drip off the vein protruding from his forehead. She only seemed a little scared that he was getting upset.
“They have no idea! My mind is different from them; I am different from them. Let me tell you!”
Their surroundings changed abruptly and suddenly they were in a whole different world. The sky was blood red and the ground and all the buildings were black. There were no other people in sight. The girl did nothing but stare.
He exclaimed, “welcome to the land of the lost! Welcome, welcome, please step off the train and follow the corridors to my worst nightmare. This is my mind.”
The world was overcome with reds and blues and blacks. There were rivers that ran through the entirety of it, like veins in a body. Although once blue, they were now red. The man and the girl ran through this world quickly, quickly, spinning and yelling and remembering and feeling. The girl simply followed.
“Now do you see why I had to leave?” he shouted, “I’m too much for them out there.”
They continued on. On the elevator they passed a floor with walls of TVs, each holding memories of his past. Floor six showed a number of drunk adults relying on a six year old to help them. Floor eight showed the police knocking on the door to make sure his cousin wouldn’t hurt his aunt. Floor ten showed a dark room where he was ignored day in and day out for a long time. Floor eleven showed his aunt being addicted to pills and them almost getting in a car crash because she was driving while high. Floor fourteen showed his mother telling him that she was raped. Floor fifteen showed his mother telling him that his father wanted to pay for her to get him aborted. Floor sixteen showed him carving his pain on his arms. Floor eighteen showed him homeless, hungry, and hopeless.
He gasped and tried to appear without emotion, “See all this? They have no idea. They have no idea why I do what I do. And sometimes neither do I.”
The girl looked like she was about to speak, but suddenly she began to fade away. First her body, then her dress and her shoes, then her bow. For a moment, all that remained were her eyes that resembled ice and seemed to echo eternity.
There she went. And he realized he had imagined her from the very beginning.