(From this point forth, the chapters may be linked to older ones and/or to each other. If you haven’t read the previous chapters, please feel free to do so.)
I walked into the ballroom, dressed in a suit and a look of content, as the music of a beautiful Waltz filled the air.
People all around were dancing in pairs. Perfect synchronization, perfect precision, perfect faces. For their faces weren’t dynamic. They were as stiff as a rock, with eyes wide open, never blinking, and a huge smile on their faces. Not once did their mouths twitch, and not once did they hide those perfectly white teeth of theirs.
I watched their feet move in perfect rhythm, and their hands hold their partners’, never letting go of them.
An ambient light filled the room, as the shiny wooden dance floor created a space where silhouettes danced alongside their owners.
One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three. They were so happy as they unconsciously danced. They were so clueless as their bodies moved around. They… weren’t there?
But someone was. A girl in a beautiful black ball dress, walking straight towards me. Her long, black, straight hair delicately flowed down her face, covering one eye, yet sparing the other to allow me to notice its glistening blue color. Her full pink lips uttered a phrase, breaking the silence. “Care to dance?”
I had almost forgotten the music by then. Everything went silent for a moment.
“Why, of course.”
I grabbed her delicate little hands, which were as cold as her pale white skin would have implied. I wasn’t much of a dancer, really. But the moment we began dancing, I suddenly gave rise to perfect rhythm. I danced as though I had been dancing my whole life, following the rhythm of the bass, with the delicacy of the violins, and the excitement of the trumpets.
Come to think of it, where was the music coming from?
Without stopping, I asked, “Do you know where the music is coming from? I don’t see any speakers.”
“It’s coming from your head, silly!”
Never failing to hold a genuine smile on her face, she replied, “Not this one. The one you’d left behind. You’re inside it; didn’t you know?”
The soft tapping of our feet continued, as I tried to make sense of what she said.
“Why do you think everyone is less human than me? Do you ever notice the details of your surroundings in your thoughts, or is your focus purely on the main subject? They’re all unfinished creations of yours, insignificant enough that it doesn’t bother you.”
“And you’re the finished creation, my lady? Who are you?”
“Who do you think I am?”
The dancing never stopped, as I looked closely at her. She did look familiar, but I couldn’t exactly figure it out. Her hair, her figure… I could’ve sworn I’d seen it all before.
“You know, it is said that every face in one’s dreams or interactive thoughts resembles that of a person they had actually seen before. The mind is incapable of producing new beings in an altered state of consciousness.”
Now that I thought of it, I did know everyone in the room.
Looking around, I spotted my friends, my neighbours, my father and mother, my sister, every girl I had loved, every man I had helped, and every creature I had harmed. The room suddenly felt bigger.
“Still don’t know who I am? It breaks my spirit, actually. I thought I was important.”
“Please, by all means, tell me.”
She stood still, as our perfect dance broke. Looking straight into my eyes, she came closer until our bodies touched. Her small hands rested on my shoulders, and slowly pushed me back towards the wall.
My heart raced, as one of her hands brushed down my chest. She never broke eye contact.
I could feel the adrenaline rushing through my veins, leaving me in a state of shock, as everyone but her dissipated from my attention.
Her hand went lower and lower… until it suddenly reached into my left pocket, pulling out something. She broke body contact, holding it up to me. It was a feather, black as a crow’s.
My eyes widened, as I looked right back at her. How could I have possibly recognized her without her wings?
Putting the feather back where it was, she spoke, “And now, care to resume dancing? Actually, not to sound pretentious, but I already know the answer to that.”
She held my hands, red and slightly shaking with anxiety. We danced to the Waltz, but this time my eyes were closed. I was floating. The moment was perfect.
We danced and danced, for a period of time that felt endless. Her frigid hands were the only reminder that she was indeed still with me.
Yet I still felt the urge to open my eyes; to see her alluring face once more.
As I regained sight, I saw her. But this time her visible eye was as wide as it could get, not blinking once, and her smile reached from ear to ear, showing her pearly teeth. It felt as if she was looking right through me.