Chasing November

I look down at my watch and its hands are chasing November in my mind.

The year begins and all the months are gathered and seated in the room. They are waiting for their turn. January looks over at all the other months and drums her fingers on the edge of her seat nervously. She knows it will be over pretty soon, but the nerves still get to her somehow. The warm sun seeps through the glass windows and the room heats like an oven. I unbutton the top button around my neck, and I see that October has already taken off his tie and has placed it next to August’s, who was always ready to get more comfortable in the sweltering heat. When I look up, January’s already gone. And the room has gotten chattier. I see relatives enter and leave with their goodbyes, along with February, and when March begins to speak, the room obediently drops into a wealth of silence. With the help of September, the teacher walks down the aisle to hand out test papers, and April soon enlightens us after that December has failed them all, but still sits back with his unpacked suitcase by his side and air tickets tucked in his pocket. May seems to be as disciplined with a lashing tongue, but shortly hands a break to June, who is beautifully relaxed, her earphones channeling tunes that calm her soul. She is beautiful but it is November who has an undisputed elegance. I remember the times it were her turn. At the mention of her name a sigh would escape the mouth of whoever it was speaking, and one’s eyes would close just to listen to the wind brushing against the leaves out the window, and recline on the floor just to feel the layer of cold that blanketed the frosty ground. Sometimes the gale howled, but we were safe within the walls of the room and so we rested as the hours seemed to drag on and on. But no one complained; no one made a sound as they seized the liberty to catch back on their sleep and catch back on their dreams, all in a weightless atmosphere without a care in the world.

A long zephyr catches a tuft of my hair in July.

I look down at my watch and its hands are chasing November in my mind.

Searching in the Fall

I’m falling.

But this time, I land softly into the arms of consciousness and find immense relief in realisation; it’s one of those dreams again. It’s the one you awake to with your ribs rising and falling, taking in deep nervous breaths which gradually fade to reveal a morning replete with silence. You’re only certain you’ve roused when the colour of the walls are familiar, the ceiling is in place, and when the gentle coziness of your bed and blanket hugs you and reminds you of home.

There’s probably a soft rumbling from a car engine moving by in the distance that your ears pick up, but it’s not enough to get you out of bed. All of a sudden you’re exhausted, your legs weighted; it’s as though you’ve been running the miles your mind had flung itself in the depths of the night. It is as if I’ve been running and galloping in search of someone.

And in fact, I have.

This person’s difficult to find; he knows no fear, hardly a reflection of myself. Just yesterday I suffered the wrath of my most formidable enemy. You may shrug it off as mere flight turbulence, but ‘the fall’ or ‘the drop’ is a fear unlike any other. I had seen it coming. From the comfort of the soft cushioned seat in which I reclined, I could pick up the muted patter of pelting raindrops starting to raise into a violent drumming on the airplane body. There was a short sharp tremor which vibrated through the small oval windows as the plane began to shiver in the blistering cold. The stewardesses vanished from the isles with deft footsteps. Little choppy waves rose and fell in the glass of water in front of me, which sat in a holster attached to the back of a seat where a child began to cry. I closed my eyes, picturing everyone aboard the plane, doing their own thing and unperturbed.

But like a hypnopompic jerk it came without warning, hauling my heart down towards my stomach and sending it into a pounding frenzy within against my chest. My vision takes a step off a ledge and enters a brief but startling plunge. It is like the moment a loose picture frame slips and slides down a wall; everything moves, and for just a split second there comes a thought that the momentary descent would never end.

Thank goodness and bless the pilots.

Somewhere encapsulated in that drop, however, hides someone. There is a boy in the moment that doesn’t fear it. He is silent, brave, but overwhelmed by the older boy’s ironic phobia. It hadn’t been in him.

There was a boy who was once young and free, and loved adventure whenever it came. Adventure camp had high ropes, and the high ropes he would conquer. When it was close to the end he knew he was going to make it. The breeze wasn’t going to push him off his feet. His hands held firm as the next rope was in sight. But as his foot left one plank to the next, the other slipped and off the course he went, downwards through the air, falling, holding on to life by a mere safety harness which he didn’t seem to bother about. The boy looked up fearlessly at the glistening sun, half eclipsed by the swaying plank he had lost his footing on, and beamed.

Maybe I’ll find him one day.

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