Today, I see bovines on bicycles in the street. Some of them are on unicycles and others aren’t on any type of cycle at all. Instead, they’re dancing near a band called Bull Dogs playing rock music. None of them sees me, though. I’m as invisible to them as they are to the rest of the world.
That’s just how my life is, now. Yesterday, there were literally bullets with butterfly wings floating outside my window. I’ve always loved that song by Smashing Pumpkins, so there were no doubt those little creatures would show up eventually. I wish I could’ve opened the window and let them in to play, but it’s sealed.
It’s always something different. At least that much I can be certain about. Like one day, I had Popples visit me. Another day, the world outside became icy slopes of Neapolitan ice cream. I watched children gorge while parents, in a moment of weakness to whimsy, slid down those slopes in trashcan tops, laughing along with their friends. Two weeks ago, I met SpongeBob and friends. It was amazing.
Sometimes, it’s not so amazing, though. Sometimes I can’t eat my food because it’s rotten with maggots crawling over the meal. Another time, the city was destroyed and nothing but monsters roamed the fiery streets.
None of those things compared to the man I met three days ago. He was a dark figure standing in my room. He had broad shoulders, and wore a long black trench coat. There was a hat atop his head, and the shadow cast from it blackened his face so that I couldn’t see him. However, I could see his smile, and I most definitely heard his frighteningly gloomy voice.
He said, “Hello, Sarah.”
My parents always taught me not to be rude, even to strangers. However, they also taught me to be wary and careful. “Hi.”
“So, what are you seeing today?”
“How did you know?”
“I know everything.”
“If you know everything, then you should know what I see.”
He laughed. It was a scary cold laugh. “Clever girl.”
I said, “What do you want?”
“Nothing. Just waiting.”
“Oh, this and that,” he said, and moved into the sunlight. His face was still so black I couldn’t see any features. “Please, tell me. What do you see?”
“Kittens? As in baby cats?”
“Are they cute?”
“The fluffiest kind. They all have tiny little meows, and they’re doing kitten things.” I said, and looked out the window. “Some of them are biting ears, while other are pouncing their brother or sister. They all have huge eyes, but I really like their cute little meows. It’s the best.”
When I looked back, he was gone. So were the kittens. I haven’t seen the kittens since, but that’s okay. The bovines I see today make me smile, and perhaps feel a little warm inside.
As I listen to the Bull Dogs play my dad’s favorite album, Never Mind the Bollocks, which they pronounce Bullocks, I look over to see my mom, dad, and little brother visit me. They’re not alone, though. That big scary man is back.
“Why did you bring him here?” I ask, but they ignore me. They don’t always, but sometimes. Instead, I ask him directly, “Don’t you have some other kid to scare? I’m not afraid of ghosts.”
“Who said I was a ghost?”
“I dunno. I guess ’cause you look like one.”
“I can’t argue with that,” he says. “What do you see today?”
“Why do you care?” I ask, but immediately regret it. My dad’s voice rings in my ears telling me to respect everyone. “I’m sorry. I don’t see anything anymore. Just you and my family.”
Suddenly, I feel my dad’s hand on mine. He’s warm. Really warm. My mom kisses my forehead, and I watch them sit next to the bed. My little brother plays with his toy truck, unaware that everyone is sad.
I look at myself laying on that bed. It had been a long time since I saw myself, and I don’t like what I see right now. I have pasty skin, blue lips, and matted sweaty hair sticking to my face. I wish I could look better for my family, but there’s nothing I can do.
The dark man tells me, “I believe I’m done waiting.”
I look up at him, and back at my family as they continue to grieve. I want to say goodbye, but I can’t. I know they won’t hear me. It’s okay, though, because I left each of them a letter to read when I finally left them. In them, I tell them about all the wonderful things I saw while in the hospital, leaving out all the scary things. I tell them how much I love them, and that they’ll be okay. I tell them goodbye, and that we’ll meet again someday.
“Love you guys,” I tell them before starting my new journey.