The Girl I Met While Sleeping

Sleepwalking has been a thing for me since I was no more than seventeen. I’ve been through what feels like thousands of troubles because of the thing I have no explanation of–nor do I have control of. I remember waking up in the kitchen, nearly burning myself if only there were fire–I woke up as if I had just swam in a pool of cooking oil the night before. I also remember having my head on disgusting pairs of shoes I hadn’t washed since forever. There were a lot more episodes of me almost killing myself in various tragic ways throughout the six years of torture.

It was December in my early 20s when I woke up finding myself outside the house for the very first time. It was dark–probably still 2 or 3 AM in the morning–street lamps were the only things that allowed me to look around. I was standing in confusion–leaning to a road sign that said ‘NO TURNING SPACE BEYOND THIS POINT’. My pajamas wet from the sweating I thought would never end. My body shaking to the mercilessly cold wind. I was still getting chills when I figured out where in the world I was and started gaining enough consciousness to walk home–which was like seven hundred meters away from where I opened my eyes.

It was quiet. There was practically nothing on the streets I passed–maybe because I live in a small complex where you can still find children playing outside on the afternoon everyday. I was like two steps away from home when I saw the small park I used to visit as a child.

That’s where I saw her.

She was sitting on the park bench, staring at the blank sky as if looking for stars among the thick clouds. Her black dress blended in with the darkness surrounding. If it wasn’t for her pale face, I wouldn’t have noticed she was even there to begin with.

She was beautiful, of course. Her wide brown eyes captured me almost immediately, sucking everything around deeper and deeper into them. Her black hair waved smoothly, leaving invisible trails on the cold air. Her expression was cold as ice, making her look almost inhuman. Maybe she was a goddess after all–who knows?

I wasn’t fully awake, but I was sane enough to realize that I wasn’t in my best condition–in fact, I looked miserable. It wouldn’t be wise for me to approach her and randomly ask for her phone number. I’d rather skip this chance to greet her than embarrass myself for the rest of my life. I might have another chance to meet her–or another woman as pretty as her. I wasn’t all that impatient.

However, as I walked away, things ended up not working out as I planned.

“Jem?” she called, to my surprise. I stopped and turned around in shock, facing her in a slow-motion that felt like forever. It was as if my heart had stopped beating.

When I caught her in my vision, she was staring at me since God-knows-when, and I got chills all over again. Her eyes were wider than I had expected, and they were looking right at me, waiting for an answer.

Jem.

The name echoed in my ears–a name that felt so familiar, yet foreign. If she hadn’t mentioned it that time, I wouldn’t have remembered its owner. I’d spent years trying to get rid of that name, just to get reminded of it by a stranger all at once. It was silence that filled the air for what felt like a minute as I finally settled down.

“Jason,” I corrected her, “My twin brother had died six years ago.”

Her eyes blanked. She didn’t even blink for once. Her lips remained closed. It was awkward because I could hardly guess what she was thinking.

She knew my brother in the past, I thought as I waited anxiously for her reply.

Then, she smiled. It was so sudden that I got a mini heart-attack because her smile was beyond beautiful. Well, it could also be because I didn’t expect such bright smile from a pale, flat goddess-like face. Her body relaxed when she said, “Ah, I’m sorry. I didn’t know he had a twin brother.” Her smile faded a bit–or was it just my feeling?–and she continued, “I thought- I thought, maybe… a miracle had saved him from that leukemia.”

“It was heart cancer,” I corrected again.

“Oh, yeah,” she gasped, “I hadn’t seen him in more than five years and I didn’t really know what happened then, so I- I…”

“It’s okay,” I said, “I understand.”

That was how I got to know Chloe.

She was nice–probably one of the nicest women I’ve ever met in my whole life. She was bright and fun–so far from gloomy (which was my first impression of her). When we spent time together, we never ran out of topics to talk about–we would talk about the weather and randomly find ourselves trapped in a confusing yet challenging debate about politics the minute after. We had a lot in common–except she hated pickles, which I never understood, because pickles were like the best thing ever. But, other than that, it seemed we were so similar to each other I almost thought my mother actually gave birth to a set of triplets.

It was months after we got close that I finally decided it must be love.

I realized I didn’t look at her the same way I look at others. My head was filled with thoughts of her before I fell asleep at night. I would wake up in the morning and had my friend who slept over told me that I talked about Chloe in my sleep while walking out of the room–again, my sleepwalking habit was such a pain.

I wasn’t even a bit unsure of it.

There was only one problem : was the feeling mutual?

I wouldn’t say I was sure. Sometimes, in the middle of our daily conversation, I caught her eyes dim and her gaze not focused. It was as if she had other things to think about, and a chat with me was probably just for fun–or she had other reasons she wouldn’t tell me. Sometimes, she would act as if she knew something I didn’t–and that always kind of pissed me off, but never lasted long (only for a day or so, and it all faded away almost magically–again, I guess that was also because of love).

But, well, maybe that wasn’t it. She could have the same feeling as me, and we could have our happy ending. I just had to gain enough courage to ask her out, and maybe… just maybe

So, with that thought inside my mind, I decided I would make a surprise confession.

I know, I know. Confessions are always a surprise, but that wasn’t what I mean. I would make an actual surprise. This surprise, somehow, would be pretty sweet and creepy at the same time. But that was what I got from our first meeting, so I practically did nothing wrong.

That night, I waited for her at the park where we first met. The digital watch on my left wrist showed 03:36 AM, which was way too late for a confession–that was a part of the plan, though. I didn’t tell her that I would come–neither did I know she would. I just had the feeling that she would be there that night, and after waiting for almost an hour, I knew I was right.

From the distance, I could see her–walking elegantly in a maroon dress I never saw before. Everything about her but the dress looked almost the same as how it was months before–when we were just strangers and I knew nothing about her. She looked as cold as ever. Her face pale. Her gaze blank.

She approached me as if she had expected my visit to the park. She looked anything but surprised.

“You’re here,” I said.

She smiled stiffly–it was different from her usual smile. What scared me was that this one, somehow, looked more real. A smile that didn’t reach her eyes. A smile that suited her expressions more.

“Of course,” she replied. I almost didn’t recognize her voice. She spoke softly. It was almost a whisper.

I didn’t get it. It’s not like there was anyone else around–we were alone, and we didn’t need to worry that people might hear us. Besides, as long as we didn’t scream or make loud noises, I was pretty sure we wouldn’t wake anyone up. The park was not that small, after all.

But, since I had something more important to say, I decided to forget it and just went with the flow.

“I have something to say,” I said in the same whisper.

She turned her head facing mine, tilting it curiously. “Tell me,” she said.

I gulped nervously. Her gaze was so intense I could hardly breathe. Under the dark night sky, her wide brown eyes flashed beautifully.

Thinking that I wouldn’t waste any more time, I said, “I like you.”

It was silent for almost ten seconds.

I couldn’t look at her eyes, so I stared at the full moon above us instead. Hearing no answer, I realized I hadn’t actually asked. So, I continued with a typical question, “Would you be my girlfriend?”

Another break of silence.

I looked at her and realized she was still staring at me. Her face was even paler than what I remembered from ten seconds ago. She was trembling–and it could be because of anything, really.

“So…?” I asked, “What do you say?”

Her expression turned sad, and then she looked away and sighed. “I also like you,” she said. I was almost happy before she continued a second later, “But, you know… it will be hard for both you and me. So, I say, I’m not sure.”

Disappointment hit me immediately. “B-but…,” I demanded for an answer, “Why?”

She sighed again. “We’ve been so close to each other, haven’t we?” That didn’t sound like a question at all. “But he likes me too, it seems. And it’s more logical if I date him instead, because… you know…”

I didn’t know. But, I didn’t try to interrupt either. Whoever she was talking about, I was sure she thought we had talked about it lots of times before–when in fact, we haven’t. I didn’t even know she was close to another guy.

“I don’t love him,” she said, “But I know, sooner or later, we will have to stop meeting each other like this. We’re very different, and you know it.”

Again, I didn’t. We were almost identical. What was she even talking about?

“This is not right,” she sighed for the third time tonight, this time loudly. We stayed in silence for a minute before she continued again, “And actually, I’ve to head home soon, too. I was just stopping by to see you for a little while. I’m sorry for turning you down. I didn’t…” at that point, I could see tears in her eyes, forcing to break her defense, “I didn’t mean it. I also didn’t want it to turn out this way.”

I didn’t respond because I was still trying to figure out what she was saying–and it was my first time seeing her cry, too.

“You, too, must go home soon,” she turned her head to me and smiled, “He’s going to wake up earlier than usual today. You can’t hold him back any longer.”

It seemed she caught the confused look in my face.  She blinked several times, and I took that chance to speak up. “I- I… what- I don’t-“

“Wait,” she cut off in a panicking tone.

Then, suddenly, something hit me hard. I stoned and felt myself cringe as an unbelievable idea formed slowly in my brain.

It was right when I almost got the full picture when she asked, “You’re Jem, right?”[]

***

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Ayy, I’m sorry I didn’t read it again before posting it xD

It’s my fourth English fiction here and I can’t believe it. It’s quite long–definitely longer than the three fics I wrote. I hope this means a good thing. And, actually, I’m sorry if you found mistakes everywhere–I’m still learning, after all. I’ll be here again soon to post more fictions, whether they’re in English or Indonesian–or probably Egyptian, if I had the time to learn the language LMAO :p

(P.S : sorry for the inconsistency. The title said ‘girl’ when it’s actually a woman bcs she’s like 22-ish already)

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