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by Nikki
Rated: E · Novel · Romance/Love · #2309187
This is the revised draft of this first chapter. I already published part of it.

I leaned on my leather couch - neither a rugged, worn spot surface, nor a damp and smelly hide; it was mine, and it gave me a smooth rub on my back.

The intricate craftmanship never failed to remind me the item's price; yet, observing the crooked stiches scattered on the piece, I couldn't help but find it fair. These thoughts healed my guilty mind, but not the empty wallet.

The sweet scent of honey rose from the couch, twirling and dancing in the butter-filled air. A few minutes earlier, she began baking a patch of golden-crusted breads. Well, I expected this much from her delicate skills.

She - my girlfriend, yet to be wife - hummed with glee; a distinct tune, unknown, that I learned by acute listening. Whatever she liked, I, too, began to appreciate more.

I skimmed over a wooden bookshelf, and the wall that it neighbored. From my slouched position, the wooden bookshelf stood at a towering two meters.

Five rows, infused by the smell of dust. A legion of books built an opaque cobweb, enough to hide a green glint from its depths.

A dozen bottles of century-long wine; dusty, glossy - worse of all, smelling awful.

On my left, from a wide opening, a pair of white feet came in, clothed in thin sandals.

"Honey." Her mellow voice called out. I straightened my back, gazing at my girlfriend's face. Her dangling blond braids, or bewitching blue irises. She wore a yellow apron over a low bump.

"Hey. Done already?" I spoke up with the same kindness; a husky voice, contrasting her own.

"They're cooking in the kitchen."

The smell of butter escaped from her back. With a glance, I invited her to sit next to me. She dashed forward, collapsing on the bouncy sofa, then to my lap. A soft grin blossomed on her face.

"Mn." I nodded, running my hand thought her hair. My fingers combed unruly bangs. "How many minutes is that?"

She chuckled. "Oh my. You've forgotten already - is the old age coming to you?" Turning her face skyward, our gazes met, intertwined, before I gifted a light kiss.

Then, I frowned. "I'm good enjoying my twenties, Ma'am."

"Maybe you should." Again, she smiled, this time with an afterthought of teasing.

"Is there someone that can handle my perfect self?" I sneered, avoiding her gaze. She pinched my cheek with fingertips, like a cat's playful slap.

"It seems you haven't been staring at my face long enough."

We shared a laugh. A special or mundane moment. I chose to interpret it as the former. A comforting silence ruled the place.

"Oh." She said. "That's right. My sister nagged my all day on the phone."

I smiled. "Why?"

"She said our flat isn't large enough for three."

My mood turned sour, then thoughtful. "Well...nothing a few loans can't fix."

No answer. My girlfriend paused to take a breath.

"Honey." She peered into my eyes. "Do remember what we talked about?"

I did, of course. Without much to say, I nodded, never abandoning her stargaze.

"Hm." Mirroring my gesture, she continued. "Then, have you done it?" Her soft, sweet tone hinted at touches of sourness. My heartbeat hastened.

Considering my girlfriend's personality, whatever I said, she wouldn't get angry.

However, I lied; it wasn't different to how, a second earlier, I had taken a breath.

"Yeah." A smug expression curled on my lips. "It's been a long time. My brain's running like clockwork."

At first, a dubious look, shifting into a frown - then, finally, a priceless smile. She showed these to me while resting her arms around my neck.

Pulling me downward, our noses stroked. I kissed her once again; this time, she closed her eyes. Savoring the moment, perhaps.

I didn't. The hidden, disgusting and upkept bottles drew my eyes; tonight, their smell seemed unbearable.


It was a bright, glimmery summer sky, whose color dispelled any clouds eying a piece of the blue canvas. The few wind gales flowed through the trees, rustling a forest of leaves in an irking noise.

I - We strolled on a path of grass and dirt, passing by old benches and people alike. An exposed area, housing a massive, crystal-clear lac was a couple of meters ahead. My wife's grip around my fingers tightened; she slid them on my skin.

Indeed, not my girlfriend. It's been a month since my ring finger became shiny. For a week or two, a wave of bliss struck me. The grand purpose of existence, I mused.

Then, it died down - this mad ecstasy.

Yet, as I glanced at my wife's hourglass figure, her face covered in glisters, my love bloomed again.

"Wanna go?" I asked, taking a step forward. After accepting her embrace, she followed at my side, grinning from lip to cheek.

Without a doubt - I could never doubted this affection. I loved her, and, with a tip of luck, she did too.

We reached the edge of the lac, where a soft current brought tiny wrinkles of wave to the shore of dirt. The sunlight basked my wife into a golden hue. She was dripping her legs into the source.

I sat next to her, crossing my legs. A familiar weight hit on my shoulder, and blond bangs caressed my cheek. Now, I had the scent of cinnamon.

"Honey, look." She pointed her index forward, whispering into my ear. Opposite of us, a group of five or six kids ran after a red ball, tumbling down a bump. It gathered dirt, rolling in the park in-between a field of roots, before falling in the lac, floating.

The kids shared an expression of disappointment, together with my wife. One began weeping. My wife's smile grew bigger after each second of silence.

I had an inkling about what she - my partner, thought.

"It's a pretty sight."

She turned to me; her eyes sparkled.

"Don't you think?"

For seconds, I couldn't offer an answer, to which my wife cocked her head. She waited.

"Honey?" Her low tone was worrisome. In the end, without a word, I embraced her with a burning warmth.

Our bodies remained stuck, until we kissed. Once, twice. She let out a whisper into my ear.

"I love you."

"Me too." I answered curtly.


The following month was a wave of happiness; alongside my wife, we navigated the needle mat of life with glee.

This night, on a meaningless whim, I strolled the streets to her working place. Past midnight, the city light collapsed on the many crowds that bustled the streets. Armies, or swarms. The potent stench of cigarettes and matured be brew in this battlefield.

Lights. On every side, at every corner, blinding neon in alternating colors. E ach blended, mixed, spiraled with the night until becoming a mess. The crowd mutters, drowning me, added layers to this madness.

I strode further, navigating the labyrinth structure of the district; tracing back my steps, cutting corners, and eventually, landing in front of a wooden frontage. Near a lit avenue, a place that smelled like mistrust had an eye-drawing, vibrant red paintjob. Above the rugged door were tiny inscriptions or letters. Cumbersome to read.

Like a reflex, matter-of-factly, I pushed the door open to a new realm.

Definitely, this was my feeling. A Victorian chandelier casted an orange hue against raging people, clustered around a dozen round tables. Frantic. These were the waiters - bolting, running, balancing towers of stained plates or carved glass.

A shattered sound rung out. Some turned their head, most were too busy to budge. Another broken plate to clean, its shards strewn on a fur mat. A nearby waiter had his shoulders slumped.

Then, I saw her. Behind the counter, tying her pretty hair into a fashionable bun. The alluring red dress she wore emphasized her figure; one wrong part, too. Our eyes met, becoming wrinkled.

In careful steps, I strode forward, sitting on a stood. A scarlet hue; the tiny lamp dangling over me casted it.

My wife gave me a passionate peer.

"All alone?" She teased, leaning her elbows on the counter.

I shook my head. "As you can see."

My tone, wink, and artless behavior -she received all of it, grinning.

" I happen to free." She leaned further, placing a hand on my cheek. "What a coincidence, right?"

I replicated her move, stroking her skin. Soft and bouncy.

"Must be." I chuckled. She removed her hand, furrowing her brows. Her motion froze.

"Wait. I'll be back."

Leaving me with a single glance, she tiptoed to a nearby table, where a group of well-dressed man were waving at her. To order, I presumed; their discussion was muffled.

The staff room opened its door right ahead. A high-spirited young girl escaped a cube of gray walls. With clumpy steps - shoving an ebony ponytail left and right - and a teasing face, she stopped. Opposite of me.

"Hey. You good?" I said, leaning back with a sigh.

"Well, good." It was a high-pitched, caring voice.

"I'm impressed your parents still haven't figured it out. Just so you know, they don't accept minors anymore."

To my words, the girl nodded. To her answer, I flicked her forehead. She glared, before rubbing the blow.

"It's been six month, I doubt they'll ever figure it out." The girl said.

"You know, I wouldn't be so sure." I laughed.

She returned my laugh, a chuckle. "I do."

A cornered criminal. That's how I looked like, raising my crisped hands in the air.

"Alright. Don't go hugging my knees later." I said in a grave tone. The girl twirled a bang, glaring at me, then avoiding my gaze.

"I guess I'll tell your wife, then." A faint curl could be seen on her lips.

"Ah, don't do that either."

We gazed at our surroundings - the atmosphere, shouts, and flying curses. A comforting mayhem, truly.

Starry eyes peered at me.

"So. When is it?" She asked, snapping at me.


"Come on."

As the interrogation pursued, my expression hardened.


Pausing, I rummaged my brain for fitting words. An empty container.

"It's three. Three month away, yeah."

The stars, dancing in the girl's eyes, were about to pop out any time. A tiny push, a drop of information, and she would grab my collar for more.

"Yeah? Wow, uh. I..."

Imitating me, she fumbled over her sentences. Nothing remained but bits and pieces. Her lips twitched, closing and opening.

"Sorry. It's just - seeing it for real, I don't know what to say."

I wasn't mad - in fact, amused by her youthful reaction. She seemed about to bolt away, or wanted to escape me.

A pat. Stroking the girl's head, I dispelled her stiff awkwardness . She seemed lively again.

"I get it. You care, and we're happy about it. Look."

She followed the tip of my index, pointing at her right, to my wife - dancing, laughing, or playing cards, bearing the confidence of a warrior.

"- that's why we're fine."

The girl gave a shy nod, then a smug face.

"You're staring too much." She said, turning her head to my wife who walked to the counter.

I waited seconds. Enough, until both could hear my teasing.

"Am I?"

"Lily's right." My wife spoke, sitting next to Lily. In our bubble, we had a laugh. They smiled and teased like relatives.

Blinding. A flawless kind of emotion that blossomed into happiness.

Something stirred inside of my stomach. Dizzy, yet keeping my balance, I stood up. The two gave me a sidelong glance.


I dismissed her word, waving my hand. "I'm going to the bathroom. Feeling a little off."

Taking no backward glance, I stumbled into the bathroom. The exact path, its turns - colors, or shapes, were blank. The throbbing headache erased it all.

My face, wet with sweat, faced me. The cloudy mirror, stained, reflected a distorted part. Yet, I could see.

I saw its outlines, a dainty curve on my chin, and traces of cheek fat. Not a handsome sight. No matter; because someone loved all of it.

It shot up in my head. A blurry picture that stood out amongst thousands. The one that haunted my softest dreams.

I puked. The world shook, flipped on itself; I imagined voices, whispers crawling on my skin.

Then, everything stopped, except the clog in my throat. Burning. I coughed, hugged my neck, wanting to breath. I did, a few times, until my sight returned stable.

My face, fears, or a pair of puffed eyes - I washed it all in the sink.

Later, I escaped the bar, telling Lily and my wife a baseless story. One chuckled, calling me an old man, the other scolded me - both wished for my safety.

The sound of clanging keys filled the silence in our flat. Grabbing the nearest cushion, my body collapsed on the soft, bouncy sofa. I wanted to have a drink or two. One of these bottles. Fatigue decided otherwise; the smell of honey drifted me faraway.


Time passed. A ticking clock, the tallest wall. I, for sure, couldn't climb over it. The last month was empty of memories.

Maybe - actually, it's likely that I was with my wife. That, I know. But then, because I'd forgotten these moments already, they mustn't be that precious. Our discussions withered out. Her grin never did, however - but my spiteful expression, I'm not sure.

Then, as these thoughts tickled my mind again; for the third time today, I was a pathetic slug. Staring at my room's white ceiling, I looked out for any details. A color - white.

One of the most interesting objects occupying the bland and narrow layout of my room. A single color, I drifted towards it.


Lily's voice. Ringing from my phone, vibrating a messy plastic desk. Ah. I remembered.

"Yes, yes. Listening."

I had something to convey. Lily sighed from the screen.

"You didn't call me for nothing, did you?" She paused. "Is it about your work?"

Hitting the correct nail, impressive. I lifted a brow, before taking a drink.


A clear of flow of chilly water cleansed my throat. Somehow, Lily's confusion seeped through the phone.

"Why don't you ask your wife for a change?" She teased.

A laugh escaped my composure. Her attitude reminded me of my own; how arrogant.


Lily's frustration and petty anger were obvious. It wasn't hard to hear her brain fuming.

"I'm kidding." I tried putting water on the matter.


It worked, perhaps. Staring at my ceiling, a voice rung out after a second.

"Seriously. What's the big deal?" Lily asked, pushing her previous question. She had me cornered, put on trial.

"I don't want to."

My weak words stunned her breath shut.

"Why?" She said, whispering, like a tight-lip secret. I had emptied my stocks of half-decent excuses.

"Do I need to give you a reason? Writers have it tough." Then, I added. "Ah, you wouldn't understand."

My cheerful attempt at teasing backfired; Lily said nothing. A minute-long silence that I created it. Wait, I didn't get it.

From my back, the door creaked open. Footsteps, followed by a warm hug around my waist.

"I'm going out with friends for a bit, honey." Glancing at my phone screen, she continued. "Is it Lily?"

I nodded, kissing her. "Yeah. Take care."

When she left the room, waving me good luck, Lily jumped on my neck.

"...Are you scared?" She spoke up, her tone thorny. My heart froze.


"I can hear it in your voice.".


Lily scoffed. Neither a mother's scolding, nor a stranger's rude callings, but a strange state of in-between. Her emotions were ironclad.

"You know what. That's pretty pathetic of you."

A second passed.

"Actually, never mind. You're pathetic, that's all."

I digested her words. It hurt a bit, somehow. They had no meaning - even if, by some kind of twisted fate, they did, it never mattered. The choice was mine to ignore them, like I would a sidewalk pebble.

The white ceiling began turning red, suffocating my world. Now, it looked no more appealing than an old rag. My limbs were stiff, contracted on themselves, and the walls around me collapsed.

I was about to speak up, but when Lily hit first, reality came back. The pale, grayish white ceiling took its place.

"I-I'm sorry." She mumbled a sentence. "It's not my place to say that. But..."

Lily remained silent, perhaps in need of better words.

"Andy, that's not like you."

Leaving me, she closed the call on me. I had to time to answer, nor to think of one. A white ceiling and I. We were alone.

My mate wasn't the best of listeners.

I wanted to escape, or tear out my lungs by screaming - both at the same time. The options were all too narrow.

If I told her about it, how would she respond? A playful laugh - a scornful glare - maybe, a sincere talk, that'd be all.

My thoughts focused on a laptop. On its screen, a white page cluttered with black letters of varying shapes. I believed that they formed a story - rather, they could. A mazy pile of ideas, smells or locations, overlapping one-another. Nobody dared to call it a story.

From the blank canvas, something grabbed my ankle. A blinding light or a fleeting concept.

The world didn't exist. Similar to my earlier experience; I saw no color apart from a black box that extended faraway without any bounds. Shadows danced in the distance. I imagined my eyes squinting.

Their outlines were messy, coiling on themselves. Nonsensical. I peered at their shapes with care and attention. They seemed to be my ideas, swimming in an empty space. Looking for a purpose, maybe. How nice.

A void of fears, worries, or purpose. I found this meaningless existence pretty.

Here, the recent irking sensation in my heart wasn't a bother. I could run away, again, to an unreachable location, until vanishing.

Then, my wife would find me anyway. I had to run once more. The reality of my room didn't allow it. A fragile door acted as the shield.

Here, however, I was free.

The shadows strode or flew to me, surrounding me in a glow. Particles. Falling like dust, seeping through my skin. They brought a cold warmth.

I had to go; my curiosity pulled me back. A contorted face, horrible to peer at, began forming on one of the many shadows. Its shape morphed, copying my own.

With the semblance of an arm, the shadow pointed its index forward. I caught a glimpse. A dark and empty space, similar to ours.

On its center was a pit. My instincts warned me of this presence, as white glisters rained.

When the humanoid shadow tried grabbing my wrist, it brushed nothing. I assumed this fact from the lack of sensation. Yet, the scenery changed, the shapes fled on the sides. A parade of tiny shadows hugged my limbs, mudding my steps.

With a calm mind, we arrived at the pit. Invisible. The shadow nudged me forward, and the others followed my descent.

I fell. A slow rate that hastened, before braking to a snail pace. Spiraling pictures greeted my vision. They acted on this monochrome world with variances of gray.

At what I assumed to be the bottom, a rosace of saturated colors filled the entire space. I glimpsed at my side - the shadows pulled downwards, their shapes twisted like molted rubber.

Then, as my body collapsed onto the colorful layer, I trashed it into pieces, crashing on a mat.

Somehow, my mind stayed calm.

This was my tangled imagination.

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