Sunday, October 25, 2015

Fig: The Short Story of an Imagined Life

Fig was beginning to think she could write herself out of existence, if only she wished hard enough, said the right words, or thought the right thoughts. The perfect combination was there somewhere, hidden in the quiet places of her mind that she had yet to figure out how to access. What was it that Lydia's mother once said? She could do anything if she just put her mind to it. After having watched Lydia grow up, she thought perhaps it was true for her, and her family, and the rest of the people of the world, but not for her. She was different. She didn't know why, but she was. There was a foggy film around her that kept her isolated from everyone else, except Lydia. And no matter how hard she tried she just couldn't clear the film away. Like a confused ghost it followed her around, demanding to be seen, yet staying just out of focus.

She didn't seem to live and grow as other people did. Though her shell appeared to age as Lydia's did, she never felt any different on the inside. She is today who she was 5 years ago and perhaps 5 before that, and again 5 before that. She wasn't sure how long she had existed but she was fairly sure it could have been forever or never at all, if it weren't for Lydia. When she was with Lydia, she was alive. She was someone who mattered. They were best friends. Fig didn't know a connection outside of Lydia and she was fine with that. It was almost as though without Lydia, Fig didn't exist. Why would she need anyone else?

They spent their mornings at school, and their afternoons at the kitchen table doing homework. Fig never had any, but Lydia always did and often looked to Fig for help. In the chilly evenings they would sit inside the tree house nestled in the old oak behind the house. They'd sit back to back, heads leaning on shoulders, watching fireflies race to and fro. It was innocent and childish and all of the things it should have been. It was magical.

As time went on (a funny thing time is), things began to change. Though it was true that Fig sometimes had trouble telling the difference between one day and another, she very clearly began to see differences in Lydia. The things she cared about changed, as did her need for Fig. It seemed as though the older she got, the less she cared for her, the less she leaned on her. And eventually she stopped talking to her when other people were around. She tried to bring up the subject once but Lydia didn't seem to hear her. That was happening more and more often lately. And fearing she would upset her, Fig let it go, and let it happen. She told herself it was just a phase Lydia was going through.

But it wasn't. Lydia began to ignore Fig to the point that sometimes she wondered if she could even see her at all. She began to wonder if she even existed at all. Had she ever existed? The only person that had ever truly seen her now acted as though she were a mere breeze, alive enough to stir a blade of grass but not strong enough to sway a branch.

Fig's thoughts and feelings, if she even had any anymore, were of no consequence to Lydia. Before she knew what was happening, the the girl that had been her constant companion (or was it Fig that was the companion), was nearly a stranger, giving her just the slightest glance from time to time and nothing more.

With a clarity that surprised her, Fig suddenly understood what had to happen. If she didn't choose to leave, Lydia would banish her (intentionally or otherwise) and that was something Fig didn't think she could bear. So on a snowy winter evening, for the first time in her long (or short) existence, Fig took a step away from Lydia. At first just one, and then two, and then three. Though she grew weaker and once vibrant colors began to fade around the edges of her vision, she continued on, sure of what she had to do. That night she walked herself out of existence. She never found the words, but she finally wished hard enough and thought the thoughts that led to the steps that finally granted her the freedom to exist on her own. If only for a moment.


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