My tired gaze is fixed outside the window, where I see the vast snowy mountaintops colored in white and light blue shades. They’re so far away they don’t look like mountains anymore. But that’s the only explanation that makes sense. How can it be the ocean? I must just be hallucinating. There’s no power in the world that can stop the endless flow of the ocean. Waves crashing ashore can’t just freeze. So, why?  Why are her tears not moving, either? Water doesn’t defy gravity. Nothing defies gravity. Her tears aren’t staining her book, but she’s sobbing. What am I missing? Why is nothing moving? Her face looks shattered, so why are her lips not quivering? Why are her shoulders not shaking? Why am I not hearing her cries or the soft rustling of her clothing? Why is it so quiet here? How long has it been now that everything stopped moving? What happened to us?

Ah… but it hasn’t happened to us. I can sense my muscles tensing and flexing. I can perceive the briny ocean air, taste its saltiness on my tongue, and hear the echo of my own body scraping against the unyielding floor. Why is the floor hard to begin with? Actually, why am I on the floor? It feels like wood, but the walls behind her are wild rocks. Like a cave. The window isn’t even a window. It’s just a big hole in the stone wall. God! Why am I unaffected? Why am I the sole inhabitant of this stillness? Why am I unable to assist her in her immobility? And god fucking dammit, where are we!?

I shut my eyes so tightly that my entire face scrunches together. Meanwhile, I feel like my stomach is turning in on itself, and the taste of bile is on my tongue and in the back of my throat. I know my body is moving but all my movements aren’t mine at all. It’s all reckless and out of my control. Why can’t I stop moving? If everything else is frozen in time, why the hell not me? What kind of freak of nature, what kind of fucking monstrosity am I? Why will my eyes not open suddenly? I thought I closed them out of my own volition, so why can’t I control them anymore? Am I just going to continue like this? Uncontrollable seizing in this pocket of space where time doesn’t move, and I can’t control what part of my body moves?

I think I was calmer when I could still see her. Shutting my eyes was the worst decision I’ve ever made. The beautiful girl reading and crying and dressed in blue and completely still. Looking at her made me feel more relaxed. I try to recall what I saw before choosing this black void instead. Ah yes, the frozen ocean that I thought was snow-covered mountain tops, the hole in the stone walls that I thought were simply a window, the beautiful crying girl locked in place that I thought was mine.

Suddenly, my eyes snap open, and I look at hardwood flooring.

I first hear my own strained and labored breathing coming out of my mouth. Next, my heartbeat startles me, beating like a thousand drums directly in my ear.

It makes me blink a couple of times.

“Miss, are you okay?” A high-pitched voice asks from somewhere above me. Still feeling delirious, I don’t answer. I don’t think words would come out of my mouth if I tried right now. Instead, I note that I stopped shaking, my muscles aren’t tensing and contracting anymore. Tentatively, I try to move my hand beside my body. One fingertip, one knuckle, one finger, two, three, four and five. Then, my hand explores the ground beneath me, and soon enough, the whole arm follows along. Okay, I seem to have control over my movements again. Great.

Next, my head moves so I can investigate my surroundings. The room I’m in is definitely a room. Four concrete walls, no windows actually, but intermittently some frames with pictures on the wall.

My eyes eventually land on a woman with very concerned eyes. Scratch that. She looks terrified out of her mind, with tears welling in her eyes and some already running down her face. She’s wearing a blue blouse.

“Miss, are you okay? Can you hear me?” She asks again. I can’t seem to control my vocal cords quite yet, so I nod to her second question.

She sighs. “Thank goodness. We cleared out the exhibit when someone noticed you seizing on the floor. The ambulance is on its way.”

I nod again, and with no time passed at all, paramedics come into the room and start taking care of me. When I’m finally taken out of the exhibit room, I catch a glimpse of a painting that looks familiar. A girl in blue robes, sitting over a book, crying, cave walls and the unmoving ocean in the background.

Text: Kimmy
Picture: Annabella B.

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