In this cruel, cold world, it is very hard to know what is real when everything turned wrong for you. Everything shifted right before your eyes and you want to run away and save yourself from that painful sight. Can you find an easy escape? Will that escape be for real or not?
I saw my father slap, hit, or even punch my mother, including my older brother, right before my eyes. I was standing behind the door when I saw it. I resisted not letting out a sob because once I am heard, he’ll probably do the same to me.
That same scene haunted me in my dreams for how many years—the painful sight of violence that never left me. I grew into a fine lady, they say. That same day I saw that event, I ran away from home and was brought to an orphanage and luckily, I was adopted by a very kind couple. They weren’t that rich but they were kind and it was all that matters.
I walked pass through the office of Mrs. Sy, my boss. I went straight to my office and did my job. A lot were asking for me to sign their papers to be accepted for the job. As the head of our department, it was my duty to approve their applications yet I have to think wisely if they fit for the position.
A shadow suddenly passed by me. I was startled since no one was in the room except for me.
“Hello?” I said, looking around to see if there is someone around here.
“Did I scare you?” A man asked. I looked around for another time and I saw no one. “Who are you?” I asked, sounding a little bit terrified.
“Tell me your name and I will tell mine.” The man said again.
“M-My name is Athena Voltaire.” I stammered.
“What a lovely name. I’m Louis.” He said. I still can’t see where he was.
“Where are you? Show yourself Louis.” I said, trying to be brave.
“I am right here.” He said as a shadow appeared in front of me.
“Oh jeez! What are you?” I exclaimed, probably looking stupid.
“As you can see, I am a shadow.” He said.
“I can perfectly see that. Are you real?” I asked.
“Of course I am.” He said.
I felt like a crazy lady talking to a shadow that was probably only a hallucination.
“No. You’re not.” I said.
The man did not reply. I sort of felt relieved but still startled on what I saw. I finished my job and by the time I was finished, I headed home.
“Athena, darling, someone sent these flowers for you.” My father said and handed me the bouquet of roses.
“Why thank you, father.” I said as I take it from him and took a look at the note with the name of the sender on it.
I headed to my room, part of me was still startled and part of me was unsure if he was really REAL.
“You still won’t believe I am real, huh?” a familiar voice broke the silence.
“Louis?” I asked.
“Yes. It is me.” He said.
“What do you want, Shadow?” I asked.
“I want to be with you.” He said.
He doesn’t even know me. Well, I didn’t know him. If I didn’t know him, how can he possibly know me?
“I don’t even know you.” I said.
“You grew too fast that you have forgotten me that easily.” He said.
I tried to crack up my mind and think if I have known him yet I really can’t think of any part of my life that he has been in.
“I really don’t know you.” I said.
“You used to call me ‘My Louis’. Time has changed you and erased your memories.” He said, sounding miserable.
“No way.” I said. There was no way I have known a shadow.
“Whenever you were sad, I was there. When you were happy, I was still there. When you succeed, I was there. I was always there for you. I left for a moment and now you have forgotten me.” He said.
“I can’t remember. I swear!” I exclaimed.
I really can’t remember anything. I swear, there was nothing I could think of.
“Then I shall leave for good.” He said.
Silence filled the room. What was with all my hallucinations and this shadow guy? Was I going crazy? I hope not.
I prepared for bed and lied down on my bed, staring at the ceiling. I yawned and then closed my lamp. I closed my eyes and fell asleep.
The dream ruined my peaceful sleep. Bloodcurdling screams came from the lips of my mom and my older brother after being slapped, hit, and punched by my father. The reason of his violence was still unknown to me but all I know was I did not want to be one of them. I wanted to save them but I was terrified to experience the pain. I was young and terrified.
Another terrifying scream from their lips woke me up from that similar nightmare. I started to cry, thinking about that dream that keeps on haunting me in my dreams.
“Athena.” I didn’t have to ask who it was because by the voice, I know it was Louis.
“Louis.” I muttered.
“Stop crying.” He said.
“I thought you’ll leave for good?” I asked.
“I can’t bear to see you cry.” He said.
His warm voice started to calm me.
“It still haunts you, I know.” He said.
“H-How did you know?” I stammered.
Did I talk while I was sleeping? How could he possible know that?
“Like I told you, I have been there when you were miserable, you told me about that.” He said.
“If I were you, go back to sleep and I will be right here, okay?” he said.
I didn’t think twice. Shadow was beside me and I can go back to sleep for my trip to Bliss City tomorrow. I was dreamless the rest of the night.
The vivid light of the sun passing through my windows woke me up. I stretched my arms and started my day with a smile. I took a bath, change my clothes, and prepared to leave. I grabbed my prepared bag and went to the living room.
“Are you ready to go to Bliss City?” my mom asked.
I nodded, “Yes, I am.” I answered.
“Take care and try to text us or e-mail us updates.” Mom said as she hugged me tightly.
“Sure mom.” I said.
I left, hoping to see the beautiful Bliss City but I found myself in Gloom Ville, it was all dark.
“We will be stopping here for a while and stay at the hotel.” The driver said.
“There are no roads for us to pass. Tomorrow, daylight, we will sail to Bliss Island.” He added.
Everyone got off the bus and headed to the hotel. When I was in my room, I texted my mom about what had happened.
“Take a rest.” Louis said, I was startled by his voice.
“Stop scaring me. You always appear out of nowhere.” I said.
“I am a shadow, I always appear out of nowhere.” He said.
I shook my head and then lied down on the bed. Louis started to hum a familiar lullaby and my eyes closed and the dream started. It’s different this time.
A shadow, Louis, was beside a blank canvas and some paint. He started to paint a face of a very handsome guy. It was silent until I heard that lullaby, the same lullaby he hummed that made me sleep.
“That’s me if I was human.” He said.
I was staring at the guy. He was really handsome, I swear. The scene shifted into the day I ran away from my real home. I was crying a lot as I hid myself in a dark alley.
“It will be fine.” A boy said.
“W-Who are you?” the little me stammered, wiping her tears away.
“My name is Louis.” The boy said.
“Why can’t I see you?” the little me asked.
“I am a shadow but don’t worry, I won’t hurt you. I will be always here with you.” The boy said.
The scene shifted to the times I woke up from the same nightmare, crying. Louis was there comforting but how can I forget. The last scene was that one that scared me the most. It was the night I woke up from the same nightmare but a little twisted, I was with my mother and older brother, and the three of us were being hit, slapped, and punched. Louis appeared beside me as I sob.
“Athena, try not to think of it more because the more you think of it, the more it will come back to you and appear in your dreams.” Louis said.
“Don’t leave me Louis.” My dream self said.
“I won’t but I have to. Now. For a while.” He said.
“No. Louis. Don’t.” I said.
I woke up immediately, panting.
“Louis.” I muttered.
Every memory took over my mind. Louis was the one who helped me escape the pain of the past. He was there with me every night when the same dream haunted me. How come I forgot him?
“You said you’ll forget I ever existed because I left you.” He said.
“I did a good job.” I said.
“Yes, you did.” He said.
“I am sorry.” I said.
My mind was messed that moment, that was why I decided to forget him. I had no one except for him and he just left me. It was painful. No one could understand me the way he can. No one can calm me down but his voice can make me calm.
“Louis.” I said.
“Yes?” he answered.
“Can you ever forgiveme?” I asked.
“Of course. That’s why I came back.” He said.
“Can I tell you something?” I asked.
Ever since he had been my companion I felt like I am not alone anymore because I have him, even if he is not human.
“What is it?” he asked.
I did not know how to say it now. I wanted to tell him.
“I love you.” I said.
He laughed like I just said a big joke.
“That’s not possible. I am a shadow, you can’t even see how I look like.” He said.
“I just know I do. You never left me. You made the nightmares disappear. I need you Louis.” I said.
“You need a human Athena. As much as I want to stay and show you how much I love you, I can’t.” he said.
My heart felt like it was torn to pieces all-over again. It was like when I ran away from home.
“Go to sleep my dear, Athena. You need to sleep. It’s a long way to Bliss City tomorrow.” He said.
I didn’t hesitate. I squeezed my eyes shut and went to sleep. The next day, we rode a ship to Bliss City. The place was like a Paradise. I text messaged my parents that I have arrived and that the place was wonderful.
I spent the whole day strolling around the place. There was no sign of Louis. Wherever he was, I hope he is not alone. If he was human, I would love to stroll around this beautiful place with him. I knew he’ll love this place.
I went to this coffee shop wherein the floor is covered with red carpet and bean bags are scattered on the floor, placed around a small four-legged table. I sat on one bean bag and ordered for coffee and a slice of Oreo cheesecake. I ate it silently and went back to the hotel room.
The day was about to end and there was still no sign of Louis.
“Louis? Louis?” I asked as I walked around the room.
The room remained silent. He might be mad at me or he probably realized that he does not love me the way I do.
“Louis?” I asked a little loudly.
No one responded. I was all alone.
I sighed and slept.
The dream returned once again and made my dreams scarier. I felt tears running down my face. I wanted to shout. I felt so alone. I was once alone in this cruel, cold world but then I found an escape, meeting Louis—the one who took those bad memories and dreams away. Others know he was not real but for me he is, he really is. Now, I was alone…again.
I was awaken at the middle of the night, panting. This was the same feeling when I ran away from home. Louis was still gone. He did not appear to comfort me and tell me that everything will be alright. He left me all alone. I had no choice. It’s the end.
“Louis.” I cried out.
The moment I stepped on this hotel room today, it was only his name that I can speak of.
“Louis.” I whispered.
Why won’t he show up? He won’t comfort me when I needed him most. Why? Does he hate me? Has he really realized that I am not the one he loves? He probably found a shadow like him whom he truly loves.
“Louis. I love you.” That was the last words I can say as I grabbed my bag and left the hotel to go back to where I belong, back home. I can’t bear to stay in this beautiful place because it reminds me of the beautiful feelings I felt when I was with him.