Amongst all the vibrant colors beside your desk, lingering outside your window, amongst all the life that trickles around your immediate reach, it watches you with its steely gaze; gawking, glaring, staring. Its soul-piercing eyes undresses you, follows your most private of moments. When you least expect it, it reveals itself to your naked eyes, paralyzing your thoughts, stopping your heart, and all you can do is react to its presence.
No one can heal you from this moment. It will forever be with you. You try to siphon multitudes of information on the Internet but it’s there, in the back of your mind, festering, growing with every passing minute. You feel your insides tense up, fearful of another unexpected encounter. Cold beads of sweat make its way down the back of your neck. Your red shirt colors a deep shade of magenta where your perspiration has pooled.
Outside, clouds roll in from the northwest and darken the very being of your half-furnished apartment. Lukewarm rain knocks on the sooty windows and the rich brown suds that form as a result drop five stories below within seconds of its naissance. Your thoughts travel downward, collecting filth, gaining in size as it consumes other thoughts in its path, and you feel your body tremble, filled with displeasure and malcontent. Your very being feels violated, its sanctity defiled, and you grab your shoulders with your arms and press your chin into your chest. You want to implode.
A loud noise assembles outside your window. A caustic smell fills your nose. Something is on fire. You look towards the smell. A small flickering flame, on the verge of dying from the rain greets your trembling gaze. You extend your hand to save the flame. It grabs ahold of the curtains. The curtains accept its hold and submit itself to the flame. The apartment is enveloped in the blaze and the warmth soaks itself into your skin. Your thoughts have temporarily evaporated from your mind. You focus on the vivid orange flames that have walled itself around you. The heat sears your wallpaper to crisp blackened char. You feel a pull within your body. There is a hook embedded inside you. A thin transparent string sprouts from under your sternum. It travels around your neck and grazes up towards the ceiling. The beamless whitewashed ceiling dims the splendid colors of the flames as the string is eaten up by outlying flames licking the ceiling brown. An oily substance left behind falls onto your head, and you tear up, knowing that the only object that you have had left within your life have all but disappeared. There is a knock on the door, but you know there is no one there. There is another knock on the door, but are absolutely certain that there is no one there. The telephone rings five times before it falls silent. The flames have begun encroaching towards the kitchen. Your replicas of Vermeer are eaten up and left to its destruction. You have no strength to get up to prevent the flames from ruining your kitchen. The thoughts have returned from its absence. You can feel tremors in your brain. Exhaustion courses throughout your pathetic body. Your hands are limp on your thighs. You follow the flames with your eyes into the kitchen. The refrigerator is open, the contents stacked neatly and color-coded, and you feel excessively cold. Your thoughts are cast into a well so deep that you cannot see the opening from your position.
You remember mason jars filled with applesauce and cinnamon. You weep in sincere gratuitous angst. The memory compels you to taste the flavors. The applesauce is sweet and tangy; the cinnamon, earthy and sharp. You remember the smells of winter. Roasted nuts fill the air of the apartment. Flurries of snow land on your exposed head. Hot cocoa spills on your scratchy tongue. Sounds of bells pierce the silent burning flames. Your body jerks one final time. A black hole appears where your heart once used to be and consumes the remaining vitality that you have. White noise fills your ears. Your face blanches. One final image of the mason jars.
The ground feels like nothing you have ever felt.
Profile: Michael Koh