Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Corridor Of Broken Dreams (Short Story)

Following The Burden of Expectations post, here's a short story that's sort of inspired by it and other things. Life is too short to waste it away in a miserable cubicle job. I needed a well-deserved kick in the butt from the universe to remind me of that. Also, this is my first short story after a very long time. I'd forgotten how much fun they can be.

Credit: The Corridor by Adikko (from deviantART)

I push the bar-handles of the double doors open and enter the school building. A long hallway stretches out ahead of me endlessly. There is no one in sight. But I can see them. I can hear their voices in my head. Voices that belong to the past. I start walking down the hallway. Its lockers are full of memories of countless events involving the countless teenagers who used them.

Locker 137. This is where my first boyfriend asked me out. This is also where I had my first kiss.

I keep walking. Locker 156. This is where we broke up. My first ex-boyfriend's locker.

Locker 301. This is where I poured my eyes out to my then best friend and told her I was so done with boys. It was stupid to fawn over them anyway. They were selfish beings who put themselves first.

Two months later, I had no memory of saying that, as I kissed my next boyfriend at Locker 307.

The so-called significant events in the life of an ordinary teenager.

It’s not just the lockers, but the hallway itself. I remember thinking about being a vet or sometimes a lawyer or a fighter pilot amidst the whirlwind of crazy activity that was my life.

Once I had dreams here, big dreams. I was always making plans, imagining what my life would be like when I finally grew up. I would get a college degree in law or maybe veterinary science and then open my own practice. Or I would enroll in the armed forces and train as a fighter pilot, before going off to save the world. At the time, I couldn’t wait to grow up and get a “real” life.

Now, as I walk through these very hallways, I wonder what happened to those dreams. Here I am, several years down the line, struggling through adulthood with a miserable cubicle job. I am so far from the romanticized idea of adulthood that I dreamed of so long ago.

Now, I wish I could go back to that time and maybe take another turn along the way and end up in a completely different life.

Maybe it was a mistake to come back here and see whether the good ole school was still the way I remembered it. I thought it would bring only memories and a little nostalgia of a happier time, but it brought back so much more than I expected. It brought back the dreams that never were.

As I stand in the corridor of broken dreams, a sense of absolute hopelessness engulfs me and I feel like breaking down and crying and giving up. My steps start to falter and my breaths come in shorter spurts. I stop and stand there in the middle of the hallway.

“Will you catch me if I fall?” a clear voice says then. I take a deep breath and catch hold of myself before I fall. I know who it is. It’s dreamy sixteen-year-old me. I’d once asked my then boyfriend that. And he’d just laughed. That was when I said that if I did fall, he’d better catch me because I would get back up and punch him in the face if he didn’t.

Now, I realize that there was no question about whether he caught me or not if I fell. It didn’t matter because even if I fell, I knew with absolute certainty that I would get back up on my own anyway. Whatever happened to getting back up and trying over and over again, until I made it?

And maybe that’s what it takes. A trip down the corridor of broken dreams to remind myself that it’s not too late, that I can still get back up. I did it over and over again in high school, didn’t I? When a boyfriend dumped me, I mended my heart back from the broken pieces and tried again. When I almost flunked Spanish class, I studied hard for a month and got a better grade. Then, why is it any different this time round?

As long as my heart is still beating, I can turn my life around and end up in the place I want. And this sudden realization gives me a glimmer of hope. Hope that everything is going to be just fine. I just have to get back up.

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