I spoke to her for several hours and realized that I wasn’t able to catch her name. Waving away hairs from her face, she removed her spectacles and rubbed the lenses with her shirt. She still continued on with her story despite this. She was telling me a story about dreams and how they’ve etched themselves to her skin. She said the ghosts would come in from time to time, even during a night of calm sleep. It would leave her terrified, which was why she got very attached to a particular pillow on her bed. She said it once belonged to her older brother who passed away in a car accident. She said they had a theory about pillows; it was an extension of the clouds for us humans to cuddle with. Sleep feels like you’re floating and pillows may just be the catalysts to thinking that slumber is a temporary escape from tangible, hurtful things. I nodded in agreement. Brushing the soft spots of a pillow across your cheek feels like getting into contact with clouds. Like the fluffy kind Peter Pan bounced around it. She was getting tired from telling her tale but she pressed on.
We were both at a queue at a flower shop for more than thirty minutes that it encouraged a random conversation. It was free Flowers Day and it was a bad time to avail just that with all the crowd that’s lining up. The place was congested and the sweltering heat left my queue-mate cursing under her breath. She was thin but her backpack felt like she was carrying a small person in it. Her back was hunched a bit but I got back to listening to her when she offered me gum to chew. She told me another tale about how sunsets made her depressed. She said she’s been diagnosed with several yet moderate mental illness and that the pills weren’t helping her. It was as good as not taking them at all, she said. I caught a glance at the front of her cut hand that she quickly tugged at her jacket to hide them. She continued on that sunsets were a symbol of “curtains repeatedly closing” and that “the sky alone is bound for exhaustion, what more the foolish, human heart?” Apart from her brother’s passing, I asked her if she was troubled by anything else. She broke me off by pretending to answer a call on her phone that never happened. I nodded and respected her silence.
She went on with a happy story about how she used to eat ice cream minus the cone, so she could stack them all up and build forts and temples. This was apparently a hobby of hers since she was eight. She showed me pictures on her phone of her attempting to build a miniature Himalayas and Chinese temples through waffle cones. I told her I too could make a masterpiece with a mere cone. A traffic cone. She punched me playfully on the arm and laughed a genuine one. There was something beautiful about that, which was absent when she told me her stories. She finally walked away without saying good bye, her patience finally all leaked out. I wanted to call out for her but I didn’t know her name.
I stayed in line and bought a single stem of a rose, heading home with her in my thoughts. I placed the rose on my bed side and chanted Edgar Allan Poe’s lines to myself, “Sometimes I’m terrified of my heart; of its constant hunger for whatever it is it wants. The way it stops and starts,” before falling asleep. I woke up and looked at the mirror and saw the familiar thin figure with the thick glasses resting on an almost non-existent nose-bridge. I gave her the rose.