This is the third post in a series of short fiction stories I wrote inspired by videos from MrSuicideSheep‘s YouTube channel, which is my favorite channel for music. Here is how to experience each story:
- Before you begin reading look at the song title, the picture that goes with it, and then listen to the song. I derived all inspiration and ideas for each story from the title, image, and music.
- You can listen to the song before, during, or after reading the story. I recommend doing all three, because that is how I did it when I wrote this.
- Horizontal separating lines like the one just below this sentence denote a change in scene. Enjoy.
In between. The time of day best described by the word twilight. Not quite day, nor night, but a dissonant mixture of the two. Twilight means different things to different people. For some it brings peace and rest after a days labor. Others fear it, because twilight brings darkness, and all the storms that come with it. Twilight washed over the lake, spreading an array of color into its depths. The forest lining it’s shore soaked up the last remaining rays of sunshine, storing it until morning. The only disruptions to natures course were man-made contraptions. An ugly bridge of steel and concrete, and power lines battling with the trees for position in the sky. However ugly it was though, it was a necessary evil for the task at hand.
A small girl separated herself from the treeline. Walking slowly, deliberately, along the road. She approached the bridge, but stopped right where the forest met the water. She was small in stature, yet the same could not be said for her spirit. She had long and straight blonde hair with piercing blue eyes that matched the lake water. Her eyes were tired. Not sunken or bagged, simply worn with the stress and pressure no 17 year old should normally have to face. For Addy, twilight was simply silence and reflection. Time to reflect on everything that had happened to her, everything she had done, and everything she had yet to do.
Addy had been traveling for over seven months now. She carried nothing with her except six balloons clenched in her white-knuckled grip. Only six. She began with so many more. The rest had been given away on her travels. When she left home all those months ago, with nothing but balloons, she was worried she would even survive. But at every turn someone had arrived to provide food or shelter, or simply a ride to her next destination. Addy relied on those she met to keep her journey going. A journey she didn’t choose for herself.
Clack. Clack. Clack. Clack. The sound of heels hitting pavement struck against the silence. Addy punished the ground, her cheeks flushed and breath lost. Her parents would be worried about her by now, but she couldn’t care less. Stupid parents. How could they be so selfish?! Especially considering it was her birthday tomorrow. She wanted to go out with her friends and celebrate, not to mention Charlie was going to be there. But her parents refused to let her go because they “wanted to spend time with her.” What a load of crap, they just didn’t want her to have any fun. So Addy stormed out of the house crying and didn’t turn back. She was tired and her heels didn’t fit well, but she was still so angry she ignored it.
“It’s late to be outside alone, Addy.” She froze.
Addy turned to see a man walking towards her from across the street. She immediately started to turn and try to run away.
“Your parents love you very much and really do want to spend time with you. You know that deep down, under all your teen angst.”
Addy turned back towards the stranger, still stepping away as she spoke. “Who are you and how do you know who I am?”
“I’m here to deliver a message for you, Addy.” The man spoke evenly. No emotion in his voice. He stood just over six feet tall. His features were sharp and angular, almost scarily so. His hair was short but messy. His beard was the same, both a dark brown. His eyes were blue, like Addy’s. He wore simple jeans, a white v-neck shirt, and a brown leather jacket. Addy felt like she should be terrified and running away, but she didn’t. This man knew who she was, and knew exactly what she was angry about.
“I’m not sure you are prepared for what I have to tell you,” he said. “But unfortunately we are out of time, and we need your help.”
“Need my help with what? You still haven’t said who you are!” Addy asked. Her confusion was soaring.
The man paused for a second, and took a deep sigh, which put Addy off even more so. He seemed stressed, almost hesitant.
“My name is Michael. And…” Another pause. “There are people that need your help.”
“This is ridiculous, I’m going home! You better stay away from me!” Addy yelled as she turned and started for home.
“Addy. Please.” She stopped. Michael’s voice shook, it sounded like a whimper. He sounded desperate. Sad. “There is no way good way to try and explain this Addy. But there are people who need your help, and you are the one who has to help them. I’m sorry it turned out this way, and I’m sorry I’m here.” His voice shook even harder as he continued. “I didn’t want it to happen this soon, but our hand has been forced and we can’t wait any longer. What you will do will change the world. You can’t see it now, but it’s true. The best thing I can do for you now… is to give you this.”
Michael put his hand behind his back and pulled seemingly out of thin air, a balloon. It was orange, tied to a white string which he held. He slowly walked towards her, stopping with just a few feet between them in the middle of the street, and held it out to her. His face looked completely grief stricken now. He looked like he might cry at any second.
Addy stood there as the seconds ticked by, completely still. Curiosity, fear, apprehension all hit her at once. But her gut was telling her to trust him, that what he said was important. She knew it in the core of her being. So she stepped forward, slowly reached out, and grabbed the balloon.
They looked at each other, and tears spilled onto Michael’s cheeks. Addy reached out and they embraced.
“Go home and spend tonight with your family. Enjoy it and let them know you love them.”
Addy stepped back from Michael, tears reaching her eyes as well, nodded, then turned and slowly walked home.
She arrived back home and hugged her parents tightly. Dismissing their questions about the balloon she now carried with her. She apologized for her behavior, and spent the night enjoying their company. When the night was over, she hugged each of them the longest she ever had before. Addy told her parents she loved them, and headed up to her room. She closed the door behind her, and was met with a large mass of balloons of all shades and colors on her bed. After crawling amidst them, she cried herself to sleep.
Addy’s parents awoke the next morning to find her bed empty. They rushed downstairs to find a note and a gift.
Mom and Dad,
I have to leave. And to be honest, I’m still not sure why. But I know I must, and what I’m meant to do is very important. Just know I love you both with all my heart. Don’t come looking for me, you won’t find me. But you’ll be able to see my work if you pay attention. Maybe I’ll be able to see you again someday. Until then, I hope my gift helps you as it helped me.
With all my love,
There on the table, next to where the letter lay, was an orange balloon on a white string. There was a small tag attached to the bottom. Her parents both took the tag, turned it around, and read it.
Written on the small tag was one word.
Addy peered over the lake before her, reminiscing. It was almost over, and now she was truly scared. What would happen when it was over? What would happen when she gave away the final balloon? She looked up at her companions. Her animula. Each distinct and powerful in its own way, and meant for someone she had yet to find.
The six qualities Addy had left to give. She had spent the last seven months traversing the world, finding people in need. They each had a gap, Addy had found, a specific need in order to change their lives for the better. Addy filled that gap by giving each person a balloon. An animula. Each of them contained a quality held by Addy, a quality that would connect the disjointed dots in someone’s life and create new meaning. But, whenever Addy gave one of her animula, it was separated from her forever. She lost the quality from her soul.
She’d already given away so much. Only six remained, and now she felt fear. What would she become when her last animula was gone? Would she die? Or worse, would she live as a shell and nothing more? Which was scarier? But she knew as long as she kept her final animula until the end, her purpose, then she would persevere. She knew all the traits she gave away were making a difference. They were reaching high into the hierarchy of the world and affecting drastic change. The woman she gave courage sparked a movement that had all but wiped slavery from the planet. The little boy she gave forgiveness grew up, and when wrongly imprisoned for over two decades forgave his captors and inspired a nation. The man she gave persistence to rekindled his research efforts after years of failure and found the cure for AIDS. The change inflicted by her journey gave her the purpose and will to keep going.
The sun slowly descended below the horizon, splashes of orange still escaping over the water, lighting her path along the bridge. Addy turned and continued her deliberate pace across the bridge. Ugly and man-made, but necessary to get her to the next destination, the next person. Her white knuckle grip kept the balloons floating beside her, attached to her still in more ways than one. The fear was always there. It never left. But she had come this far, and as Michael told her seven months ago, there were people that needed her.
Animula (latin): Piece of soul.