By Kala Séraphin
From my kitchen window, it looked like a great day for a bike ride. I had nothing else to do and I figured a little physical activity would do me good and change my thoughts. I was starting to feel the stress of launching my own business. It was a computer software that I created to organize people’s lives. What this program could do was more than keep your scheduled meetings in order. First, one would input all of his personal information such as date of birth, family background, education level achieved, relationship status, hobbies, work, friends and just about everything else. Then would come the more in depth questions such as personal beliefs, dreams and aspirations, goals and desires. The computer would then come with a very detailed, step by step procedure on how best to accomplish these goals. Everything was given right down to the proper diet and the perfect clothes to wear. It was the absolute tool for success. That is why I called it P.S.O.L.O. It stood for Philosopher Stone Official Life Organizer. It took me many years, blood, sweat and sacrifice to come to this point and I could barely believe that in less than a week, the world would be able to enjoy my creation.
On my old bike I peddled furiously, going over the details of the launch in my mind, wondering if I missed anything. According to my own profile on the P.S.O.L.O, next week was the best time to publicize the company. It was a guaranteed success. I smiled, bracing myself against the wind. My thighs were burning and my breathing was strained. Apparently my body was more out of shape than I expected. My feet slowed and I found myself at a halt. Looking around, I was surprised by my surrounding. I was so involved in my worries that I completely missed what was around me.
The sky was clear, not a cloud in sight. The blue that surrounded me was so pure and welcoming. I wanted to fall on my back and just admire the beauty of nature. The sun shined brightly, reflecting on the ripples of the river. It was a perfect day to have a picnic. All I was missing was a basket full of goodies, a blanket and someone special to share this moment with. Since I spent so much of my time and energy on the P.S.O.L.O, I never developed any close relationships. I forgot to enter that little detail in my profile. At that point, I was eager to talk to anyone!
She was sitting on a bench, facing the river. Some strands of hair escaped her braid and flew around with the breeze, giving her a strange halo. I decided to approach this stranger, hoping to share my amazing genius with a person in real life as opposed to those on the internet. I let my bike fall, flopped down in the bench where the girl sat and stretched out.
“What a beautiful day! Amazing isn’t it? Makes you want to just climb up a mountain and howl at the moon or something.” I sighed loudly. She didn’t bother to look at me or even move an inch.
“The moon comes out at night. It has nothing to do with this weather.”
That’s when I realized this girl was crying. She had probably come here to be alone and cry her little heart out. I was most likely making her feel uncomfortable with my good mood.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to bother you.” I scratched my head, feeling awkward. I didn’t know if I should go away or stay or say something or be quiet about the matter. I made a mental note to add tips on proper social interactions as a feature for P.S.O.L.O.
A strained moment settled between us. I looked at the girl, studying her and wondering who or what could have made her cry. Her red hair was in a braid, falling over her shoulder and tied with a blue ribbon. She was covered with freckles on her face and arms. I couldn’t make out her features because of her large sunglasses. She wore a light blue summer dress with small flowers. Her feet were bare except for the pedicure. The gold polish looked fresh. All she carried with her was a postcard with the picture of a bird sitting on a leafless branch. There was snow in the background. I found all this strange since I always firmly believed that girls never left their house without their purse.
“Can I ask you something?” Her voice was more in control this time. She even turned to look at me. So, I gave her my most inviting smile.
She hesitated, as if she were debating whether I was trustworthy or not. Or maybe she was looking for the right words. That moment of hesitation was all it took for me to be hooked. I really wanted to know anything and everything she had to say.
“What would you do if you forgot why you came?” She finally asked.
My brows furrowed as I turned the question over in my mind, looking at every possible angles. I couldn’t tell what tone she asked her question. Was it lighthearted with the simple intention of starting a conversation or was it a serious teenage drama?
“Well, I usually make notes of everything I do, where I go and why. That way, these things won’t happen. I also keep everything on a file on my special program. It’s called Philosopher Stone Official Life Organizer. It’s a real life savior.” I said, rambling off absentmindedly.
“I’m not talking about the banal daily events. I mean, your purpose in life. Why you were born.”
“Uh, that’s an interesting angle.” I was mumbling uncomfortably. Whatever impulse I had to strike up a conversation with this young lady was clearly part of my self destructive side.
“I just… can’t remember,” she whispered, looking out at the river. I noticed fresh tears on her cheeks.
“Now, don’t you worry about existential problems like that! Listen, what if I let you test the P.S.O.L.O? That’s what I created it for. Now, usually I charge a lot of money but for you, I could make an exception.”
At this point I was willing to say anything to make her stop crying.
“You don’t understand! My life is not some computer game with a quick fix. I had a mission; a destiny to fulfill. All the cards were set, everything is waiting for me to take action. But, this morning I woke up and couldn’t find the will to get out of bed. The driving force of my life just vanished. I looked in the mirror and saw a failure; someone who couldn’t accomplish anything. Without that passion I was so use to, I couldn’t bring myself to even try. Why bother? I would just fall flat on my face! But the worst part of all this is the conflicting knowledge that everything, and I mean absolutely everything, I’ve ever wanted; I got it. Even now, I have what I want. I’m loved. There are so many possibilities for me. It’s just that I feel like my life is meaningless, so why bother? I should just end it all.”
Her monologue scared me. For a girl without any passion left, she was pretty animated. I simply sat there, nodding every now and then as my sister taught me to do. Then it was that uncomfortable silence again. As the elder, I felt like I needed to say something.
“This is just a moment in your life. Like everything else, it will pass.”
“Yes, this despair will pass. Tomorrow, I’ll have more energy to put into action all those wonderful plans. But it won’t erase the fact that I still can’t remember why I came here.” She replied. There was such an air of defeat to her. I wanted to hug her or give her the little money I had; anything that could help her.
She watched as a bird took flight. It danced in circles, diving low then reaching for the sky. It beat its wings then would glide with the wind. At times, the bird would stop for a moment, sitting on a branch; but it was never for long. Its home seemed to be the sky. This flight pattern, she followed intently and a sad smile came to her lips as she said: “I wish I could be like the birds. I would fly around the world and share my beautiful song with everyone.”
I thought it wise not to counter her with with the logistics of it, such as crossing the oceans or the threat of predators.
The girl looked down at the postcard in her hand.
“Could you do me a favor?” She asked.
“Yes, I’d love to!” I thought my enthusiasm was a bit much but I was so relieved that she wasn’t crying anymore.
She handed me her postcard. “Could you drop it off in a mailbox?”
It was a simple request that I couldn’t refuse. After I took the card, she started to walk away. I inquired about her plans.
“I have to go home now and look for my meaning…or at least find a new one.” She declared, looking at the birds flying over the river.
Being ever so curious, I couldn’t help but to look at the postcard. Of course, I was courteous enough to wait until she was far away.
My dearest Sophia,
I promise to come sing by your window soon enough.
Your loving sister,
I shrugged my shoulders and gave up this whole episode to the strangeness of women. They were such complex creatures and I just couldn’t understand their whims.
It turned out I forgot to put the postcard in a mailbox. I left it on my kitchen counter, forgotten. The launch of P.S.O.L.O took over every ounce of my attention.
Five months later, I was in bed, sleeping peacefully. After all the hard work and sleepless nights, I had finally tasted victory and it was sweet. People from all around the world were eager for P.S.O.L.O to sort them out and show them the steps to success as they desired it to be.
There was a ticking at my window that pulled me of my slumber. I was such a light sleeper that a sneezing tick could wake me up in the middle of the night. I opened one eye and saw that the sun wasn’t even up. Rolling over, I grumbled a curse and went back to sleep. Once again, the sound reached my aggravated ears. Sitting up in bed, I yelled at my window to no one in particular:
“What do you want?!”
Sitting on the ledge of the window was a small chickadee, looking at me with pleading eyes. So quickly, memories of that strange encounter with the girl who had bird-envy came back to me.
As the bird chirped a morning song, I ran to my kitchen and found the postcard underneath a pile of letters and bills.
“It couldn’t be.” I mumbled, still feeling hazy with sleep. I wondered about the possibility of this young girl and the chickadee being the same entity. This was far out of my belief system and made me feel like I needed a vacation. However improbable and slight the coincidence was, I couldn’t bring myself to ignore this little wake-up call.
The small bird was now at my kitchen window, singing enthusiastically.
“Alright! Alright! I’m sorry I forgot! I’ll send it now!” This time I kept my promise. I walked down the street in my Batman pajamas to find a mailbox. All the while, this puffy bird followed me. Once I heard the postcard hit the bottom of the mailbox, I turned to the bird in a huff:
Indeed, it puffed up some more, chirping loudly. I waved to the bird and returned to my world of predictable success.
In another part of the world, a woman was returning to her home with arms full of groceries but there was no one there to help her. She struggled with her bounty and the moment she entered her kitchen, the heavy bags were dropped. Sifting through the mail, she sat by the window, enjoying a cool tropical breeze. A plump chickadee perched itself on her window sill and started to sing a beautiful song. The woman stopped to watch this rare occurrence. She was greatly enjoying the song it was sharing with her. The strange part was that the bird looked intent on staying for a long term. The woman continued to sift through her mail, smiling at this little miracle. She saw a flyer for a new computer software that was suppose to take your goals in life and tell you how to accomplish them with guaranteed success.
“Where’s the spontaneity in that?” She mumbled to herself as she threw the advertisement in the trash. Her smile faded as she found a postcard from her sister. It was sent a few months after she was reported missing. After reading the brief, cryptic message, the woman looked out the window, her mind frozen in shock. The chickadee was still there, singing just for her.