The mall was bursting with noises, but I only heard the static in my head. My feet seemed to walk on their own- wherever they wished.

So many people passed by. My eyes met some others. Everything seemed to happen either too slowly or too fast.

I must have had a blank expression on my face because people gave me quizzical glances. But I didn’t really care. I kept walking as if in a trance. I didn’t know what I was walking towards or away from. I was just walking; just escaping.

I wasn’t registering anything. Whatever I saw felt or heard was nothing more than suspended perception.

A numb silence had engulfed me.

As I was jumping and hopping in and out of shops; making my way through the crowds, my hands full of an assortment of bags and packages.

I was in one of my exceptionally hyper moods, so I was bumping into people with “I’m sorry”, “Oh, excuse me!”, “ Oops!”.

My feet seemed to walk around by themselves. Ah, they knew the way around. I could find my way here even if I sleepwalked.

“I’m so sorry!”, I said , crashing head on with a girl. Bent upon my knees, I looked up from my fallen bags and expected to see an angry girlish face. But that girl didn’t seem to care. She kept walking on. I only saw her back, slowly walking away.

I caught my reflection in the glass door of a shop. My yellow-green eyes shone back at me. For a second I felt like leaving everything and following that girl where she went. I shook my head and mentally laughed at my silly thoughts.

Funnily, it was these silly thoughts that somehow always made sense to me.

A numb silence had engulfed me.

As I stood at heights where the wind was free to rage into my breath, I breathed in deep for once. The same stoic expression on my face that people had conferred confused looks to now weakened under the touch of the rough winds.

Upon the thresholds of the abandoned top floor of the mall-beyond which lay the free space and air- I stood transfixed in the trance that had held my gaze when I had walked through the place among men and women. But now, I was registering everything. I felt the raw wind forcefully tear at my skin, I saw tiny specs of dust float aimlessly in and out of my vision, heard the far-away horns of an impatient driver’s car, an ambulance siren wailing to save another insignificant life.

I was escaping, yes, but not walking anymore. I was falling.

Funnily, it was these silly thoughts that always made sense to me.

Pretty clothes, shiny earrings and lovely shoes suddenly lost all their charm and I felt in me an urgency that I knew would only be satisfied by searching for that girl.

I looked and looked for the back of that pale blue t shirt clothed over a broad-shouldered girl. Hair tied up, walking slowly and deliberately…where was she? At a distance, my myopic eyes hovered over a spec of pale blue turning up the flight of stairs which opened beyond a door that said “For staff members only”.

I didn’t pause to wonder why I was following her, or if she was a staff member, or why was she ascending the floor of the mall that wasn’t in use. Sprinting- if I may call it that- across a population of a Sunday crowd in the mall, I felt a growing uneasiness in me.

I could no longer see the girl. She had probably reached to the uppermost floor, even with the slow and steady gait of hers, whereas I had only managed to reach the door that loudly called only for staff members.

I felt stupid for a brief moment as I stood upon a dusty floor and saw only broken glass, open spaces, abandoned mannequins around me in the developing darkness of the evening. And then I heard the scraping of shoes over dust and I swiveled to face the sound.

I saw a flash of pale blue fluttering in the winds that blew beyond the ends of the mall.

I did not have the courage to peer down the end where she had stood.

 

She stood, she fell

Into the night’s shroud

I stood, I only stood

Delayed for a second of doubt

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