Hidden in plain sight

A strange thing happened to me today as I walked back from town. At first I felt a headache but the pain quickly sent a jolt to my stomach that made me double over. A few people walked over to see if I was alright which was nice (though they probably would have left me if I didn’t look like a normal office worker). Sweat beaded on my forehead as I tried to control the pain but almost without warning I felt like I was going to be sick; and was shortly after.

Black bile erupted from my throat and cascaded over the pavement. Flecks of black stuff in the shape of letters scattered across the dirty street whilst the people around me backed away as they started making sense of this mess. Individual words started forming in the cracks between the paving slabs – cunt, hate, die, hopeless, pointless, fuck, fuck, fuck! – these individual words and many more beside started to spread out in front of us. The words oozed down the tributaries of the street, mingling with the chewing gum and fag butts before working their way towards the teeth of screaming gutters

I was shocked and confused. People were silent as my inner most thoughts spilled out on to the street for all to see. Gradually the torrent of vomit stopped and I sat on the street, alone and exhausted, surrounded by the words that had poured out in front of me. A haggard homeless woman walked over, saw the mess and patted me on the back. The original crowd left us to it.

“Happens to me all the time” the lady stated clearly. “My words were different though. Dreams, Hope, The names of my children. It all comes out when I cough though. I’ve never seen anyone vomit words before”.

I looked up at her, confused, but thankful there was someone with me. The world carried on around me in a blur as night turned to day over and over. She spoke again and the world froze in place.

“Confused by what you saw? Don’t be. It happens to us all once we start getting to the bottom. I started like you, coughing out my anger all over the place, impotent as the world fell apart around me. I used to be a singer you know?”

She paused as I stared back silently. I was judging her unconsciously and she knew it. She let me make my mind up about her before carrying on.

“Not that that matters, I just wanted you to understand that I know how you feel. You need to do something about this before you get to my stage; before you forget who you are, what your life was and where you were going”.

I asked her where she was going to and she smiled and said: “To where I now belong”.

A gust of wind hit us and the singer silently lifted up off the ground. I watched her soar briefly in the sky, the sun glinting off her once perfect features. The wind stopped and the singer dropped from the sky like a sheet of paper in the wind. As she fluttered back towards me I got myself up groggily and tried to grab hold of her but she slipped through my fingers – because she literally was paper. Confused I tried to grab the paper again but each attempt failed. The last thing I saw on the battered sheet of human parchment was a picture of the lady I had just spoken to and a few words.

“Missing. Please help.”

The parchment slipped into the mouth of the gutter before I could stop it while the world carried on silently around me. Uncertain with what to do next I just dusted myself off and carried on back to work. Sound returned to me shortly after in the form of laughter from some builders nearby and the hubbub of a busy cafe. As I walked away from my mess I coughed into my hand and wiped away another part of who I was without a second though.

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