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As I read it, fading into focus, I saw myself as a child. I played all day in the sand with a girl. We swung on swings and played tag with each other until we got tired, or until I woke up to a cold stare from a tall dark shadow hovering over my bed. I’ve buried those memories too. But now, I remember her, and the second time we met, I became lucid.

My hands trembled as I read it to myself, “I remember I saw a butterfly once. It looked so carefree yet so determined, so I followed it, and it led me to a caged tiger. For 10 minutes, I watched the tiger walk around in the same circle. Like it was stuck in a loop. So I walked up to its cage and for a brief moment we searched each other, she noticed me. And in her eyes, I saw the longing for something, for meaning. The desire for someone to come and take her away on a new path. Like she was unaware of her condition, but very aware that something is truly wrong. Sometimes I feel like the tiger who wants to be the butterfly, and you're the only one who can set me free. - Nysora”

Over the next few days, I began falling again. When I fall, I dig, hoping to unearth more darkness. This time I carried my thoughts of her with me, to bury them at the bottom. I didn’t write like Victor suggested, I didn’t even think about it. To be honest, I’m not the best at writing, especially not in metaphors, so when I found the handwritten note beside my bed one morning, I was scared. I live alone, and I have signed enough delivery receipts to know that this decorative handwriting was not mine.

Victor jotted a few words down in his notebook. “I do remember something. She gave me a record.” I said. “What record was it?” Victor asked. I sat there with my eyes closed, digging through black images. The blurry image of a record crept into my mind's eye. I squeezed my eyes tight, attempting to freeze the record from the nauseating spin. I sat still and silent, concentrating on, nothing. “I’m sorry Vic, if that’s ok to call you, I’m trying but nothing is clear right now.” I said. “That’s ok. It’s always challenging during our first session. We’ve gotten a great start and I hope after today you at least feel heard and understood. You’re not crazy for feeling that she’s real. In fact you might even be right. But I suggest this week, spend 10 minutes every morning, writing down what you dream. That’ll clarify what you’re seeing and hopefully demystify this Calling of yours. Can we agree to that? Next week, you’ll have about 5-7 entries to read back to me?” I shook my head, stood up, and then shook his hand. “Thank you.” I said

I sat there, confused, intrigued, and curious. I thought back to the record shop, remembering how she looked at me, as if wanting to hold on forever. She was searching my eyes, wondering about all the places I have been. I vaguely remember that she said, “It was nice meeting you, again,” and “We were young and you were happy.” I thought. Nothing made sense except for the fact that this woman existed, and like a criminal claiming innocence, I could not let it go. Victor recorded notes as I stared blankly at the wall with questions racing my mind. Something about her felt familiar, but I couldn’t quite place her in time. It's strange to think I’ve met this imaginary woman before, unbelievable even, but not impossible. “It’s hard to know what to make of it. I’ve shared all that I can still remember” I said. “Let’s work through it; maybe this record shop isn’t just a record shop, maybe it is a place you feel safe, like a place of inner solitude.” he continued, “You said that you’ve been there before, pretty often right. But this was your first time seeing her there?” I sat there and scratched my head, connecting the dots to our mystery. “Yeah. My most vivid dreams start there, and it’s usually the only place I remember after waking up.” I said.

“Everything in my work has meaning, and if we remove the assumption that these are dreams, we may discover their true meaning. In my field of psychology, oneirology, the study of dreams, we have two classifications for our patients. One is Dreams, the most common, what your average person experiences, and seeks to find meaning in. But then we have a more rare classification, Callings. Callings feel exactly like dreams, but there are two differentiating factors. One, a calling has to include a false-awakening, a dream within a dream, hyper-realistic, difficult to consider fake. And two, a calling has to feel like it’s coming from a source, an object, a place, or in your case a person. What I’m saying is that, instead of classifying your experience as a dream, what if we change our perspective and see the cow, your calling.

“...Until I told you what was really there. I gave you a new perspective, so in turn you saw it differently.” He continued. “Now what if I told you that your friend Nysora wasn’t an imaginary hallucination, a dream, or a wild psychological obsession. What if she is trying to tell you something, to get you to see something in yourself, or in her. We can adopt a new perspective and look at it differently.” Victor said. “What are you saying?” I said, and maybe I shouldn’t have because Victor got technical.

I wasn’t sure what game or experiment we were playing here, but there was one thing I knew for certain that the image I was looking at was definitely not a cow. “I would say that you’re crazy because I know what a cow looks like and that’s not it” I said. “Are you sure?” he continued. I glanced back at the image, picked up the paper and turned it upside down. Nothing. I turned it right side up, and like an illusive magician, the image slowly revealed the cow. In fact, I couldn’t unsee the cow, nor could I see the black and white city from before. I chuckled, “It is a cow.” I said. “Are you sure?” he said. “Well at first, it wasn’t until..”

Victor jotted down a few notes. “Let’s try something. I’m going to hold up a few images, and let me know what you think they are, ok?” I knew this game, but for the sake of his psychological search, let’s play. “Here’s the first one,” Victor said. He held up an image of what looked like a shredded butterfly. “A butterfly,” I said. Victor held up another image; I took a few moments to look at it. “Looks like an upside-down house with a tree growing out of it.” I wasn’t sure what I was saying; I just took a few wild guesses. I’ve never actually done this kind of thing before, but it seemed to be satisfying his quest. “Ok now for a few harder ones. I want you to look at it for a while before you respond. Ok?” Victor said.


He held up an image; nothing came to mind. It looked as if a turtle walked across the paper with black ink on its feet. I stared at it longer. “Maybe this is a wall of chewed gum in a dark alley; I don’t know,” I said. Victor put the paper down and held up another. This one made even less sense, like a pineapple sneezed on it. I couldn’t make out what I was looking at. “I don’t know; maybe this is a piece of dead coral floating in the ocean.” I said. “Good,” Victor responded. “Now look at it again, and tell me what else you see.” I looked at it for a few seconds longer, but it looked the same. I gave it another wild shot, “Looks like a bird's eye view of a busy city in black and white.” Victor placed the paper down in front of me, “What if I told you that what you’re looking at is actually a cows head? Look at it again.” He said.

“I’ve never felt anything like what I did with her,” I said. Victor continued, “What did you feel?” I’ve also never been asked that question so directly, I wrestled with it in my mind. “Most times, almost all the time, I feel alone, like I’m the only person in this world who cares about me, and even sometimes that’s hard to convince myself of. But when I met her, she saw me differently than I saw myself. She understood me.” I said.

I never forgot her. In fact, I became obsessed with her. Holding her hand, rubbing her legs, touching her soft skin. Every waking moment I was searching for her. She is the closest person to me. She felt so solid, yet I couldn't hold on to her. My relationship with Victor, my psychologist, started only a few hours ago. I don’t know what he hopes to convince me of because I know what’s true.

I sat there reaching for clarity. Who was she? How have we already met? Where did I go for those 5 minutes? The questions multiplied in my mind. Before she answered my thoughts, she stood up and reached for my hand. When we touched, I stopped falling, and she was the one there waiting for me to land in her arms. We stood up, she pulled me close, and we danced. I'm not very coordinated, neither was she, so my mind was only focused on matching her steps. Nothing else mattered but finding our groove, lost in space and time. We swayed back and forth to the muted trumpet melody in 'Blue and Green'. After a moment, she whispered in my ear, “Promise you won’t forget me the next time you come here” She held up her pink finger. I extended mine, and we locked in a promise for eternity.

I came back in a daze. I looked around the room, and no one was there; the music was playing low, and the joint was long gone. How much time had passed? My eyes searched the room for a clock and found nothing. I didn’t know until she came back in. “You must’ve been tired,” she said. “I guess I was. How long was I out?”. “Only 5 minutes.” I felt more confused than embarrassed. What felt like 2 hours was only 5 minutes. I must’ve given her a frightened look; something didn’t make sense. “Relax, it’s ok. It’s easy to lose your sense of time here; it doesn’t exist. We just let the record take us wherever it calls us to.” Wherever I went for those 5 minutes, or 2 hours, felt like time travel. I saw faint images of myself, as a boy, smiling; I was running, not in fear, but joy. It was like I stumbled upon an old memory. I looked at her, and for a split second, in her eyes, I recognized something about her. She seemed like a forgotten friend or a distant love that I found again.

“These dreams of yours, do they always take you to the same place, or are they random?” said Victor. “I’ve been to the record shop before. My most vivid dreams always start there, but that was the first time meeting her, in that room, from what I remember. She told me that we’ve met once before. This was 2 months ago, and since, I haven’t stopped thinking about her.” I said. “Do you remember anything after fading off on the couch? Maybe there’s something there that will help you know who she is.” Victor said. “It’s hard; I pretty much can only remember everything up until that point, and a few things after.” Victor wrote down a few notes in the notebook resting on his lap, “And what happened after?”

This is my clearest memory of her, the only time I felt a real connection, maybe you can even call it love. Explaining this to Victor, my psychologist, felt like trying to convince him that I could fly. He didn’t believe me, but he continued to entertain me; it’s his job.

“What?” I said with an err of caution, in case I had to run out and plug a bloody nose. “Nothing, I just never thought I’d see you again,” she said. ‘Again?’ I thought, certain that we hadn't ever met before. She’s the type you don’t forget. I passed the joint and shifted up in my seat, “What do you mean again?” I said. “I don’t expect you to remember; I know one day, you will.” My eyes started to feel heavy, and my mouth became dry. I squeezed out the words, “Remember what?”. “We were young and you were happ—”. Her voice began to trail, and I could no longer make certain what she was saying or where I was going.

For a moment, I forgot I was falling. In that room, despite the spinning record, everything stood still, and her presence gave me solace. A half-smoked joint sat on the table, calling me. “Can I?” I said. Her eyes said yes. I took the joint and put it in my mouth. She followed with a match and lit the joint with her soft, warm touch. At ease, I relaxed into the couch, which was clearly not made for two. I passed the joint, and I watched her take a hit. I wanted to put my arm around her, as if I’m holding onto the only thing that makes sense right now. She must’ve read my mind because, after her hit, she passed it back to me and found her opportunity to scoot closer. I put my arm around her, and she stretched her legs across my lap. At that moment, I imagined removing her socks and rubbing her feet, then removing her pants to kiss her soft legs, and then gripping her hip while kissing her neck. I squeezed her closer and let the thoughts fade. All that matters is this. My remedy. Under my arm, she looked up at me and smiled.

I repeated, "Nysora. I like that. Do people call you Sora?" "Not really, but you can," she said with a subtle smirk. Weirdly enough, she didn’t ask my name, as if my presence was enough to know me. She held up 'King of Blue' by Miles Davis. "This is what you were looking for," and went to play it on the record player. She sat back down, and I sat close next to her. I gave her a look that said, ‘You know me well,’ as the record began to scratch into the groove. How did she know this is what I was looking for? I didn’t ask, to be honest, that was okay with me, as long as I was next to her.

She caught my curious gaze. "It’s Ny, short for Nysora. With an ‘S’ instead of a ‘Z’," she said. "What’s that mean?" I asked. "Ny means angel-like and Sora means Sky." I turned around and for the first time saw her angel-like face. Everything about her was perfect. She has a small gap in her teeth that peeks through her soft full lips. And her round nose was the kind you’d make fun of; it was too big for her small face, but over the years, she grew into it. Every curl in her hair was perfectly placed. She existed just for me. I am sure of it.

I took a few moments to walk around the room. We were standing on shaggy green carpet, the kind that used to be in an old '80s home that was never once washed. Surprisingly, though, this carpet was free from stains. I watched her take her shoes off, placing them in the corner, and I did the same. Hanging above our heads was a round chandelier that reflected the room. I looked up into the reflection and noticed her sitting with her legs crossed on the couch.

We crossed through a beaded string curtain into a large room, the kind you wouldn’t expect in a store this size. The room was lit by a warm metal lamp, giving off a deep orange glow. In the center was a small glass coffee table with a stack of records. Resting in the corner was a brown leather couch, barely big enough for two, the old kind with white stitching creeping through the tears. On the opposite wall, there was a record player connected to an analog sound system with two identical speakers mounted on the wall. We entered an entirely different store, HP’s listening room. I’ve been to HP’s hundreds of times, but this was my first time back here.

At a quick glance, she wouldn't be considered a head-turner, but she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She was tall and walked with a long, awkward stride. I watched her wide hips sway as if hypnotizing me into a drooling trance. Her presence demanded my attention, and her guidance tugged on my heart.

Browsing through the Classic Jazz section, she came up to me. "What you’re looking for is not over here," she said with a soft touch on my hand. She took the record and placed it back in the bin. My eyes traced her skin, from her fingers to her eyes, then to her lips. "But if you want to find what you’re looking for, follow me." Without hesitation, I followed.

My fingers traced through bins of old vinyl records without a specific album in mind, though I hoped to find "King of Blue" by Miles Davis. I discovered that album about a year ago, around this time. Like a remedy to a seasonal cold, I needed it. I felt like I was falling through dark thoughts with a never-ending bottom, and the sounds of the crisp swing and muted trumpet were the only things that could bring me back to life. And somehow, she knew that.

I will always remember meeting her for the first time. I walked into HP’s records on a rainy day; it stands for Harold Perkins, and all the receipts are signed ‘Listen with love, Harold Perkins Records LLC’. I study all my receipts, only because my credit here is starting to add up.

The new owner is the son of Mr. Perkins, Kendrick Perkins, KP for short. He ran things differently from his father, but he trusted me, so my word was good.













A Visual Short Story 
Written by: Takaitheartist

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