London, England. 1920.
The little girl sat in the middle of Trafalgar Square, picturesque carvings and fountains surrounding her as how flowers are neatly placed in a garden. People passed her but took no heed, their minds caught up in thought of their own personal tasks for the day.
The girl’s eyes were set like stone, scarcely blinking. They were grey. Almost transparent, like a thin fog you could see through. Her glare was fixated upon a boy approximately her age. He, unlike so many, didn’t move much. He was sitting down in a corner, hidden from everyone’s gaze except hers, hugging his knees, his face hidden from sight by black locks of hair. The girl approached with caution, but curiosity glowed in her eyes like fireflies.
She leaned in closer. The boy’s skin looked sallow. He was thin—as is his breathing. His clothes were worn though not ragged or torn. She figured he must be a runaway or something else as unfortunate.
Suddenly, the rhythm of his breathing was disrupted.
“Who are you?”
The boy’s head snapped up at her. His eyes were narrow like yellow-skinned people the girl had seen roaming around as tourists, but they were green. Dead green like thick, soft, velvet-like moss.
“Ye mean me? You’re looking at me?” the girl pointed at herself, looking stunned. The boy nodded, finding it weird that she’d be so surprised he talked to her.
“What’s your name?” he said again.
“I’m just… me. I aven’t been called anythin’ in a long time. Ye call me as ye pleases,” she said.
The boy was stunned. He hasn’t heard that kind of talk anywhere but in plays and movies. But he found her voice pleasant. He scrutinized the little girl’s looks. Golden locks framing a thin face, cascading in loose waves down her back. She wore a plain white dress with frills on the bottom. She looked like….
“I’d like to call you Lyra, if you don’t mind. I’m Collin,” the boy extended his hand. Tilting her head, still holding her stare, the girl—now Lyra—shook it fimbly.
“Why Lyra?” she asked again, her eyes widening with curiosity.
“Because you look like an angel,” Collin said with innocent bluntness found only with children, “I like your voice too. You remind me of a lyre. It’s a harp angels use to play music.”
The girl beamed. She fancied being thought of as an angel.
“Aye, that’d be dandy. Ye ‘as an eye fer good names, ye does.”
“Why do you talk like that?” Collin asked, arching his eyebrows.
“Don’t know meself, lad. I’ve always spoken in the likes of this, I ‘ave. Just like me ol’ Pops does,” she paused a moment, “I noticed folks around ‘ere are more… civilised. I hope a clean lad like yerself won’t mind lil’ me talkin’ this way.”
“Oh, no, no, no!” Collin waved his hands, rather dramatically, “I love how you speak! It’s like language from the old days.”
“Ah! I see yer a kind one, then,” Lyra grimaced at her new buddy, “Some o’ my ol’ nurses said I was nought but a naughty mess, ‘specially for a gal.”
Collin shook his head when he saw Lyra’s face fell. Mother had always taught him to cheer others up when they needed cheering up. Now would be an appropriate example.
“I think you’re wonderful, Lyra!”
The little girl’s face lightened. She gave a giggle. Collin thought her laugh pleasant. Her whole body shook, and the way sunlight caught her golden hair’s shine made it all the more beautiful sight to look upon.
“Well, since we’re on swell terms, methinks it’s fair to show ye sumthin’. Hold my hand.”
Collin immediately did so. Lyra took a deep breath and, to Collin’s astonishment, began to float. Carving a more dumbfounded look on the boy’s face, Collin also began to float. Lyra whispered something, and they were whisked away into the clouds.
“W-where are we going?” Collin asked. He was by no means afraid for he trusts his new friend, but he was curious all the same.
“Lemme see… what place does ye fancy?”
Collin thought for a moment. His gaze was set upon the thin blanket of clouds slowly travelling by gushes of wind, but his noggin was tinkering. After a few seconds of tapping on his chin, he nodded.
“To Westminster Bridge, please, my good lady!” he exclaimed, pointing at the direction. Lyra laughed. Being with him felt like going on an adventure.
“Aye, aye, sir!”
The two flew past buildings and wonderful-looking places; offices and hotels and little shops. Lyra seemed accustomed to the scenery, but Collin gaped at the view.
“A sight for the eyes, ain’t it?” Lyra grinned before pointing at a certain tall, towering time-teller.
The second they reached the ground right in front of Big Ben, Collin ran toward Westminster Bridge. Lyra wondered and pondered at what could be the matter, so she followed suit, though at a slower pace. It wasn’t hard to find Collin. He stood out in the crowd though no one bid him any attention.
Lyra stopped in her tracks. Collin stood on the pavement behind a man who seemed to be doing a sketch of Big Ben. She saw him try to reach out to the man and tried to stop Collin, but her effort was futile.
Collin tried to grab the man’s coat, but instead his hand passed through him. Lyra painfully watched as Collin frantically tried to touch something. First the man, then other people, then the ground. His feet could stand on objects as solid things could, but his hands couldn’t grasp anything.
“What is this?! Did you do something to me?”
Collin approaches Lyra, who walked a few steps back. Suddenly a car passed and it drove through her. As if she’s made out of thin air. Collin gasped.
“I—I’m sorry, I am!” Lyra cried, “I wanted to tell ye, b-but I feared ye’ll take me fer a nutter!”
Minutes passed. Collin waited for her to calm down, then asked for an explanation. He couldn’t believe what he heard.
“We’re dead, Collin. We ain’t nothin’ but ghosts now. Spirits if ye’d like it better.”
“That’s all lies and bollocks!”
Still in disbelief, Collin tried to shout at people, waving his hands in front of them. No one reacted. Lyra was telling the truth.
Collin couldn’t think clearly. As young as he is, he understood death. His eyes clearly showed disbelief though he knew what’s happening is real. Lyra sighed and held her hand out, silently asking Collin to trust her once more. Reluctantly, he consented.
They flew once more. This time, the journey took quite a long time. She led him to a quiet, ancient-looking patch of land. A graveyard. Lyra pointed to a stone that was partly damaged. Engraved at the bottom part that still stood were numbers.
“1863 – 1874. T-this is your… grave?”
Lyra nodded, looking intensely for Collin, trying to assure him to believe her. Well, he did. That would explain things—why Lyra seemed so surprised when he talked to her, how they could fly, why no one paid any attention to them. No one even so much as glared at a dirty pair of children, though Collin’s been stared at a few times because of his looking sick.
“So we’re dead?”
Silence draped over them for a few moments.
“That man ye tried to touch—the one drawin’ Big ol’ Ben back at the bridge,” Lyra started, “He’s yer ol’ pops?”
“I-I think so.”
“Ye think so?” Lyra said, stunned.
“I’ve never met him. If I did, I don’t remember.”
Collin told his story.
His father was never physically present in his life. He’d been raised by his mother in the countryside. They were poor and they only job that paid enough his father could find was in London. He had to work each day and couldn’t afford going back because it meant losing money. For the twelve years of his life, Collin and his father only communicated through letters. Sometimes, his father sent sketches he made. In his last letter, he told Collin he’d be spending a lot of his little free time at Westminster Bridge because he wanted to make a sketch of Big Ben.
Last year, both managed to save enough money to send each other pictures of themselves. A fortnight ago, Collin’s mother died, and he decided to look for his father. He wanted to tell him the news directly, and he had no one else to turn to. Trying to find his father in London by a photograph, using only the little money he had and all the food he could muster, Collin started on the journey of his life. A journey that, in the end, took it away.
“I had to hitch rides, you see,” Collin explained, “I didn’t want to waste my money because I might need it, or father might need it. Sometimes I didn’t eat. Sometimes I slept outside. I think that’s why I got sick. Why… why I’m dead,” Collin said before going silent.
“Ye poor child,” Lyra said in tears, her heart going out to him.
“It can’t be helped,” Collin said. He’s twice as mature as his age, Lyra thought.
“So ye’ll be keepin’ me company? We could fly anywhere we fancy, do anythin’ we want together,” she said, her eyes glistening at the thought. Collin’s eyes reflected agreement.
“Interesting offer. I’ll take it.”
* * *
In a corner of Trafalgar Square, dozens of people gathered round a screaming man hugging a cold, lifeless body.
“He’s gone mad.”
“Let him mourn.”
“Get yourself together, man!”
The man heard their voices but couldn’t make out the words. He held the body, weeping all the while. By chance he saw a little boy crouching there. A boy who reminded him of Collin. He had just finished his sketch of Big Ben and was heading back to work, but the boy looked so alone he felt compelled to do something for him. It was strange. It felt like the boy was his own.
As it turns out, the boy was his own.
Oke, sekarang saatnya… catatan (curhat tertulis) penulis! Jangan mengeluh dulu ya, hehe….
Ini random, sih, tapi hari ini bokap gue bilang, “Nanti kita nonton.” tapi dia bilangnya “nondon” buat ngelucu. Dan yang telinga gue tangkap adalah “London”…. *krik krik krik*
Gilaaa ini pencapaian banget! Akhirnya gue berhasil memasukkan tokoh yang ngomong dengan bahasa kuno, hohoho! *perut bergoyang ala Santa* Tapi seriusan, deh, agak susah bikin dialognya, padahal jadinya masih acak begini.
Makasih sangat untuk kalian para pembaca yang tahan membaca sampai bagian ini, juga para teman dan kenalan yang mendukung baik secara nyata atau doa. Maaf kalau ada yang merasa tersinggung dengan apapun di atas, atau bingung dan mikir “Ini makhluk nulis apaan, sih! Gajelas banget!” ya penulisnya aja gajelas, sih, jadi tulisannya… ya gitu, deh.
Sekedar tambahan dan lagi mau jayus aja: “Kenapa lo harus ke Inggris?” Bro, gue sampai bisa nulis kayak di atas gara-gara mau ke Inggris. Liat, kan, bedanya karangan gue dan gaya bahasa asli gue? Gue sendiri bingung kenapa bisa kontras gitu. *(sok) mikir keras* Mungkin kebanyakan nonton slam poetry. Yak, mungkin itu. Dan gue bahkan sampai mencari sejarah kamera dan telepon di Mbah Google. Hitung-hitung nambah pengetahuan, hehehe….
Gue harap kalian menikmati apa yang sudah gue ketik susah payah dalam kegelapan kamar gue di subuh hari. Seperti Collin, gue sampai sakit-sakitan demi sebuah tujuan. (Eaaa sok puitis, deh, gue. Padahal cuma sakit leher karena pegel kepala gue nunduk melulu.)
Oke, karena gue nggak mau membuat mata kalian minus atau semakin minus (dan karena gue nggak tau lagi mau ngetik apa), sekian. *nyengir gaje sambil bungkuk badan*
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