Genevieve didn’t like people. She thought that they were weird, and selfish and cruel. They imposed their rules onto her life, and conquered the world around her with their greed and ego, and caused pain, so much pain. They destroyed the habitat and ruled animals like they were slaves, only there to serve a purpose. Genevieve felt no different to an animal. She wanted to live free and wild and instinctively. Her instincts told her to be kind to others, to care about the world and to love herself. But they wouldn’t let her. Everywhere Genevieve went, she always had the same problem. People. Making her work, making her wear clothes, making her give up her precious time, and her mind, and her very essence into making money, more money for them than for her. And then leaving her no other choice but to spend her hard earned cash on things that meant nothing but a short moment where she thought she had triumphed, only for it to fade away with another drop of her youth. This was her life, a slave to people and now to herself.
She didn’t really want to not live, but she didn’t want to live with people either, not in their world. But they wouldn’t leave, because they were selfish, as she had always said. So Genevieve was left with no choice, her only way not to be unhappy, was to go. Genevieve cursed them for making her as selfish as they were. How Typical. It was them that were making her choose herself, and having to leave to find that little bit of peace that she felt she finally deserved. Genevieve stood there on the edge of the river and looked down at her distorted reflection. It was exactly as she had expected, faceless, and illusionary.
‘This isn’t real’ she told herself as she looked down at the water and could see orange fish swimming just below the surface. ‘It’s alright for you’ she said to the fish inside her head.
Genevieve had always thought she would go in the water. She always felt at peace underneath. Quiet would envelop her as she gently floated to the end of her life, just as she had floated in the beginning. She took a deep breathe and closed her eyes, and nodded matter of factly, before taking a long stride and stepped out.
After a second of waiting, Genevieve opened her eyes to find out why she hadn’t plunged into the cold water and started her journey to the underworld as she was expecting. Instead, she witnessed herself flip upside down, as the world around her inverted into the reflective world that lay in the rippling river. She stood still for a moment as she furrowed her brow and contemplated what had just happened.
‘Is this it?’ she thought to herself, confused and unimpressed. ‘Where’s my light?.. Where’s my quiet? And my peace!’ she looked down at the water again to see that her reflection was as crystal clear as the mirror she loathed so much in her room. She frowned at herself in the water.
'Maybe this is it?.. Maybe?’ she thought, unsure of herself. She looked up from the water and glanced around to see that the world looked the same as it did before, but actually, a bit different than it used to, a bit better. The colours were vivid and crisp, the air felt a bit lighter, and clearer, as did her head. A man walking his dog, passed her on the path and looked over. Genevieve locked eyes with the man and was warmed by his smile, not met with the usual distaste she normally felt for strangers. She glanced down at the dog with his wagging tail and didn’t pity him or feel guilty for ruining his world as she normally did.
“Huh!” Genevieve raised her eyebrows, pleasantly surprised at this brighter world. She listened to the birdsong that filled the air and found that it made her feel positive and happy inside. She looked over at the bench behind her and decided to sit down and think about what she should do.
‘I’ll give it until tonight, to see if things have really changed… And maybe I’ll go to work in the morning, to see if the people are the same’… She pondered some more. ‘If nothing’s changed, I’ll have to find a different way to leave…Maybe the roof, I’ll jump off the roof!’ Genevieve had made up her mind. She would give it until tomorrow to see if the world really had changed, or she would jump off the roof, and leave for good.
She looked up at the clear blue sky, the few wispy clouds started to dissipate before her eyes leaving nothing but a bright blue canvas. Genevieve smiled to herself and then looked down at the path. As if on cue, she saw white daisies bursting through a spot of tarmac next to her shoe, as if she was watching a time lapse on the discovery channel. She raised her eyebrows again and pursed her mouth. ‘ So far so good’ she thought as she stood up and started to walk along the riverside, back towards the town.
When Genevieve had reached town, she listened to the clock tower chime as she walked through the central plaza. The bells were triumphant and melodic, rather than obnoxious like the day before.The shops had closed and people were sat out eating and drinking as they welcomed in the summer evening. Genevieve didn’t hear the loud drunks or clanging dishes from the restaurant windows, but instead laughing families and friends celebrating.
She walked on to her apartment, and saw the silent, creepy neighbour on his balcony, watering his plants. He looked down at Genevieve as she climbed the stairs and she averted her gaze as she usually did.
“Genevieve! You look beautiful today! Here..”
Genevieve reluctantly looked up to see the neighbour leaning over his balcony with a flower in his hand that he had just picked. She crinkled her forehead as she examined the flower and then the neighbour’s face.
“It’s okay, I’m just happy to see you looking happy today, that’s all” he said as he pushed his arm towards her and nodded his head to prompt her to take the flower.
She looked into his deep brown eyes and saw nothing but innocence behind his gaze. She looked down at the alien passion flower and reached out to take it. She smiled shyly before dashing up the stairs to her front door and scrambled inside. She ran to the kitchen to put the flower in a small glass vase and went to place it on her bedside table before taking a hot shower.
That evening, Genevieve picked up the phone when it rang, rather than letting it BRIIIIIING away before she would unplug it. She listened to her mother whine on about her seemingly never-ending problems and then listened to her gushing appreciatively at Genevieve’s advice. Usually Genevieve would rush through the phone call as quick as she could, offering nothing of herself or of course, ignore the call altogether. Afterwards, she took time and care in preparing herself a meal, and tasted every single bite. She felt much more satisfied than the evening before when she had eaten nothing more than a cup noodle. She went to bed and fell asleep in an instant, falling into soft, deep dreams, unlike the tossing and turning that taunted her the night before, and the night before that.
In the morning, Genevieve went to work to face her tedious colleagues that tested her patience with every interaction. Today she could see pain behind her malicious colleague’s eyes, rather than spite and the malice she usually witnessed. She saw her boss crumbling behind his screen at the figures that dictated his life, and for the first time noticed his calendar of The world’s greatest islands taking centre stage on his desk, reminding him everyday of the life he should be living, if only he could just work more. Genevieve replaced her sharp tongue and self involved thoughts for the person that she thought she could be in another world, this new world that she had stumbled upon whilst trying to leave. She decided to take her break outside today and listen to the birdsong again. She took her time and walked along the riverside, feeling the warm sun on her skin.
In the distance she could see a man at the edge of the water, standing there in his grey business suit and expressionless face. She rushed over and placed her hand on his shoulder. He flinched under her touch and then looked at her to say “Just leave me... I’ve nothing more to give”. Genevieve could hear the anguish in his voice and recognised the feeling of despair. The man turned back to face the water and looked down at his distorted grey reflection. Genevieve gave the man a little wry smile and leant over to softly whisper into his ear “Do it. Flipmode is the greatest.”