Lights from the window opposite Alex’s bed were dancing about the room. The window was open, and a small, chill breeze escaped through it and blew the curtains apart. The room was spotlessly clean. The bed neatly made, and everything carefully organised onto shelves and into orderly boxes under the bed. There were no posters. Not for a long time. Nor where there pictures or photographs upon the pale blue walls. Alex was sitting on the edge of the bed, and even his clothes were impeccable. He wore a lined grey shirt, and a pair of ironed blue jeans. His hair was a little over grown but also neat, combed carefully to one side. He wore pristine white trainers, the laces tied tightly with bows.
The lights would occasionally come to flicker across Alex’s face. He would never react. His eyes would blink and his chest would rise, but apart from that his body was still, as still as the furniture around him. He did not raise his eyes from their fixed position, unfocused, unseeing, on the window.
Some said he was an ‘empty shell’ of a boy who had once lived. A ghost. A moving photograph of a person without the ability to converse or react. Some even went as far as to say he had slowly died inside. Once, a close friend of Mrs Wyatt had sat beside Alex and whispered ‘It’s as though the lights are on, but nobodies home.’
Mrs Wyatt, who was standing close by, replied ‘Sometimes it feels as though the lights aren’t even on.’ before wiping a tear from her eye and exiting the room.
Alex continued to sit as still and silent as ever. A scarf that he had wound continuously through his fingers, subconsciously, still lay there in his hands.
Everybody knew little about Alex. They thought that his condition had caused him to lose his personality and everything that had previously made him human. To them, he was now an alien. But Alex’s mind was not empty. It was never empty. Although his eyes were blank and expressionless, his mind was far from vacant.
It had started a long time ago.
Alex could not hear the siren echoing through his open window, nor the traffic or the birds outside. He could not hear the rustle of the wind in the trees or the footsteps of his mother trudging up the stairs outside his bedroom. He could not see the room around him. He was not there, he was not real, and it was less than a dream to him. Less than a memory or a feeling. It simply did not exist.
But did it?