Picture this; a stark white bathroom, white tiles by the white sink. White floor tiles near the white tub and the white toilet.
All white, clean, pristine. The smell of bleach not too far off in the distance, but mostly the candle scent of fresh linen permeates the air. All the white and clean alienates the girl. She stands staring at the mirror, and dark is all she sees. She is wronged, savaged, beaten and betrayed. Mostly though, she is out of love. The stark white bathroom only amplifies the inner turmoil she feels. There is only this moment. The rest is the past. In THIS moment, she is alone and lonely, there is only her own heartbeat and it’s beating on borrowed time.
She looks at the razor in her hand and watches the light glint off of it. There is only one road left to take, she thinks and she closes her eyes a moment. Takes a breath, and then opens her eyes. The blade is sharp, but it stumbles across her skin.
Yet another thing to hate about herself, being a coward. She thinks of the boy who holds her heart, a thousand little girl sad puppy love poems fill her heart. She slashes her wrist deeper. There is blood this time. “why doesn’t he love me?” She slashes again. “He only uses me for pleasure.” She slashes again.
With every slash, the pain goes deeper, she’s not watching her wrist, she’s watching her eyes in the mirror. In her eyes, she’s crouched, hopeless; she was a good person once. There is only this moment, the here and now. She tells herself. Nothing else matters.
But if that were true, she’s be pain free, her past haunts her. She never meant to be a home wrecker, her guilt stabs at her again. She slices again, getting braver all the time. After a while it doesn’t even hurt. Not like the hurt in her heart.
It occurs to her blood deprived mind that it doesn’t matter if he loves her or not, that she doesn’t love herself. She starts crying for the first time. The blade is slippery in her hand. She looks down and sees blood. The white purity of the bathroom is all red. Fear creeps in, and in this moment, she doesn’t want to die. Her lips are pale and her eyes vacant in the mirror. She tries to dig her cell phone out of her pocket and dial, but the cell slips out of her hand. She must have severed tendons, she can’t grasp. The cell bounces off the white tiles and slides in the blood. It slides just out of her reach. The blood is all over now, and her thinking is slowed. There is one thought and one thought only: I DON’T WANT TO DIE. She gets to her knees and goes after the phone, but it skittered behind the toilet.
She crawls/drags herself to the phone, her main reason for breathing at this point. As she takes her last breath, she realizes she is dying. Her body recognizes that fact before she does. It shudders and convulses. The thought, a final thought, enters her mind. That she died on the floor of a bathroom, next to a toilet, trying to grab her cell phone. She dies with a smile on her face.
When I was a girl, my mom would open the door to my room, making sure I was there and still breathing I suppose. She would brush my hair back from my head and pull the blankets closer around my chin. She would walk slowly back to the doorway, and turn the light off. She would watch from the doorway until she was convinced I slept soundly, then she would close the door behind her and walk away. How did I know all this? I never slept when she came in. I would breathe deeply and evenly. I would pretend to sleep, I got so good at it, I would fool myself into actually sleeping. I mean to say, I’d breath so evenly, so deeply, that I seemed to my mother that I was sleeping. Sometimes I’d even fall asleep pretending to sleep.
She’d look on me because I had nightmares. I would have nightmares a lot in my young life. Some call them night terrors. I’d awaken, screaming, completely sure that I was being attacked. I was never harmed physically in these dreams. The trauma of them has lasted me a lifetime though. There was this man or god or something manlike that had a lot of power. He accused me of harming them. But who them was, I was never completely sure. In the dream I couldn’t see myself, but I could see all around myself, a sort of circle view of my surroundings. I could see all the way around myself, but still HE snuck up on me. Out of nowhere he was there, accusing me. At first I didn’t know what I was being accused of, he (I’m quite sure it was a he) accused me in another language, several other languages, in fact. He yelled and cursed and spit as he yelled at me. There were sheep all about me, grazing, oblivious to the rantings of this mad man.
Until the lightening flashed. As the flash of it lit the sky, I seen a thousand sheep eyes focus on me at the same time. The death I seen in their eyes, the horror I saw reflected by them, it drew a sharp focus to what the man screamed at me. I was to blame for their deaths, all of them. While the man screamed and cursed, the condemnation in all those innocent eyes. The eyes of the sheep speared me with a nameless blame. It was those eyes that seared into me, those eyes that held me hostage. Those eyes told my fate.
The lightening flashed, and all the soft-pretty sheep with the condemning eyes were gone in a flash. In their places were the bodies of the one’s I’ve killed. They were barely recognizable as flesh, they more closely resembled hamburger, maybe just roadkill. There were mounds of segregated flesh everywhere. Heaps of it, no more eyes though. I guess my guilt was my own to deal with at that point. They no longer needed to condemn me, the damage is done now.
This dream has become a part of me, I close my eyes and I can see the bodies, I can smell them, the scorching of their flesh from the lightening…..the flies that I can’t see but I can hear. This dream haunts me, but not so much as the other one.
My other dream of lying in a shallow ditch, as I’ve grown I recognize the spot as a shallow grave. In the dream my life goes on forever and ever, there is no sleep, no rest, no hope or joy. There is just this ..forever. I have dug a shallow grave and lay down in it. My blood seeps into the soft ground around me and I can feel little things in the dirt reaching out with their minds to touch mine. I shut my eyes and my heart to their soft questions. I prepare to die, FINALLY. This endless existence has lasted too long, longer than any one person should live. I can feel the earth worms and moles and mice and other little creatures burrowing into the earth around me.
Nature takes its course, there is only bone and hair left after a time. I’m at peace, finally. This business of breathing, of endlessly searching, for what? I’ve forgotten what I’m searching for over time. The solace of oblivion called me into earth’s deep embrace now. There is nothing to search for, nothing to fear any longer. Even though I was still, everything was still around and in me, there were still thoughts. Not even thoughts anymore, almost memories, but not quite. Maybe impressions would be a good thing to call them. Some kind of flashback that you can remember in your bones. Some final impression that leaves an indent in your soul. As I lay there in the ground, worms crawling around me, these images plagued me. At first they were gentle, quietly insisting that my mind still lingered. Then the images got visually louder. Brighter colors, sharper memories, and soon the memories all but shouted me out of my deathly slumber.
THAT is a pain worse than death, the memories that haunt you to your very essence. I try to turn from the memories, but I have no muscles, no tendons, no flesh to turn with. There is nothing to even get away from. These memories are so sharp; they strive to pierce my very bones. If you can imagine; thought, sharper than steal, severing your very existence over and over and over again. When you are but dust and age, thoughts, even happy thoughts, only caused you pain.
When I Lived, I had a memory that wasn’t mine. I joy so sharp, so exquisite that it could only be expressed by human tears. I used to think of this as a memory I had before I was born, a memory of being in God’s presence.
All my memories are sharp like that now. The wronged all hurt, and you can’t get away from them at all. As the maggots swarm and the worms squirm, there is no reprieve from the pain in your soul. Even the memory of the sunshine, the feel of a little tadpole in your hand, the crackle of a fire, or the lights from fireflies. It was all way to sharp, way too scary.
I rolled over in bed. The dreams were getting to me again. I lay in a half asleep-stupor for hours; not awake, yet not asleep. Something was eating at me like the maggots, something in the base of my skull. It just sat there like a toad, waiting for something to happen.
There is nothing to fear, my semi-asleep self, told the inner child in me. But the reasoning me didn’t believe that at all. The instinct to pretend to be asleep, that comes from somewhere. Sleep was supposed to feel safe, you fall into sleep. It doesn’t creep up and grab you like some creature hiding under the bed, it doesn’t ambush you as your walking down the street. You kind of slide into sleep.
None of this made any difference though, I couldn’t reach restful sleep. My mind kept circling around to the sharpness of naked bone, of the sweet oblivion of being a maggot’s meal, and the creature under the bed. In the dream I idly wondered what would happen if you were having a conversation with a co-worker and blood started pooling under your fingernails. Would you stuff your hands in your pockets to avoid the look of horror and possible confrontation? Would you share the horror the co-worker might experience? Would you know immediately that this was some kind of injury? That it had nothing to do with some gory meal or a possible homicide?
I moved in my bed, restless now. I heard a voice in my subconscious. It was low and guttural. It spoke words that weren’t for my ears. I knew it to be alien, but I also knew to go to sleep and forget what I heard. The kind where I remembered that I was asleep and wanted to awake now. I heard myself murmur in my dream, I knew myself to be dreaming, but now I couldn’t wake up.
The room tilted like a fun house, but it wasn’t fun at all. I became aware of numbness in my hands and arms. I flexed my fingers and they hurt. In the dream, the alien was coming in the window, it was coming to get me. It knew I knew about it. I would tell others. I had to be stopped. I still couldn’t wake up, the nightmare had me.
It was one of those dreams that seems to go on forever. I’m walking down a long hallway, looking for…. Something. I try each door I come too, each is locked. Some doors are old and splintered, some are new and firm in their frames. They were all white. PRISTINE white. Like the bathroom I had just painted for my daughter. The daughter who got a migraine from the smell of paint and had to sleep in my room tonight. The more doors I try, the more panicked I feel. IT has to be here, it just has to.
Suddenly it’s not a what, it’s a who. I have to find her. I’m racing up and down the hallways of the old house. I’m beating on the doors till plaster crumbles off the walls and the lattice boards are showing everywhere. Still I can’t find her. I’m yelling for her, I yell so loud, I wake myself up.
It’s coming in the bedroom window! I can’t tell what’s real and what’s a dream, I try to get out of bed and the sheets tangle around my feet. I fall with a hard thud grasping with my hands at the thing in the window. I grab one of it’s heads and slam it against the window ledge. I do that over and over until I’m not afraid anymore. I free my feet and dive into my closet. The one with the golf clubs. I pull out the wood and turn on the light. The light wakes me up, more, or less. I look at my hands and look at the gold club in my right. The left is covered in some sticky red stuff. Trembling, I look at the window, at the alien from the dream with 3 heads. It was Bobby, from next door. He was climbing into my daughters’ room in the middle of the night for some reason. Only he didn’t look like Bobby anymore. I sat on the edge of the bed and dialed 911. I got blood on the phone and wondered if it would be alright if I washed my hands or not.
The panic of the dream sits me straight up in bed. I wait for my heartbeat to slow up a little. When I’m a little more still inside, I get up and walk down the hallway to the bathroom. The lights on under the door, so I knock. Gently at first, then more urgently. The dream still had me, the feeling of not being able to wake up washed over me again. As in the dream, I banged on the door and turned the knob….