Shadow World

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A dark moment. For all those who have experienced this, it will get better.

Submitted: July 11, 2015

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Submitted: July 11, 2015

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When I woke up from my dream, the rain was pouring outside. The greyness of the world was suddenly so apparent. And Lucy was shouting at me.

"Where did you go, Dan? Where are you? Because this man in front of me isn't you. You had a spark, a..."

She turned away, sighing. When she looked back, I could see the tears glittering in her eyes.

" I can't do this anymore. We're living as shadows, Dan. Shadows of the people we once were, a shadow of what we once felt keeping us together."

She left that night. She went to her mother's, I think, but honestly, I don't really know. The few times we talked after that, it was short, cold, awkward. We'd stopped pretending.

It was sleeping alone that felt the worst. I would always feel like there was too much room, that something would fill the void beside me. It wasn't cold, exactly, more an absence of warmth. And when I woke, just before I opened my eyes, I could hope she was there. Just for a moment, I could recapture that old love, that completeness, that I'd once felt.  

Then I opened my eyes, and grey reality came pouring in.

Life carried on, of course. I still had my job at the office, a good job. It paid well, anyway, and my parents liked to boast about it, Obliquely, of course, but I could see they loved it. That was all I wanted. The job itself was the same as any other; repeating practiced motions behind a seemingly endless variety of pretty packages. In the end, that's all a job is, even if my motions were considered more complex than those below me, and less than those above me, though there was precious few of those.

It wasn't, therefore, the kind of job that made you friends. It had even lost me some. Some people who resented my new status. Some couldn't deal with being told what to do. Others dealt with it too well. Crucially, they all stopped seeing me as a person. I was a list of objectives to them, the things they had to do at the loss of the things they wanted to do. It made them bitter. And nobody ever had a bitter friend.

So I was alone. I'd lost my only 'friend'. I barely talked to anyone outside of work. I could spend hours at a time just sitting. Trying to understand this unknown country my life had become.

Maybe Lucy was what made the world grey. Maybe my job had done it long before then, and I'd just painted over it in garish colours. But I was stuck in my cage, and that cage held me in that grey. I walked on a path that I'd walked a thousand times before, and would walk a thousand times after. 

I broke the path a few weeks later, when I went to the bar. I talked to no one, but ordered a beer, and nursed it quietly in the corner. The bar was loud, noisy. There were groupings of men, women, rarely mixed, and the stench of nervousness faintly hung over both. A man moved over, the stench seemed to intensify, though you couldn't see it in their faces, exactly. I hated their innocence, their naivety. I wanted to grab them, wrench them apart, tell them everything. 

I didn't. I watched them smile and laugh, and did nothing but quickly finish my drink and walk outside. 

I stumbled into an alley, slumping down against the wall. My tears flowed freely, now, my face a mess of grief and regret. What had I done to deserve this? I clenched my fists, the knuckles whitening, pressing them into my eyes. Trying to hide in the darkness. I felt a sudden shot of pain, a shiver running through my body at the presence of feeling. I opened my eyes, and, unclenching my shaking hands, saw blood running from the puncture marks my fingernails had left.

I stared at those tears for a second, a second that became a minute. The rivers of crimson poured out of me, life poured out of me. More life than I'd felt in weeks now filled my hands, stained them. I kept watching till the flow lessened, then stopped, a dam murdering it at the source. 

That pain... I tore at one of the wounds, blood slowly bubbling its way out again. The pain was intoxicating. It felt like reality, a moment of clarity in my isolation. It felt like a punishment, justice for my failing. I kicked the wall of the alleyway, springing away at the sharp pain in my foot.

I stared at the wall, breathing hard. Then I punched it. Again. Again. Each punch was a tiny step to absolution, a path to freedom from this guilt. Again I punched. My hands were bloody, burning like they were on fire. I hated my weakness, angry at my own inadequacy. Again I punched, and kept punching, till I heard a crack, and the sweetest pain of all burned through me. I slumped to the floor again, cradling my mess of a hand.

I slipped into the darkness that greeted me.

***

It took me months to climb out of that darkness. The doctors at the hospital diagnosed me with a severe depression. I guess that was the greyness around me. More than once, they found me staring at the walls, staring at my bandaged hand. Curling it into a fist. They wouldn't let me have any sharp objects. I suppose it was for the best.

I began thinking about how I could have changed things, if there was anything I could have said. Maybe if I'd told Lucy I would... I don't know, change somehow, she would've stayed for awhile. 

I asked the doctor if I could see her. I would offer to go to the appointments with the psychiatrists, if she would only let me see Lucy. The doctor, a kind woman, really, would tell me I couldn't, that it would only upset me. I shouted at her then, but have tears streaming from my eyes once she'd left. 

I started going to the appointments anyway, even though Lucy didn't come. In the end, I was afraid of what might happen if I kept staring at the walls. They asked me about what I had felt while I was punching that wall. I told them I was in ecstasy. An ecstasy of pain and blood and life. I told them it brought a splash of colour into the grey. I could see they were uneasy with my descriptions, but they listened, all the same. I could speak at least. 

Once, I was curled up on my bed, my eyes closed. I was trying to bring back that feeling of weeks before, the feeling that she was there, lying next to me. I couldn't do it. I started sobbing, softly, into my pillow. I couldn't remember it anymore. Then the blackness was pierced by a shaft of light, light which got wider, then disappeared as the door closed with a click. I felt someone's arms softly embrace me, holding me. I sobbed into their shoulder, grabbing onto them desperately. They held me there, in the dark. 

"It's not your fault." They whispered into my ear.

"It's not your fault." 

I didn't know who it was. But hearing those words let me know, more than anything else, that someone still cared. That was all I needed.

 

 


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