feeling lost. mental crisis. survival. self-harm.

“Quiet. Everybody quiet,” I say. IT is odd and with strange colours; but it is also vexed. IT appears once a year. A mystery from the skies and IT sits me down to stare at each other without speaking. But I know what IT is thinking. IT tells me everything through ITs eyes. ITs opaque eyes. But no one believes me what IT says. No one believes me that IT is even real because I am the only one who can see IT. The stranger from afar.

November is a month of reflection. That’s what I’ve been told. As earth rests to sleep, well, at least where I live, and skies turn grey and sad, I raise my pen and paper and lay both down to write. ‘A mystery novel?’ Someone shouts but I nudge through and remain on course. Nothing makes sense this time. Lost as if in space but rather in my mind. And nothing comes out but gibberish because I’m not a writer. That someone who has shouted is another patient making fun at my expense. Making fun of my pen and paper as if I have the wisdom to dispense.

“Burr,” the cat says to me, “It’s cold outside.”

And I smile because it is cold outside. But none of that matters. I like waiting for the snow to fall. I like when the majestic of silver and white covers the stones and our bones. The winter comes and we shiver. That’s the best part because we’re still alive keeping our toes warm with blankets and fire. I love all those epic fables when the hero holds his shield to his heart and yells, ‘Victorious!’

But I’m not a fool. None of them are real. So yeah. I’m not a tale spinner. No. No sir. I only take account of my life. Count my minutes and my breaths. So the pen and paper are to jot down my last thoughts. I hope I get the last laugh.

The man with the white beard comes in today. He does his checks, I mean he ticks off his boxes like we’re cattle on a ranch ready to be slaughtered. But even that isn’t true. I tend to exaggerate. I am a bit theatrical and I don’t want to change that about myself. It gives me a purpose. That sounds so wretched. The wrench that gets tossed into the mix. Whatever that means.

Sarah keeps on blowing her bubbles oblivious to the choir of misfits. But it’s an attempt by the music therapist to give us an outlet and bang those drums with every bit of vigor and desire. That sounds a little sexual, but that’s on purpose. ‘How comical?’ My mother would say but she would never laugh, something I never understood. Isn’t the purpose of happiness to laugh once in a while, especially in the context of a joke. Life baffles me.

Welcome to my mighty pen where all I want to say is “THANK YOU.” Thank you for listening Doctor Martin.

The end.

***

The sky is blue. The birds are chirping. Is it winter anymore? Have I been transported through time?

“Beep. Beep.” The ticking of the bomb comes from my right. “Beep. Beep.” The countdown has begun and then I open my eyes. IT has arrived. I have been waiting for IT and IT sits in silence watching me. Observing me as if I was ITs lab rat.

“Hi, how are you feeling?” My sister, her kind soul. She always comes to visit. Every Tuesday, like a clock. Not sure whose clock. But, I don’t think it’s Tuesday today. Rather it’s some special occasion.

The IT disperses into a puff of smoke. Vanishes quickly and incognito.

“Dead,” I answer but there are tears in her eyes and she wipes them leaving the red soreness behind.

“I love you,” she says. “I love you,” she whispers and squeezes my palm.

My palm that I’m unable to lift. My body has fused to the mattress. That’s it, we’re one. The heaviness and the stiffness of my legs make it difficult to move. Like the metal chains weighing me down.

“Wake up!” IT shouts appearing like a ghost submerging into my sister and passing through her with ITs mouth wide open, right where my sister’s mouth would be. Splitting my sister into the human part and IT part. A strip of film overlay. But IT doesn’t scare me. I still manage to swim in a dreamland filled with fog and ambiguity. Nothing has a concrete form. It’s a mirage of reality.

I close my eyes and I thank you.

***

My scars are mine. My wounded soldiers on the battle.

Apparently, I have broken two of my two legs. Yes. That’s right. You heard me. Two of my two legs. I said.

Apparently, I walked into the traffic without a thought of consequence and my safety… or others for that matter. When objects collide, all are left with some residue of the impact. Some more harmed than the other.

I have no recollection of how and when that happened. I wasn’t myself. But IT has informed me two days prior. IT knew my actions before I even unfolded the plan. IT warned me but I didn’t listen because IT tends to spin the tales to ITs comfort. How sad? The dissolution. But I have no feelings either.

IT has come again for the visit. But this time IT’s not silent. IT hums and I know it’s some sort of a code and it’s soothing. ITs sound cradles me like a child to sleep. “There. There. You will be all right.” It hums. “You will be all right.”

“How come your eyes are pale?” I ask strapped to my bed in my room. My room, as in my room before the ICU, before the accident. Before the attempt. “Are you blind?”

“I see perfectly well,” IT answers somewhat musically as if IT’s in good spirits. “Now you have to open your eyes and measure your pain. You will be well. You will survive. I promise,” and with that promise, IT sits back to the chair and lifts ITs head to the white-bearded man who enters my room, followed by my mother.

She embraces me. I embrace her in return.

She squeezes my ribs lightly. I squeeze her in return.

A tit for tat.

“I’m sorry,” as the tears pour out of me and the air returns. I am breathing once again. I am here on earth once again. Conflicted but facing the actuality of life. Its pain. Its wrongs. Its beauty. Its harmony. “I’m sorry.”

When the leaves turn brown and dry. They fall and decay. When rain turns to ice and melts upon the stove. When the sweetness of the sunshine turns to the bitter cold. When we huddle into our homes waiting for it all to end. The harmonious transition to give birth again.

It’s my life. It’s my November.

© Jacob Greb — 2020

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