Rivulets of sweat adorn my face as I blink away the vestiges of a nightmare. My breathing is ragged and uneven and my heart threatens to beat its way out of my chest.
The flashes of black, blue and white fade away as the seconds tick by, leaving behind a cold silence. Concentrating on the white wall ahead, I try to remember past the bright burst of colored light.
A therapist suggested I write down my dreams in a diary…a hard thing to do when there is nothing coherent to write about. I sigh and groggily dismiss the dream, as I’ve done countless times before.
The pitter-patter of raindrops plays an eerie beat on the windowpane. It’s a soothing sound in the dead hush of my room. I look at the clock on my bed stand, which cheerily blinks a bright red 5:04 AM.
Convinced that sleep will not come any more, I trudge downstairs to the kitchen. The empty house is creepy, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why my sister spends her vacation at college.
Ice-cold water helps to relax my agitated nerves. I drink some of it and splash the rest on my face. I lean on the kitchen sink. Calm breaths and the sound of falling raindrops permeate my senses as I feel myself relax.
Out of the corner, something dashes towards me.
My equilibrium evaporates. The glass slips from my hand and shatters the silence of the empty house.
“Look what you’ve done!”
My dog bolts away. The sudden noise had frightened him, but he’ll slink back in a few seconds to inspect his latest achievement. I hastily collect the bits and shards as best as I can. He sits down next to me after some time, looking with those big brown eyes, hoping I won’t be angry.
I can’t help but smile.
I pull him closer, and reassure him that nothing could ever be wrong with us. I could never be angry with him.
He’s my best friend.
Sitting on the kitchen floor, I become painfully aware of how lonely I really am. The tears surprise me for I’ve rarely wept in the last two years. He snuggles closer. I hold him tight, afraid to let go of him as the emptiness rears its ugly head. For a few moments, I’m afraid to open my eyes, afraid of the reality I live in.
As the panic subsides, I pat his head and let go of him reluctantly. Bracing myself for the day ahead, I stand up and go back to my room, hoping in vain that sleep will take over.
I lie on my bed, staring at the bare ceiling for the next half an hour.
~ Inside his head ~
Some days my thoughts are so biting and morbid, it takes even me by surprise. I make sure to stay cooped inside my house, refusing to talk lest anyone sees the person I really am. My behavior defines me as a sociopath, an anti-social best left alone to his own misery.
In my defense, I’ll say that it’s a rare phenomenon. Living alone in a two-storey house can do strange things to your sanity, but I live through it, one day at a time.
My life’s a hell hole. It has been like that for the last two years. Loneliness and depression are my daily companions, and bad luck pops in to say hello once in a while. Some days the shit falls from such a height, I wonder if god himself had crapped on me.
Oh, and I just got expelled from school.
It was nothing. The star quarterback told me that I cried for “mommy” in my sleep. I said I didn’t. He insisted, and the next thing you know, he has a busted kneecap. His entire life was ruined in just five seconds.
Aunt Sherry could’ve won an Oscar for her stellar performance that day — begging on my behalf, and imploring the principal that I didn’t deserve an expulsion. She said I deserved mercy. It broke my heart to see her like that.
The Head finally agreed, transferring me to my cousin’s school with glowing recommendations. Provided I kept my nose out of his school for the rest of my life.
The drive back home was terrifying. I’d made my peace with god as soon as my aunt was summoned.
“So, Michael,” she finally asked as we stopped at a red signal. She looks just like mom, sans her deep-brown eyes. “What did that boy say exactly?”
I was truthful, repeating his insults verbatim. It was hard not to get angry, but an involuntary fear of my aunt kept me in my place. Her expression remained stoic as she digested the information. I waited for the howl of reprimand, the ones that Daniel usually gets every morning, but it never came.
“And how bad did you hurt him?” she asked quietly.
“I broke his nose,” I said hesitantly, “and…and a leg.”
She sighs in defeat. “I don’t know what to say, Michael. If I were you, I would’ve done the same thing.”
Nothing else was said on the way back home.
I surface from the reminiscence and stare at the clock again.
It’s 5:42 AM. The drizzle stopped a long time ago.
I drag myself out from the warm sheets, hating the feel of being exposed to a bitter morning cold.
Trundling to the bathroom, I stare at my reflection in the mirror. I’ve made a habit of studying it every day. My face gives me an insight, a window to what goes on inside my head. With time, I’ve learned to hide my feelings behind a mask, but in the mirror with only myself to see, something is revealed every now and then.
Today, I’m a mess.
With bloodshot eyes and tornado-swept dirty blonde hair, I can easily pass for one of those homeless drunks squatting in the local park.
I shake my head to get rid of the sluggishness creeping throughout. I brush my teeth and splash my face with the icy water. The shock rejuvenates me as I gear up for the day. Tying up my shoes, I set out for a much needed morning run.
The parks, trees, roads — everything has remained the same for the last few years. The bright mellow sun cheerily heralds a new day. Its cleansing ray washes away my earlier gloom. I stop at the local park to catch my breath. Filling my lungs with the crisp morning air, I exhale quietly, feeling the stress ease out of my conscience.
New school, new environment, new people…it’s something that I have a hard time acquainting myself with. Perhaps I can, if I’m willing to try. I just don’t have the heart to do it.
I always used to wonder who invented the concept of schooling. If I knew, I would’ve buried his body in my front porch and make it a point to walk over his grave when I left for school every morning.
I hate school.
No, it’s not the grades I’m worried about. It’s the animals inhabiting the place. Screeching, leering and always chattering. Their behavior never ceases to amaze me. My last school was a horrible example.