→ Fiction assignment written for Memory and Place Literature class, 2013/5/19
“You’re too stressed out.”
“Stop overthinking everything.”
“If you can’t understand what my job means to me, we’ll never get through this.”
“I can’t always be your happy sun, even I have my emotional moods!”
“If you don’t open up to me, I’ll disown you for good!”
I stare at their backs. I could not see their faces.
It was a rainy, humid night. I had kicked off the covers, wiped away the sweat that had accumulated at my brow and shifted to my side.
I listened to the soft patter of rain outside.
Tear streaks on the sides of my cheeks had dried. I lay there, quietly reflecting and tried remember a time when I hadn’t woke up crying.
Patter. Patter. Patter.
I could not recall, but somehow that realization didn’t startle me, or sent me into fits of shock, or embarking on another adventure of self-reflection.
I felt empty. I pushed away the almost automatic response to analyze that empty feeling, and concentrated on why I had woken up, as the a niggling voice at the back of my head had begun to lose its patience with its wayward owner.
Nightmares. They come in form of voices nowadays, always taunting me, sending me on guilt trips, suffocating, crushing, tearing apart every happy feeling that stayed with me until I fell asleep before the nightmares started. I could easily pick out the people speaking, judging through their voices, even if those voices did not come with their owner’s faces.
Such negativity in my mind’s description of my nightmare’s destruction of happy feelings was startling, shaking a bit of emotion into my otherwise vacant mind.
That emotion shriveled up and died really quickly.
I wonder why I bother reflecting, when all reflecting did for me was bouts of self-pitying and depreciation that my friends and boyfriend probably found annoying. But these nightmares, in my experience, always showed what a person’s subconscious was afraid of.
I watched through the creak of our bedroom door, as mum and dad fought again, emotions spilling into the air, my sister crying back on our bed, wanting attention to be soothed and told ‘don’t cry, everything’s alright’, when the reality was that our parents were fighting over how the magazines should be stacked perfectly aligned and not their corners sticking out here and there. Dad must have accidentally toppled over a stack of magazines on the coffee table, and hadn’t stacked them properly to “Mum’s rules”. Dad turned purple in the face, and stormed out of our house, shouting and slamming the door. Through our bedroom window, I watched after my dad as he got into the car, and drove out. Mum had won the argument, but she did not look victorious, as I watched her silently get ready for another day.
“I won’t leave you,” he declared, after moments of imitating a statue. I cried on. He wasn’t leaving. He wasn’t. He was facing me, and I faced him.
“This doesn’t bother you?” He asked in reluctant surprise, as if he had just realized I didn’t find family problems that weird and ‘shameful’. “Of course it bothers me, because it bothers you” that sounded like I had plagiarized off a soap on TV, “Each family has their own problems, it would be scarily naïve” (and stupid, but I didn’t say that), “to assume that families are picture-perfect.” Now that sounded more like me.
He looked away. His shoulders sagged after moments of me saying that technology can fix a lot of things. The rain fell on, as we stood under our umbrella. People taking a walk in the same park passed us by like hazy ghosts in the heavy rain. I didn’t abandon him, I thought, like he had expected me to run away screaming. But I didn’t feel happy that I’ve made him happy, just strangely empty, and doubting whether I’ve done the right thing or dug a huge hole that the future me might be destined to fall and break a leg in.
Patter. Patter. Patter. Patter.
I blink. Abandonment. I am afraid of abandonment, according to the rational, unfeeling part of my brain that picked at the memory, like a doctor giving a diagnosis on a patient’s illness. So I don’t try to abandon people close to me. Does that make sense? I wouldn’t know. I waited.
Patter. Patter. Patter.
The emotions that usually came with my self-reflection of self-hatred did not fill me, like how water fills up a glass, sand filling up an hourglass, when rage starts from a point at the back of my brain and temporarily blinds me in a world of white.
There was a time when I wished I didn’t feel anything, I always felt too much, now that I couldn’t conquer an adequate response to my usual self-hating process, I realized I didn’t feel that familiar sense of loathing.
Patter, patter, patter, patter, patter, patter, patter, patter, patter, patter…
But my heart constricted, a familiar sense of a hand curling around a pump, refusing to limp the grip, make space for the pump to swell and push out air, instead the grip became tighter, before making the process of even breathing seemed like child’s play.
The grip lessened. I could breathe again.
There. I felt a bit out of breath. That’s feeling, right?