Scared

Dark

dark hallwayThis is the story of one brave (?) boy and his need to go to the bathroom.

The boy lay in the bed, sleeping soundly. His chest rose. It fell. It rose again. The rhythm of a slow pulse, in and out, the coming and going of waves on the shore. Unexpectedly, a sharp intake of air and his eyes, blurry from sleep, cracked open. He was awake, and dimly aware of  one of the most basic needs; the need to go pee.

The nightlight at the far end of his room shone a comforting light, a sunlike glow across the warm peach painted walls and the soft carpet floor.

First things first, under the bed. The boy carefully got to the side of the bed, and like Spiderman hung his head carefully over the edge of the bed. Unlike Spiderman, he realized he did not have sticky hands and began to slip, causing him to scramble for a handhold anywhere on the loose duvet, which of course he didn’t find. A short tumble later, the boy was secure of two things:

  1. No monster under the bed.
  2. He was very awake.

Carefully picking himself back up to avoid the creaky parts of the floor, the boy snuck across the floor of his room to the door bordering his land, and the land of his brother. He guided the door open slowly. The door made all the noise in the world, much his chagrin, but his little brother slept soundly… for now.

Still, the boy knew what to do. He had a lot of practice with these floorboards, the hardwood a path of solid and creaky places to walk. Imagining himself a dashing adventurer, like Indiana Jones, the boy tip toed across the floor avoiding the noisy spaces like his heroes avoided the trapped squares.

*creaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaak* went the floor.

The boy stood stock still. Halfway to the door on the opposite side of the room, and he made the loudest noise he possibly could have, practically thunderous. His brother would surely wake up.

As luck would have it, the brother slept along, and the boy stood still for a whole minute listening to his brother breathe. Just to make sure. Couldn’t be too careful around sleeping people, he thought. When the coast was clear, the boy made sure to be more careful while stepping around.

After carefully navigating the rest of the room with all the agility of a heavy set sumo wrestler on tip toe, the boy finally made it to the door. This part, however, was tricky. Very tricky.

This part had the Dark.darkness-7

On the other side of this door was a long hallway, where the brother’s room was on one end and the parents on the other, both on the long wall. Next to the bedroom the boy stood in was the washroom, not more than 3 feet distance. One small step for man, but several small steps for the boy. During the day, this wasn’t a problem, but at night… the risk was great.

Down the hall, at the very end, lived the Dark. Again, no issues during the day; the Dark had to hide in the closet hidden in the wall next to the parent’s bedroom. This was fine, the boy thought, except it didn’t stay there. At night, the Dark left the closet and swallowed the end of the hall whole, creating nothing but pitch black emptiness there. The boy gently peeked around the door frame, just his eyes, to see if the coast was clear. It was not.

Even in the briefest second, the boy could tell the Dark saw him, and turned its unknowable being his way. It was aware; not only that, the boy could tell the Dark was famished, too.

The boy hadn’t seen the Dark eat anyone. He didn’t need to, because it was obvious to him what the Dark would do to you. The boy broke into a slight panic. He felt very uncomfortably hot all of a sudden, and his palms began to sweat. Unseen eyes stared at him through the walls, making his skin crawl. It was waiting for him.

With all the care he could muster, the boy pulled the door open again, edging towards the boundaries between where it was safe and where he knew it wasn’t. The moonlight from the window across him lazily illuminated the area in front of him, showing the short-but-altogether-too-long distance between him and the washroom door. Sneaking a peek leftwards again, the boy could see the Dark preparing to move. It already lapped greedily at the moonlight, like a cat licking a bowl of milk. Still, its eyes were set on the boy. and the boy knew that once he’d made his move, he’d have to be fast.

Breathing deeply, skin crawling, the boy counted to three in his head. On one, he locked eyes with the bathroom door. On two, he checked the end of the hall to make sure the Dark was staying still. On three, he made a break for it.

He dared not look back as he practically lept to the washroom, and slammed the door behind him. He wasn’t sure, but the boy thought he heard the silent whisper of shadows slashing at the door. After a few moments, the sounds stopped and the house was deathly quiet again.
With that done, it was a normal routine. A wisp of moonlight peeped into the bathroom through a tiny window high up the far wall. The light bounced around the mirrors that covered almost every surface, allowing him to see many versions of himself in a row. Behind him was another version of him, his face unchanging, and another one behind that until infinite. The boy dared not say a word; in every reflection, the dark of another world hung behind the boy like a shadowy pall. He stared down, away from the disturbing mirrors of other worlds. A quick trip to the sink to wash his hands, and then it was time to go back to bed. scary mirror

He crept to the door and opened it a crack to see the end of the hall. The Dark was still there, waiting for the boy to dare to cross its territory. Little by little, the boy could see the darkness move towards him, and the hallway got darker by the second as the light was swallowed by the nightmarish monster.

Although no one else would hear it, the boy heard the Dark make a hollow growl, a tenebrous noise that chilled his heart. The boy had to move. Now.

He threw the door open and dashed for the bedroom. The Dark pounced, its deep murky threat instantly replaced with sharp, pointed malice as the shadow devoured the moonlight in the hall. Sprinting, the boy ran as fast as he could over the creaky floor of his brother’s room. He felt the cold touch of the Dark on his ankle, a near miss. It chased him still, snarling, swallowing any light in its way.

The boy practically dove into his bed head-first, using his duvet to create a protective dome around him, drawing all the little holes closed and securing any possible weakness. Just in time too; the Dark slammed into duvet, repeatedly. In the dark of the dome, the boy was alone, surrounded, and faintly crying to himself as the assault continued for what felt like hours.

Eventually, the beating at the walls stopped. The boy lay curled in a ball, breathing in his own fear and stress. The lack of oxygen was causing him to feel dizzy, but he dared not lift the duvet. He could still feel where the Dark had touched him, his ankle numb, empty and cold from the experience. The boy would stay like this for a while before finally being forced to surface for air, and eventually start the process of falling asleep again in the glow of his nightlight.

The following morning, the boy’s father would get up and walk to the bathroom. He would look at the door, and with an exasperated sigh make a mental note to grab a can of white paint for the three gashes in the door.5jr64

Pressure

i think I’ve figured out something that has been bothering me for some time. It’s a helpful thing to know, but it’s an ultimately shallow reassurance. 

I performed a lot during my undergrad: or at least I felt I did. I played euphonium in the wind ensemble whenever I could, culminating in about 6 years of play with that group. I’ve done a lot of performance work on the side, where I’ve done game casting and personal, self published work. Most people would think that someone who has done that kind of work for about 7 years now would be good at handling pressure. 

When performing, there’s always a sense of pressure. You feel stressed: like an egg with just enough force to put you on a breaking point, but it’s the spots where you can handle it. Where you are designed to handle it, even, trained to through years of iterations and luck and work. But you do it and you emerge kn the other side either broken or reborn, never anything in between. 

I usually ended up in the reborn category. I might have played badly or messed up somehow, but I always got to the other side with very few scratches. I would like to say I didn’t feel pride in the work, only in the process; that would be a lie though. I’ve felt plenty prideful of some of the things I have done, marking them like ticking little boxes on the checklist of my life: did you finish this? Yes. Did you get laughs? Check. Did this constitute a life moment? Why not? I spent time on it so it obviously will be a success: check. 

Every moment where pressure had a foothold I’ve looked at it as a personal test; like having the red key for the red door. If I didn’t make it, well it wasn’t of much consequence, since I could double back and get the key later. 

Now that I’m in the UK, things feel different. 

There’s pressure, per usual, but the pressure is far more than having the red key for the red door. Instead, the pressure is one of sink or swim, a primordial struggle where one survives and breathes fresh air on sandy ground or one drowns, their memory only surfaced as a cautionary tale for the young so that that they don’t repeat the same mistakes you did. 

Being in the UK is a pressure unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  The egg analogy from early is the same, except that the pressure is coming from all the wrong places and I already feel like I’m cracking. I know this moment in my lifetime, and the few moments after it, will make my life more bearable or a living hell where I have to struggle and fight for every second of time I can find for myself, let one anyone else I want to keep around in my life. 

I am staring at the  curtain in my room. It’s a deep, opaque black that lets no light through. Even at night I can see the shape of it, breathing in and out as the wind passes by my open window as if it was some shade, a ghost and a harbinger of the worst to come. My stare is consumed by it as I imagine the horrible things that could happen to me this year, but most shamefully that I come back home having not succeeded at what I tried to do. This time, there’s no doubling back for that key. I swim, and start a career which lands me I a life where I have control over what I wish to do, or I sink and come home, only to owe everybody everything and have no means of paying them back. 

The pressure is on, and I can feel it.

5 Minute Short Story: Incredulous

She stood at the edge of the cliff, the wind blowing behind her. It threatened to blow of her off the edge, but she didn’t care. She simply looked out, over the sea that lay before her.

Her black hair flew past her, her navy blue dress flapping around uncontrollably. Just what did she see?

She remembered seeing a seagull. That much was definitely true. The seagull was prepping to jump off the cliff and fly away. Not unbelievable. But when she swore she saw a leprechaun run past her screaming “IM NOT LATE FOR THE FLIGHT!” she just about lost it.

She stared incredulously after the seagull with its crazy passenger. There had to be a good reason for this, one that made sense. And she just could not think of it.

5 Minute Short Story: The Man Obsessed With His Housecoat

There it was: a housecoat. He had wanted one for such a long time now!

The elegance of the plaid pattern blew his eyes away. The red crisscrossed pattern clashed with his green smiley faced pajamas, but it mattered not. It was a housecoat, and it was his. He was now king of his house. His  castle now had a ruler with ROBES. How badass was that?

The man reflected for a moment. Very, was his answer. Very badass.

Look at me, he said as he relfected uppon his viasage in the mirror, look at the handsome and devilishly good looking man in the housecoat. It flowed on the non-existent breeze, flapping away in his imagination. His grin grew a mile wide, and he knew what must be done.

He left his boudoir and alerted his subjects to his precence.

“Ladies and gentlemen, nobles and peasants, look at me! Upon my back I wear a MIGHTY ROBE OF AWESOME. It is mine, and mine alone! Now, do my bidding!”

The group of three grown men looked at him, bewildered and exhausted.

“It’s a housecoat. Seriously. you’ve been wearing it for like, a month. It’s time you took it off.”

The man refuised. He cried mutiny! at the top of his lungs, ran forward, and jumped through the window, glass shards badassedly flying all around. He then landed headfirst into the pavement.

Ow, he thought. What am I doing outisde? Why am I coverd in glass?

He look down. Oh right, he remembered, I’m a badass with a badass housecoat. Look at me &$^#, I’m fabulous.

Scary Lessons

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on the topic of theology. Specifically on Naturalism, the idea that the core fundamentals of the universe and the world are discovered and that there are natural laws that govern us, as dictated by a God of some kind; and the antithesis, with positivism, where we are free beings, not governed by a God but by ourselves, as humans. A lot of this enquiry has only strengthened my resolve in my atheism.

However, I also believe that, if you take the time to look around you life, and smell the roses from time to time, a lesson shows itself to you, hidden but still there to the eagle eye of someone who takes simple things waaaaay too seriously.

There's no WAY that EVERY WORD meant that much! - Most grade 9 students

Arguably, the biggest question that people have is “Why are we here, and how did we get here?” You know, the question to life, the universe, and everything. My friend believes he found the answer in Christianity. He believes in God now, and has his idea on how everything works. In complete contrast, I ended up as an atheist. Whereas he felt a connection to the world and called it God, I saw a lack of connection on any such level, and called it life. We’ve been debating over the specifics of his ideals now for a week, going to all sorts of different paths of reason, belief, and crazy ideas for me to come to the conclusion that I still feel absolutely no connection to an all encompassing being. As for him, I don’t have the right to say, as Ted is his own guy and is kind of impossible to read on these matters.

But ever since I discovered this lack of connection, there’s been a lurking feeling in the back of my mind. Indiscernible, hard to correlate… but it was there. Since I am an atheist, and since there is (for me) no God, then there is no set road for me, no fate, no destiny. I am truly and completely free to do anything I please.

Interestingly enough though, that was not the idea in its entirety: it was satisfactory, but there was still another lesson to be learned. Was it that I now had more responsibility? That’s a given. Redemption and forgiveness were now dictated by other people and myself, and not an omniscient thing? Well, duh. The fact that without a God, I now had more personal power? That’s cool. I like that.

And then tonight happened.

I went to go visit Kitteh for awhile tonight. It’s a ridiculously hot March evening, and I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I’ve just eaten dinner with my Mom, and I was really content. Kitteh and I talked about Mad Men (she loves it), skirts, mail, work, involuntary voluntary work (or “training” as it’s called) and all kinds of things. But eventually, it was time for me to go. I helped her with her laundry, kissed her goodnight, and started to head home when all of a sudden, I stopped.

In front of me was a back-alley dirt-way. The path stretched out in front of me, long and dark in areas while light in others. The pebbles and gravel of the path lent a rough, callous quality to the path, its bumpy texture evident in the strips of light from the parallel residence building. Overhanging branches from nearby trees cast long, spindly shadows over the path while the poles and pillars and supported wires cast their suitably thicker, dark umbrae over the path. Tire tracks from muddier days drew gouges in the pathway, crisscrossing and intersecting with footprints to show a road travelled by many, remembered by few.

And I thought to myself, my, what a simple way to represent my life; simple at its outset, yet a closer look reveals a bumpy road that winds a little. Light represented the good times, only bright because the shadows could provide the contrast needed to make the good times great. Gouges and sticks showed that things can change my life irrevocably, and will leave me scarred. As easy as it was to imagine that this path was my life, I realized something a little terrifying.

At the end of the path, there were no more lights. The adjacent building blocked the lights from any nearby rooms. Meanwhile, trees clawed across the gap, blocking my vision of the end of the path.

It’s at this point I figured out what a terrifying choice I’ve made, for I knew that, unlike what Ted thought, there was nothing at the end of this path.

At the end of the path, I was going to be alone in the dark.

I have to remember my earlier lessons though: it might be dark, but that’s if I leave it like that. I have the responsibility and power to change that. I have Kitteh. I have goals, and I have dreams.

I’ll light my own way, and people will be there to help me.

I refuse to be alone in the dark.