I had a dream the other night, and in it I found myself wandering and drifting throughout the cosmos with two of the most beautiful unnamed women I’ve ever met in my life. I should be happy, it’s everything I could ever ask for and yet, I can’t help but think if this is worth my time? I glance out to the giant blue planet where I cultivated some of my best friendships and relationships and feel empty inside knowing that I left it all behind. Was it out of obligation or perhaps fear? Maybe a bit of both with a side of social pressure on top of it? Definitely the last one. It’s funny, I always considered myself the most mature one of the lot but I feel like my inner voice is giving me conflicting thoughts. I want to be independent but I don’t want that to come at the cost of sacrificing all that I care about. I’ve invested so much time in my relationships because I know that is what I care about the most. I don’t want to be driven by the sensual pleasures of life as my means to get out of bed on a daily basis. I was initially so happy I was given the chance to be welcomed aboard the ship but is it wrong to feel that my calling lies somewhere else? I don’t want to disappoint those that care and I don’t want to disappoint myself yet it feels like I’m in a war. A war that has my heart in pain. I can no longer see the sun anymore, only the faint planets in the distance. It’s funny because aside from the money I loved my old gig, it provided me some of the most comforting mental stability around. I love earth, yet it feels like at times it doesn’t want me to be there. I hate the idea that I feel like I need to chase happiness by seeking out new planets. It just, doesn’t seem right. I love what I had, and I love it so dearly… “You alright there?” Said both of the ladies simultaneously. I stayed silent as I continued to pilot the spaceship.
A powerful wave of anxiety has crept up on my aching heart. It twists and consumes me and I can’t help but wonder why? Have I done something wrong to upset the cosmic gods? I must have angered some divine being. Or perhaps I was destined to have hateful and ignorant people in my life. I hate my… well you can fill in the rest. I thought there was someone I looked up to many moons ago but I can see now that I was more naive than them. I think the real issue is the toxic masculinity stigma that is so prevalent within them. I can’t sympathize with someone who claims they care but when push comes to shove they really don’t. We needed them but you could tell, you could just tell it was by mere obligation rather than a desire to help. How would you feel if you tried to open up to someone, going so far as to say you’re on the verge of hanging yourself, and then have them completely dismiss your feelings and thoughts? Don’t you dare tell me to not express my thoughts and feelings. Don’t you dare consider being condescending while I’m trying to talk to you about our situation. This same situation that “we” are living through not you. Don’t censor me. Don’t preach to me about compassion when you yourself clearly lack it. Don’t tell me I’m not a man because I don’t agree with your twisted world view. Don’t try to tell me I don’t matter because you lack any sense of self-worth. Don’t try to change me. You are not my parent and you never were. I can not sleep. My insomnia, stress and anxiety are starting to get the best of me and I simply can’t handle it. I need help. I’ve needed help for 25 years. Right now I am clutching my heart in pain as my left arm convulses. I am having a heart attack.
There was once a world covered in the veil of night, where people used to roam free for eons. Now we have become complacent with our lives, we have become one with being indoors. I can’t stand it. People should be free. We shouldn’t be incentivized to spend more time in isolation, in comfort, in shallow entertainment. We are better than this. We have proven our worth time and time again that we are creatures capable of evolving, of creating. Yet here we are, actively destroying any semblance of progress we have by being complacent with apathy. Am I angry at this? Truth be told I fall victim to these habits too. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t upset with myself with my own complacency. How does this happen really? Is it simply just growing accustomed to not being lazy? Or perhaps it is insecurity and unwillingness to try something new? Why would someone be scared to try something new? Don’t people naturally try to see out positive new experiences rather than clinging stubbornly to older ones with a negative stigma attached to them? I hate that I will never know. I hate that we fall victim to this. But above all else, I hate complacency.
Sadness. A seven letter word with a feeling that is so palpable. It’s a feeling that if left unchecked can drive someone to death. If I had to describe the feeling, I would say it’s like having the pressure of the ocean looming over your entire body. It feels unshakable, crippling even. It’s strange, I love swimming. It gave me this odd sense of empowerment at one point. The feeling of conquering some sort of terrain that we clearly aren’t “built” to do. I relished in the idea of being better than what was expected of me. I knew I shouldn’t have come here. I’ve had moments where I’ve stared at the ocean just wondering what it’s really like beneath the depths. Beneath that aquatic hell, beneath all the negativity really. My mind was in a constant loop of catastrophic thoughts while staring at the ocean. I couldn’t quite understand why but I wanted to envelop myself in its mysteriousness and see how bad it really was. I took off both of my shoes and left them at the shoreline and swam into the darkest depths of the water. I swam until I felt like my lungs were giving out. As my vision slowly started to obscure I found a tiny cavern and swam up to it in the hopes that my efforts weren’t for naught. I swam up and reached a tiny ledge and propped myself up to it. I sat near the edge staring at the water, simply staring at my grotesque reflection. It showed me all of the things I hated about myself. My physical scars, my odd mental habits, my twisted desires. It showed it all. I turned away and just stared at the dripping stalactites of this small cave and simply cried.
I wasn’t sure how much time had passed but I had felt even worse coming to this tiny cavern. I had prayed that experiencing the darkness of the ocean would have made me grateful for something positive, anything really. I wanted to believe that tackling it head on was the answer, but it only made things worse. I am isolated in this cavern, away from the hell’s of the outside, but I am faced with my own personal hell, being by myself. I shivered so intensely in that brief moment and I could feel tears fall down my eyes. As I shivered I felt the water slowly envelop me. I could feel the pressure start to get to me as I noticed the cave in entrance slowly fade away from my eyesight.
That same pressure submerged me into the inky black depths of the water. It is so, painfully, blurry. Opening my eyes felt like a chore. Come to think of it, trying to stay afloat itself felt like the most strenuous activity known to man. Something as simple as breathing felt like gasping for air. What’s worse is that under this ocean nobody can hear you. Sure fish can glance at you, possibly even viewing you as a meal but they can’t provide you the oxygen and life that you so desperately deserve. Why does this feeling permeate my entire body? Maybe I deserve this. I start to gasp as the lack of oxygen starts affecting me. What have I done to deserve this? Am I simply doomed to this cursed existence? I want out of this miserable existence. I want to breathe. I am living in a human aquarium, and my owner will not let me breathe.
Darkness had its own way of transcending within my tiny room, and honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it looked like a cell from the outside. I can still hear the sweet succulent sound of suffering from the room next door. I hear the breathing come and go and I smirk when it goes silent because I know that they’re one step closer for their soul to be snuffed out of existence. To some, I may sound vengeful but there’s a bit more than that. The person in the room next to me is the embodiment of my anger and hatred. She took her own form much before my own and I wanted to believe that I was just being delusional. She is a human being after all right? At least that was the general consensus on the surface, but to me this person forsook their humanity long ago. She was once a kind soul who welcomed me into her abode but looking at us now seems to paint a different tale altogether. When I look at this creature my once calm and poetic demeanor immediately shifts into the untamed beast ready to explode from anxiety and pressure. This same beast that is silently caged within my very being just waiting to erupt. “Charles, your dinner is here.” “Leave it at the door Nick. I’m contemplating.” “You won’t have to keep doing that much longer buddy. The way the warden puts it he’s thinking about letting one of you free.” “You put in a good word for me I assume right man?” “Of course, your behavior has been mostly good, aside from when you leave your cell.” He was right, in my room, I could be here and express myself fully within my thoughts but out there with her I could feel this silent nagging sensation crawling under my skin telling me that my existence is flawed. The air out there is tainted and I can feel myself choking on the very molecules that have come to provide me with life. “It’s not my fault she has the defect man. You guys don’t want to let me use a mask so what else can I do? My brain just isn’t functioning like myself out there.” “Look we took you in so you wouldn’t have to be alone out there, do you really want to brave the infection out there as well?” I didn’t and I couldn’t stand that this woman was the cause of this god-forsaken situation to begin with. I thought dementia was supposed to corrupt the mind not the body? “You’re right I don’t but it’s a local thing man. Only area that’s warped is my house.” “Yeah, and we don’t want anyone near it. It may be dormant but that mutation in her is still being researched. Nobodies ever seen this chemical come from a person before.” He’s right, even the bubonic plague pales to the severity she’s experiencing. She kept complaining about eyesight and headaches that I just assumed that was a by-product of old age, but when her demands kept becoming so unreasonable I just had to mention it to her. Unsurprisingly she didn’t take it well and next thing I knew she was convulsing on the floor and a noxious gas emitted from her mouth that filled the entire place with the smell of bleach and chlorine. I ran out as fast as I could but it wasn’t long before the neighbors called for an ambulance when I had passed out at the door. Several weeks later and some phone calls from my mother asking what the hell happened drove me nearly to my breaking point by being stuck in here. It was kind of like my room at first, quiet meditative and appallingly isolating but I tried to make the best of it despite the constant boredom. I heard some coughing on the off occasion but I was so indifferent to the thing in the room next to me that I wound up treating it as white-noise after enough time. Coughing turned to heaving and the gas she once emitted turned into sludge. I can still see it in the hallway occasionally through the filter that they installed, but no matter how easy it was to ignore the coughing, the sludge itself penetrated the last bit of stability left in my rational mind. How could someone just spit that out of them? Science taught me otherwise but fiction kept endorsing the idea that there is always the possibility for the strange and wondrous. Before the incident, I kept her at an arm’s length both out of pity and necessity that I couldn’t help her and that I needed her to live. With no money, I anxiously pondered what would happen if she left. Would I starve? Would I not have a roof over my head? When your only hope is to desperately cling to something you despise you can’t help but wonder if your existence even matters in the first place. Was I destined to be miserable? I asked myself. Or was this the cruel plan of some sadist god? That house was more torture than the cell, with every waking moment an exercise in futility. At least here they gave me a typewriter to let me be myself. “I’ll be back tomorrow morning to tell you the news Charley. And please stay positive my friend. I hate to see someone in your position.” Then just get me out of here if you want to help me out. “Yeah, I’ll do my best Nick but no promises.”
I felt helpless, I just couldn’t bring myself to move. My eyes were a steadily trickling river that soon became the largest waterfall ever known to man. My drawing, like my heart, was torn. To anyone else they would laugh at what I was crying about. You’re acting like a baby, own up and act like the grown man you are. I wish I could tell you its not age that defines us, but you wouldn’t believe me. I want to tell you that, god do I ever. Our capacity to care has diminished and I admit that personally. There isn’t much that really makes me excited anymore so when it does happen, when you anticipate that joy and it just doesn’t live up to your impossible expectations, how else would you feel? Completely and utterly crushed. Crushed like the insignificant ant that we are in the grand scheme of the universe. You’d feel so small, so irrelevant to anybody, especially yourself. You want that feeling when you were a child and everything was full of whimsy and spectacle, but now you’re old and not allowed to cry or show your true emotions without being ridiculed. You want to be surrounded by others but also want to be alone, but you can’t have both at the same time. You want to be alive and dead but you’re caught in the middle of a tornado. You want to be carefree but you aren’t allowed to. You want to express, but you will die. You always project, I always reject. I miss you so much but I realize I’ll never be the same human being. I hate being cynical, it feels like a disease. Just cut It right out of me. I miss my innocence. I miss it so much. So go on you can keep mocking me for crying over something as small as a piece of art, but that art was me, and it was real at some point.
The memories fade away only to come flooding back like an existential nightmare. Droplets of sorrow emerge from the nothingness that has become my body. Atom by atom, they all slowly dissipate and I am left in a void of my own creation. Some would call it a prison, to me, that’s my room. This tiny room where I try to lead a normal life, working, and doing recreational activities to remind myself I’m not a miserable human being with no self-worth. The air is colder than usual. I have everything to keep me comfortable, and yet its still not enough, when is it ever enough? I can’t have the things I really want. Companionship, a steady job, my chronic physical pain to stop. I hate what I’ve become. A greedy monstrosity. My mirror looks more warped by my progressively changing grotesque appearance. I still look normal, but that mirror shows the true me. I want to break it, but it never worked. I’ve tried hammers and even a cinder block but it only serves as a painful reminder of my anger. The thing won’t break. Maybe that’s just a sign of my own stubbornness but hell, I’ll never know. At night when I go to brush my teeth the thing shows me a premonition of my dreams, well nightmares. There’s something about losing that purity within yourself that slowly poisons a man. Your waking life comes back to haunt you when you’re most vulnerable. You ever felt your nightmares? I mean like really felt them? Like seizure level? Yeah well, that’s my normal now, it used to happen to me when I was homeless and that kind of thing changes a man. Imagine acutely feeling your brain strapped to a dentists chair with your eyes pulled open by hooks and being forced to watch mass genocide 24-7? A nightmare yes but when you have these seizures it’s like you’re really there, stuck in that chair. Some watch this voluntarily but not me. Truth be told, I hate the news. Nothing about seeing murderers ever appealed to me. I tried to stay away from that stuff but there was always at least one person in my life who would tell me about this stuff even though I never asked for it, and after hearing it all the time like clockwork I just couldn’t take it anymore. I lashed out at the mirror in a rage and it finally shattered.
The mirror showed all of my desires because it knew what I wanted. Smug little bastard. It was definitely alive, there’s no way around that. No ordinary piece of glass can do that but it seems so normal after how long I’ve been having this crap happen to me. Ever since I threw my phone at it after I got held up it had started acting like this. I know I’m jumping around a lot but isn’t that just how the brain is? A jumbled mess where if you keep thinking you might get one coherent thought? I’ve said too much. Between you and me I’m going to bed and putting this self-reflection nonsense behind me. Hopefully, I can get a good nights sleep now, and thanks for listening. John prepped his pillow and took several capsules of sleep aids before falling asleep.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried. Worried about that fair maiden I care so deeply about across the shoreline where she once grew up. She’s my age now, mid-twenties like myself. When she told me about how the storm would be the end of the place where she used to live I just couldn’t control myself. I’d never been there personally, only know of it from her really. It was a nice community where everyone managed to get along despite the economy. But now… well the storm seems to have other things in mind for that place. I can’ shake my mind from the fact that so many people will have lost what once precious to them. Material goods are one thing but losing a home? That’s something nobody should have to experience. I’ve lost my home due to finances that were out of my control, but they were in someone else’s. With a storm though? Nobody has any influence and that’s what terrifies me the most. Sure you can take precautions but that’s about as much agency as you have to protect your humble abode. Shutters maybe? A storm basement for personal safety? Evacuating might be the smartest option of the bunch but to me, none of them fix the actual issue. There’s something to be said about the genuine feeling of helplessness that arises from being unable to do anything to protect that which you care about. I’ve been there. I’ve seen bad weather personified from bad bosses that continue to oppress those I love. I’ve seen human tornadoes and establishments that were simply created with a desire to do as they please. Perhaps it’s the act of indifference that I find the most unsettling. Maybe it’s the fact that there are people out there that are like the weather, cold, callous, and indifferent to anyone’s needs but their own. How did they become this way? Was it just that they simply came into existence as some sort of being deigned to do as they please? Or were they perhaps bountiful sunlight at some point and one storm too many permanently ceased their ability to radiate and become a storm themselves? There’s days where I can acutely feel my light fading and it hurts. There are people in my life who firmly believe in me as the heliocentric model for emotional stability in their lives and truth be told, I’m scared if they’ll be alright if my light fades out of existence due to circumstances beyond my control. I want to cleanse the dark storm over the horizon and bring peace. I don’t want to fade into nothingness because of pain and suffering, I want to be the Sun, their Sun.