Friday, July 6, 2012

The Fall

He is unhappy with his lot. Apparently only I can see this. He smiles at parties, asks questions politely, listens to idle chit-chat. Then he stares. Stares out into the distance beyond people, thinking about how miserable this all is, until someone brings him back with a question.

How do I know this, you ask? I am him. I have been in this deep chasm and survived. The problem? I am the one who threw him in. I don’t blame myself in all. People are responsible for their own choices. But I am the instigator. I am the fall guy.

Let us start from the beginning. When I crashed my car. The squeaking grinding metal is all background noise to the scream, coming from my mouth, that permeated. That was all I could hear. All I could see was his arm trying to comfort me, his eyes staring into mine. The blood running down his arm from broken glass. We were rushed to the ER at some point, but I think they sedated me while I was distracted by his hand and my scream that didn’t stop.

She left with a quietly closed door. It was like a pat on the head and a disappointed speech. There were trust issues. I didn’t realize I had lied to protect her. I didn’t think I was righteous. Later, when she was getting married, people told me these things. To her, she got out just in time. To everyone else, she was carried to her new life by my words. And I held my now dead dog in my arms and listened to the door close quietly. A hundred times. And no one told me.

Then they came. I would walk through campus, beginning with a moment in my head, and evolving into a full blown conversation from my future. If I dealt with problems in my head (if I figured them out for myself) than there was no problem. Why did he say she say this or that and how should I could I did I respond? And when the problems became too big, and the stares no longer bothered me, I would cry obsessively in my car, hearing myself tell me I am worthless and no one loves me.

All along he cocked his head at me and furrowed his eyebrows. He concentrated on listening to me shield him from my thoughts. Then he would go back to her and they would sleep peacefully or not at all. Their world had a silence. Their world was not easy. But it had silence.

I was in this deep dark place when I finally went home. I went home and I changed everything. And the days became mediocre and then fine and then good enough. Silence returned to me. It is difficult to explain how this all happened. Just be content that if you were not there, it was like seeing someone sober up after a long drinking binge when you never saw them take one single sip. An otherwise happy person became a recovered person. You saw no change, but maybe their words and actions start to make sense.

And then I threw him in. A series of short events. One I found the right girl. Two he lost his. Three he lost family members. Four I moved away. I took away his balance, and when the seesaw tipped, it didn’t come back up. He no longer trusted one word I said. He stayed silent on the phone. He ignored the alarm clock and stared at the ceiling. 

That is what I see now. I see a shell. I was a shell. I have a shell-friend who doesn’t want me. But I am the only one who sees him stare towards a steep ledge or the other lane of traffic or somewhere quiet where things don’t have to go on and on and only get worse. I try to teach others to see. I point. But when the smile returns, their concerns turn elsewhere, and we are both left staring at emptiness.

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