It’s funny how the mind works. At one moment, you could be completely and undoubtedly stable. And the next? Unstable. But I’m only using that word as a euphemism, a polite replacement to a word I’d never imagined my hands to scratch on paper. My “unstable” mind has been to Satan’s basement and bedroom and back, and I think I deserve the deception of this situation’s intensity. But then again, as my back leans against this cool, white, brick wall, as my fingers create for you this confession that which you believe is merely a story, I’m bound to realize that I began writing this for release. And keeping this word locked in Satan’s sock drawer will not allow my unstable mind the full extent of a release.
No. It’s funny how the mind works. At one moment, you could be completely and undoubtedly stable. And the next?
You see, I comprehend this particular reality: that to you sane minds reading this confession, it’s nothing more than a work of art. But before I utter another word of truth, let you grasp the understanding that this is my life. This is real. This is real, even if this is not.
It’s funny how the mind works. As I lay against the cold wall, carved by ice, it seems, fingers scratching what I can on this crumbled paper with this stolen pen, I hear Him again.
He’s here. He’s in this room.
The walls are so light, it’s blinding. The walls, the floor, the leaking ceiling, the slowly circling fan. It even smells white, like that revolting scent of alcohol at the hospital. But with each step He takes – slow, calm, and as loud as gunshots – the walls, I swear to you, fade to grey in contrast. My eyes squint to see Him clearly. Though His skin in your reality is as mundane as the skin of a passing pedestrian, to me His skin shines with a light indigestible to mortal eyes.
If you had seen it, you would know.
If you were blessed with the curse of witnessing the phenomenon, or cursed with the blessing for the same ordeal, you’d understand.
The walls are truly fading. They are fading to every faded color on the color spectrum, a sight only slightly unbelievable, to me at least. Hell, I hardly notice. Each brick, a different faded color: blue, purple, orange, red. They practically display a washed out color pallet as He emits a light so blinding that I scramble to the blended corner and hide my face.
“Shh,” He says.
“Shh,” He keeps saying.
“Shh,” He says over and over and over until the suffocated sounds resulting from His mere presence stop.
Why tears are leaking from my eyes? I’ve yet to confirm the sold reason. Could very well be from simply the mere absolution of His being, a sensation that leaves me writhing in wonder and fear and intrigue and pain and love.
My face is still hidden in those bricks so cold that it’s as if they were carved from ice. My face, my freezing tears, my pale cheeks and white lips and shut eyes are still hidden.
Until I feel warmth gingerly touch my chin. A beautiful eruption of soothing, warm tranquility shoots up and down my body still hidden in those bricks so cold, it’s as if they were carved from ice. They are fingers. Smooth, long, soft fingers. His fingers. Fingers which then connect to a shoulder that frame a chest that balance on legs and feet that all belong to him.
The intrigue of a man who is hardly and everything that which a man is, who lives in the scrambled corridors of my mind, should certainly not reach such a distinct intensity, for if anything, health purposes. There he sits, in the darkened, shattered hallway connecting my brain to my senses, a mutual home so tattered that it’s as if it had been struck by Hurricane Katrina.
He hits, crouched, shushing me to the cliff edge of comfort, living in my mind and my veins, and the white walls and the leaking ceiling and just about everything else reality holds in its discreetness.
See, if I had learned anything from my time in this institution, it had been that there is truly a thin line between what is reality and what is not. There it lies, hardly noticeable, dividing the moment you awake from your intoxicating lucid dreams. And if I had learned anything more, it had been that that great divide which we are blessed from birth to acquire had abandoned me somewhere along my journey to Satan.
Everything is reality, and everything is not.
He is real, He is alive, He breathes the same air we are engineered to breathe, and yet He does not. I live just as He, and you and your family and yet I do not. That which is labeled as true is very well merely a story the human mind had configured. Understand: everything I say is real. Everything I say is not.
Mind you, I did once obtain that line which marks my conscious as one to blossom. I was once stable, or sane if you prefer that term. Before the war, before the blood shed from a man by the hand of another. Before I had witnessed it all. Before He appeared through the mist of my tattered innocence. What was my reality, if not the only one I knew to be true?
See, I was engaged to be married. Me! Married to a man so sane that, considering the present outcome, it’s verging on ironic. He was everything an eighteen year old romanticist would dream of, just out of college and as handsome as those topless men you’d find on a Nora Roberts novel. Oh, what a man he was.
In a funny way, he had shaken my world before my world had legitimately tilted off its axis. At the same time, he sobered me to the wonderful chapter of maturity. A new chapter, that which I had heard of second handedly, but never experienced. Have I yet experienced that chapter? Had I yet written in those black pages? Had I ventured into that land so secretive and mysterious, hidden behind a wall of blinding fog? Not with him, you can presume. Not with him. Not with the man I had so naively opened my heart to during a raging battle between brothers.
God knows I had learned much in romance. It is quite unbelievably unfortunate: how much I had learned.
Two weeks before the wedding. It happened then. The assumed turning point, or the date that which the hurricane struck. It’s funny; I had been suppressing the memory for so long that attempting to remember is as futile as regenerating a car lost in quick sand. It’s trapped in the suffocating embrace of that liquid, hovering just above absolute ruin. And yet, the line I had cast for that almost sunken dream shines the smallest ray of hope for survival. Look, the quick sand is melting!
I was worried, in the beginning of this confession, that when I had veered closer to this inevitable point, I would be unable to gather the pieces of the memory. Even worse than that case: I worried that even if I were to gather it, the jagged edges of that broken recollection would reopen old wounds and spiral me directly back to the condition in which I had begun. You realize, I presume, some things are meant to be kept broken. Some memories are best left forgotten. We all have those memories. I’m not the only one with regrets.
Nonetheless, the quick sand is melting. I feel it. And you know, it feels slightly good to start remembering, even though I realize that He is here remembering with me. Not he, but He. The one who is strangely silent at the moment. Observing, always observing.
It had occurred two weeks before the wedding. I had neglected all womanly worries most brides would drown themselves in. My mother’s adequate wedding dress was stowed away in my closet, protected by the sheer plastic it was engulfed in. Though I recall the bold, erupting excitement I felt regarding my wedding, the only bonding I currently had on my mind was the bonding of the bandages on my soldiers’ bloodied bodies.
I worked as a nurse, yes, but it was more than merely an occupation; it had become my identity. My disgust had grown numb toward the grotesque images I had seen on a regular bases, and nothing but determination thrived from there. In a way, I suppose the pain a regular human would feel during the exposure of such gore was, like so many other aspects of my existence, suppressed. Bottled up, like carbonation trapped by the slim walls of a glass bottle and capped. In turn, I suppose, the determination rocketing my success as a nurse shoot that bottle with every hardly-surviving soldier I aided. The only blockage between my nadir and I was the need for my soldiers’ wellbeing. My soldiers’ and my husband’s.
… Oh God, it’s so close. God. I almost with He would start talking to distract me from myself. From my own mind, and memories.
Ha, tears are streaming down my face. They’re dropping on this paper. I hope they won’t blend the ink.
But I remember. I remember so fucking well that broken feeling during which my composure, my soul, and my sanity were all shattered into the vast oblivion. Everything I had ever worked for, in one moment, dissolved into the pain I had been suppressing for so many years as a nurse.
I was visiting one of my favorite patients, Marcus. He always made me smile, despite the physical and mental destruction we both knew he lied in. It’s safe to say he was one of the largely contributing factors to my equanimity. Who was I to be weak when someone chained to the inevitable brink of death sill managed a beautiful smile?
We were laughing. What about, I forget. Maybe the weather, maybe my wedding. Something ordinary. But one of my colleague nurses swung open the thin white sheet separating Marcus from another patient. She told me my fiancé was on the phone, asking for me. Urgently.
I couldn’t recall the last urgent message I received from him, while he was the only tranquil control in my life. I threw Marcus a quick half-smile goodbye and followed the nurse to the main office, where the main phone was kept. I placed the phone to my ear and asked my fiancé what was wrong.
As seconds passed, silence rang on the other line, quickening my typically stable heartbeat with precognitive confusion. I heard him breathe my name.
He sounded weak. Hurt. Like the soldiers I try to aid before they are stolen by stillness. Worry held the air in a tense, iron embrace. “What’s going on?” I asked, scared, struggling to keep the ground from falling beneath me. He didn’t respond. I asked again and again, each time with more hysterical urgency sneaking into my voice.
He said my name again and, oh God, he sounded weaker. “Run,” he breathed. “Get out. The soldiers. Run.” And then I heard the utterly terrible ring of silence, suggesting the only thing that can uncap that bottle holding me. I gripped the phone to my ear and screamed his name. My hands grasped the edge of the table on which the phone was held and I screamed his name again, willing him, begging him with the shear force of my absolution to say my name back. I vaguely heard footsteps behind, and vaguely felt worried hands gripping my arms. But reality’s silence grabbed and knife and thrust it into my back, unleashing the screams for my husband.
And before I could take account of his last words, I felt the ring of the quiet dancing on the back of my neck.
And then I felt the fire, slamming me against the wall behind and shattering everything else I held dear to me.
The fire, the bomb.
Debris fell from the ceiling that was no longer there. I laid there staring up, feeling nothing but the ringing silence and the numbness to my life’s ruin. It smelled of destruction. I smelled the metallic scent of blood. Maybe my blood, maybe not. Could I move? I couldn’t think. But I tried. First my fingers, then my toes. I breathed and closed my eyes. When I could, I gathered what was left of my physical strength and pushed myself off of the bed of debris.
The room and the ruin spun around my cracked head.
Oh God, the pain. The pain I felt. I had no idea a human could feel this much pain. A pain so strong that the grey, red, and other miscellaneous colors I could have seen were blotched by a searing, white color. But I ignored it. I balanced my body on my hands and knees and crawled slowly out of what was left of the room. I heard nothing. But sweet God, what I saw.
My nurses, the doctors, seeing nothing, lying in their own life’s blood. My soldiers, stolen by death before nature could prevail. And Marcus… where was his smile? Where was the gleam in his eyes? His right leg and part of his chest, and his eyes’ gleam and his beautiful smile were stolen, stolen by the bomb.
I was the only one, they later said. The only one that survived. But, you see, I didn’t survive. I was as much taken by that bomb as Marcus was. Staring down at his unbelievably torn body, a laugh leaked from the bottomless pit by which my heart was replaced.
I laughed and laughed and laughed. I laughed at the destruction around me. I laughed at the torn, bloodied bodies I once aided. I laughed at the outcome of my wedding, at the outcome of my husband, of my life. I laughed so hard that tears finally leaked from my eyes.
And then, through the dust clouding my late workplace and home, over the bodies I shared coffee and smiles and words with, I saw Him. For the first time.
It’s funny, I thought he was God at first. And then I realized, why would God have the nerve to peer at what became of his children? No, he wasn’t God.
He was close though.
He is close.
He stood there, staring at me with those colorless and blinding eyes. I don’t remember if his feet were touching the ground or not. The aura in which he was engulfed was so white and heavenly that I don’t even know if I noticed it.
Then, with the will of his gaze, I swear to you, my wounds closed instantly. I stood with strength I had no idea I obtained. My feet left the ground and I’m telling you, his gaze carried me in an embrace warmer than any I’d received, and more comforting than my husband had ever been. Ha, I guess I was cheating. I should probably feel guilty.
But then, I didn’t feel anything. Just blackness. And that’s all I was. Blackness.
And here I am.
Countless years later. Writing this confession on this crumbled paper with this stolen pen, Him watching my every move.
His name? I couldn’t tell you. I couldn’t tell you my name either. I couldn’t tell you if Marcus’ name was really Marcus if I was ever really a nurse, or if I was ever really engaged. Maybe I was born in this institution, into the brick walls and under the leaking ceiling with that slowly circling fan. I can’t tell you my father’s last name, or if I have any sisters. But this is my story. Believe everything I say, or don’t if you prefer. They are both intelligent actions. They are both suggested in this case.
But I promise you this.
Everything I say is real. Everything I say is not.