I'm terrified of the future as it waits for me, squirming in its chair, tapping its foot impatiently to the ground as it expects me to open the door. I feel it should have learned by now that day may never come. Is it angry with me? Does it understand my fears? Or perhaps it feels nothing at all, all it knows is that I must go through that door, but I can't bring myself to even touch the doorknob. I stand there, staring at the door, I dare not a raise a hand anywhere towards it as if arms will reach out and force me to open it. I know my future will rip the door open if I don't.
I don't know what's worse, waiting for someone on the other side to open it at any moment, at any wrong time, at possibly the worst time, or for me to open it myself, for me to be the catalyst and change everything. I can fight it all I want, but I know I'm delaying the inevitable. If I don't come willingly, I won't be guided with a gentle hand. Change is going to grip my wrists and pull me through, even if his nails dig into my veins and my blood splatters across the floorboards, even if it has to draw blood that isn't my own.
I'm so afraid of what I'll see on the other side. I'll fight with everything I have to not go through, even if that ends up costing me more trouble than as if I had simply turned the knob and walked inside. I never seem to learn, I only become more afraid. I only feel comfort in the constant decision to stay behind these doors until the very last moment where the rug is pulled out from under me and I go through it all once again.
It happened suddenly, all of the lights and electronics not supported by a battery shut off. Ali got up with a huff, rolling her eyes and heading towards her parents bedroom. "Mom, dad, the power just went out!" She paused at the bottom of the stairs waiting for them, but received no response. "Mom? Dad?" She said, making her way up and knocking on the door. It was already slightly ajar, so she didn't wait for a an answer and allowed herself inside. Ali's mom was grabbing everything she could get her hands on, especially their clothes while her dad was putting on a jacket and grabbing his keys. "What are you doing...?" Suddenly her dad sped out the door. "I'm going to start the car, grab as many things as you can and we'll sort through them when we get back! Ali, let's go!" Ali could feel the anxiety rushing to her legs and my arms, her entire body starting to tremble as she realized something awful must have happened. She didn't even realize her dad asked her to follow him. "T-The lights went out..." She said softly, watching her mom ransack the closet. "I know, but I need you to go with your dad right now, okay?" She still didn't get an explanation, her mom too focused on the task at hand. Suddenly she noticed her mom's phone had been on and was left the bed, playing a livestream. A news anchor who sounded distraught was speaking. "Breaking news for those who just tuned in. A power outage has been reported affecting the entire West Coast and already making its way to Kansas, Iowa, and the surrounding states. Middle America is already affected. The blackout has also been reported to be affecting states on the Ea-" Suddenly the feed was replaced with a "Technical Difficulties," warning before completely shutting off within only a few seconds.
"I need you to please go to the store with your dad while I pack as many things as I can." She said, her tone growing a bit more frantic and irritated. The floor was littered with her parents clothes and shoes, one pile made up of normal clothing such as long and short sleeved shirts, pants, jackets, and tennis shoes, while the other pile was made up of heels, dress shoes, and the fancier clothes they both wore only on occasion. Ali hesitantly walked away, but met her father outside. Her neighbors were all running out of their homes. Some of them were loading clothes, food, their pets, and other things into their cars while others were bringing laundry baskets full of food, first aid supplies, and other supplies into their homes. It seemed like people were either fleeing or stockpiling and deciding to baricade their homes. Ali found herself staring at a few of her neighbors who seemed to be fighting over a large cardboard box full of food, but her dad quickly pushed her up to the front and told her to hop into the car. As soon as he jumped into the drivers seat and both their seatbelts were on, he sped off onto the road, ignoring plenty of traffic laws. "We're going to go to the store and you and I are going to grab as many groceries as we can. Pile anything you see into the cart, especially canned goods. Grab anything that'll last long." Ali nodded, unable to utter a word.
It had been a few days now since Ali and her family fled North Carolina. After the world was thrown into chaos, her parents took her and her younger brother up to their grandparents house. They left their home and their lives back in NC, but somehow safely arrived in Georgia. By the time they got there, homes were already destroyed and stores up in flames. Ali's grandparents had always lived in the dense forest of rural Georgia. Luckily they had extensive knowledge of how to live off the land and their home was filled with books detailing things such as how to take care of a garden, take care of farm animals (which they had quite a few), use solar energy, and more. They weren't exactly off the grid and still used normal electricity before the blackout, but the transition from normal electricity to solar was easier for them. When they had arrived, Ali could hear her grandparents telling her parents about the outage, how neighbors they had known for years fled, hoping to flee to Mexico, how some homes were already looted, how stores were deserted and a few brought to flames. It was complete and utter chaos. She even overheard that some of their neighbors had been murdered before her father found her eavesdropping and forced her to leave.
Their home was placed deep in the forest, so it was safer than staying in their home back in the suburbs. Ali saw for herself it wasn't safe anymore and didn't need the stories to rely on, having witnessed the rioting, looting, and more herself just on the trip there. As the days passed, things had gotten fairly easier for her to cope with. The solar energy they had only powered so much, thus was used for necessities, but she still occupied her time well with reading, babysitting her younger brother, and occasionally talking walks in the forest as long as she had supervision. Ali didn't like to do it often though as one of her parents would also keep an eye out with a shotgun close at hand. It only reminded her of the the world suddenly being thrown out of balance.
I tried to burn into my skull what happened those months wasn't real. I couldn't cope with the reality that it was, but I didn't know how else to survive the waves. It wasn't that I believed it was all a lie or some sort of elaborate prank, it just couldn't be real in the eyes of my fear.
I took those words and burned them into my brain, melting parts of myself in the process. Sometimes pieces of scorched iron would dive into the wrinkles in my brain, creating more scars, more holes, tearing apart the threads in my mind, but creating problems I can't seem to mend.
They leave my brain hollow, melted matter leaking from my head, down my spine, and into my stomach, leaving me a nauseous mess. Sometimes I try and pull apart the scabs that never seem to heal, to pick at the scars that never seem to get better. It only causes me to bleed even more, drowning my head until I lose all of my thoughts again.
Now nothing seems real. Not what happened, not the scars, not the holes, or the blood. Not even the world feels real, but all that's left behind for me to feel is the terror.
I feel like I'm watching a war that never seems to end. People with branding irons and pitchforks rioting the streets, shouting for equality, for justice, for peace, but in the same breath are attacking innocent people. Those unlucky enough to be caught nearby can either join out of fear or feel the wrath and pressure of the crowd. Hot iron burning into their skin, overused words melting and becoming one with their flesh forever. They don't care about abuse, they don't care about helping others, they just want to mark you and blame you and call that their cause. They're burning inside, their emotions melting what's left of them, so in turn, they hope maybe the scorched iron will bring some sort of closure to the heat as if it could leak out their mouths from the hateful words they spew and cool their rage. They're all the same, becoming copies of each other as if the magma boiling inside their hearts somehow melted together. The individuality, the true peace, the kindness, the compassion, the sympathy, the understanding, it has all been swallowed away into a black hole they claim is "justice served."
You handed me what you claimed were roses, I believed you. I kept them on my desk in full view, eager to see them every morning once I woke. I thought somedays they looked strange, but you assured me they were roses, and I believed you.
I handed you roses as well, but you kept them hidden away from the sunlight. You called me a liar when they always began to wilt the day after I gave you them. I never understood that. Mine lived for days, yours lasted for hours.
I realized you hadn't been taking care of them, so I stopped supplying the roses. I realized flowers you gave me weren't roses. I realized you lied. I realized they were gardenias and all you had done was pulled off their petals.
Shadow In The Bathroom
I think I've been followed by something for quit a while now, but I don't know what by. It started out with me catching glimpses of shadows out of the corners of my eyes. They seemed to shy away the moment I turned towards them, only giving me a milosecond of a look. This happened for a few months, but I figured I must only be seeing things and it was nothing to be concerned about, but lately whatever this is, has gotten to be more intense than I expected.
Sometimes I see her, standing at the end of a dimly lit hall. It's rare I see her full body, I only dare to look at her legs shaking behind the door if left ajar, her fingers tapping from inside the kitchen sink, sometimes I'll even hear her gently sobbing from another room, but I don't go looking.
I'll most often times see her in the mirror, usually crouched down, almost out of view. I've looked at her by pure accident fully before, she appears to take on the image of myself, but a wispy, dark, shadowy, and seemingly frightened version. If she catches me staring at her, even for a moment, she shakily reaches her hand out to me, her hollow-looking and dimly glowing eyes almost screaming for me to at least stare a little longer, but I never do.
Ghost In My Own Home
Every time that I arrive home, it seems that something has changed, but I never know exactly what it is. Is the paint chipping again? Was that wine stain always there? Was the carpet always this shade of brown? Is this even the right number on the house? Every time I open the door, it's like another person's home. Maybe I've broken in as a ghost, forever wandering an everchanging home, always searching for my own, finding some sort of petty reason to say this house isn't my house.
I feel so out of place as if I'm the unwelcome guest and the house is whispering to itself, creaking to the stairs and aching to the walls, "She doesn't belong here." I dread feeling their mumbles as soon as I arrive and subtly as I fall asleep. My name is signed on the lease, but maybe the ink fell through, how long has it been? Maybe someone else's name is carved into the skeletal frame behind these walls.
I'm terrified of the future as it waits for me, squirming in its chair, tapping its foot impatiently to the ground as it expects me to open the door. I feel it should have learned by now that day may never come. Is it angry with me? Does it understand my fears? Or perhaps it feels nothing at all, all it knows is that I must go through that door, but I can't bring myself to even touch the doorknob. I stand there, staring at the door, I dare not a raise a hand anywhere towards it as if arms will reach out and force me to open it. I know my future will open the door if I don't after all.
I don't know what's worse, waiting for someone on the other side to open it at any moment, at any wrong time, at possibly the worst time, or for me to open it myself. I can fight it all I want, but I know I'm delying the inevitable reality that if I don't come willingly, I won't be guided with a gentle hand. God is going to grip my wrists and pull me through, even if his nails dig into my veins and my blood splatteres across the patio, even if he has to draw blood that isn't my own.
I'm so afraid of what I'll see on the other side I'll fight with everything I have to not go through, even if that ends up costing me more trouble than as if I had simply turned the knob and walked through. I never seem to learn, I only become more afraid. I only feel comfort in the constant addiction to stay behind these doors until the very last moment where I'm stabbed down to my core and I go through it all once again.
I locked you into a Matryoshka Doll.
I've pushed all your feelings, your experiences, your life,
and your soul into the smallest part of the doll.
The good and the bad.
I've locked it all away under so many layers of wood.
The farther you delve, the more the wood is rotten and chipping,
some parts of you rotting the wood, desperate to leave.
I've resided in the the outer shell, the only part you see without taking
the doll apart. I've bared myself from the rest of you
and soaked the smaller dolls in glue so you can never get to me.
I don't feel like I'm a human anymore, but then again are you still human anymore either?
Even if I did manage to open them, even if I wanted to, you wouldn't be the same.
I've left you for so long, who knows
how rotten you've become, how much you've decayed.
You're not the same person you were when I did this to you.
Sometimes I feel sorry that I did this to you, I didn't mean for it to turn out this way,
but I did it for my survival. I'm sorry you're not coming back.
Flickered Path: Continuation
I didn’t think I’d awaken on someone’s doorstep so soon, I don’t feel prepared at all. I’ve been wandering these woods for quite some time, even with the instructions and encouragement given to me, my flame still almost went out.
The door open and the bright light flooded through, the warmth of their home enveloped me before their arms could, but their touch was much warmer and full of love than anything I’ve ever felt before. I’ve never seen the darkness outside as well as inside vanish so quickly.
I have a bed now, a home, a meal to wake up to, people who smile when they see me walk into a room. I had forgotten what comfort and love felt like until now. I still feel the thorns from my journey stuck to my skin. I can’t always pick out every single one and some hurt to pull out a lot more than others, but with the people I’ve met at least I don’t have to remove them alone.