Day of the Fish
Oh, hi! I'm Fish. Someone said I was supposed to have a name, but I don't know of any given to me. Angelfish said that the young beasts gave me a name but I could never figure out what it was supposed to be. The young beasts, and old beasts too, live outside of water. I don't know why they do this, it must be awfully uncomfortable for them. Maybe that's why they make such loud noise all the time - they are in pain. The old beasts don't make as much noise as the young ones, maybe they have gotten used to not breathing?
Anyway, people say that I have a short memory. I don't know if that's true or not, it may be. I'm not the only one with memory issues though. Yesterday the young beasts fed me in the morning and just a few minutes later the old adults fed me! Angelfish refused to eat seconds, so I got all hers too. She said it was poor manners but I didn't think it was a big deal. Besides, the snails end up eating all the food that we don't, and heavens knows they don't need to get any fatter. I don't like the snails... they don't have much for brains. They aren't bossy and rude like the shrimp that used to live here, thank goodness, but they leave slime everywhere. It's not the good slime, either. The algea that forms underwater is perfect, pillowy soft and warm. The slime from the snails is just plain sticky and gross. I was very upset after the beasts put the snails here in my home, though now we've learned to tolerate each other. It's a pretty good life, all in all. I eat, swim, talk to Angelfish, move pebbles around, hide from the snails in the sunken ship, and sleep in my flower. The only time anything really goes wrong is when the beasts 'clean the tank.' They think that for some reason we like all the algae gone and brand new water. I wish they realized that it finally is back to being perfect about the time they ruin it again. First the young beasts bang all around me and on the tank, then scoop us all up and put us in a tiny jail with nothing to hide in. They dump all the perfect water out and take all the perfectly soft algae off everything, including my flower bed. Then they put new water in it which smells bad and feels weird. Then they dump us back in over a waterfall! I hate it. I wish they would come into the water so I could talk to them. It's impossible for me to understand them when they are in air. The one time that a young beast did speak to me underwater, though, all it did was yell, nothing was coherent. I guess I must give him credit for trying, at least.
Well the stomping by the beasts has stopped, so it's time for bed. I'm going to go curl up in my flower, which is the best place to hide and most comfortable spot, and sleep until the stomping wakes me again. Goodnight pretty Angelfish, goodnight stupid snails.
These mornings I have to myself are the best! I don't have to go to work, don't have to babysit for my brother, I can just piddle around the house. The first thing I usually do on mornings like this is turn up the music and clean. I put on whatever I feel in the mood for and just sing my heart out to it. This morning I'm deep cleaning the fridge. It's not the most pleasant of Saturday chores but the music is a distraction enough that I don't really mind. I'm scrubbing away at a sticky spot on the lowest shelf and belting it out to my favorite country song when I hear something... an echo? Maybe. It stopped right after I paused my singing in surprise. I continue scrubbing and get back in to the music, resuming the song. There it is again! It's singing with me? I stop working and stand up slowly, a bit freaked out. After all, I live alone in my own house. I can't afford much of one on my zookeeper salary but it's not haunted that I know of. What's going on? I start to sing agai, waiting for the sounds this time. As I hear the other voice, I continue singing, a bit softly, and start to silently stalk around my little dwelling to see if I can figure out where this is coming from. It must have a source. Maybe my nephews walkie-talkie is on and he's pranking with me? I search around but can't seem to pinpoint it. Every room I go to, it seems the voice moves. What is going on? I'm starting to get rather anxious, as this mystery voice is worrying me. I stop singing to catch my voice which hasnsuddenly begun breaking. "Oh no, my meds!" I think. I just had my meds changed, and I can't tell you how many meds have hallucinations as a side effect. "But am I really going crazy? Am I just hearing things?" It seemed to make a lot of sense... the voice parroting me and moving as I was without being in the house. This is very bad, I need to call my doc and at least leave a message. I turn the music down and sit at the kitchen table, not caring that the fridge door is still open. I try to steady my nerves and shaking hands as I start to dial my doctors office weekend number. I try to explain my symptoms to the answering machine as quickly as I can, knowing it will cut off after mere seconds, and it does. I'm halfway through a thought when I hear the beep to signal my time is up and the call is terminated. It feels somewhat like my lifeline has been cut. I start to tear, panicked and half convinced I'm crazy. I look up in a bit of a daze, see a bird at the open window across from me and go back to my self doubt. What!? The reality of what I saw just sunk in... the mynah bird I work with the most at the zoo is in my window! I stand up slowly so as not to spook her, and move to another room. I start to sing and I hear her flutter to the ground beneath the window in this room. She starts to sing with me and I laugh. "You crazy girl, you scared me!" I remarked gently to her as I made my way outside to collect the runaway. I don't know how she found my house, or how she got out to start with, but at least I dont feel like I'm hallucinating anymore. "Oh crap!" I hurried back inside with the talented bird and re-dialed my doctor's number, leaving a very calm and apologetic message in attempts to negate the rediculous one from minutes before. I grab my work bag and badge, and cat carrier for the escape artist. Closing my fridge door on the way out, I chuckle a bit as I head back to work, knowing I'm going to have quite the story to tell my boss... and probably my doctor!
I had another dream last night. It was going ok... I was wandering through an empty arena and saw two people kissing. They stopped and went to pull away from each other but were stuck together at the tongue. They both thought it was hilarious and one tried to lift the other up off the ground by their tongues. It didn't work. The one who was trying to do the lifting ended up with all their guts, from their tongue to their pelvis ripped out through the front of their body. Even a strip of their jaw and teeth were missing where their tongue ripped it out as it left them. They stood there laughing at the unfortunate turn of events while the one on the ground who was now covered in her lover's guts was crying. And this is what I work up from this morning.
The hardest thing about answering your question is that I've learned people don't really what to know the answer when they ask. They understand life isn't always good, but they don't feel comfortable with the nitty gritty details of things like self harm, PTSD and loneliness. Things have been rough lately but I'm doing fine - this is the line I give those who bother asking. it doesnt feel like a straight up lie... after all, I'm not trying to say everything's perfect. But am I really doing fine? sometimes I am. Sometimes I see the hope for a future and a decent life. Other times I feel like it's all pointless. Like wading through and endless swamp. some days there's so much noise in my head that the only way to make them shut up before I go crazy is to scratch and cut at my arms. Some weeks I haven't had a decent nights sleep at all because of the nightmares, and the nightmares follow me through the day as flashbacks from trauma I've been through. Some days I'm just really not ok. I want to be. I try to be. But I need help. Someone to say "I really do want to know how you are, scary stuff and all." Someone to ask me questions and get me talking when I'm not sure where to start. So thank you.
I scramble to my feet and back up, palms pressing against the chain link fence behind me. The horror in my eyes was as dark as the hooded figure in front. The only way I stopped its attack was to pull back the top of its hoodie to reveal their face. "But, I thought you weren't real!" I exclaimed, my hands gripping the fence as though it would save me. The flames on his skull shed no light, whether under the hood or not, as they licked across the surface of the bare white bone. It was only then that I noticed the whip in his left hand. He stared into my eyes, and I could begin to see my reflection in the flames of the hollow sockets. I yelled, first in terror then in anger, and used the fence behind me to shove off and run. I figured from legends that I couldn't outrun him for long. No one, after all, escapes the ghost rider. But if I could just survive until sunrise, maybe I could have the day to get things in order. Everyone is guilty of something, I thought as I ran. No one really gets to walk away innocent when they are being judged. I thought about all the wrongs I had done in my life. I had reasons for most of them. I didn't figure that would really matter much... didn't everyone have a 'reason' for their wrongdoings? Who, if anyone, would be considered innocent enough to escape its wrath?
I saw him coming as I rounded a corner; clearly I was no match for his speed. I don't know what made me stop. Maybe it was the knowledge that I was uselessly exhausting myself in the last few seconds of life. I felt him stop behind me. I turned to face my death, knowing I deserved whatever he was going to do. He pulled his hood back and began you stare. I don't know how it's possible for a thing with no eyes to stare, but I felt, to my depths, the stab of his gaze. I looked back, once again seeing myself reflected in the cold dark flames of the figure. As I kept watching, my reflection turned into a recording of my selfishness and lack of compassion I had showed in many ways through my years alive. The shame washed over me and I began to hang my head. A bony hand reached out to my chin to stop me, bringing my eyes back to its face. His sharp, hellishly deep voice spoke "You have done wrong. You are guilty." "I know," is all I could manage to whisper. Then his voice again, softly almost to match my own, "You regret and admit your wrongs. You learn and try to improve." Then came the words I least expected...
"YOU ARE FREE."
Everyone is standing on the edge of it... the abyss. They don't know that's what it is because it looks different to everyone. For some, it's addiction, or poverty, loneliness, illness, mental issues and all sorts of unpleasantness that becomes overwhelming. For other people, it's their dream job, perfect family, wonderful life that they keep chasing... right down to the bottom of the pit. Everyone's experience with it is different. There are those who get to the edge, take a step too far and plummet. Others have a long, slow descent and don't even realize what is transpiring until they are far, far down. One human may walk beside it and try to pretend the abyss is not there. The next will dance and play right up to its edge. Many don't even realize they are near it or that it exists for them at all. There are a few who see it. They see the depth, they feel the darkness. Not because they are close to it, but simply because it is there. Those who are sensitive to it like this are scared for those who don't even acknowledge it's there or who dance around the edge of it. We don't tell them not to dance, dusky dance farther away. Don't walk along it pretending it's not there, walk the opposite direction. Those of us who see it for what it is, we tell you. maybe not in those words we have found will scare you, but in subtle, kind words of warning. Just listen.
people say when you close one door, you open a different one. Well, what door could you possibly open that's any better than the one you've been teasing me with the last few months and just slammed in my face? Because I really can't think of any door better than that one. That hurt.
I wish I was healthy. That I could do things like most people. That my joints weren't deteriorating, that my nerves weren't misfiring. No one sees there's anything wrong with me unless I let them, I'm good at faking it, and keeping a mask on. But I can't do it all the time. I get home and break down. I lower my pain riddled body onto the chair and try to just take some breaths. Some days the pain is so bad and so deep that I just roll around in bed grimacing and groaning. I have no one to wrap their arms around me and hold me and tell me it will pass. It will pass, but only for a while. I am only 29 but have been told by drs that my body is like a 55 yr olds. Am I going to be in a wheelchair by the time im that age? I just wish I was healthy. But it's not something I can ever make go away.
I don't want to get my heart broken. I put up so many walls to keep strong and safe and keep people out that it's a wonder to me that it's even a possibility. But here I am... waiting to hear from a man I love and see a future with, not knowing what the next three days will hold until I see him again... worried that something during his trip to his former home will change what we have and I will lose him. Sounds like I'm being dramatic, I know, but it's a big deal for me. I guess with the people who have hurt me before, I've learned to anticipate rejection? So I look for it now. I try to find it whether it's there or not so I don't get caught off guard. I don't know. I just want this aching to stop. Please.