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By Aden Harry
I always preferred rain. Most people can’t stand getting wet but I’ve never really had a thing for the July sun. Today it’s scorching and I’m sweaty and irritated and sticky and I don’t have the patience to cope with Carl’s energy levels, the mother’s stress, the father’s snorting...
Annnd yet another fight in this alleged family home where, allegedly, everyone is so exhausted from all the effort they put in to trying to keep the family together! Everyday is the same – so painful and so full of bullshit, but at the very least it’s given me an urge to do something; to write, seriously, for the first time in my life. No more snippets. No more half-page empty ranting that could be scribbled down by any other boring, whiny, ordinary girl
I don’t think I've slept well enough for months now. My eyelids drop by themselves, probably puffed out (I don’t dare look in the mirror) and filled with something infectious. It’s only a quarter past four – the sun's rays haven't even really hit the ground yet, and here I am; so, so tired, yet completely awake. I won’t be able to sleep again for over twelve hours now. I really need Carl to grow up, and FAST!
Let the battles commence! Let us fine people wake up every last sleeping soul in this tired old village. What could it be now; who makes today's breakfast? Who takes ruffy (dog) for a walk? What happened to teamwork? Ah... HA! Pathetic. They’re putting words in each others’ mouths, scoring points over ‘who communicates with the other the worst.’ Their harsh voices have near driven me to run away. Hmm... Why moan anyway? One hour: 8:30, and I'll be out of this place, heading for college.
College is my second world, not even offering so much as a break from my first. When I first got there, I thought I’d be going from school to college with a new beginning; a new life altogether. But when I got there I was drowned in a flood of familiar faces and thus, my second world; my second hell, was established.
I can't sit here on this jagged rock for much longer. Who knows what just happened between Kristine and I? Never has one of my friends exploded into a fit of insults and degradation at me like that before... I suppose I'll be walking the rest of the way to college myself, eyes to the floor. No, I didn't need that at all.
No college today. My brain is dead. Kristine has killed me.
Is it OK to keep secrets from your family? There must be some important, perhaps confidential information in this book here. For, last night at dinner, I refused mum's request for a quick look inside and, this morning, she pulled me out of bed by my legs, screaming like a maniac,”Where is it? Where do you keep it? When I find that little book...!”
That's right. You, dear book, are well hidden in this house. I know what would happen, should I leave my words open for all eyes on some table. So as far as they’re concerned, this book is full of sensitive information and that’s the way I’ll keep it, even though it’s not...
Ah, great breakfast, and an apology from the mother. There's always a great breakfast packaged into her apologies.
Time to set off for college soon, which makes me wonder whether or not I'll be walking with Kristine today. But what was it she'd screamed at me yesterday in her bout of rage? Something about lies? I fell into a depression then, when I was sure I'd done something; that she'd actually said something. The more I think of it though, the more it all loses its substance. It’s like she was screaming about nothing at all.
It's not as clear as it was yesterday, but it was her sharp, biting emotion that had cut into me. I was stunned by it, but the words flew right by me. They were empty – she really didn’t say anything, so now I'm more confused than before. More confused than ever, in fact, considering all of this came from the lips of a self-proclaimed peaceful person – one who prides herself on being calm at all times.
Time to move...
No Kristine yesterday or the day before, so I dropped a short letter at her home asking for her to either come see me or get in touch on the internet; we need to talk.
As usual, there is controversy boiling up in this home. Tensions are high, and so it should be expected! After all, we received word that grandparents – my father's side – will be visiting in a week. My father's father, with his self-interested, patronising ways almost at the level of a bully and his wife; a rich, isolated, lonely old woman who, I can tell, was probably more beautiful than my own mother once upon a time, and with the highest social expectations and nothing but shame to express. Shame! Why do we not work? Why don't we move into the city? “Who could live in these conditions?” She'd say of spite. Beautiful woman – screwed up in the head nonetheless.
... Noise outside.
A cloud overhead has rained on me all morning, sending down the occasional bolt of lightning to keep me shocked, sharpest awareness. Done with that! Now the sun shines on me; my mood has been lifted, all because I just caught a glimpse of and a few words from a guy who's moving in two doors down. Our eyes locked straight away; we looked for a while. He smiled a real smile and started moving towards me – I choked on all the introductory words that I thought of then. We laughed together and that was that: our connection had been realised. What's that? He's busy? Yes, can't talk long. We'll talk again soon though, count on it. The name's Alex by the way, “and I'm Elena.” “There’s something about you, Elena. I can tell just from two minutes talking with you. Mmm, something about you. I’m curious – I’d like to find out.” And with that, and me without any words, he turns and walks away. A strange guy, can't be much older than myself, and with strange, strange words; made me so light-headed, I thought I'd faint. Word magic! Now I'm curious too, and would also like to find out.
As I get tired, it seems I grow more sensitive to cold. I shake easy, just like now. To wrap myself up in blankets and throwing on layers of clothing in moments like these would bring on cold sweats. I have to bear it, wait 'til it passes. Ah, and I’ve been feeling things that haven’t happened; being touched, or like some fly landing on my skin. This happens a lot when I’m tired too. I think I shall
Sometimes I stare into nothing. I don't have thoughts and I don't think. I come to a sudden stop and can never realise to 'wake myself up' – it’s all automatic. Even sound is distant, echoed, not really noticeable. I move quick through time; it feels like days can go by as I stare on, like sleeping awake but I don't dream. These are moments I'm afraid of. I don’t finish my sentences.
There is rain this morning. It's really early – unsure what the clock says exactly – but this is the only time of day I can move without having to speak to anyone, to declare where I'm going. So I left; went walking. I thought I'd go around a few houses at first but the rain took me. It’s hammering down. It’s so tranquil and I've ended all the way up at the place we call Hobo's Farm. It's right away from the village, right at the top of a huge hill.
From here I can see everything, the whole village. It's straight on – depending on where I'm stood, I can just about see down every street. I can also look out ('up,' whatever) to the sky, my preferred view, and get lost. Things move up there. It's always changing, I suppose, just like everyone and everything else for that matter. It provokes curiosity and hence hours of thinking, trying to figure it all out, endlessly failing.
I shall probably stay here until full daylight, until the so-called “Hobos” start waking up. It'll be good to see what they're doing today – always is. They're not hobos either. They built this whole place and still build, grow their food and came from all over the place, all different walks of life. There's no TV here but great conversation and always people to be with (or without) and an open fire!
I love to see the beginning of day. Everything is still, seems vacant so to speak. All except for the chickens are still. Even the grass rests now. I could be sleeping but I don't want to be – not when I'm here. I don't need as much sleep as I used to take.
People are beginning to wake up now, because of the chickens.
I love everyone here so much. It's always a lot of fun. Open fire for a cold morning, cooked breakfast. Ay, I could live quite happily here... And why not? I feel great when I'm here! There are even houses free here, now. The place is a village in itself. There are about twenty houses here; all pretty well built, good to live in. The farms are around one edge of the hill at the bottom. They face away from my village. There's also a library with a wood burner in, and sofas.
Ah! Maybe I could bring Alex here today. I wonder if he'd come.
I've spoken with people here about staying overnight and they said I can come and go as I please; that I have a home here. This feels great for me to know.
I then went to my house. In and out, just to let the people there know that I’m going to stay here with the hobos tonight. After that I went to Alex...
“Where to? A farm?” He asked. “Uhh.. I don't know. I'm kinda busy still with moving in and all... But we can go there on another day!” At least, something along those lines.
I told him that would be nice, “I think you'd enjoy it there!” And started for the door, when...
“Actually, there's no real reason I can't go with you; nothing I can't do later. I'd actually love to go with you.”
And, man, was it nice to hear that... I knew he'd love it here, and he does. When this place came into view, his face just lit up. I could see he was intrigued, and now he's speaking with everyone about everything; where does water come from, and food? What about all the wood, and what do people with injuries do? I see how impressed he is with the setup here, especially the hospital and the pirate radio station shack based in a small woodland not too far from where I'm sitting now. I can pick up that station from my home in the village, but I don't have a radio. He also asked what the situation would be if he wanted to come live here, so...
Alex has decided to stay the night as well. Today has been a really nice day, but now's getting dark. Tiredness is beginning to set in.
Alex and I woke up together, his arms around me. Smiling, “Good morning,” and it was.
We ate breakfast, he left around eleven. I left around one. I walked slowly, my head left behind at the farm. As I got closer to my house I heard my parents fighting in there. I never realised how loud they were. And against my better judgment I went inside. They both came at me – I was too calm and content to fight back. It registered quick with them, that their words can no longer get to me. So before I knew it, I was on the floor. For the first time in my life, my own mother struck me...
My eye is bruised and swollen, but I'm no longer dizzy – that is an almost unbearable feeling. I thought about a time like this long before now, where she'd finally lash out. The stresses of debt and my father and even her own family has been breaking her down for years, slowly changing her for the worst, day in, day out.
So my mother hit me, her own daughter. And, of course, I'm upset, maybe ashamed, but she is lost, and I'm sorry for her. I'm crying for her. Somewhere in time she became overwhelmed, weak and she let go, grew cold and bitter and here we are now. I remember she was once so much fun, so vibrant with her affection: it really is a sad story.
I saw it coming; pictured her lashing out at either dad or Carl, even myself. I saw her growing with pain, keeping all that struggle bottled up and to herself. Maybe something will come of all this later, to make it necessary. This could be where she changes. Ay, I'm sure this had to happen; I'm glad it did. About time too!
All that shame disappears, and so does the pain of the bruising, when I daydream about Alex. We led together, talking for hours. Eventually we both fell asleep, and I got a full night's sleep with him... Ah! I sound like a little girl in love! This is not love: this is a deep fascination. No. In fact, let's not label it. It isn't love but it certainly isn't just a deep fascination. It's much more than both of those things. It's 'natural.' I've never communicated (talked WITH) another so well, so freely. “No, no... Don't ever say goodbye to me. I'll see you again soon,” he said.
I could really get used to this writing. The more I write, the more there is to write, the more I feel like writing.
Wholy shit! A great mystery has just fallen into my lap! This one has sent my mind all over the place, a mile a minute! First, there was great pain in my eye. I had to close it, scrunch it up tight to ease some of the pain. It was sharp, slicing. This was all half way through eating another of mum's delicious cooked apology meals. I really thought I'd be left blind after this hurting, coming from the center of the eyeball itself. I tried pushing my eye further into my head with two fingers to help but it didn't, nor did washing it out. Then the pain grew more intense. It just kept getting worse, I could have screamed. It actually felt like my eye being ripped open, the tears streaming down my cheek. And then, all of a sudden, finally; silence, stillness. The hurting came to the most abrupt halt, almost like it didn't hurt to begin with. I had a memory of it hurting, but I could no longer be sure. I was just sat there, absolutely fine... So I jumped up and ran for the bathroom with full sight, two fully functioning eyes! Hallelujah!
And there it was; a bigger mystery to me than the Bermuda triangle – a bigger mystery than having dreams even! My face is fine. No bruising, no swelling, not a scratch, and no pain. What...?
Today has been very surprising from the word go, for reasons that will become clear as I write on. A very emotional day. It's fair to say, I knew something would come of it all, as I said, 'to make it all necessary.'
I woke up because Carl came and sat at the bottom of my bed. I sat up immediately after waking. I looked at him, he noticed I wondered what he was doing there. He crawled up and threw his arms around me, “I love you lots and lots and lots!” Amazing – I felt great. I was touched.
“I love you too, little old troll, don't forget that...” Breakfast! He shouted, running away. That's right; I smelled breakfast, heard something frying. I went down and ate with my family. A full fry up! And we sat and spoke and smiled. No tension, for the first time since as far as I can remember this decade. Love. Bliss. Family home.
Then my mum said we'd be going out together, her and I, walking. It'd be good to spend some time, she said. 'What is happening?' I wondered to myself, 'is it really changing like I'd hoped for?'
And so we went walking, picked up Alex on the way. I'd mentioned him to my mum. She invited him to walk with us as I introduced them both and he came along. We walked all the way out into the hills near a stream, set down and had a picnic together. This is all I ever wanted! This is what I've dreamed of for years!
Everything was so perfect.
“I think this is beautiful,” I said to her, “and I think you are beautiful. We don't get enough of this. You're my mum and I care about you. I love you so much.” I saw those tears in her eyes when I spoke. It really hit home, she needed it. When I put my arms around her and held her tight, she broke down into tears and so did I. Me and mum cried together. Alex held us both. He said he felt some love there.
The whole day has been great. Much needed, well overdue. There's still no sign of Kristine though. I'd love for her to meet Alex! If I still haven't heard from her by tomorrow I'll go round.
Something tells me I might be able to get another full night's sleep tonight!
I didn't sleep very well at all actually. I am tired and I'm on some sort of edge. I thought a walk would do the trick but not this time. I'm rotting inside.
At the park today at the beginning of full daylight, a man and his son, must have been about six years old, sat on a bench across from the tree that I was sat under.
“Daddy... You remember that man living in the door of the shop? Well... Why do some people live in houses and some live outside all the time?” Ah, good question little one.
“Well that's just the way the world is I think. It's how we live...”
Disgusting! Brainless idiot! I was enraged. I felt my blood boiling. Had he never asked hisself such questions? Does he understand not what he has said but what he has done by giving such an answer? I would really have taken the matter up personally with him; given a response, but I was angry, overwhelmed by it. I would have ran as far from them as possible but I would have been sick. To my favor, then, they walked away willingly.
Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT OK to merely raise children. You have to educate them. The school just pushes what to learn, which can be dangerous by itself, but you must teach them how to learn. Kids have questions. They want more than anything to know how to find out for themselves, the answers.
There are most times I am blind to my surroundings, overcome by what I'll conveniently call 'my suffering,' but there are times like today, triggered by incidents like that one with the boy and his dad, when I'll realise there is no separation; that I'll see that the state of the world around me is “my” suffering. For nothing actually happens to me – it just happens. So someone would be right to ask me; “Do you not see what you've done, by not saying a word to that little boy when you saw clearly that his father had failed him there?” Yes, I see, I understand; I've increased the (not my, but the) suffering.
There is something dream-like about today, something not quite right with the world. The air is gray. The grass doesn't appear green, but green/gray, like an old movie. The life of things feels distant. My home gives the feeling that I've only just moved in and the personalities of my family have become dull in some way. They communicate, but in a dead way, as if each of them believes they are the only ones alive and are responding hopelessly just in case there's a slight chance that someone can hear them. Right now, I'm alone. I'm always alone – we all are – which is fine, but I also feel lonely. For the first time, I'm feeling lonely and just wish I could see a friendly face. Speaking of which, I'll be going to see about Kristine shortly.
I am a wreck. I am insane. My mind has gone against me. Something is scratching hard at the lifestrings and they are getting weaker; I am slowly dying.
Kristine has gone. Not just gone somewhere else, but not there anymore; vanished! And the ideas and memories of her face have disappeared too. All I see now, in my memories of her, is a silhouette with a name, and all that remains of her outside my mind are these words that I've scribbled about her.
On the way to what I thought was her house, that surreal gray in the air got deeper. The border between this reality or dimension and another became very thin, I could feel it. I got to her block eventually and everything looked the same.
Then I turned to her house – everything had changed.
There was no longer a garden, but a square pit of dirt and dying grass. No beautiful red-brick home made by the hands of Kristine's grandfather decades ago, but a rotting house, made of wood to spite me. No windows: they were covered by boards, soft with decay. The structure was slowly being broken down by nature, with vines and leaves of all sorts growing through it for at least a hundred years. What is happening, and how? I broke down in tears on the spot, with childish, torturous questions like 'Where is Kristine? ... Is Kristine? Was she ever...?’
Now I have no idea... As I read the entries concerning Kristine in this journal over and over, it appears more and more unreal. I can't even be sure any of that happened. I can't even be sure that I wrote that at all. Do you have any idea of how painfully confusing that is?
What else could there possibly be to write about after something like this happens?
He can help me, I know it.
I spoke too soon, sheer naivety. Of course this 'family' didn't fix itself over one calm day and a few 'I love you's. They are all so bitter, so empty; they all hate me, hate each other, hate themselves. Even Carl; corrupted by this family norm at such a young age. Poor old troll.
Whatever 'it' is, has infested everything. By some stroke of non-luck, the conversation with Alex went somewhat like this;
“I need to talk to you,” I could tell he saw something was wrong, “it's urgent.”
“Walk with me...”
So we walked to the park in silence. Sat down, under that same tree;
“Everything except you. Everything's upside down. People are changing, disappearing. My skin heals itself too quickly and...”
He put his hand on my arm.
“Elena, slow down. There's no rush. I'm here. You're not alone now...”
“Now, tell me everything...”
And so I did. He put his arm around me for comfort – I felt sudden relief – and I told him everything; every incident, almost precisely the same way that I've written them in. He remained absolutely silent, couldn't even hear his breath in my ear. I feared what was possibly going on in his head.
Then he took his arm away and moved in front of me. He looked me deep in the eyes and said, “Listen... This is serious. You need to get some help. You have to see someone.”
“I am seeing someone right now.” I told him. “Alex, you can help me. You're the only one that can help me...”
“That's not true!” He protested, shaking his head. “There are specialists, people qualified to help...”
“Alex, all they do is read books. You're the only one. I slept perfectly with you. Please!”
“No.” He said. Full stop. “I'm sorry. You need to see someone else.”
He got up, turned, walked away. And that was that. He was afraid and I was discarded of like a kid with a question too deep for his shallow father. It was as simple as that, then it was done. Something inside me died.
I have no thought-out opinion about all of that. It is what it is. I am alone.
Let me die.
Maybe I don't have enough time to get through this from the start but here goes...
The Dream; (it must have some relevance)
I was at Hobo's Farm. Everyone was out and Alex and I sat with them around an open fire. There was a thick mist surrounding us, that we couldn't see those sat on the other side of the fire. All was silent, as if we were all meditating. Then I heard my mother and father screaming through the air as if I were stood outside my house. They were loud, angry, seriously abusive. I ran there as fast as my legs would take me – Alex stayed behind.
There was blood on the walls, and the same thick mist in my living room. There was a sudden silence as if my presence had switched the argument off, but never was the real reason going to be so easy to take. I crept toward the kitchen and pushed the door open. There was my mother, sat at the table with her throat cut, bleeding into her favourite china bowl, and my brother, Carl... He was leaning over the table, facing the side. His hands... nailed to the table. At the forehead, to the skull, a huge dent, blood and bruising.
And there I was, unaffected by it all. I stared at their bloody corpses in complete indifference. Then I started moving... Out of the room, round the sofa. Step, step, step. My parents' bedroom. On the floor lay a bloody kitchen knife and recently used hammer. But my father, he was hanging by noose in the center of the room. I went up close to him, just to look. But then I extended my arm, just to feel, and his body started to twitch and squirm. He struggled, his hands pulling at the rope. His eyelids were wide open and his eyeballs were not far from coming right out of his skull. For about a minute, I watched him suffocate. Somewhere in me, for some reason, I felt some justice had been done. Then a distorted whisper, my very own voice; “Beautiful Elena, it’s time to wake up!”
End of dream.
Everything is over. I am over. I am so weak now I find it hard to write. I woke up and I knew it already; today is the day... Whatever. My bed was dusty. The quilt cover had hardened slightly. I pushed it away and sprang to my feet. There were cobwebs, cracks in the walls, very old furniture, no wardrobe. I looked to my window. I wiped away a thick layer of dust and peered outside. It really was/is everywhere this time. I am so afraid.
Only a few houses stand out in the streets now, all beaten and worn. One was burned, another had a hole in the roof. All windows were either without glass or boarded up.
I didn't need to ponder or ask what was happening. I already knew that I don't know, no real use even being curious.
Then I remembered the dream and started to panic. Couldn't stay there forever, so I made a move. I threw myself towards the door; the rotten brown door that was blue last time I went through it, ready to sprint down the stairs. A floor board broke beneath me. I fell with some force but didn't go all the way, but it happened so quickly that I didn't feel a snapped edge of one of the boards cut half way in through the side of my food. I didn’t even scream because it didn’t register, just pulled myself up and tried to carry on running, falling to the floor in pain. The wound was unbearable; I could see through my foot from the top to the ground underneath, and it was pouring with blood. I couldn't look.
It took me five minutes to hop down the stairs. I checked, but there were no bodies in the kitchen.
The whole village is empty. It's not even a village anymore! It's all ruins of a place it never was. I can't see anybody! Maybe this is a flash or a dream... Maybe it'll end and go back anytime...
Nothing is the same. I don’t remember any of this. An old God-damn ghost town or something... Wrecked old cars from some previous generation, houses obliterated, time standing still, no people, no shops, no
I passed out. The bleeding is too heavy; still hasn't stopped. I'm so tired but I have strength now. It comes and it goes.
The hospital isn't there anymore, not even a decrepit frame, remains of foundations, nada. Where else can I go to treat my foot?
Every last house here looks like a war has been fought around it. Some of them have very specific damages. Ah, but none of that matters now, because this whole place is going back to nature.
I'm marking the hours now. It doesn't feel like I have days. I am curiously weak; curious, because it's not your average weak muscle or joint in the body. It's life that is weak.
I'm going to try get to Hobo's Farm, and I don't know if I'll make it.
Everyone is definitely gone, even Alex. This is how it feels to be alone. It is the strongest, crushing feeling; has left me feeling helpless. I have never felt this. Please let me cry! I just can't cry. I need to.
It took a while but I got to Hobo's Farm. Safe to say nobody's here. It's not even real; there is no hill anymore! Just plains and woodland.
I have given up now. I have defeated myself. Win and lose! This writing has captured most of it, except the build-up, but it has captured the entire past ten days! I know I have used the word 'insane' as an expression, but before these ten days I would have bet my last coins that I was as sane as you are.
I have had such a strange life. Pain is a true teacher. Uh... A wave of weakness.
Some hours ago, I sliced into my foot; the first time I ever 'really' injured myself. Now I'm being drained through that wound. I feel it. So difficult to write now. The pen is heavier.
I've given up. Nothing to hold on to or for. I'm sorry, can't fight anymore. Please don't forget me. I'm so sorry.
How long does it take to bleed to death?
How long must I wait...?