Tag Archives: sadness


13 Nov

I feel his hand on my shoulder. It is cold, bony, and scrapes against my skin. It doesn’t sting too badly. Pain doesn’t cause discomfort for me – it’s like a Popsicle – strong at first, but after awhile, it melts away. He tells me something, the man behind me. I don’t hear him at first, and that makes him angry. He grips my shoulder tighter.

Now there is pain, pain like grabbing a wire hanger that is left beside a fire, yet I ignore it. He knows I am here, I know I am here, but for some reason, I feel if I don’t acknowledge it. If I ignore what is happening, we will both remain suspended. The two of us will stay lost in this never-ending scene, and I will never die.

The knife enters me anyway.

I feel it; I’m not quite numb yet. I can feel it twist inside me, switching my lung with my heart. Then the world goes black.

I die every time.

I shut my eyes. It doesn’t matter if I sleep for five minutes or 10 hours.

“It’s like sucking your thumb; you’ll grow out of it,” my mother tells me over the phone the next day.

She’s told me that for 18 years. Now I’m ten days away from turning 20 and she still says the same thing. But nightmares are nothing like sucking your thumb. I don’t suck my thumb anymore.


It’s 2 a.m. My mouth is dry, and I cannot see because of the tears that blur my eyes. But that doesn’t bother me. Four days is not long to go without sleep. I’ve gone longer. People don’t understand, because they don’t feel their dreams. In mine, I am conscious of everything.

A man is standing in front of me, a doctor. He was called when I stopped responding to the pleas of my pencil-neck roommate. Apparently, he is discomforted by my 96-hour days.

“Having trouble falling asleep, Wesley?” the doctor asks.

“No,” I say.

Falling asleep is easy; too easy. Giving in is something that tempts me every minute. But I can’t do that, because I know that one day, I’m not going to be able to wake up.

He hands me a pill anyway, and tells me to take it. I know this doctor. His name is Ben or Bill or something. He’s come for years. I argue at first, but I know that I don’t have a choice. I swallow the pill dry. Before I know it, I’m back in again.


This time I’m underwater. I’m going to drown, I think. The thought relaxes me. The dreams where I drown aren’t all that bad, considering what experiences I could compare them with. But then the dream changes. I am still in water, but it tastes like soup. I look up to see a giant sitting above me.

It’s then I realize that I am going to be eaten alive.

I used to look away when I was about to die. I used to run, beg. Now I lie limply and watch. The giant lifts me up with his fork and bites down, taking off my right leg.

I don’t look away … I’m past that. But I still scream.


I am in the car with my roommate now. We’re getting groceries, and since we’re in my car, I’m driving. I can tell he’s nervous, so I try to calm him.

“Darren …,” I say.

“Dylan,” he corrects quickly.

I could have sworn his name was Darren. Part of me thinks he’s changed it just to f*** with me. I continue talking anyway.

“I’m not tired …”

Darren, or Dylan, or whoever he is makes a sound.

“… and I know how to drive.”

Just then, a car honks at me loudly, as if he too wants to prove me incompetent. Apparently, this is too much for my night-light roommate.

“Pull over. Now,” he says.

“Fine,” I say roughly, and pull over. Right into the face of an oncoming truck.


Please, someone wake me up. Please. Please. Anyone, please.

I am balancing on the top of a pillar that is just large enough for one foot. Below me, there are hundreds of creatures with whips, chains, and spikes – they’re ready for me to fall. This death will be worth remembering.

Usually I don’t, but I can’t help but start crying this time. This dream has gone on too long. I’ve died five times. Usually, it only happens once or twice. For a moment, I wonder if I have died … for real … in the real world. The thought scares me. I always thought it would end at death. Then, around me, I hear familiar voices. They belong to my mother and the doctor.

“Would you like me to let him go?” The doctor asks sympathetically. “There is very little hope that he will come out of it.”

There is a pause and I hear my mom crying, and I allow myself to hope. I am in a coma … I know it … it must have happened because of the crash … and if she chooses to pull the plug on me, I can escape this time. I’ve never been able to escape before.

Against my first instincts, I find myself wanting to die more than anything. If it happens now, in this way, I will never have to die again.

Please, I beg, and then I silence my thoughts so I can better hear her speak.

“No,” she says finally, “not just yet.” I hear the shuffling of tissue. “I want him to rest … he could use it.” Then, her voice is gone, and all I can hear is the sound of the mob below me.

I lose my balance and fall.



11 Nov

A thin stream of light has poked through my curtains, its straight path cutting across my face. I sit up groggily, glancing at my clock. 6:43. Six plus four plus three.Thirteen. It’s going to be a long day.

I stumble into the bathroom, locking the door behind me. My little brothers have yet to learn the fine art of knocking. I jiggle the handle, opening the lock,and then lock it again. I do that a few more times, just to be sure. I pick up my toothbrush and carefully apply toothpaste. One, two, three drops. Three is a good number. Three is safe. The third drop slides off the bristles and lands in the sink. Sighing, I rinse the toothbrush in hot water and start over. One, two, three.

I’m late to school again. A brother touched my glass of orange juice, the side of his fist rubbing against it as he reached for a napkin. My mother begged me with her sad brown eyes to ignore it. I didn’t look at her as I poured the full glass into the sink.

I spin the lock on my locker one, two, three times before opening. Carefully, I arrange my books in height order, facing the same way. My jacket drapes over my algebra textbook. I readjust it, only to find it rubbing corners with Shakespeare. The bell rings and everyone around me rushes to class. Move to follow, then stop, as if tethered by a leash. Resigned, I turn back to my jacket.

Math is first period. The teacher gives me disapproving look as I slink into my seat, ten minutes late. He hands me a test, making it clear that I will not receive any extra time. I study the first problem: 2x + 3 = 25. I know the answer without even needing to consult my calculator. X = 11. My hand hovers over the paper, my pencil shaking. Eleven. Eleven is cold. Eleven is dangerous. I write down 12. My heart stops pounding. Twelve can be divided by three, 12 is safe.

We have a new student teacher in English. She’s beautiful, with soft brown skin and piercing blue eyes. Her hair is short and curly, pushed back with a headband, the sort of thing that makes most people look babyish. On her, it looks funky and professional at the same time. She writes her name in loopy cursive on the board.Miss Johnson. I close my eyes and imagine myself as she must be,carefree and confident, all her problems solved by the right pair of shoes and a double mocha grande. I wish I could leap out of my life and parachute gracefully into hers. I’d be fine landing anywhere other than where I am.

At midnight, my mom comes into my room. I am squinting at my homework rubbed raw with eraser marks. She begs me to turn off the lights and go to sleep but the letters won’t let me.The bottoms of seven R’s dip beneath the soft blue line, and none of the T’s seem to be crossed in the center. Reaching in my drawer for a new eraser, I get back to work.

The next day I hurry to get to English early, securing a seat in the front row center. I breathe a sigh of relief that Miss Johnson is still there. Good things usually tend to slip through my fingers. I knock three times on my desk. I see that my mind has not done much to fabricate the woman I spent most of last night thinking about. Smiling, she starts writing notes on the blackboard. I try to keep up, but the O’s keep bumping into the P’s, so I put my pencil down and content myself with watching her talk, attempting to commit everything to memory.

Somewhere in the middle of the lesson, Miss Johnson is done writing notes. She places the chalk on the tray, carefully aligning it with the other pieces.Largest to smallest. She reaches into her bag and pulls out a wipe,furiously scrubbing chalk from the creases of her large hands. Although no on else notices, my shock blazes in strobe lights flashing above my desk. Her blue eyes see me staring. They also see my pencils, lined up perfectly. Largest to smallest. They see the way my hands are rubbed raw, like hers. At the end of class she pulls me aside.

“I’m here when you’re ready,” she says.I rush away without saying a word. Maybe she knows. I knock three times on the door frame. Maybe not.

I am supposed to be babysitting,“supposed” being the operative word. Everything was going fine until a brother threw up. He looked so pale and helpless as he sat there crying. I am his big sister. He needs me to take care of him. Haven’t left the shower in an hour and a half.

My mom doesn’t yell at me. She comes home and surveys the situation,which includes brothers sleeping in their clothes in front of the TV,and a mess fermenting in the kitchen. I am still in the shower. When I finally emerge, she just looks at me with those sad, tired brown eyes. I shake my head, and she leaves.

Now I am in English, hiding in the back row. Miss Johnson doesn’t have sad brown eyes. Hers are a strong blue. An understanding blue? I stare at my desk, afraid to find out.

The math teacher called today. My mother doesn’t understand how I can be failing math. I used to be the star student. I tell her it’s a difficult topic. She tells me I’m a difficult student. A dam inside of me breaks and suddenly I am crying,telling her that she’s the worst mother ever. I rant about her leaving me with the brothers. About how she won’t buy me a cellphone. About how I can’t have my own TV and am forced to wait for“Power Rangers” to end to watch my shows. I don’t mention why she never asks me why I’m like this. It doesn’t even cross my mind to ask her why she hasn’t done anything to help.

I have been thinking a lot about what I said to my mom. I’ve been thinking even more about what I didn’t say. I didn’t sleep all night. My room has never been cleaner. I must have napped for a while in the morning, though, because I open my eyes and it’s 6:21. Six plus two plus one. Nine. There is no stronger number. I know what I have to do.

Today in English I can hardly stop fidgeting. I rap my desk in intervals of three, but even the divine number seems to have lost some of its power. The bell rings and I walkover to Miss Johnson, then abruptly change direction and start toward the door. No, I can no longer deny I need help. Gathering all my courage, I walk to her. She senses what I am about to do and puts down her book. For a moment I look into her eyes. There’s no mistaking that there is anything there besides understanding. They welcome me.It’s usually hard for me to find things to say, but she has already given me my parachute. She smiles. I find myself smiling back.

“I’m ready,” I say.