This story is by Melissa Guckin and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
She felt broken. A supporting character in the lives of everyone else. Numb,empty,emotionally drained. That’s how she was feeling — still is feeling. That she, is me.
The answer to the question, “How are you today?” I smile and say, “Fine.” Nobody really listens to the replies anyway. Mere courtesies exchanged in the passing of busy self-centered people. The human race really. I’ve heard it said that people don’t listen to hear, they listen to respond. A more truthful saying is hard to come by these days. How did I get to this place in my life? My feelings are overwhelming. I’m at the point where I’ve felt so much, that I now feel nothing. This is not who I am supposed to be and I am certainly not who I once was.
My voice is now quiet to the outside audience. Funny, that although I could speak, My voice was silenced by years of loss and correction. A quote I read online resonates down to my very core, “ I will not stay silent so you can remain comfortable”. Yet, this in in fact what I do now. I would like to believe it’s for my own comfort, my own sanity….self-preservation so to speak. I would tend to believe that. Within this practice,however,I have changed. A happy personality – with a sad soul.
I don’t get mad anymore, I withdraw. A coping mechanism of the behavior around me. I no longer make apologies for refusing to be disrespected, no longer chose to argue my points with anyone – I prefer peace. A return to the ether of my youth when I couldn’t remember how broken I felt.
It all started with the dreams.
“They seem so real.” I said to my therapist who sat there, two fingers tucked under his bottom lip.
“So you’ve said.” He mused back
“ Well maybe it bears repeating!” I demanded “ You seem so unconcerned.”
A smile came across his face. Maybe it was supposed to be comforting but I saw it as condescending.
“Perhaps it is because I believe your ‘visions,’ are merely dreams that manifest from your reality. Our realities do not come from our dreams, quite the opposite.”
Sitting there, silent, stoic, opposing him, my mind was racing. I knew what these visions were and they were quite real.
“ You are a very intuitive woman,” he continued, “I’m sure you subconsciously pick up what goes on around you, then dream of these situations. When they manifest into reality, you feel you somehow ‘ willed’ them to happen. Truth is, they were going to happen. You were just more in tune to figure it out before they did.”
I hate that he makes sense to me. My logical mind says of course he is right but my instinctive mind is brewing, silenced yet again. I sit speechless with another mask of complacency I did not choose to wear. Annoyed, I leave with my appointment card in hand, to not talk again next week.
The dreams came alarmingly vivid this week. I was hoping that after talking about them they would stop or at least not be so real. I had my logical mind wrapped up tight in the belief that there is no way these are true yet this morning, when I picked up the newspaper, there was my dream staring right back at me on the front page.
“ What are you reading? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“ I think I have.” I respond in disbelief at the macabre turn my morning just took.
Puzzled, my brother makes his way across the kitchen to look over my shoulder and see what has me so shook up.
“ Isn’t that your shrink?”
“ It used to be.” I reply, “ He was murdered last night. Says here his windpipe was crushed…just like I saw.” I trail off with my thinking.
“Just like you saw? You mean your dreams again? Damn it, why the fuck didn’t you tell me this was starting again?”
“Why are you screaming at me!? I didn’t do this!” I cry, although I know all too well our childhood has just come back to haunt me. A childhood where my brother spent most of his time in juvie for a murder he still swears he did not do. Forever holding to his story that he took the fall for me.
“You saw it! You just said you did. You saw it, you thought it, you willed it and it happened. Just like before. What was it this time? What did he do to piss you off to this level?”
“I told you I didn’t do this,” I hiss, “But as I told you once before, he did ‘piss me off’. He stifled me. He always did it. Silenced me, like I was crazy. Sat there with his fingers tucked under his lips, like he was willing me to close my mouth.”
“So you killed him.”
“I told you I didn’t.! Just because I see things does not make me capable of carrying them out.”
My head was spinning. Was I capable of such a heinous crime? My brother continued to question and grill me but I was lost in the din within my mind. To solve a problem, you have to recognize what part you played in creating it. I did see it in my dream….exactly.
“……God damn garden shears!?” my brother continued screeching at me. I snapped out of my my own thoughts as I heard my brother yell these words finishing his thought.
I stared at him in disbelief, “ I never said anything about garden shears.” I said.
“You did,” he stammered emphatically, “ When you read about his fucking fingers being cut off.”
“ I never told you about his fingers.” The reality hit me with a heavy blow. He did it again. He took care of what he saw as a problem in my life the only way he knew how…through silence.