Never In the Cover of Night
This is a short story about, well, a man on the edge.
Choices made will often appear temporary at first sight. We bog down our perceptions of our interactions with notions of grandeur or opposing feelings of dismay. Time continues to elude us and these temporary decisions become situations, situations then soon become prisons. I would often think about what had lead me to this place in time. The turmoil of our adolescence may generally leave little opportunity to succeed, but that doesn’t mean that our youth has to be wasted. In my case however, I fear it did. Every chance I had to take coal and make a diamond, I just took the coal at face value. Some of us choose to believe in things like fate or destiny. My path mostly felt, to such a degree, the best of a bad situation. My conscience was tormented by vague recollections of how and why I behaved the way I did. The option of sneaking away from danger was always something I could rely on. So as the years had passed, I came out virtually unscathed. The damage on the inside though, on the inside, it was a different story entirely.
I do not know how or why it began, but taking more risks soon became a way of coping with the mundane, safe life I now seemed to be living. It’s funny how we aspire to figure out what we’re going to do to find our place in life, yet often times when we do, when the journey is over, we have nothing left to fight for. This felt like regression in some ways, as being careless was a notion of my youth I had thought was a positive aspect to loose. This loss of will, alongside the memories of my mistakes and the opportunities I had squandered, began to take its toll. Each time I needed a reminder that I was still alive, I had to do a little more to achieve that high, and my youthful angst was returning with a vengeance as well. This soon became the daily choice for me. I would drink more, take more, sleep less, eat less. I was losing control of my thoughts, and each time I did, I had to jaunt faster to get away from the thoughts that surrounded me.
The place I was in, I loathed it. When you know that you don’t belong, the judgment you feel from others becomes the cage in which you live. All of them, all of their choices, all of their wants. Not a one of them could understand me, could understand what I am capable of. Every time I would tell myself I did not care about the opinions of others, something would happen. You end up playing down all the aspects of yourself you used to love just to be left alone. It’s all the same. Either you be yourself and face the onslaught of negative words others murmur behind your back, or people actually accept you and start to steal your identity. I honestly cannot decide which feels worse. I know what it is they need to hear to believe that I am like them. Never instilling fear, only turning it back upon myself to avoid the red flags. Their obnoxious, glutinous behavior brought me to a state in which I lost all feeling. Disappointment took a form that became consistent with that of my childhood. As the anger grew, my mask seemed to only grow thicker. Soon, others didn’t even question if I was mentally well. I had shifted into the category of above suspicion, and because of this, my trepidation was left to multiply and solidify.
Thanks to the documentation and digital representation of lovable characters that were sociopaths, brushing off the tell-tale signs of my own mental depreciation was of little consequence to others. Each night I would wonder, alone. I would find myself in areas always accompanied with a single streetlight and plenty of open space for the light’s glow to absorb all the dead space of the night. As my responsibilities grew, so did the need for escape. Never needing to fear addiction was a curse. If only something could matter enough to consume me. Rational survival with substance control was natural for me. So as it went, I just needed to run away, run away from my thoughts, my past, my present, myself. I could feel the shadows hanging over me in ways I didn’t even want to describe. Describing them would only be an acknowledgment of their weight. I needed as much convincing as possible that the weight was always there.
Despite the hatred for my growing talents, it did make some things easier. Social elements of my life were now so fluid I hadn’t even noticed all those I had surrounded myself with. I had friends, I had loved ones. I had people who would go well out of their way to try and help me. All of this was meaningless to me of course, because the lie which had become myself was whom they cared for; it was not the real me. “The real me,” what a ridiculous concept. I’m not sure I ever knew who that person was, and if I did, he wasn’t worth knowing anyways. One individual however, one person began to stand out. Their constant resilience to the cracks that were beginning to form where my persona showed flaws gave me hope in a way. Although this faint source of humanity stood little chance against an existence such as mine, I still found myself hopeful for brief moments. This hope was always quickly replaced by fear of course, and that’s when everything changed.
When a mask begins to crack, attempting to repair the damages often proves to be an upward battle. Voicing thought provoking topics to cover up a truth you let slip, and then soon another, and another. Each time we do this, this caper, we see a side of ourselves we choose to hide from, and I find myself questioning if others aren’t so different from me. I try to see where these segments of real persona bleed through, and I seem to always come to the same conclusion. It is the fragments of others that bring me a feeling a companionship. That is the side of others they chose to believe does not exist. They do not want to delve into the part of their minds that wonders. I suppose it is the quickest path to insanity, so I can’t blame them. Nevertheless, this is where I’ve chosen to live as a constant state. “Chosen” doesn’t exactly feel fair though; it’s not chosen if you never had a choice.
The pressure hadn’t let up in the slightest. Each day, I became more distant and more detached, until one fall day. On this day, all of my movement and gestures were off. I heard myself speaking to others, and it sounded like someone who had recently suffered a stroke. As if half my face was no longer functioning. One particular slip with a work associate was detrimental enough that I had to rush to the washroom just to check for certain. In the small, dark, empty bathroom, I looked at myself in the mirror above the sink. My face was functioning perfectly well and I mumbled to myself, “Everything’s fine, you’re going to be alright,” and splashed several handfuls of cold water on my face. This day felt like it was dragging on and on. Finally, the time for me to get away from others presented itself, and on my way out of the office where I worked, I felt my feet barely able to keep up as I careened down the stairs. Through the parking lot, walking up to my standard, ordinary car, I got inside and took several deep breaths. “I can’t keep doing this,” was all I could think as I rummaged through the glove box looking for a letter I needed to read again, and suddenly I knew what I wanted to do. I was going to steal a car and run away, but not without thanking the only person who meant a damn to me first. I had seen an automobile that was always on my list of all-time favorites. Everyone from this hell hole would see it as an eye sore, except for its owner, I suppose. A 1971 Citroën SM, that would be the car to end it all. I had seen one parked in a garage just outside of town in a very wealthy neighborhood, no doubt. Acquiring the keys was easy enough, just a little harmless B & E, no one was home. As I drove to the girl’s house who had become the only thing dear to me, a terrible flashing started to appear from behind. I had been driving well, or so I thought. I suppose driving under controlled substances had become such the regular occurrence that I could not be certain of the quality of my driving at this point. One way or another, I was going to make it to her, even if it was the last thing I was going to do.
The sirens grew louder as I drove faster. I had some opiates in my jacket pocket that I’d been saving for when I really needed to calm my nerves. I guess there was no point in saving them now. The adrenaline I felt was so intoxicating that I could hardly hold onto the steering wheel. My eyes started to roll back into my head as the pills mixed with what was already in my system, and I could no longer feel how heavily my foot was coming down on the accelerator. The cars behind me had been multiplying while I grew more lost in the moments that followed. Turning onto the interstate, only a few more minutes till I could see her one last time. I had to see her before it was all over. I had to at least get the chance to be thankful for something in this life.
Another ten minutes passed and I was trying to keep my eyes off the speedometer. I knew that I was pushing the classic Citroën as far as it would go. The lines of Ferris Buller were pummeling in my head “Red line, Red line,” and the engine was beginning to overheat. Approaching the exit to her house, I saw a group of police hustling across the interstate. I had no other direction to go, behind me was a sea of them. I took one last deep breath, closed my eyes, heard the sound of the tires blasting out from under me, and felt car begin to tumble. I guess I would not be getting to tell her thank you, but at least I won’t be alone with my thoughts anymore.