A storm

10:37 Went out to dinner and bought a large cat furniture tonight. Looks like I won’t have much time to write. Therefore I do so anyway.

This story is a little emotionally charged, but it’s not *my* story. I probably felt something like this at one time, but it has been a long time if so. So this is not about my experience… it’s just a story.

10:40, listen to a random selection from the jukebox. Turns out to be Love To Be Loved by Peter Gabriel.

10:50, idea is to write something on my mental image of the song. No more notes until the end.

It’s a dream. It must be a dream. Why else would I be in a rowboat, in the rain, in the dark, and cold. A moment ago I was standing there, at a party, talking to a pretty girl. Now I’m cold and soaked.

I am disoriented for a moment, then I feel a flash of panic as I realize that I don’t know where I am. It’s dark, so I can’t see much, and the sound of the rain is drowning out most of the other sounds. Calm down, think for a second, there must be some logical way out of this.

CRASH! A lighting strike, to my left side. Not overpowering or life-threatening yet. But in an instant I am blinded by it, and I am left with a burned-in image of the horizon. A horizon with no land, as far as I could see, left to right.

PANIC! There’s no land for miles around. I’m in a rowboat in a storm and the rain is starting to pool at the bottom of the tiny craft. I squeeze my eyes closed against the cold, and I can’t see the difference, since my eyes are still dazzled by the lightning strike. Closed, open, makes no difference, still there are light and dark swirled and all I can see is the flat, empty horizon. I don’t even have to look behind me, I know what is there: another empty horizon. I’ve been here before. I’ve had this dream before but it’s still very real and very scary.

I know what happens here. The waves will start crashing higher, the wind will get stronger, the boat will be full of water, and pretty soon I will be desperately trying to stay afloat, gasping for air, getting a mouth full of salt water, and losing control of my arms and legs due to the icy cold. I will be pulled under and I will drown.

I hug my own shoulders with cold arms. The wet, cold sweater sleeve brushes my face and I feel a chill run the length of my spine. Why? Why am I here again? What did I do? Why can’t I have a normal life, with people who care about me and love me? Why?

*You know.* The voice in my head is my own, but I am surprised by it, for a moment. This is new. I know? You mean there is a reason, and I already know it? Why would the voice, my own voice, tell me that I know it, but not tell me what it is. What is it?

A rumble, but I didn’t see a flash. After a moment, I realize that is because my eyes are still screwed closed. I open them again. I can see the boat, the water pooling in the bottom around my feet, and I can see the water around the boat, but not very far. Probably not more than a half-mile, if that, due to the haze and rainfall. The wind picks up and drives rain into my face, stinging my eyes. I close them again. Doesn’t matter.

You tell me I already know. To Hell with you! Don’t you think if I knew I would do something about it! “WHY!” I shout. Looking directly up at the rain and dark, I shout it out again, “WHY!”

Hearing my own voice start to break, I feel my last bit of confidence slipping out of my grasp. “Augh!” The shout turns out more of a broken cry. I realize that I’m sobbing. Fuck this. Don’t tell me I know why. I don’t know what to do. What do I do?

*You know.* The words cause another chill, up my back and down my arms. *But you resist.*

I’m no longer crying, but I’m breathing hard and my throat hurts. What am I resisting? What do I fear even more than this place, this nightmare? My mind races.

I felt loved, at one time, long, long ago. I can remember back into my distant past when I had family, and love, and home, and blankets. It’s so far back that I can only remember the feeling, the feeling, not the words or actions, just the feeling. Now all I have is cold. It’s not just the nightmare, it’s the cold of other peoples’ gaze that stares right past me, not seeing me, not resting for a moment on me, flowing around me and never touching me. I look at just about everybody and they don’t meet my gaze. I’m living in a world where I can’t connect with anyone. At least in the dream I have a fucking sweater.

Eyes still closed, I turn my face upward to feel the rain. Why won’t they see me for who I am? Why won’t a single one of them, at work, at school, hundreds of people walk by me without seeing me. Nothing can penetrate the cold, in a micro-thin layer around my skin, like a portable version of this dream. They can’t see me. I’m invisible. I’m a non-entity.

It’s been like this as long as I can remember. They have always been all around me, saying the right things and looking in my general direction without really focusing on me. Nothing I can say will make them notice me and really look at me. Nothing is witty enough, clever enough, unique and deep enough to make them see past the fine layer of ice crystals that form a micro-thin layer of haze all around me. Nothing gets out, nothing gets in. Nothing can break this barrier, this layer of…

… shame.

*Yes.* The voice brings another chill, but not because I am afraid of it. I was right. The shame is there, keeping any actual real contact from occurring. They are all strangers to me and I am a stranger to them. The shame has been there so long, that it is a companion, almost. It’s keeping them out and keeping me in.

What do I have to be ashamed of? What is so terrible about me that I don’t want anyone to see? What am I hiding? What hideous creature am I, really? Am I protecting myself, or protecting the world FROM myself, or both? What am I afraid of? So long, as long as I can remember, it has been like this. Nobody can see inside, and as long as they can’t see inside, I am safe. I may be all alone, in a rowboat, in a storm, about to drown, but at least it is just me. Nobody else has to see. I will live alone and perish quietly. Nobody ever has to see my…

… secrets.

*Yes.* The voice fills me with dread. The voice knows my secret, since the voice is me, the voice is in here, in the dream, with me. The voice knows that I could never tell! I can’t tell anyone! Ever! Not ever! How could you ever expect me to tell? Nobody needs to know. I can handle the cold. Screw you. I don’t need anyone to know my secret. I have almost forgotten it myself, it has been so long. Go away. Leave me here in the cold. I can handle myself.

*Let it go.*

Nope. Go away. I like cold. Who needs people? Fuck ’em. I have myself. Nobody here. I can’t even feel the cold anymore. Nope, no cold here. I’m fine, we’re all fine, here, how are you? Forget I said anything. These are not the droids you are looking for. Move along.

*Let it go.*

Fuck you. Who do you think you are? Don’t try to tell me what to do. I own you. Stupid voice. You think you know better. Shit. You don’t know shit. I don’t have to listen to you. I don’t have to take this shit from you. Fuck off.

No response.

I can tell the voice is still there. I’m still there. I’m just not saying anything; I’m just silently listening to myself rattle on. About how great life is and how I don’t need anybody. Who am I kidding? I can’t see me, I can only hear my voice. But, if I were me, I would be smiling and rolling my eyes right about now. You’re fine? Great. Yeah. Look how fine you are. All alone in the middle of the fucking Bermuda triangle in a rowboat with no oars, filling with water up to your ankles. Yeah, anyone can see how well I’m doing. Yeah, I’m doing REAL hot here. Just great.

If they say they know me, and they like me, or even love me, how can they say that? How can they know? They don’t know the real me, the one with the secret. The dirty little secret.

I know what I have to do. I’m going to have to tell someone my secret. I don’t know who, quite yet. There is no safety net, no shield, and no mask to hide behind anymore. And I will not know, right up until that moment when I spill my guts, if they are going to hate me, push me away, lock me up, or what.

I look down at the raindrops, slowly but surely filling up my little boat here. I look down at my feet. I know what I must do. It will either kill me or set me free, but either way I will get out of this cold. This time, a warm feeling passes over me. I can feel the warmth of my breath on my hands.

*Yes. Let it go.* The voice is more comforting now. The voice is supportive. I am supportive. I know how difficult and scary it is, and yet I’m here for me, I will always be here. I’m not going anywhere. I’m grieving for the little kid who first had the shame and the secrets dumped on him, I’m sad for him, because I am him. But I am here with me also. I don’t have to be alone anymore. This time I will be okay. Chin up, kid.

This time the dream will be different. Instead of scrambling to stay afloat and getting a mouthful of sea water, I will let go. I won’t fight it. You can have me, ocean. Take me where you will.

I’m standing up. I’m turning toward the side of the boat, getting close to the side. I’m putting one foot up on the side of the boat, putting weight on it until it starts to tip. Here I go. I’m jumping up and away, as much kicking the boat away as I am pushing myself forward. I’m pointing my hands toward the icy water and following them in. The water actually feels warm. I am embraced by the warm, weightless feeling, not like rising to the top of the water, but more like just being weightless and dark and okay.

I open my eyes. The dream is gone. I know what I must do. It is all so clear.


11:29, 491 words, save, keep going

12:22, distracted by cats. I have to go down and get laundry that we left in the dryer anyway. Lose 15 min. Continue. 1144 words.

12:53, on the home stretch, 1531 words.

1:23, slowing down here, at 1848 words. I know how it’s going to end but it’s not 2000 yet. Screw it, not going to get to 2000. Close enough.

0 thoughts on “A storm

  1. Anonymous

    Good job

    I really liked this one – it flows well, and kept my full attention. This one sounds like it was easier to write… you have the voice down perfectly, and the conversation sounds natural – which is not easy to do given that it’s an internal conversation. I like that it started dramatically, and kept a nice tension throughout. My only nitpick is that the resolution comes a little too easily – but to have it happen at a more realistic pace would require a much longer story – possibly something you could do if you decided to expand this one. All in all, though, an excellent job :))

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