“I’m a worrier and I care a lot. That’s how people seem to have always perceive me but I’m not always convinced that, that’s it. It’s a nice thought. Honestly… It’s the best I could ask for. There’s something magical about others assuming the negative aspects that make up your personality are just you being a good person. I’m not saying I don’t care, I’m just saying I don’t think I care as much as everyone else thinks I do. I’d like to. I’d go as far as to say I’d love to. If that were truly a thing. But I know myself better than I know anyone else, as well as better than anyone knows me. I just don’t. And I can’t change that, I used to try.
“Sometimes I think people came up with those good words, those good things like caring and worrying about someone to mask what they truly are. What I truly am. What you are, if you choose to be. These things cover up manipulation, control issues, ignorance. A hunger for power, anger, greed. I could go on, but I won’t. I think you get it.
“Most people would argue me, no doubt about it. And that’s okay, I think that’s pretty cute. I think as conscious human beings we all want to believe so, so badly that we are born good and wholesome. That those of us that are “bad” have learned that behavior from watching someone, something else somewhere along the line. Though that is a pleasant thought and I’m sure it helps some fall asleep at night, I can’t and won’t buy it. We are born animals and if we resist, we remain that way. I don’t believe in good. I believe that people can express and project this thing, this good. I just think that maybe they do it out of fear or that good ol’ a’brain warshin’.
“I’m not good. I’m not bad but I’m definitely not good. Or I am. I guess it all depends on your definition of each word. There’s Webster’s definition. Or definitions, rather. Good. Good is a favorable character or tendency, bountiful, fruitful, handsome, and so on and so forth- a definition full of single words that are pleasant that describe the word good. Bad. Bad is poor, unfavorable, disobedient, mischievous, evil, unhealthy yadda, yadda, yadda.
“But not for me. Not for a few others speckled amongst you and everyone you know and then everyone else that exists also. And soon, you could be one of those people. You could be a free thinker. Someone that is beyond just using those words as a label on the internet and wearing precious t-shirts with peace signs and birds with wings stretched out in flight decorating them. You could be so much more than you are.”
He stops speaking, long enough to look directly into me and touch my insides with his gaze. I can feel it rooting around my organs and I suddenly feel ill. The smoke from his rolled cigarette envelopes my nostrils and causes my head to spin. The back of my throat burns with a ferocity I don’t understand. I want to cry, but I can’t manage to. I just stare. And stare. And stare at him staring right back at me. I blink first. He smiles that way that makes any human being a little… Well, fucking uncomfortable. That layered with his unwavering certainty and self assuredness makes for a rather interesting being.
I have to look away, anywhere. Eventually to the floor where I realize why my throat burns and aches so oddly that all I can picture is red, red, violent red cloaking everything, but specifically a raw, sandpaper throat that belongs to a one, Me. The outer edge of my vision blurs with that staticy, electric snow that happens when you press on your closed lids for twenty or so seconds. Its comparable to a television that isnt receiving any sort of signal. There’s a pile of vomit lying at my feet that must be the entire contents of my stomach and perhaps a bit of the actual organ, mixed with bile and acids.
I don’t remember being sick but I hardly remember waking up. And before that, even less. Memories sure, I can recall things but right before… The static eases at the edge of my peripherals with a deep, deep inhale. Nothing smells like anything other than burning, shitty, stale tobacco. My stomach tumbles harder inside of my gut like the old machines at laundromats. It has nothing left to give.
Slowly as to not irritate any of my insides, I lift my head again and he is still. Staring. At me. I try to clear my throat to speak but it’s as if my uvula had been replaced with razor blades and salt. Not even table salt. I mean rock salt. The kind that you throw on ice during the winter time so you don’t slip and break your back due to a stupid mistake. I swallow, try again. Nothing comes out.
A single eyebrow pulls upward on his forehead and his cranium, much like a golden retrievers, tilts to the side curiously. He looks down at where I previously had my eyes and scowls. “Vile,” he says this word like a sigh and steps back to reach for something in the shadows that exists just beyond the small light that sets between the two of us. He steps closer again to hand me a bottle of water.
I try to move my arms. They aren’t tied but they aren’t moving either. They want to sleep and so do I. All of me seems to be on that exact page immediately. With nothing left to offer up my throat my body is bored and wants, perhaps even needs rest now. I can’t reach for the water and I’m nearly embarrassed. He frowns and uncaps the bottle tilting it toward my lips.
I am not an elegant thing and I nearly never have to drink water this way, so more than a bit of it ends up down the front of me before I am finished drinking. He steps away and I clear my throat. This time the rock salt is gone and the blades as well, but in its place is just this dull constant sting. I allow myself a deep breath. A sting like lemon juice running over open wounds.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know- I’m tired and I hurt. I can’t raise my arms. And also, I don’t wear stupid shirts like that.”
This time both eyebrows scurry up his forehead, so far they’re hidden beneath his mop of hair. Surprised at first but then something I can’t discern. And then. Well then he laughs, hard. So hard I think he may not stop for a very, very long time, perhaps even forever if I’m that unlucky. Which, given the situation currently at hand- whatever it may be, I would say that I most definitely do have that sour of luck. Snake eyes sweetheart.
He finishes his laughter slowly, it rolls off like the ocean tide and he smothers the last of it with the palm of his hand. I just watch. I have no idea what to make of any of this and I’m slowly losing interest, perhaps even consciousness. I want to sleep forever or longer. I want to eat and sleep and then never wake up. I want to sleep.
“Of course you don’t. Why would you? I judged you so poorly. Ignorantly. I do apologize. You say you’re tired then?” He seems pleased with something all of a sudden and shuts the light off between the both of us. For a moment I’m frightened enough to lurch again and then whimper at the sting in my throat when the water drank tries to work its way back up my throat. I fight. There’s nothing left to give, stop trying.
Then a larger set of lights flip on and the entire room is illuminated. Bright and terribly offensive. In the light everything is so much less intimidating, including whoever the male is that’s standing at the switches that caused the sensory attack. My eyes water. Can’t cry but my eyes can water. Sure.
His skin is so pale I can just about see the veiny blue paths beneath, the different ways of travel for his blood. His nails are bitten short. His hair is long, dark, and visibly unkempt. He hasn’t brought a brush to it in months it would appear. His eyes are blue but pale, so pale that they match the shade of the body routes. Cold vein blue. His eyebrows are full, and match the messiness of the hair on top. He looks like someone who has had better things to do than those that fall under a category like vain or beauty.
“If you need to sleep, I can assist you to a different room where you may do so. It will be quiet, it will be locked from the outside, it is safe for everyone and comfortable as well. When you wake we can continue talking about this. There is no easy way to escape. There is no easy way to get around the conversation. We will do this every day until you are ready. This is day one.”
This sounds oddly like a speech, but I nod. I nod again, this time with hardly any effort behind it and my neck feels like it could snap like a thin, frail young spruce. I don’t wait to be escorted to another room. I dont wait for anything. I fall asleep sitting up right there. Among my vomit and stale smoke. I simply give in.