Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Light

Staring into the light, after-image shadows occlude my vision of things both near and far should my eyes waver. I can't stop looking into the light, but my head bobs on occasion and I have to do everything I can to keep my eyes focused.

Sometimes mom comes into my room and moves me around. She thinks I am uncomfortable when I crane my neck to, what appears to her, to be an impossible angle. It is not uncomfortable to me and I wish I could tell her how much I just want to look at the light. Words don’t come out of my mouth however. I know words and I know how to communicate, but I don’t have the focus to relate information to the outside world. All that mom ever hears from me is a gurgling or grunting when I’m moved.

Only light keeps me focused and my mind from running amok in the tempest of horrific and blinding rages. Only the focus the light brings to my mind can I live this day. Only the light gives me reason to live for tomorrow.

When my eyes can't see the light, my mind races in circles like two flies buzzing around a long-dead carcass. A torrent of all memories I ever had, every word that was ever spoken within my hearing, every thought I ever had congeal into one in my brain.

I hate being in my mind when there is no light. There are too many things crashing around and thoughts and ideas I can’t control. I hear the screams of feelings wanting to escape my mind; I wallow in the avalanche of images that aren’t of light. There is a burning turmoil from a thousand memories of everything I’ve ever seen, a thousand voices from everyone who has ever spoken to me, a thousand scenes replaying themselves, all clamoring for primary attention crashing into one another. Each clamor for their own place in the importance of the forefront of my mind; each blindly banishes the next in favor of itself, only to be shoved aside by another voice, another memory, another firing of a synaptic nerve ending.

The thoughts and ideas that overwhelm me know the answers to almost all the questions I have ever heard. I know why dad is often late coming home from work. I know why mom cries deep into the night. I know why I am left to sit by myself at daycare. I know why people don’t understand me.

What I don’t know is why I can’t take that which is in my mind and share it with the outside world.

My mind won't focus on the stuff mom and dad and others try to tell me, I just need to look into the light. The light is the only thing in my life that really matters to me.

The light keeps me calm and able to function to the extent I function.

When I hear music playing somewhere and the light allows me to hear the beat clearly, the music presents to me a mathematical representation of sound and I sometimes allow my body to sway with the rhythmic beat, but only if my mind allows me to focus and hear the music clearly. There are some rhythms the light is incompatible with and the music is drowned out by the focus the light demands of my mind.

In reality, it's the light I want. I want to look at it all the time. I cherish the light and the comfort it brings me and how it settles my mind. It isn't just one light, it is the light.

Wherever I am, I need to see the brightest thing in my world. If mom or dad takes me outside I want to look at the sun. The sun is my favorite light. It is warm on my eyes and the after images last for a very long time. They put glasses on me to darken it so I won't burn my eyes out, but I like the bright sun.

One time I saw and arc welder and it was brighter than anything I had ever seen. It was a very small and very bright light. The man who was welding saw me staring at the light and stopped welding. He asked if I was stupid, and then he told my mother what I was doing. She was very angry with me, but the small bright light left images for days.

I enjoyed those images and they curried favor with my mind. It was peaceful in my head and my thoughts were clear for many, many hours of what was left of that day and well into the night. I wish that clarity had lasted longer and although I can recall perfectly the image of the light in my head and can imagine how bright it was, only the sight of a light can keep my mind from tearing itself asunder.

When I am in my room, I look at the light in the lamp. It isn’t as bright as the sun or the welder, but I can look at it all the time. I watch it and it will move and morph into visions only I can see.

I see a world only I can see.

If I am put into a room where there is no light on which I can focus, my mind will rebel and I struggle to maintain control; my body will flail until I can see a light on which to focus. I need my mind to focus or everything in my mind will fall into turmoil more confounding and entangled than a kitten’s ball of yarn.

The sweat that drips into my eyes burns terribly and I have difficultly looking at any light for days. My mind battles itself until my vision gets better and I can focus again on a light.

I hate nights because of the darkness. I can remember all six of my years and it is at night that I am most afraid of not having a light for my mind.

I have to use a night light. It took a long time for my parents to realize I need a light on which to focus. After many nights of my mind running amok and my body thrashing around uncontrolled, my parents realized a simple light for me to look at was all I needed.

One time my parents turned it off when I was asleep. I believe they felt I had outgrown needing a light at night. I awoke with nothing to see and I wrecked my crib and broke my arm before I could see a light again.

One other time the light burned out before I fell asleep and I crawled out of my crib to lay with my head on the floor at the bottom of my door so I could see the light in the hallway. Sometime in the middle of the night, long after I had fallen asleep, my dad opened my door and broke my nose and knocked two of my teeth out.

I didn't cry out because I saw beautiful sparkling lights for many minutes, but my mom and dad cried over me. The spinning lights from the ambulance were beautiful for as long as I could see them. A doctor checking me shined a very bright light into my eyes as well. Those are memories I replay again and again when my mind allows me to.

Candles are good to watch because the flame moves. I could watch a candle the rest of my life. I could watch a candle flicker and move in currents of air no one can see. I am not allowed too close to candles because they burn things, as my grandmother found out one day while I was being taken care of at her place.

They don't understand that it is the light that allows me to keep control. Without the light there is nothing to keep my brain from killing me. My body may be that of a broken doll with muscles that twitch and jerk, but my mind is filled with everything I have seen or heard.

I am in here, but I can not control everything that I know. It’s like holding a hundred marbles in one hand. Only perfect and constant focus can keep those marbles from crumbling, except I have thousands of memories and shaking hands.

The light transfixes me and I am thoroughly addicted to it. If my parents didn't force food into me, I would probably starve because watching the light is more important to me. My body’s hunger is not important to my mind and my skeletal appearance bothers my parents, but I don’t care.

My body is not like their bodies. My arms don't reach for them; my legs only walk when forced to. My lips don’t utter the sounds they use to communicate; neither do my eyes search for them when I am alone. I know this bothers them, but my mind won’t allow me the niceties they exchange.

My misshapen body would rather crumble to the floor and watch a glowing light.

Sleep is the only thing that interrupts my watching the light at night. My eyes close because my body gives up to exhaustion and nothing I can do can stop the sleep from overcoming me. I hate sleep unless I can see the after-image of the light when I close my eyes.

Sometimes I dream of the light. I dream of bright lights shining on my face, I dream of a single pin point of light in a dark room that only I can see. I watch the light in my dreams as my body sleeps.

I think I know that it isn't a real light, but it lets my body sleep and gives me a light to see.

I need the light.

I love the light.

And it loves me.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Horrid Hands of Time

The Horrid Hands of Time
Days came and went with mind destroying monotony while the horrid hands of the clock ticked off one less minute she had in this world. She knew she had seen more days in her past than she had in her future and now they had become just one more dreadful, hateful, trudge into tomorrow.
Her children had now grown and moved away. They had all birthed children of their own and the former missus was now mostly alone in her days. Cats replaced some of the void left by her children who had once dominated her life.
The years which had once been filled with children and bills, breakfasts and bruised knees, a broken washing machine and a broken husband, were now filled with aches and pains of advancing years. Where once in her life there was never enough time to get everything done, now there was nothing to be done but wait for the end.

She’d lived through nearly nine decades now. It hurt her inside to know her oldest child was a few years into retirement himself and complaining about being bored with life; the old woman had never retired because she’d dedicated her life to raising eight children and from that job she couldn't retire, just be replaced by other things more important to her children.
She asked herself many times these days where the time had gone. She still had memories of eight children struggling with the first day of school, first broken hearts, and first nights away from home. She would spend entire days looking at photos from years past and each photo held a cherished memory, but each black and white photo was a page in a book that had long been closed.

The photos would also drag back memories of the tragedies of her life.
She could still recall the day one of her children died a most horrid and painful death. Almost 55 years earlier. She found him dead in the basement of their home. There were no answers, there were only questions. His life was painful for her because he was different and his soul was not god-fearing. He ended his life angry at the world.
From then on, her life was never the same. It was the first time she’d ever experienced death so close to her. It was the first time she had ever really given thought to life and what happens when it ends.
These thoughts would stay with her through the rest of her years.
Her life changed and in time, that damnedable time, her husband too became cold and distant and she found her only solace was the bottle. After too many years her husband too, was no longer a part of her life.
She doesn’t remember the day, but somewhere in her past, her children were all gone as was the purpose she'd dedicated her life. The last one had left the nest and the mother bird finally had time to do for herself all the things she had wanted to do.
But the days of her youth had passed her by. The skills she had 50 years before were now as obsolete as the antique clock which ticked off the time on her wall. When she left the workforce so many years ago, she was the lynch pin, today she is the fifth wheel.
The bottle that had been her friend became her enemy. It had injured her soul as well as her body. Now the bottle had to go the way of her children before she went the way of so many others.
She tried many things in the years since her flock had flown, anything to fill the void that ate at her like bile. The empty hours that the clocks in her world ticked off were a reminder that the minutes she had remaining would run down as the snows on the mountain run down the steep peaks and end, eventually, in the endless vast of the dark oceans. She hated the approaching void of the end, but time can not be halted no matter how much she prayed.

In the end, she returned to be a babysitter of her grand children. The circle’s end had come back to her. Her job of raising children for 30 years had returned for another chance.
But like the leaves on the trees, the children of her children soon no longer needed her. Again her home was empty of children. The clock on the wall ticked off another ten years. She damned the clock when her last grandchildren no longer needed her to watch over them.

Sadness enveloped her. Loneliness was her companion. Most of her days were spent in the little one room apartment, a far cry from the four bedrooms farm house from not too many years earlier, her cat and a dog were her only companions. Some days she spent volunteering as a special friend for kids in need, but that was not something that filled the days for the woman. Those children belonged to others. And they were gone in the same day. There was never a closeness to fill her heart.
A day came when even her beloved dog had grown old and passed on. Another life she had loved had lived and grown and died before her eyes. Even today, her tears could begin to fall at the thought of those who she had known and loved, had already lived their life in full. Another day came and the cat she'd befriended as a kitten grew old and passed into the afterlife that only cat's enjoy. God how she hated that damn clock that kept ticking her life away.

She couldn’t remember when it happened, but one day her daughter’s daughter brought for her to see the fourth generation of her progeny. That night she cried. She cried hot tears at the passage of time and how she envied the child who had so recently come into the world.
Laid before her great grand daughter, was all of the tomorrows the old woman had in her memories. And she knew one day soon, even those memories would be gone with her body.
Her days, she knew, were growing few. There was nothing to help her this time.
The old woman had been saved before through heroic medical technology, technology unknown just a handful of years earlier, technology that might have given her mother and father more good and less painful years, technology by men and women the age of her grand children, had saved her life one time. But the doctors could no longer help the body that would not be helped.
The years her body had seen, was now tiring of being repaired. The body which had worked from sun up to sundown, and often beyond, was now coming to an end.
The woman, too, was tiring of her life.
There was emptiness in her life. Her days were filled with boredom. Her children filled their lives with their offspring. The visits that had once been frequent were now rare. Her cats, the surrogate children she used to fill some of the void, came and went; she could no longer remember all the names of the ones she had loved.
And as she sat in her lonely room, she tried to remember other things, but soon, even those memories would be gone.
The woman, whose days had once been filled with life, was now devoid of purpose. In her mornings, she sat and watched the sun rise. In the afternoon, she watched the birds eat from the feeder outside her door. In the evening, she waiting for sleep to take her to dreams of yesterday.
And every morning was the same. Every day was a repeat of the day before.
And every day was sad.
And every night she prayed for God to take her peacefully in her sleep.