There are some qualities- some incorporate things,
That have a double life, which thus is made
A type of that twin entity which springs
From matter and light, evinced in solid and shade.
There is a two-fold Silence- sea and shore-
Body and soul.
—Edgar Allan Poe
When something bad happens to you, sometimes the only solace that can be found is inside yourself. When the world is abnormal, when everything is altered, when you are all that you have…Controlling your emotions is the last thing that you have left.
And silence was the only way I could hold back my emotions.
I don’t fit into the world anymore. I know this. Not the me that is here now, not the way I am now. I am on the other side of a wall. It isn’t visible; you can’t see it. But it’s there. Nobody understands. They can say things to me. They can try and touch me. But they do not understand. There’s no way.
I don’t understand what’s happening.
People are staring at me but I’m barely aware they are there. I am locked deep inside my body, silent and alone. Everything fades in and out of focus, mouths open and close and words come out, but I don’t care. I can’t hear them. I can’t hear anything. I can’t feel anything. So they can say whatever they want. It doesn’t matter anymore, because nothing matters.
I won’t say anything. Ever. Again.
I can’t feel anything.
I lean on the counter. My knees give out. I fall.
Cold filled me from head to toe like a spreading stain. It was like a dream. A shadow. A memory, or a movie that I was watching from above. It wasn’t happening to me, it was someone else. There was metal against that woman’s throat. He pinned her arm behind her back; her keys and her purse struck the ground. She was pinned against the side of the car and she couldn’t move.
I couldn’t move.
Everything hurt. Something inside me snapped then. I was used, broken. I was an object; I was his object. I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t say a word. Despite my best efforts I was crying, and I cringed at his breath in my ear. It was too much, all too much.
It wasn’t worth the price I had to pay. Nothing was.
I can’t feel anything.
I am on a bed, in a room wrapped in a curtain, but I don’t remember how I got here.
There is a doctor staring at me, but I don’t care. There is also a man in a uniform. A woman is holding my arms, and I can feel every single place that her fingers touch. Like her fingers are made of ice.
I can’t handle this. I shut down.
I didn’t say a word. I couldn’t breathe. I was crying silently as he leaned forward so that we were eye to eye. I remember the scary things I had faced before, the times I had been put in danger on the job. In relationships. I compared this to then. Then lost. His breath stank. Garlic, maybe. I wasn’t sure. I imagined death, and how much better it would be than what was happening.
I closed my eyes. This was a robbery of the deepest sort. I was afraid to fight back.
I crack my eyes open and everything is foggy.
The same woman is talking to me. Explaining things. Police reports. What was taken?
I can’t feel anything.
I want desperately to shower. And I want him to care.
But he won’t.
When I opened my eyes again, he was gone. The sobs came then—hysterical, gasping for air sobs. After counting for what seems like forever, I tried to push myself up. My chest felt like it was going to cave in. Where I hadn’t felt anything before, I could suddenly feel everything. It was all much too loud.
I sank against the rear tire of the car, frozen. I knew I had to do something. Call someone. But I was too tired. It was too much, all of it. I had to move. To go back, go inside, go somewhere. But it wasn’t as simple as just opening the door and doing it.
I thought about the people who respected me, my authority, my credibility, and I thought about the life I had built. I think about what I would be missing, had this gone a different way. I ponder what people will think of me, if they will blame me. If they will hate me. If I hate me.
And I knew then that I wouldn’t talk about it. That I couldn’t.
I am not dead but I might as well be.
It’s late when I go outside again. Or early. I can’t really tell. I need a Walgreens. I need to call my boss back. I need to do many things.
I sit in my car. I am silent. Silence is the only way I can hold back my emotions. If I let silence go, the emotions will destroy me.
It will all destroy me.
I have led a double life, a difference between my body and soul. I carry myself differently because of the past, because of that day. I hide myself from the world. There are many things I can’t talk about, many things that are folded into other things and disguised and cleverly hidden. I put my past in the light, but also in the shade. I will always be in the shade.
The stain is never coming out.