“What doesn’t kill you
Makes you wish you were dead.”
I had a dream last night. A nightmare? Perhaps so. It was exactly like normal reality—except a little grittier and everyone was sort of…angrier, somehow. Directed at me. And no one really bothered to hide it. My entire family. My mother and siblings. My aunts and cousins. Even my usually gentle and caring grandmother now carried a derisive and wary attitude towards me. It was a very strange feeling to have.
Venomous whispers were chanted around like taunting mantras whenever I happened to pass by:
Waste of space, slithered one
Followed by absolutely fucking useless, and
Get a job, you stupid dropout
In one detached scene, I vividly remember absently murmuring I want to kill myself in front of my chastising mother, and she misheard it and simply laughed at me; a bitterly arrogant simper that lacked any humour. My brother though, he heard it perfectly correct, eyes glinting purple in quiet recognition. But he simply stared me down without blinking as I resolutely left the room, my mother’s shouting and insults still trailing behind me.
He knows. He knew. He knew and he didn’t care.
Well, good for him. I don’t, either.
A meeting was held in the living room. Tell us about yourself, a faceless jury commanded. Other people my age surrounded the table alongside me, mostly girls and some friends, though far more beautiful and more successful in their endeavours than I. And they were fully aware of it. Every underhanded glance from their pretty porcelain irises felt like it fucking stung like hell. These people talked it out smoothly, crooning and preening with flowers spilling out of their mouths, the unseen jury’s nods of approval palpably neck-breaking as they spoke about themselves. Their education. Their work. Their stability. Their social circle. Their payoff. Their lovely, sterile, and sweet suburban lives. They played their part, and they did it well.
This is what you’re supposed to be.
Do you understand?
Ha, of course not. What an idiot.
Obviously, when my turn came around, I was simply floored and at a loss for words. A coalescing stammer of anxiety and panic roared in my ears as I struggled to speak out. Who was I? Invisible eyes condescendingly glared from every corner, from every wall, from every space in the claustrophobic room that my shrinking body didn’t take up. 19, and already a pathetic failure. 19, and already completely deadbeat. 19, you’re already an adult, goddamn it. 19, what have you done with your life? God, what the hell have you done with your life? Why? Why? W h y ?
Who are you?
You’re no one.
I couldn’t stand it any longer. Shaky and almost delirious, I ran for my life, blindly pushing away the looming shadows with weak arms and managing to escape them, somehow. But stubborn silhouettes flickered resiliently past my skin, viscid tendrils willing to break my spine, and the vicious and abusive admonitions stayed echoing just as loud in my mind as if I was still trapped in that damned place. I found my way to my room—a complete mess, as if someone had been ransacking it prior to my arrival—and finally locked myself up in it.
Deep breaths. Inhale. Exhale.
One, two, three…
Tired. My torn-up journal was half-open on the bed, every space on the paper filled with dirty ink and manic scribbles, and nothing written in it ever made sense. Tired. I collapsed by the bedside and tried to to pick it up, and a used sharpener blade fell out between the pages and landed right into my bruised palms, a curiously perfect fit. Tired. I failed you all. I can’t do this anymore. I’m sorry. Blood. Where did all this blood come from?
I think it’s mine…
My cat’s incessant mewling suddenly jolted me into rousing, soft meows intertwining alongside the sounds of my two younger siblings getting ready for school and my mother ironing their uniforms. 7 AM. On my bed. Heaviness. I was just dying. Was that real? Was any of it real? Shit, I was just dying.
For a hazy, panicked moment, I was unreasonably mad for being woken up. Mad at them. But mad at myself, more so. I just desperately wanted to find out. About nothing. About everything. Maybe they are all really pissed at me that way. Maybe the dream didn’t end there. Maybe I could actually pass away in my subconscious. Maybe I still wanted to have even a sliver of the absolute courage my imagined self had, to finish what I always inevitably screwed up doing. There’s always some form of truth to every elucidating dream, after all. Maybe this was just the one I had to swallow.
But I’m still alive and miserably kicking, so I guess it didn’t fucking matter anymore.