blog post 2008–short story

This is a short story I wrote back in June of 2008. Hope you like it.

Walk the dog. Water the lawn. Clean the ceiling. That’s what he says every Tuesday evening while driving me home. He has seen many things in his lifetime and I wonder if I will live to be his age. He is a man aged sixty-four. He loves working with children and has spent his life as a teacher and guidance counselor. He never married and still takes care of his aging mother, who has better hearing (and a better memory) than he does.

Eyes of a child come around frequently, then they are off to watch the fairy godparents give Timmy childhood wishes that adults would like to have. Just make a wish, and “Poof!” it’s done. Bills are paid, school is finished, and degrees are earned all in the blink of an eye. No hard work to be done, no studying all night to cram for that final. Just a wave of the wand and like magic — degree earned.

When I was little, my godmother used to make me Easter Sunday dresses. I didn’t know much about my godfather until I became a teenager. My last memory of him was his giving me a plastic mechanical dog whose tail waved when you walked him. Life was simple then. You knew you were different, but it did not matter what anyone thought of you. To this day, I still hold on to that value of not caring what people think — a good measure of one’s self-esteem.

Times changed; presidents changed. You learned about the cold war. The Berlin Wall fell, though you didn’t know why it was built to begin with. You read about Edgar Allan Poe and fell in love with him. His stories seem to talk to you and you could understand the pain and anguish of his writings better than most people. Russia was then called the U.S.S.R. Now it is a cluster of little, separate countries that you still do not know or care about. If you do care, your friend Google can help you find the information and more. Trips to the library are now practically nonexistent. Who needs an encyclopedia when you have Wikipedia.

This country interested you because of the vast differences in the government structure. You can never understand why people were prosecuted or executed because their religion is different, or they dared to write something against the government.

Grade school you remember the war between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Something to do with guns is what it was about and decided it was a place that you wouldn’t want to go vacation anytime soon.

One spring you decide life’s not worth living anymore and one Sunday you decide to end it. No Easter dress was worn. You were sixteen and life was just too much for you to go on. You had sought help but that help decided to leave the state. It was your third counselor in a year. The hopelessness was too much to hold on to.

Hope for life ends when you woke up the next morning. You realize by summer that medication might work but your therapist says you need to work through the pain not go around it, whatever that means. Found another friend, PDR (physician drug reference). It tells you all about meds and how to take them, what side effects, and how much needed for an overdose. Everything you need to know when you speak medicalese.

My first psych hospitalization was when I was sixteen. I met a guy who wanted my Tigers hat so I sold it to him for ten bucks, said he will give it to me when he sees his lawyer. Never saw a lawyer enter the ward, never saw my money either. I learned many things about the loony bin that summer. Trilafon made the voices go away but then things got too quiet and couldn’t think. Most people called it anti-psychotics, I just called them nothing.

Voices kept me out of the Navy which kept me from seeing the world, which kept me from college, which kept me from medical school, which kept me from being a commander of the fleet. A place of hate, a place of despair, a place of loss is always inside me and I couldn’t get away. How I longed to leave home and never return. But a sense of responsibility always kept me from leaving.

I didn’t need the USN for being a commander in Starfleet. What better place to travel the galaxy and back. A secret life I created that no one knew or cared about. Commander One was someone important, someone who was strong and happy. An orphan who was raised by Starfleet officers. He could do anything. The holodeck was all that I needed for my escape. I started living a double life, one in the twentieth century and one in the twenty-fourth.

I graduated from high school near the top of the class. Women were more attractive than men. I got a plan for higher education. Finally going away, thought Maine was my ticket out. But my learning would be life instead, or trying to see if it would work for me. I met a Jewish doctor who finally cared. Least until the voices said she didn’t. I went to the one of the best U.S. psych hospitals. It didn’t offer me much other than mashed potatoes and a diagnosis that didn’t fit my style. Staff wanted me to “talk to my feelings and give them a name”. I gave the staff names like asshole and bastard instead. Found out that a bagel can be set on fire after 8 of the 20 minutes in the microwave. It also evacuated the floor pretty quickly, causing havoc on a trauma unit. I saw it as revenge on being kept against my will and having a diagnosis that wasn’t correct.

Therapist number ten was my match. She tried to help with the aid of DBT, different bullshit therapy. She didn’t like me refusing her and we fought for control of the driver’s seat. I eventually won. During this time I had found my first love, someone who had been a pen pal and thought would always be there. My match was burned and so was my love at the same time. Time for a different matchbook and this time all fires were out. Red Tape prevented four months of work but it eventually found its way in.

The journey to adulthood has not been easy. Strife with auditory hallucinations at the young age of five is where it all begins. Voices became friends and took control of the young life, constantly telling the child that everything she did was wrong. The voices were always negative and had their own secrecy. When they were discovered, they told the teenager to commit suicide. They knew they would be destroyed. But after the medication and the solitude of the mind, the bearer missed the voices and stopped the medication to have some noise again, to not feel so alone. But suicide did not go away. It lingers because, as one knows, it is the ultimate escape from pain — not the kind of pain you get from a broken limb, nor the kind that comes from the flu. It is the mental pain that comes from despair, sadness, and hopelessness.

During all of this tragedy, the hero in our story seems to find resiliency that no one else can seem to bear, this despite having a father who is a pathological gambler, who would spend money on his narcissism, rather than household bills and necessities such as electricity.

The perfect escape had laid in joining the service. How I wanted to be that Starfleet officer I had always dreamed about.

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