I have taken solitary steps in despair on a path that I never forsaw myself traveling down. Through this journey I have learned to mend hearts and clear heads, although I don’t believe a heart is ever truly healed. There will always be a scar, that trace of pain that eludes reparation as evidence that at one point in time, love existed, whether it be familial or romantic. They say time heals all wounds but time only masks the intensity of emotion that once charged ever molecule of your being. Pain becomes increasingly more of a dull ache as a reminder of memories that have long passed and moments that will never be. What is born out of this pain is what matters. Loss is what gives life meaning and purpose. From these tragedies in our lives we become different people. We think differently, we love differently, we are opened up to a new way of existence. You can inevitably go two ways with who you decide to become from these experiences of tormentous loss. Some people choose to make the conscious decision that love is not worth this degree of pain. They believe they are saving themselves but quite often our own defense mechanisms are our downfall. You will stop seeing the world for what it truly is. We may live in a world of cruelty, hatred, and sorrow but we also live in a world overrun by acceptance, love, and tremendous beauty. Myself, as an individual, could never begin to imagine a world where I couldn’t feel the love and support that surrounded me. This is where I choose to grow from my pain. I was told once that “I am becoming”. I am always changing into a better version of myself. I choose to love without hesitance and extend myself to those who need me. I harbor hope that love is the reason for living in such a seemingly dark existence. Although I have been cast aside in anguish and tribulation, I rise from the ashes more enduring and unyielding. You will not take my hope from me, nor my love. These determinations are my salvation. I wake up every morning and I know that it will be a good day because it will be a day where love exists in everything that I will do. It is my foundation that grounds me and no matter how life twists and turns and who it takes from me, I will only grow stronger in my love.
I think of these things as I drive down the road, behind the wheel of my midnight black, 2014 Chevrolet Corvette. I grip the wheel, my mind barely on the road but I’ve driven this way so many times before, I truly don’t have to think much but it’s my lifesaver since my mind is always wandering, especially lately. Another heartache, another pain to over come in my life but I know I will, I always have. I decide to pick up something to eat, I deserve it after the hell I only just went through last week and nothing says comfort to me quite like taco bell. Sure it might upset my stomach later from time to time but the comfort I get when consuming those delicious, addicting tacos is well worth it. Maybe it upsets our stomach because it’s so good, life has a way of only giving good if it comes with a little bad. Maybe humans didn’t have the capacity to appreciate good without a little pain and that’s why life was the way it was.
My mind snaps back into place as I pull in to the only Taco Bell located in this tiny town i’m passing through. Only 12 more hours of driving and I’ll finally arrive at my solitude. That safe haven has been in the family for generations, a small cabin in the middle of no where. Perfect for a timely escape. I’m just lucky I am in the line of work to afford mental health vacations. After my last huge project I was able to accumulate a pretty penny. My newest investigative piece will just have to wait. His face flashes through my mind, I shake it off. He’s the last person I want to see right now, no matter how much I wish I could. I can feel my chest caving in, like a vortex of anguish that won’t release me. Food, I need food, and maybe a drink. Too bad this is a dry county. I guess I’ll just have to wait. The burn of that sweet bourbon tempts me to skip the food and drive straight to the cabin, but I know I don’t need to be driving all night on an empty stomach and the road only becomes more desolate as I drive further and further up the mountain. It’s now or never. I decide to walk inside and take a break from the road. It’ll only add time but I need to stretch my legs and give myself a moment to abandon thought. As I walk in a see an older gentlemen look me over, men. Maybe I should just become a lesbian… yeah right. I remember as I’m standing in line that I had forgotten to text Ashley. I decide it’s better to do it now in case I have no service at the cabin.
“Hey, I’m about 12 hours away, stopped to grab a bite to eat and take a break. Thank you for the shoulder this week. If I have service I will call you when I reach the cabin. If I don’t I’ll make sure to run into town the next day to keep you updated. Love you!”
Part of me is praying for service when I arrive and the other part of me is longing for the disconnect. I need time to go inside my mind and figure out what I need to do and what it will take to get there. I wish she could have come with me but she has already seen me cry too much this past week. I’m thankful she was there for me when I was crumbling into a million pieces. She has always been there, I hope I’m as good of a friend as she is.
I step up and order my usual, keeping it light and simple. Bathrooms aren’t easy to come by in this neck of woods. I grab the hottest sauce I can find and hope the physical pain can mask the emotional pain, even for just a bit. It may be nonsensical but it made sense at the moment. I eat slow, enjoying not focusing on the road. Eventually, I admit to myself that it’s time to go and I try and energize and cheer myself up as I walk back to the car. It’s a little chilly out for this time of year but the nip of the wind wake me up. Only 12 more hours until my salvation. Time to get going.
I turn on the radio, planning to enjoy it while I still have it. Eventually I’ll need my CD’s. Some of my friends tease me for owning them but this trip is what I keep them for. If I bowed to social pressures and got rid of them just because it made a few giggle I’d have nothing to listen to eventually. It also wasn’t like they were trying to make me feel weird, most of them anyway. All too often people hurt others unintentionally, not thinking about how self conscious one little comment can make you feel. It’s why I try to be a self aware person. I’m far from perfect, I’m sure I too hurt my friends unintentionally but I do try my best and I hope they all know that, especially Ashley.
I check my phone again at the thought of her “I love you too, please be safe!” Of course, as always her mind is on my well being but I still can’t help this hope of not having service at all to give me the complete out from society for a little bit. Two hours into the trip the radio is starting to break here and there so I pull off the road and find a CD to push into the player before resuming my drive. There isn’t much traffic down this way but I’d still rather be safe than sorry later when stopping wont consume much of my time.
I’m sure many people involved with hitting a person or large animal spend many nights up, wishing they had been just a little more careful. The CD I choose is from AFI because their music perfectly fits this mood I’m in. I find it helps me work through emotions if the music fits my mood but most would say that. Music is a magic I find myself thankful for all the time, especially when I’m unhappy.
I turn off my inside lights and stow away my thoroughly worn 10 year old CD case. As the music starts, I close my eyes and allow myself to get in tune with the music and sync up with my mood. When I open my eyes, ready to hit the road, I am surprised to see headlights coming my way. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, it’s not like this road is never used, but it startles me all the same. I start the car back up and wait for the car to pass so I can get back on the road. It’s a two lane but like I said before I prefer to be more cautious than not. As the vehicle draws near it starts to slow. I can’t make out the make or model but I can tell it’s an older model truck. The mysterious truck stops right next to me and I can see them rolling down their window. It’s probably just a good semaritan making sure that I am OK, i’m glad there are still good people in this world. I roll my window down as well to affirm that I’m fine but I can’t see anyone inside the truck, it’s too dark.
“You all right Miss?”
The voice is rough and low and I notice a slight uneasiness run through me. It’s dark and quiet and I’m probably just being paranoid.
“Yes, thank you. I just pulled off the side of the road for a moment to do something, I’m perfectly all right! Thank you for checking up on me, I’ll be going now.” I can barely make out a bearded figure but the rest of his face is covered by a low ball cap. I begin to roll up my window but the stranger begins to speak and I don’t want to come off as rude or ungrateful for the concern.
“Are you sure you’re alright to drive? It’s getting pretty late and I’m sure you’re awful tired. I could always follow you home and make sure you get there safe.”
My mental alarms starts to go off when he mentions following me home, but again, I’m sure I’m just being paranoid and he is just a local who is used to knowing everyone around here.
“No thank you, I’m wide awake and I don’t live close. Have a good night.”
This time I don’t stop rolling up my window and keep my eyes forward on the road as I put my car in drive. I pull back onto the road and begin my journey once again. I glance in my rear view mirror and notice that the truck still hasn’t moved from his place on the road.
“Is he watching me drive away?” I ask myself, beginning to get aggravated. I pick up my speed and focus on putting as much distance between the stranger and myself. Before too long his lights have faded into the distance and I am alone once more, a feeling I find way too much comfort in.
This music now doesn’t fit my mood but I wont change it, not until theres much more distance between myself and that man. He truly could of had the purest of intentions but something in my gut had started screaming when he wanted to follow me and at this point, I need to start letting my gut decide more things. Maybe if I listened to the pit of my stomach more I wouldn’t have so many poor decisions in my past. Another hour gone and I finally decide to try the radio, maybe I’ll have signal for even the briefest amount of time. It plays but nothing good so I may venture to pull over again soon. I finally affirm to myself I’ll stop the next time I see a bathroom. If I’m going to stop anyway I may as well insure I don’t have to run off and pee in the woods somewhere.
It’s so dark out here, there’s no more street lights, only the moon, stars and my headlights show me anything at all so chances were if I ran into someone else unsettling, I wouldn’t see them coming. My mind wanders to a time people would have only had the stars and moon to light their way. For many reasons way back when as most would call it enamors me. They lived without so much most now would panic without.
The moonlit world passes me by, flowing behind me into pitch black nothingness. It feels like my life is that shadowy void and I’ve fallen into it, unable to get out. The pain of the past seeps back in, the remembrance of betrayal, or the stabbing ache that ripped through my heart. I breathe and reach up to wipe the stinging tears from my eyes. It doesn’t matter now, I don’t need to think about that anymore. The road before me is all that matters, the decision I have made for myself. Loving myself, learning to let go of what cannot be changed, and moving forward with conviction is all that matters now. Freedom from it all, a new beginning, lays before me.
It finally came into a view, a lonely bathroom stop in the middle of nowhere. It was especially exciting because I knew it had vending machines so I’d be able to grab a soda. I had things in my trunk since the cabin wouldn’t be stocked but I didn’t want to touch any of it until I was at least there. I park my car in the lonely parking lot. There isn’t a soul here which wasn’t creepy to me. I think I would be more fearful if there was another car here since nobody worked at this rest stop. She guessed they simply sent someone out to clean it every once in awhile. I feel bad for the unlucky person who has to do that because over the years I’ve seen some grotesque things in these restrooms.
There were apparently plenty of assholes in the world who didn’t care that someone eventually would have to clean up after them. I was inside and go straight to the restroom. Some spiders have woven their webs all across the ceiling but I’ve always admired spiders. Their webs were gorgeous and they weren’t as vicious as people made them out to be. In my experience, if you don’t bother them they wont bother you. I relieve myself, flush then wash my hands “Bye spiders, have a good evening”
I even wave to them as I walk out, ready to hit the vending machine. “shit” my slightly happy mood fades a bit when I remember these things only take cash. I guess this was too far out to update them with something that took cards. I pull out my wallet, relieved to find a few dollars. It’s enough to buy me the soda I’m craving and some candy to make sure I stay alert the rest of the drive.
Suddnely I hear it, the song I once heard from a disney movie when I was much younger but in slow motion
“Drip… drip… drop
Little… April… shower
Beating a tune…
As you fall… all… around…”
I shake my head, the music isn’t there, I know it’s not. I’ve always heard and seen things from time to time but I’d punch someone for calling me crazy. I’m not crazy, i just may have a small case of schizophrenia my mother never wanted me diagnosed with, especially since I never hurt anybody. I’m glad she didn’t tell anybody, it’s a secret I hope to always keep.
I look around once I’m back behind the wheel, my eyes searching the shadows, looking for anyone that might be there. I don’t know why I need to make sure, but I do anyway. I let out a sigh as open my soda and take a big gulp of it then open up the bag of candy and sit it in the empty cup holder. I pull away from the rest stop and back onto the highway. I savor the sweetness of the candy, sucking on it rather than devouring it right away, and the fizz of the soda as it tickles my nose, nearly making me sneeze. I don’t know why I never noticed how good everything tastes until now. It’s like every sense of mine has opened up, allowing me to truly notice everything.
I turn the music up, thinking of the end of my journey, of getting there. That place was always beautiful, the silence broken only by wild animals, the wind and the occasional falling branch, the smell of damp earth. It’s the perfect place. I tap my hand on the steering wheel to the beat of the music, humming as I pop another piece of candy in my mouth and get lost in the drive.
The candy and music make the remainder of the drive incredibly fast. I’m finally parking and though I’m tired I want to go ahead and get everything inside. I go to my trunk to grab my cooler and the box of food sitting beside it. I set the box on the cooler and carry them inside as fast as I can. It wasn’t locked but as isolated as this place was, if someone wanted to get in when we werent there they could just break in so we figured it saved us repairs just leaving it open when we weren’t there. I set the cooler down in the kitchen then go back to my car to find the hand pistol I brought with me. I’m going to check the cabin for any homeless people before I get too unpacked.
I slowly walk, listening though as you now know I can’t always trust my ears. I’m just grateful I’ve managed to keep it a secret. I often wondered if I could have even had as alright of a life as I’ve had if people would have known. People weren’t quick to give chances to people like me but this cabin is about freeing myself so I wont dwell. I’ll check the place, unload and then enjoy my time here.
The cabin is as empty as I expected it to be. There aren’t even any animals in it this time so I return to the kitchen to put my food away. It’s a quick task, I didn’t bring much Even bringing my bag in is easy. I plan on leaving everything in there besides my notebook so once thats out I throw the suitcase in the bedroom I plan on sleeping in.
I flop down on the love seat and flip my notebook open, reading old passages, poems, and even smiling at the childish little doodles I made here and there. It seemed like every page painted a different story of who I was, of what I was feeling, from my joys to my sorrows, to the mysteries of the voices and strange things I had seen. There were things I had never told anyone, not even him. The notebook was a part of myself I had never thought to share with others and for a moment I even thought of burning it once I was finished with it, but the idea left me feeling uncomfortable. It was like it was my legacy, the biggest part of me, my most intimate thoughts and I couldn’t just get rid of them.
I apparently look at my old notebook until I fall asleep because suddenly I jerk awake, notebook still in my lap. It’s morning now and so bright it has to be at least ten. Thankfully time means nothing here, especially now. I decide to check my phone to see if I can let Ashley know I’m alright. No signal, just what I wanted but it still makes me just a little sad. I sigh and walk to the kitchen to make breakfast. My mind can’t help but cycle through the good memories I have with her. She’s brought so much joy to my life, I’m coming to realize that even more now that I’m here by myself to just think. I almost ruin my omelette completely because I’m more in my head than in the moment.
I sigh as I move my omelette onto a plate then get some coffee started. I sit down to eat, savoring the taste of my food. The smell of coffee fills the cabin and finish my omelette, washing my plate. Being alone, gives me the opportunity to truly enjoy the woods, to take in the sounds and smell of nature. I go and take a quick shower, pull on clean clothes and run my brush through my hair. I fill one of the travel mugs still tucked away in a cabinet, then grab my notebook and a pencil as well as my gun. Maybe I’ll find something to sketch or maybe I’ll find a nice quiet place to write down my thoughts.
The cool morning air is invigorating. It causes goosebumps to rise on my skin and I revel in that, in the sensations. Everything seems so much more beautiful and bright now, every color, every noise, every smell feels new. I step off the porch and find myself singing the song I heard at the rest stop.
It was one I loved as a child. I heard I often drove relatives crazy because I’d sing it over and over. Sometimes I wonder how nobody else in my family noticed that I see and hear things somtimes, given how often I was around them. My parents played it all off as imagination but still, when things brought me back to my childhood I often wonder how it’s still a secret between my parents and I. I just repeat the song until I find a gorgeous place to stop, one overgrown with beautiful flowers, vines and other plants. A complicated, beautiful mess, just like I suppose I am.
I sit down, happy to find even the perfect tree to rest against. Everything in life seems to be trying to please me more, like maybe the world is asking me not to go through with my plans, to stick with the more positive side of me but my mind is made up. I’m here, here at a very important chapter of my story, the chapter I get to completely decide on.
I begin humming a different tune as I sketch, one an “imaginary friend” was humming in my bedroom one night. I don’t know what it’s from but I must have heard it somewhere to have imagined it. I wish I did know because I find the tune incredibly comforting and I often can even sketch better when it’s in my head.
The picture that takes shape is of one of the very first things I remember seeing. I was young at the time, but I remember him because he was so out of place. A man on a horse. I had pointed him out to my mother, but she had told me there was nothing there and when I looked back, I realized he had vanished. I had only seen him once, but for a moment when our eyes met, his looked incredibly sad. I don’t know why I chose him to draw when it had been so long ago, but he had been such a striking figure that his face had stuck with me. I finish the drawing and flip my notebook closed and lean my head the tree, my eyes drawn up to the branches. For some reason I start to remember the first time we had come here, of how we had been happy once, but know that it had all been a mask. I remember the first time I noticed him change, of the first time that carefully crafted facade had slipped away to reveal his true colors. I find it strange that now that I am here, it all comes back, crashing into me. My eyes burn a little, but I take deep breaths to keep myself from crying. No more tears, especially for him, it would only be a waste.
I know it’s a bit early but I decide to go and enjoy all the alcohol I keep here. I probably have enough to host a frat party if I really wanted to. This cabin is the perfect place to get wasted and forgot the world around me. Maybe if I can make myself forget my pain for just a few hours I can climb out of this hole I feel myself falling into. I’m complex to say the least but you’ve already figured that out I’m sure. I want so badly to be positive but there’s been something off in me from the start. Nobody knew that like my mother and sometimes I can’t help but wonder how different things would be if she had ever sought real help for me instead of being embarrassed by my short comings.
I walk inside, happy to find nobody has stumbled up here and broken into my outrageous stash. I look through and decide on a wine first. Once I’m going it’s almost like I can’t even taste what I’m consuming any longer so I want to start with something I drink simply because I like it. It’s a rose wine, I tend to prefer white or rose. Reds tend to be far too bitter. I open it and don’t even bother with a glass. I’m going to finish it by myself anyway.
I sit on the couch, staring off into space, the taste of alcohol on my tongue and I take another drink, savoring it as much as possible before I finish it and open something else. I try not to think of the past, but little snippets of memory come unbidden. I don’t remember when things started falling apart, I really don’t and a part of me thinks maybe if I could just figure it out things could get better, but I know that’s not true. If I went back, it would be a betrayal of myself and the determination I mustered to break away. No, this was the only way, the right thing to do. I finish of the wine and take the bottle to the trash. I don’t even know why I bother. I find another bottle, not really caring what it is. I just pop it open and take a drink, the burn surprising me for a moment. I walk over, throwing one of the windows open and leaning out, letting the breeze play through my hair.
I start to sing the song again, this time slower, my head already to foggy to try and keep a decent beat. The words are comforting in a way and I let them and the booze carry the pain away. For a moment I wonder what people would think of what I’m doing, of my choices, and then I realize I don’t care anymore, I’m free.
I close my eyes, enjoying the plethora of sensations that are brought to me from the breeze. I concentrate on the noises that flood from the forest, listening without really hearing. I don’t even realize that I am still softly singing my tune and I smile as a wayward bird sings the tune back at me. Something odd tickles at the back of my mind but I’m fuzzy and thinking seems too hard at the moment. I take another swig of the newest selection, allowing the burn to conquer me momentarily. I suddenly feel overwhelmingly lonely, without a soul to comfort me when I need it. I start to wonder if isolation was such a good idea but I shake the thoughts from my mind, I’m just drunk. Re-connecting myself is exactly what remedy I need right now. I need to process what has happened so that I can overcome it. It’s fine to push it back for the night but I know that I will have to let it in eventually and that realization haunts me like an overburdened cloud. The wind blows more fierce and the cabin creaks in the slightest way but chills still creep up my spine in a sinister notion. I clearly have not had enough to drink and lift the bottle to my lips for a third time.
I let myself drink far too much. Next thing I knew I was waking up on the floor, vomit surrounding me. I’m in a daze until I see a man in my cabin. He’s covered in mud and blood, his expression amused as I try to get up only to slip in my own vomit. I vomit again and look up to see the mans gone. I don’t know if I should chalk it up to my mental disorder or how much I drank. When I can finally force myself up I walk to my bathroom to shower where he was apparently waiting for me. The man stabs me in the shoulder, knocking me down. I kick at him but it’s a sad attempt in my weakened state.
He gets over me, just hitting and stabbing me over and over until I feel myself dyeing, the life force slowly leaving my body. I’m out again and to my surprise I wake up above my body, a new strange man in dark clothing beside me but I’m not afraid. He speaks “You killed yourself”
“I…no…I was attacked”
“Look at your hands” I look at my bodys hand and realize to my horror that I had been the one to stab myself to death. I start to cry and he speaks again “Dont cry, it’s the end of that miserable life. Your poor soul has had a terrible run of things in each run and I’m truly hoping this next time you’re reborn it’s into a life you deserve”
“But Ashley, my best friend”
“she’ll mourn you but she’ll be okay. Come now, it’s time to move on”
“Its time, I cant undo what you’ve done to yourself…well, to be frank, many had a part in getting you here but we wont hash that. I’m eager to get you moved on so your soul can get reborn. You’ll forget all this, I promise” I nod sadly, sobbing even as I follow him. I can’t believe I took my own life but it had always been at the back of my mind. Truly, part of why I come is the hopes out here all alone I would finally be able to take my life and be free. The messed up side of me just decided to take action instead of letting me suffer any more. I’m free and I truly hope that he’s right and my best friend will have a good life without me in it.
~ The End